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History of the Catholic Church from the Renaissance to the French Revolution Volume 2 by Rev. James MacCaffrey

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induced to make common cause with the Pope against a heretical king.
Hitherto the king's only legal title to the Lordship of Ireland was
the supposed grant of Adrian IV., and as such a grant must necessarily
lapse on account of heresy and schism a new title must be sought for
in the complete conquest of the country. The circumstances were
particularly favourable for undertaking such a work. The royal
treasury was well supplied; England had little to fear for the time
being from Francis I. or Charles V., as the energies of both were
required for the terrible struggle between France and the Empire; the
friends of Ormond and the enemies of Kildare, both Irish and Anglo-
Irish, could be relied upon to lend their aid, and even the Irish
princes friendly to Kildare might be conciliated by fair promises of
reward. Relying upon all these considerations Henry VIII. determined
to reduce Ireland to submission, and at the same time to put an end to
its religious and political dependence on the Holy See.

William Skeffington was re-appointed Deputy and sent over to quell the
rebellion, together with Sir Piers Butler who, in consideration of the
bestowal upon him of the territories of the former Earls of Ormond,
agreed to resist the usurped jurisdiction of the Pope especially in
regard to appointments to benefices[2] (1534). The campaign opened
early in 1535, but as the new deputy was physically unable to command
a great military expedition, Lord Leonard Grey, the brother-in-law of
the Earl of Kildare, was soon entrusted with the conduct of the war.
Though in the beginning Silken Thomas had met with success, the news
that the rumoured execution of the Earl was untrue, the murder of the
Archbishop of Dublin by some of the Geraldine followers, and the
excommunication that such a deed involved, disheartened his army and
caused many of those upon whom he relied to desert him. At last in
August 1535 he surrendered to Lord Grey who seems to have given him a
promise of his life, but Henry VIII. was not the man to allow any
obligations of honour to interfere with his policy. After having been
kept in close confinement in the Tower for months he and his five
uncles were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn (1537). The king's
only regret was that the young heir to the Earldom of Kildare was
allowed to escape, and the failure to capture his own sister's son was
one of the gravest charges brought afterwards against Lord Leonard
Grey. As it was, the rebellion was suppressed; O'More of Leix,
O'Carroll of Ely, O'Connor of Offaly, and the other Irish adherents of
the Geraldines were reduced to submission, and thereby the work of
conquest was well begun.

In 1536, as a reward for the services he had rendered and in the hope
that he would carry the work of subjugation to a successful
conclusion, Leonard Grey was appointed Deputy. Henry VIII. had
separated himself definitely from the Catholic Church and had induced
a large number of English bishops, ecclesiastics, and nobles to reject
the jurisdiction of the Pope in favour of royal supremacy. In England
he owed much of his success to the presence of Cranmer in the
metropolitan See of Canterbury, and to the skill with which his clever
councillors manipulated Parliament so as to ensure its compliance with
the royal wishes. Hence, when he determined to detach Ireland from its
allegiance to Rome, he resolved to utilise the Archbishop of Dublin
and the Irish Parliament. Fortunately for him Dublin was then vacant
owing to the murder of Archbishop Alen during the Geraldine rebellion
(1534). After careful consideration he determined to confer the
archbishopric on George Browne, an Augustinian friar, who had merited
the royal favour by preaching so strongly against Henry's marriage
with Catharine of Aragon that most of the congregation rose in a body
and left the church. According to the imperial ambassador it was
Browne who officiated at the secret marriage of the king to Anne
Boleyn, and it was on that account he was created provincial of the
English Augustinians and joined in a commission with Dr. Hilsey, the
provincial of the Dominicans, for a visitation of the religious houses
in England.[3] The new archbishop received his commission from the
king without reference to the Pope, and his consecration from Cranmer
(1536). Browne was in every way a worthy representative of the new
spiritual dictator and of the "new learning." His nomination to Dublin
was condemned by the people of Lincoln because he had abandoned the
Christian faith. Hardly had he arrived in Dublin when he found himself
at loggerheads with Lord Grey, who treated him with studied contempt
and took very violent measures to cool his religious ardour. He was
assailed by his royal spiritual head for his arrogance and
inefficiency, and warned to take heed lest he who had made him a
bishop might unmake him. By his fellow-labourers and associates in the
work of spreading the gospel, Staples of Meath and Bale of Ossory, he
was denounced as a heretic, an avaricious dissembler, a drunkard, and
a profligate, who preached only two sermons with which the people
became so familiar that they knew what to expect once he had announced
his text.[4]

