Edward Hay.

History of the Irish insurrection of 1798, : giving an authentic account of the various battles fought between the insurgents and the king's army, and a genuine history of transactions preceding that event. With a valuable appendix online

. (page 1 of 32)
Online LibraryEdward HayHistory of the Irish insurrection of 1798, : giving an authentic account of the various battles fought between the insurgents and the king's army, and a genuine history of transactions preceding that event. With a valuable appendix → online text (page 1 of 32)
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OF 1798,








" I will a round, unvarnish'd tale deliver."

" Nothing extenuate,

Nor set down aught in malice."







Introduction, 7

Geographical description of the county of Wexford, . ... 51

Institution of the Volunteers of Ireland, 62

Meeting of the county on the 22d of September, 1792,. . 67

• ^ • on the 11th of January, 1793, ... 69

Riots in the year 1793, 70

Meeting of the county on the 23d of March, 1795, on the

recall of Earl Fitzwilliam, 80

Loss of the former independence of the county of Wex-
ford, 83

Melancholy effects produced by the riots in the county

of Armagh, in 1795, 88

Causes of the present state of Ireland, 91

Conduct of the troops in Ireland censured by Sir Ralph

Abercromby, commander-in-chief, 97

Proclamation of sixteen parishes in the county of Wex-
ford, 28th of November, 1797, 100

Conduct of the North Cork militia on their arrival in the

county of Wexford, 105

The whole of the county of Wexford proclaimed on the

27th of April, 1798 110

Meeting of the magistrates of the county, 23d of May,. . 121

Sudden insurrection on the 27th of May, 137

Battle of Oulart, on the 27th of May, 138

Battle at Enniscorthy, 28th of May, 139

Retreat of the troops to Wexford — general confusion, . . 141

Deputation to the insurgents on Vinegar Hill, 146

Defeat at the Three Rocks — surrender and abandonment

of Wexford to the insurgents, on the 30th of May,. . . 153
Conduct of the troops on their retreat to Duncannon Fort, 164

General arrangements of the insurgents, 177

Abandonment of Gorey — conduct of the inhabitants, . . . 179




Battles of Newtownbarry and Ballycanow, on the 1st of

June, 1798, 185

Lord Kingsborough, Captains O'Hea and Bourke taken

prisoners, 2d of June, 189

Battle of Clough or Tubberneering, 4th of June, 194

Battle of Ross, 5th of June, 198

Dreadful abomination at Scullabogue, 201

Battle of Arklow, 9th of June, 227

Attack at Borris, 236

Proposals of accommodation from Lord Kingsborough,

14th of June, 241

Skirmish at Tinnahely, 16th of June, 245

Insurgents surprised on Lacken Hill — their retreat, 19th, 248
Critical situation of Wexford — dreadful massacre !!!... 251

Battle of Horetown or Fooks's-mill, 20th, 273

Battle of Enniscorthy, 21st, 274

Wexford surrendered to Lord Kingsborough — fiis con-
duct and dispatches, i'.l .' 277

Major-general JNIoore's approach to Wexford, 21st, .... 287
Pursuit of the insurgents from Gorey, and their progress

out of the county, 295

Trials and executions in Wexford, 297

Progress of the Wexford insurgents in the counties of

Carlow and Kilkenny, 302

Progress of the Wexford insurgents in the county of

Wicklow, 304

Progress of the Wexford insurgents closed by surrender, 311

Commanders and court-martials appointed, 312

Conduct of General Hunter — his superior discrimination, 316
Intended extermination of the inhabitants of the Maco-

mores, 319

Conduct of the people on the landing of the French at

Killala, 328

Conflagration of a Protestant church and Catholic chapels, 340
Conclusion, 350


Landing of the French at Killala, county Mayo, August
22d, 1798, 351

Battle with the yeomen and fencibles who were defeated
by the French, 351

Gen. Humbert takes possession of Ballina, from whence
the garrison fled, 352


Shameful defeat of near 6000 British soldiers at Castle-
bar, 353

Battle between the advanced guard of Humbert, and Col.