Before the arrival of Browne in Ireland careful steps were taken by
the deputy and the Earl of Ormond to ensure that only trustworthy men
should be elected as "knights of the shire," while the lawyers were
hard at work both in England and Ireland drafting the laws that
Parliament was expected to ratify. The assembly opened on Monday, 1st
May, at Dublin, was adjourned (31 May) to Kilkenny, then to Cashel (28
July), then to Limerick (2 Aug.), from which place it returned once
more to Dublin. The next session opened in September (1536), and after
several short sessions and long adjournments it was prorogued finally
in December 1537. As far as can be seen no representatives attended
this parliament except from the Pale and from the territories under
the influence of the Earl of Ormond and his adherents. It was in no
sense an Irish Parliament, as not a single Irish layman took part in
it, nor could it be described accurately even as a Parliament of
Leinster. It is generally assumed that together with the Act of
Attainder against the party of Kildare all the legislation passed
already in England, including the Act of Succession and of Royal
Supremacy, the Acts against the authority of the Bishop of Rome,
against appeals to Rome, and transferring to the king the First
Fruits, etc., were passed always immediately and with very little
opposition except a strong protest lodged by Archbishop Cromer of
Armagh. But an examination of the correspondence that passed between
the authorities in Dublin and in London reveals a very different

It is true that on the 17th May Brabazon informed Cromwell that the
Act of Attainder against Kildare, the Acts of Succession, of Royal
Supremacy and of First Fruits had already passed the Commons, and that
on the 1st June the Deputy wrote that all these, including the Act
against Appeals to Rome, had passed the Parliament, and that in the
same month Cromwell expressed his thanks to some of the Irish
officials for having secured the assent of Parliament to all these
measures. But in spite of these assurances of victory secured before
Parliament had been a month in session, there must have occurred some
very serious hitch in the programme. In October 1536, Robert Cowley
wrote to Cromwell to complain that certain acts had been rejected
owing to the action of some "ringleaders or bellwethers," who had
decided to send a deputation to England to argue stiffly against them,
that Patrick Barnewall, the king's sergeant was on the side of the
discontents, and that he declared in the House of Commons that "he
would not grant that the king had as much spiritual power as the
Bishop of Rome, or that he could dissolve religious houses." As
nothing could be done, the session was adjourned till February (1537),
when the Deputy announced that owing to the confusion caused in the
Commons by the reported return of Silken Thomas, and to the boldness
of the spirituality on account of the religious rebellion which had
taken place in England, no measures could be passed, and a further
adjournment was necessary. When Parliament met again matters were
still going badly for the king. The Deputy informed Cromwell that the
spirituality was still obstinate; that the spiritual peers refused to
debate any bill till they should receive satisfactory assurances that
the spiritual proctors or representatives of the clergy should be
allowed to vote, and that as the Parliament had refused to pass the
bill imposing a tax of one-twentieth of their annual revenues on the
holders of benefices, he was obliged to adjourn till July. He warned
Cromwell that as the proctors and the bishops had formed a combination
little could be passed until the proctors were deprived of their
votes, and he suggested that as a means of overcoming the resistance
of the spirituality the king should send over a special commissioner
to be present at the opening of the next session.

Acting on this suggestion a royal commission, consisting of Anthony
St. Leger, George Poulet, Thomas Moyle, and William Berners, was
dispatched to Ireland (July 1537) to deliver the following acts to be
passed by Parliament, namely, acts depriving the spiritual proctors of
their right to vote, and against the power of the Bishop of Rome,
together with acts giving to the king the tax of one-twentieth on
benefices, enforcing the use of the English language and dress, and
prohibiting alliances with the "wild Irish." At the same time Henry
wrote to the Deputy and council warning them to obey the instructions
of the commissioners, and to the House of Lords ordering them to
ratify the bills to be submitted, and telling them that if any member
be unwilling to do so, "we shall look upon him with our princely eye
as his ingratitude therein shall be little to his comfort." When
Parliament met again in October the spiritual proctors were deprived
of their votes, and it was only then that the Act against the Bishop
of Rome could be carried. The threats of royal vengeance seem to have
produced the same effects in the Dublin assembly as in the English
Parliament. Probably, as happened in England, those who could not
agree with the measures were content to absent themselves during the
discussions.[5] The truth is, therefore, that Archbishop Cromer was
supported in his attitude by the bishops and the representatives of
the clergy, and that the acts against the jurisdiction of the Pope
were carried against the wishes of the spirituality.

But the placing of the acts upon the statute book did not mean that
the cause of the king had triumphed. Steps must be taken to enforce
the laws against the jurisdiction of the Pope. Already in October 1537
the royal commissioners, who had been sent over by the king to overawe
the Parliament, undertook a judicial tour through the south-eastern
portion of Ireland to inquire into the grievances of the people, and
especially to secure grounds of complaint against the ecclesiastics,
so as to enable the government to overcome the opposition of their
representatives in Parliament. During their journey they held sessions
at Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, New Ross, Clonmel, and Tipperary. In
the circumstances it is not difficult to understand how easy it was
for them to find individuals ready to come forward with accusations
both against the lay lords and the clergy, especially as the
commissioners in some cases at least suggested the points of
complaint. In Wexford, for example, the crime alleged against the Dean
of Ferns and three other priests of having "pursued" Bulls from Rome
has a very suspicious ring. Against many individual clerics, including
the Archbishop of Cashel and the Bishop of Waterford, the priors and
heads of several religious houses and certain rectors and vicars, it
was alleged that they levied various exactions like the lay lords,
that they demanded excessive fees on the occasion of their
ministrations, and that they asserted claims to fishing weirs, etc.,
to which they were not entitled. If it be borne in mind that the
bishops, priors, and heads of religious houses were also landlords
like the lay lords, against whom charges of almost similar exactions
were lodged, the presentments of grievances at least in this respect
were not very convincing. For the same reason the fact that the
Archbishop of Cashel was said to have been in a boat which robbed a
boat from Clonmel and that he caused a riot in the latter city, that
the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore took bribes, or that Purcell, the
Bishop of Ferns, joined with O'Kavanagh in an attack upon Fethard need
not cause any surprise. It was only against James Butler, the
Cistercian abbot of Inislonagh and his monks, the Augustinian monks of
Athassel, the Carmelite priors of Lady Abbey near Clonmel and
Knocktopher, and the abbot of Duisk that grave charges of immorality
were made. Even if these charges were true, and the evidence is by no
means convincing, they serve only to emphasise the downfall of
discipline caused in the individual religious houses by the
interference with canonical election, and the intrusion oftentimes by
family influence of unworthy men as abbots or commendatory abbots.[6]

Henry VIII. was anxious to complete the conquest of Ireland even
before he had broken with the Pope, but after the separation of
England from Rome he realised more clearly the dangers that might
ensue unless the Irish and Anglo-Irish princes were reduced to
submission. As things stood, Ireland instead of contributing anything
was a constant source of loss to the royal treasury, and, were an
invasion attempted by some of his Continental rivals, Ireland might
become a serious menace to England's independence. The complete
overthrow of the Geraldine rebellion (1535) had prepared the way for a
more general advance, but the failure of the Deputy to capture the
young heir to the Earldom of Kildare was as displeasing to the king
personally as it was dangerous to his plans. The boy was conveyed away
secretly by his tutor, a priest named Leverous, who was advanced
afterwards to the See of Kildare, and was brought for safety to the
territory of O'Brien of Thomond. When Thomond was threatened by the
rapid advance of the Deputy, the young Earl of Kildare was conveyed to
his aunt, Lady Eleanor MacCarthy of Cork, who on her marriage to Manus
O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell, brought the boy with her to Donegal

O'Connor of Offaly and O'Carroll had been compelled to sue for peace
(1535). In the following year Lord Grey made a tour of the south-
eastern parts of Leinster, proceeded through Tipperary, and directed
his march against the strongholds of O'Brien of Thomond. Partly by his
own skill and boldness, partly also by the treachery of one of the
O'Briens, he succeeded in capturing some of the principal fortresses
including O'Brien's Bridge. Had it not been for a mutiny that broke
out among his soldiers Lord Grey might have succeeded in forcing
O'Brien to make terms, but, as it was, he was obliged to desist from
further attack and to retreat hastily to Dublin. O'Brien soon
recaptured the positions he had lost; O'Connor of Offaly took the
field once more, and the unfortunate Deputy, harassed by his enemies
on the privy council and blamed by the king for his failure to get
possession of the hope of the Geraldines, found himself in the
greatest difficulties. But he was a man of wonderful military
resource, and knowing well that failure must mean his own recall and
possibly his execution, he determined to put forth all his energies in
another great effort. So long as the Irish in the Leinster districts
were active it was little use for him to undertake dangerous
expeditions towards the more remote districts, and for this reason he
turned his attention to O'Connor of Offaly. Before many months elapsed
he forced the MacMurroughs, the Kavanaghs, the O'Moores, the
O'Carrolls, MacGillapatrick of Ossory, and O'Connor to sue humbly for