Vereker, at Coloony, county Sligo, 353

Humbert's march to Drummahair, towards Manorhamil-

ton, county Leitrim, 353

Action between Crawford's troops and Humbert, be-
tween Drumshambo and Ballinamore, 353

The French cross the Shannon at Ballintra, 354

Cornwallis crosses the same river at Carrick-on-Shannon, 354
Battle of Granard, between some thousands of West-
meath and Longford United men, and the British

troops, 354

Battle of Ballynamuck, and surrender of Gen. Humbert, 354
Battle of Ballynascarty, county Cork, June IQth, 1798. . 355
Battle of Antrim, June 7th, and repulse of Major-general

Nugent, 355

Death of Lord O'Neil, who was mortally wounded, 356

Assault on the town of Lame, and at Ballymena and

Ballycasile, 356

Occupation of Saintfield, county Down, by the United

troops, 356

Attack on Portaferry by the men of Ards, 356

Battles of Windmill Hill and Ednevady, 356

Battle of Bally nahinch, June 13th, 1798, 357

Battle of Prosperous, county Kildare, May 23d, and

slaughter of the ancient Britons, 358

Attack of Naas, by nearly 1000 men, 358

A body of 800 men take up arms in the town of Cahir,

county Tipperary, 359

Mr. Wright seized at Clonmel, and received 500 lashes, 359
Battle of Tara, county Meath, 359

Rathangan, county Kildare, 360

KilcuUen " " 360

Surrender of about 2000 United men to Gen. Dundas, on

Knockawin Hill, and the murder of above 700 of them

by Jocelyn's Fox-hunters, 360

Bergen tortured to death in Drogheda, county Louth, . . . 360

I. Speech of Captain Sweetman, on the 22d of Sep-
tember, 1792 361




Account of the county meeting at Wexford, 380

Resolutions of the Catholics of Wexford, 382

II. Requisition of the magistrates of the county of

Wexford, 383

Resolutions of the county meeting, January 11th,
1793, 383

III. Certificate of Solomon Richards, Esq., 385

Affidavit of Mr. Taylor, an Englishman, 389

IV. Extract from the debates of the House of Lords,

10th of July, 1793, 391

V. Resolutions of the Catholics in Wexford, July 30th, 391
VI. Requisition to the high-sheriff and magistrates of

the county of Wexford, 394

Resolutions at the county meeting, 23d of March,

1795, on the recall of EarlFitzwilliam, 396

Petition to the king, 398

Address to his excellency Earl Fitzwilliam, 400

VII. Lord Gosford's address to the magistrates of the
county of Armagh, with the resolutions entered

into, on the 28th of December, 1795, 402

VIII. General orders of Sir Ralph Abercromby, 26th of

February, 1798, 406

IX. Oaths during the insurrection, 407

X. The address of the inhabitants of the Macomores

to Major Fitzgerald, 409

to General Hunter, 409

Letter to Major Fitzgerald, 411

XI. Affidavit of Mr. Stephen Lett, jun., 412

Letter from Lieutenant Murphy, 413

Affidavit of Edward Roche, 413

Letter from Captain Bourke, 414

Letter from Lord Kingston, 419

Letter from Major Fitzgerald, 420

Affidavit of Margaret Breen, 421

Letter from Armstrong Browne, Esq., 423

XII. Testimony of Doctor Jacob, 424

XIII. Letter to the Rev. Mr. Gordon, with his answer, 427
Conclusion 431



I WOULD not obtrude myself on public attention
were I not earnestly solicited by numerous and re-
spectable friends (who have at length prevailed) to
give a genuine account of the transactions in the
county of Wexford, during the insurrection, in the
year 1798 ; in order to counteract the baleful effects
of the partial details and hateful misrepresentations,
which have contributed so much to revive and con-
tinue those loathsome prejudices that have, for cen-
turies, disturbed and distracted Ireland. It is con-
ceived, that a fair and impartial account, by dissipa-
ting error, may operate as a balm to heal the wounds
of animosity; for let the candid reader be of what
political principles he may, I am confident he must
be sensible, that no adherent of either of the contend-
iijg parties in this unhappy country, can in justifica-
tion feel himself authorized to assert, that his own
party was perfectly in the right, and the other egre-
giously in the wrong ; and yet there are partisans to
be found on either side, endeavoring to maintain that
this is actually the case. But if these zealots could
be induced calmly to listen to the melancholy tales
of enormity that can unfortunately be told of both
parties, they might be prevailed upon to relax a little
ia their prejudices. It the spirit of intolerance and


retaliation be still held up, no kind of social inter-
course or harmony can exist in Ireland. With a
view, therefore, of establishing concord, by showing
from what has happened, that it will be of universal
advantage to forget the past, and to cultivate general
amity in future, I have undertaken the arduous task
of endeavoring to reconcile ; pointing out errors by a
genuine relation of facts, and I hope this may eveif-
tually prevail upon neighbors of all descriptions to
cherish the blessings of union and mutual benevo
lence, which cannot fail of banishing from their
breasts every rankling idea, and must prevent the
possibility of their ever again becoming the easy tools
of political speculation, which unfortunately hitherto
encouraged hatred and variance, and ended in the
miserable debility and depression of all.