But many difficulties still remained to be overcome before he could
boast of final victory. Con O'Neill, Manus O'Donnell, and many of
their adherents were still threatening; Desmond, O'Brien of Thomond
and the nobles of Munster generally could not be relied upon; while
the Irish and Anglo-Irish of Connaught paid but scanty respect to the
king or his deputy. Rumours, too, were in circulation that North and
South were about to unite in defence of the heir of the Geraldines,
that secret communications were carried on with Scotland, France, and
the Empire, and that the Pope was in full sympathy with the
movement.[7] Surrounded by discontented subordinates, who forwarded
complaints almost weekly to England in the hope of securing his
disgrace, Lord Grey was resolved to push forward rapidly even though
the campaign might prove risky. In 1538 he marched south and west,
passing by Limerick through the territories of O'Brien and Clanrickard
to Galway, having received everywhere the submission of the princes
except of O'Brien and the Earl of Desmond. In the following year
(1539) he directed his attention towards the North, but O'Neill and
O'Donnell, having composed their differences, and having strengthened
themselves by an understanding with the Earl of Desmond and the
adherents of the Geraldines, marched south in the hope of joining
hands with their allies. Having learned when in the neighbourhood of
Tara that the Deputy was on the march against them, they retreated
towards the confines of Monaghan, where they were overtaken and routed
at Bellahoe near Carrickmacross (1539). Their defeat seems to have
destroyed the spirit of the Irish princes. One by one they began to
beg for terms, so that before Lord Grey was recalled in 1540 he had
the satisfaction of knowing that he had vindicated English authority
in the country. Instead of rewarding his deputy for all that he had
done, Henry VIII., giving credence to the stories circulated by
Archbishop Browne and others that Lord Grey had connived at the escape
of the young Kildare and had supported the cause of Rome, committed
him to the Tower, and later on he handed him over to the executioner

Meanwhile how fared it with the new archbishop who had been sent over
to enlighten the Irish nation? In July 1537 Henry felt it necessary to
reprove his spiritual representative for his lightness of behaviour,
his vain-glory, and his remissness in preaching the pure word of God,
and to warn him that if he did not show himself more active both in
religious matters and in advancing the king's cause he should be
obliged to put a man of more honesty in his place.[8] The archbishop
issued a form of prayer in English to be read in all the churches,
extolling royal supremacy and denouncing the Pope, but it produced no
effect. Once, when the archbishop attended High Mass in St. Andrew's,
the rector mounted the pulpit to read the prayer, but immediately one
of the canons gave a signal to the choir to proceed, and the
archiepiscopal message was lost to the congregation. In January 1538
he acknowledged that though the influence of the king ought to be
greatest within the city and province of Dublin, yet, notwithstanding
his gentle exhortation, his evangelical instruction, his insistence on
oaths of obedience, and his threats of sharp correction, he could not
induce any one to preach the word of God or the just title of the
king; that men who preached formerly till Christians were tired of
them, would not open their lips except in secret, when they gave full
vent to their opinions and thereby destroyed the fruits of the labour
of their archbishop; that the Observant Friars were the worst
offenders of all, refusing to take the oath and showing open contempt
for his authority; that he could not persuade the clergy to erase the
name of the Pope from the Canon of the Mass and was obliged to send
his own servants to carry out this work; that a papal indulgence had
been published in Ireland of which many had hastened to take advantage
by fulfilling the conditions laid down, namely, fasting on Wednesday,
Friday, and Saturday and receiving Holy Communion, and that all
bishops "made by the king" except himself were repelled to make way
for these appointed by Rome.[9] Although the chapter in Dublin had
been packed carefully to prepare the way for the election of Browne,
the archbishop was forced to complain that he had been withstood to
his face by one of the prebendaries, James Humfrey, and that of the
staff of the cathedral, twenty-eight in number, there was scarce one
"that favoured the word of God."[10]