Did I know any other person willing and able to
give a more circumstantial account of what has fatally
happened in the county of Wexford, (which is the
only part of Ireland I at present undertake to treat
of,) I would cheerfully resign my documents into his
hands ; but as I have been most peculiarly circum-
stanced, as an eye-witness of many remarkable trans-
actions, the information cannot be so well handed
over, and might not be produced with such good ef-
fect at second-hand. I conceive it therefore neces-
sary to give some account of myself, as most of my
readers could not possibly otherwise be sensible of
the many opportunities I had of being perfectly in-
formed of the state of the country, which certainly
did not fall to the lot of many other persons.

My family have been established in Ireland since
the reign of Henry II., as my ancestor came over
with Strongbow, and was allotted a knight's share
of lands in the southern part of the county of Wex-
ford, which his descendants possessed until the rev-


olution in Ireland about the middle of the seventeenth
century, when there was but one estate in the whole
county left unalienated by Cromwell. My ancestor
had not the good fortune to be the person undisturb-
ed ; but he acquired a property in another part of
the county, where his descendants have ever since
resided. Born of Catholic parents, and being reared
in the principles of that religion, occasioned my ban-
ishment at an early age for some years from my na-
tive country, as my parents wished to procure me a
collegiate education in a foreign land, to which the
rank and respectability of my family entitled me, but
which the laws- of my country denied me at home.
After having pursued a course of study for several
years in France and Germany, I returned to my na-
tive soil, fully sensible of my civil degradation as a
Catholic, and I therefore sought all the legal and con-
stitutional means in my power in the pursuit of Cath-
olic emancipation. The liberality of the times con-
tributed much to the relaxation of the penal laws,
passed from time to time against the Catholics of
Ireland ; and they were at length induced to lay their
grievances at the foot of the throne, as the most effec-
tual source of redress. They were in part relieved,
but many oppressive causes of complaint still re-
mained, and many modes of procuring their abolition
were resorted to. A various train of circumstances
occurred to produce the circular letter of the sub-
committee of the Catholics of Ireland in 1792, and
pursuant to its tenor, delegates for all the counties
and principal towns were chosen to represent them
in the general committee. I had the honor of being
elected a delegate for the county of Wexford, and I
exerted myself in that situation with all the energy
and ability in my power. The declaration adopted by
the Catholic committee in March, 1792, was sub-


scribed by a multitude of signatures, and those of the
county of Wexford I was instrumental in procuring
I attended my duty in the general committee of the
Catholics of Ireland, where a petition to his majesty
was framed and signed, in November, 1792: and a
vindication of the cause of the Cathohcs of Ireland,
containing an exposition of their objects and motives,
was adopted ; and afterwards published and authen-
ticated. In consequence of royal interposition, by
the king's gracious recommendation, the parliament
of Ireland (which almost unanimously rejected a pe-
tition of the Catholics in 1792) was induced consider-
ably to extend their privileges in 1793. I attended
a subsequent meeting of the general committee, at
which an address of gratitude, for his gracious in-
terposition, was voted to his majesty, and a similar
one to the lord-lieutenant, expressive of the earnest
loyalty of the Catholics, and requesting the former to
be transmitted, was drawn up, approved of, and pre-
sented by deputation to Lord Westmoreland.