In a letter sent to Cromwell (1538) Agarde informed him that the power
of the Bishop of Rome was still strong, that the Observant Friars
upheld it boldly, that nobody dared to say anything against them as
nearly all in authority were in favour of the Pope except Browne,
Alen, Master of the Rolls, Brabazon the Vice-Treasurer, and one or two
others of no importance, and that the temporal lawyers who drew the
king's fees could not be trusted.[11] Everywhere throughout the
country it was the same story. Those who should set an example to
others resorted to the Friars for confession, and were encouraged in
their boldness; Nangle, who had been intruded into the See of Clonfert
by the king, was driven out by Roland de Burgo, the papal bishop, and
dared not show himself in his diocese; never was there so much "Rome-
running" in the country, four or five bishops together with several
priors and abbots having been appointed lately by the Pope, while a
friar and a bishop, probably Rory O'Donnell of Derry, who had been
arrested, were tried and acquitted at Trim,[12] because the people in
authority were hypocrites and worshippers of idols.[13]

From 1536 therefore till 1538 the new gospel had made small progress
in Ireland. Had the men entrusted with its propagation been of one
mind they might have used the king's power with some effect, but the
Deputy, the Archbishop of Dublin, and the Bishop of Meath were at each
others throats almost continually. The Deputy treated the archbishop
with studied contempt, spoke of him as a "poll-shorn" friar and
obstructed his plans. According to Browne and his friends Alen and
Brabazon, the Deputy befriended the papists and the friars, knelt in
prayer before the shrine of Our Lady of Trim, and supported a bishop
appointed by Rome against one appointed by the king. Edward Staples, a
former protégé of Cardinal Wolsey, by whom he was recommended to Rome,
was appointed by the Pope to Meath in 1530, but being a steady
opponent of the Geraldines he was obliged to escape to his own country
in 1534. There he took the side of the king against Clement VII., and
on his return to Ireland, after he had received a sharp admonition
from the king, he undertook to preach in favour of royal supremacy.
But his views did not coincide with those of the Archbishop of Dublin.
The latter was obliged to complain that Staples denounced him as "a
heretic and a beggar with other rabulous revilings," and that not
content with this, he preached in the church at Kilmainham where "the
stations and pardons" were used as freely as ever, and attacked the
archbishop before his face with "such a stomach as I think the three-
mouthed Cerberus of hell could not have uttered it more viperously."
He glossed every sentence (of the archbishops sermons) after such
opprobrious fashion that every honest ear glowed to hear it, and "he
exhorted them all, yea, and so much as in him lay he adjured them, to
give no credence to (their spiritual guide) whatsoever he might say,
for before God he would not."[14] The Bishop of Meath replied that the
archbishop had given himself such airs that every honest man was weary
of him and that he (the bishop) had come to the conclusion that "pride
and arrogance hath ravished him from the right remembrance of
himself." In reply to Browne's covert hint that Staples was conniving
at the authority of the Pope, the latter charged the archbishop, whom
he described as his purgatory, with abhorring the Mass, and prayed
that an inquiry should be held.[15] An attempt was made to patch up
the quarrel, but the archbishop was far from content that his
authority had not been upheld.[16]

For so far the Reformation had made little or no progress in Ireland,
and apparently bishops, clergy and people were still strong on the
side of Rome. But during the successful military expedition undertaken
by Lord Grey into the centre, south, and west of Ireland in 1538, he
claimed to have achieved great success. In March 1538 O'Connor of
Offaly made his submission, promising at the same time not to admit
the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff or to allow others to admit
it.[17] The Earl of Ormond and the Butler family generally were
attached to the king's cause on account of their opposition to the
Geraldines. O'Carroll of Ely agreed to accept the king's peace, but
there is no evidence that he agreed to the king's religious programme.
At Limerick, according to the Deputy's own story, the mayor and
corporation took the oath of Royal Supremacy, and renounced the
authority of the Pope, as did also the bishop, who promised
furthermore to induce his clergy to follow this example. Similarly in
Galway, he assured the king, he had sworn the mayor, corporation and
bishop to resist the usurped jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome.[18]
But as against the trustworthiness of this report it should be
remembered that it is contradicted in very important particulars by
another official account of the proceedings written by eye-witnesses,
that the Deputy's doings on this occasion were belittled and
disparaged by the privy council, that Browne charged Grey with having
deposed, while he was in the neighbourhood of Limerick, a bishop
appointed by the king to make room for a Franciscan friar provided by
the Pope,[19] and with having supported the Mayor of Limerick, who was
a strong adherent of the Geraldines, that according to the same
authority, while Grey was in Galway he entertained right royally a
bishop, probably Roland de Burgo, "who had expelled the king's
presentee from the Bishopric of Clonfert," and that, finally, in
Robert Cowley's opinion Grey's expedition had for its object not so
much the extension of the king's territory as the formation of a
Geraldine League amongst the Irish and Anglo-Irish of the South and
West to support O'Neill and O'Donnell.[20]