Along with the repeal of the most odious of the
penal laws, a new oath to be taken by the Catholics
to avow their loyalty was framed by parliament. All
the delegates and a great number of other Catholic
gentlemen, anxious to avail themselves of the earliest
opportunity of displaying their gratitude for the newly-
acquired privileges, and eager to satisfy the public
mind as well as to set an example to the whole nation,
attended in the court of King's Bench, on Saturday,
the 19th of April, 1793, where they took the oath
and subscribed the special declaration prescribed to
them ; and this was by the appointment of Lord
Chief Justice Clonmel, on whom a deputation from
the general committee had previously waited for that

The magic of royalty, in earnestly recommending


" the union of all descriptions of subjects,^'' having
lately proved so effectual in altering the conduct of
parliament to the Catholics, the erection of a statue
of the king was voted as a monument of Catholic
gratitude ; but this, along with other honorable en-
gagements adopted by the general committee, was
superseded by illiberal and calumnious outcries raised
against the conduct and intentions of the Catholic
body, so as to preclude the possibility of carrying
into effect the plan of subscription formed for these
purposes. I was, however, determined to proceed in
the county of Wexford, but was at length obliged to
gi\Q up the object, in consequence of the baleful
operation of party prejudice ; and thus did the ene-
mies of the Catholics, under the mask of loyalty, de-
feat the execution of a project that would exhibit
the conduct of the Catholics in a point of view too
meritorious for their wishes.

Very serious disturbances took place in a part of
the county of Wexford, in the month of June, 1793 ;
but they were soon suppressed by the exertions of
the country gentlemen, who formed " an association
for the preservation of the peace." I constantly at-
tended their meetings, and I believe it will be allowed,
that my conduct and endeavors proved as effectual
as that of any other to restore public tranquillity.*

In January, 1795, while Lord Fitzwilliam was
viceroy, I procured a great number of signatures to
a petition to parliament, from the Catholics of the
county of Wexford, and in the same month I was one
of those that presented an address from them to his
excellency. When his lordship's recall was an-
nounced from the government of Ireland, a meeting
of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the county

* See Mr. Richards' certificate in Appendix, No. III.


of Wexford was convened on the 23d of March ol
the same year, when a petition to his majesty was
unanimously agreed to, and I was appointed one of
the delegates to present it to the king. I had been
as far as Dublin to take ship for England, when it
was thought advisable to have the petition sub-
scribed by as many persons as possible, and while
my brother delegates proceeded to London, I return-
ed to the county of Wexford, and, considering that I
was the chosen delegate of Protestants as well as of
Catholics, I took the precaution of consulting the
principal Protestant gentlemen of the county first,
to prevent the possibility of misrepresentation, or of
denominating my pursuit the business of party ; and
I was so successful as to procure, in the space of
one week, twenty-two thousand two hundred and
fifty-one signatures to the petition, with which I then
proceeded to London, and had the honor to present
it, along with my brother delegates, to his majesty,
at a public levee, at St. James's, on the 22d of April,
1795 ; and we met a most gracious reception.*

I think it necessary to mention that I was invited,
in the most earnest and flattering manner, to become
a member of political societies, both in England and
Ireland; but these invitations I declined, in conse-
quence of a resolution which I had formed, of never
becoming a member of any political society whatso-
ever; and to this I have ever since most scrupulously
adhered. I proposed a plan for the enumeration of
the inhabitants of Ireland, to Lord Fitzwilliam, which
met with his strongest approbation, and but for his
recall he would have patronized the undertaking, and
done every thing in his power to facilitate its execu-
tion. I had this plan long in agitation, and was in-

* See Appendix, No. VI.


duced to enter on the business particularly from a
consideration that, by the current statements, the
population of Ireland was vastly underrated. Some
years ago, the established clergy had made returns
of the population of their several parishes, by order
of government, and I had the curiosity to inquire
into the returns made of the population of the par-
ishes in my own neighborhood, and these I found
really correct, according to the general mode of cal-
culation; but as my curiosity led me to number every
individual, I found them very defective as to the ac-
tual state of the population, both in the total and
comparative numbers.

While in England on my delegation, this plan for
estimating the population of Ireland was seen at Lord
Fitzwilliam's, by the Right Hon. Edmund Burke,
who was thereby induced to do me the honor of so-
liciting my acquaintance ; and after a minute investi-
gation of its nature and extent, he earnestly encour-
aged me to proceed, as he considered it would be
productive of the greatest possible benefit to Ireland.
Backed by the authority and flattering opinion of so
much genius, and sanctioned also by the countenance
of Lord Fitzwilliam and a great number of other en-
lightened men in England, I was induced on my re-
turn to Ireland to use every exertion to put it forward,
and met such encouragement from dignity and dis-
tinction, that I submitted my plan to the inspection
of the Royal Irish Academy, who were much pleased
with it as an essential branch of a statistical inquiry
which they had then in contemplation to promote.
This produced the pleasing consequence to me of
being proposed to the academy by the present presi-
dent, and I had the honor of being unanimously ad-
mitted a member of that learned and respectable
body. Certainly, had not the misfortune of the times


prevented my success, this must have been consid-
ered as honorable and remarkable an undertaking as
any individual could have accomplished, and the na-
ture of the encouragement I met with, induced me
to print a great number of copies of the plan, and to
procure a sufficiency of ruled paper for writing out
the returns from every part of Ireland ; as in Appen-
dix. I am tlms led to publish the whole plan, on the
present occasion, to show the falsity of the prejudiced
arguments adduced by reference to a part; especially
as I conceive that it wants only to be known to show
the futility of such arguments.

But I have by no means dropped the idea of
bringing this scheme to perfection, nor do I think that
my labors, even as far as I have proceeded, are
not likely to be useful to my country ; for although
I have not been able to go to the extent proposed,
yet the returns which have been made to me, are suf-
ficient to give a much more certain account of the
population of Ireland than can be collected from any
other statement that has appeared. I have been fa-
vored with authentic copies of all the documents on
which the late Mr. Bushe grounded his return of the
inhabitants of this country, which has gained him so
much credit, and I can positively affirm that he was
not in any degree possessed of such various and de-
tailed accounts, as those, which on my plan, have
been returned to me ; and I shall feel highly obhged
to any person, who, according to this sciieme, shall
make me a return of one or more parishes, through
the country at large, or of a street or streets in any
town or city, together with any remarks tending to
show the increase or decrease of population since the
year 1795. I shall also feel extremely thankful to
any person, who at that period proceeded in any de-
gree on this plan, for letting me have the result of that


inquiry, whether returned to me formerly or not ; as I
can the more readily compare the former and present
accounts, on getting them together, than by the trou-
ble of searching out the original returns. If it can be
established beyond a possibility of doubt, that there
are vastly more inhabitants in Ireland than they are
at present supposed to be, (and this I have good
reason to believe is the case,) surely the national con-
sequence must be enhanced, and our importance in
the scale of nations raised in proportion ; and as I al-
ready feel a well-founded expectation that I shall be
enabled to perfect this desirable object, I hope it will
induce every real lover of his country to make me
those returns, which the simplicity of the plan will
enable any person to execute in his own neighbor-
hood ; and I trust I have already given such proofs
of the sincerity of my intentions, as to entitle me to
this information from any friend to the country, as it
is self-evident that this plan does not in any degree
partake of party-spirit, but is merely concerned with
general information. How can the wants of a nation
be properly supplied if the extent of its population be
not accurately known ? or how can the redundancy
of one nation be applied to the benefit of another,
where this injportant fact is not ascertained? — For
example's sake, the crops of Ireland, in the year 1801,
were supposed to be belter able to supply the wants
of its inhabitants than those of Great Britain were to
supply her own at that period. How was it possible
to ascertain this but from surmise? In England it
was a measure of parliamentary inquiry to ascertain
the state of the population exactly. Why should not
the like policy obtain with respect to Ireland ? — Sure-
ly, since the union of both nations has been formed,
Ireland is entitled to the same advantages with Eng-
land. In short, a knowledge of the real state of any


country is of such material importance to any one
wishing to promote its welfare, as to be evident on
first contemplation, since without it conjecture must
supply the place of certainty, and so perhaps occa-
sion material error and confusion. As this object is
of such national consequence, I hope m.y countrymen
will be kind enough to furnish the means to render
me able, as T am wilhng, to make them acquainted
with their real importance ; and in proportion to the
extent of documents will be the accuracy of the re-
sult ; but I esteem even a partial return of such mo-
ment, that I earnestly request every person inclined to
promote so desirable an object not to withhold his
particular information ; for such communication may
in time occasion the entire plan to be brought to per-
fection ; and as I mentioned before, it is astonishing
how a few returns from different parts of Ireland,
according to this model, will contribute to ascertain
its true state better than it has been ever hitherto ac-

Different motives of private concern induced me
to resolve to quit Ireland, in the year 1797, and to go
to reside in America, and this I purposed to do as
soon as the regulation of my affairs would permit me.

Online LibraryEdward HayHistory of the Irish insurrection of 1798, : giving an authentic account of the various battles fought between the insurgents and the king's army, and a genuine history of transactions preceding that event. With a valuable appendix → online text (page 1 of 32)