It is important to bear in mind that the highest English officials in
Ireland at this period were divided into two factions, one favouring
the Deputy, and another attempting to secure his downfall by charging
him with being too friendly towards the Papists and the Geraldines.
The leaders of the latter section, and, according to a trustworthy
witness, the only men in authority who favoured the campaign against
the Pope were Browne, Alen, the Master of the Rolls, Brabazon, the
Vice-Treasurer, and one or two others, amongst whom might be reckoned
Aylmer the Chief Justice.[21] They were annoyed at the reported
success of Lord Grey in 1538, and however much they tried to disparage
it, they felt that unless they could accomplish something remarkable
for the king's cause the triumph of the Deputy was assured. Early in
December 1538 a message had been received containing "an advertisement
for the setting forth of the Word of God, abolishing of the Bishop of
Rome's usurped authority, and extinguishing of idolatry."[22]
Immediately the members of the council hostile to Lord Grey saw their
opportunity of scoring a signal victory. If they could not penetrate
into the North or West they determined to make an excursion into the
"four shires above the Barrow" to assert the king's supremacy, "but
also to levy the first fruits and twentieth part with other of the
king's revenue." Leaving Dublin towards the end of December they
proceeded first to Carlow, where they were entertained by Lord James
Butler, and thence to Kilkenny, where they were welcomed by the Earl
of Ormond. On New Year's Day the archbishop preached to a large
audience setting forth the royal (or rather Cromwell's) Injunctions
(1536), several copies of which were supplied to the bishops and
dignitaries of the diocese for the use of the clergy. Something
similar was done in Ross, Wexford, and Waterford, except that in the
latter place they hanged a friar in his habit, and ordered that his
corpse should be left on the gallows "for a mirror to all others of
his brethren to live truly." Next they visited Clonmel, in which town
according to their own story they achieved their greatest success. "At
Clonmel was with us two archbishops and eight bishops, in whose
presence my Lord of Dublin preached in advancing the King's Supremacy,
and the extinguishment of the Bishop of Rome. And, his sermon
finished, all the said bishops, in all the open audience, took the
oath mentioned in the Acts of Parliament, both touching the king's
succession and supremacy, before me, the king's chancellor; and divers
others present did the like."[23]

Though, as shall be seen, there was probably some foundation for this
report, there are many things about it which would seem to indicate
that its authors were guilty of gross exaggeration. In the first place
it should be noted that though it is headed "The Council of Ireland to
Cromwell," it is signed only by Browne, Alen, Brabazon, and Aylmer,
the sworn enemies of the Deputy, and the very men who had denounced
him for magnifying his success in the previous year. Secondly, it
deals only in generalities, giving no particulars about the names of
the archbishops or bishops who were alleged to have been present,
though such details would have been of the highest importance.
Thirdly, as can be seen from the correspondence of the period, Browne
was not accustomed to hide his merits or his services, and yet in a
personal letter written to Cromwell a week later he merely states that
during the month he spent in Munster "he did not only preach and set
forth the word of God, but also my master, the King's Highness most
goodly purpose."[24] Lastly, it should not be forgotten that, though
Browne and his friends claim to have been honoured with the presence
of the bishops from the entire province of Munster, yet at that time
the Earl of Desmond and his adherents, O'Brien of Thomond, the
MacCarthys and nearly all the Irish and Anglo-Irish nobles of the
province, with the exception of the Ormond faction which controlled
only a portion of south-eastern Munster, were still loyal to Rome. The
object of the report, then, seems to have been to destroy the
influence of the Deputy and the effect of his victory, by showing what
his opponents had effected and could effect if only their hands were
not tied by the action of a superior who was leagued with the Papists
and the enemies of the crown. Any one acquainted with the miserable
intrigues and petty jealousies revealed by the official correspondence
of the period can have no difficulty in believing that the authors of
this report would have had little scruple in departing from the truth.

Though Browne, like his masters Cromwell and Cranmer, was inclined to
push forward rapidly with his radical schemes of reform, yet, well
aware of the state of feeling in Dublin and throughout the country, he
feared to give offence by proceeding at once to extremes. At first he
contented himself with issuing the "bedes" or a form of prayer for the
king as supreme head of the church, for Prince Edward, for the Deputy,
council, and nobles, and for the faithful departed. Encouraged,
however, by the wholesale attack on images and pilgrimage shrines
begun in England (1538), he determined to undertake a similar work in
Ireland in the same year. But such a work proved to be so distasteful
to the people that he was obliged to deny that he had any intention of
pulling down the image of Our Lady of Trim or the Holy Cross in
Tipperary, though in his letter to Cromwell he admitted that "his
conscience would right well serve him to oppress such idols."[25] In
August of the same year Lord Butler reported to Cromwell that the
vicar of Chester announced in the presence of the Deputy, the
archbishop, and several members of the council that the king had
commanded that images should be set up again and worshipped as before,
whereupon the Deputy remained silent, but some of the others answered,
that if the vicar were not protected by the presence of the Deputy
they "would put him fast by the heels," as he deserved grievous
punishment.[26] In October Lord Grey, the Archbishop of Dublin, and
others attended the sessions at Trim for the trial of a bishop and of
a Franciscan friar, and, to the no small indignation of the
archbishop, Lord Grey visited the shrine of Our Lady of Trim to pray
before the image.[27] The encouragement given to Browne and his
friends by Cromwell's instructions (Dec. 1538) strengthened them to
continue their campaign "for the plucking down of idols and the
extinguishing of idolatry." The shrine of Our Lady at Trim was
destroyed; the Staff of Jesus was burned publicly; the Cross of
Ballybogan was broken, and a special commission was established to
search for and to destroy images, pictures, and relics.[28] Even the
Deputy, who was accused of favouring idols and papistry, had already
despoiled the Cathedral of Down, the monastery of Killeigh and the
collegiate church of Galway, though in all probability this action was
taken not so much out of contempt for the practices of the Church as
with the hope of raising money to pay his troops, and of securing the
favour of the king.

In England Henry VIII. had turned his attention almost immediately
after the separation from Rome to the suppression of the monasteries
and religious houses. This step was undertaken by him, partly because
the religious orders were the strongest and most energetic supporters
of the Pope, and partly, also, because he wished to enrich the royal
treasury by the plunder of the goods and possessions of the
monasteries. In England, however, some form of justice was observed;
but in Ireland no commission was appointed to report on the condition
of the monasteries or convents, and no opportunity was given them to
defend themselves against the slanderous statements of officials, who
were thirsting to get possession of their lands and their revenues.
According to the estimate given by De Burgo, there were in Ireland at
the time of Henry VIII. two hundred and thirty-one houses of the
Canons Regular of St. Augustine, thirty-six houses belonging to the
Premonstratensians, twenty-two of the Knights of St. John, fourteen to
the Trinitarians or Crouched Friars, nine to the Benedictines, forty-
two to the Cistercians, forty-three to the Dominicans, sixty-five to
the Franciscans, twenty-six to the Hermits of St. Augustine, twenty-
five to the Carmelites, and forty-three belonging to various
communities of Nuns.[29] Though in many particulars this summary is
far from being accurate, it may be taken as giving a fairly correct
idea of the number of religious houses at the period. Many of these
institutions were possessed of immense wealth, derived for the most
part from lands and church patronage. According to a return drawn up
in 1536 the annual revenue of the religious houses in Meath was set
down at £900 Irish money, in Dublin at £900, in Louth at £600, and in
Kildare at £255. If steps were taken to suppress immediately the
houses within these four shires it was reckoned that the king might
secure an annual revenue of £3,000, but if the communities concerned
got warning of the danger it was thought that the king would lose
£1,000 of this.[30]

By Henry's orders steps were taken in 1536 to secure the approval of
Parliament for the suppression of the monasteries, but though the
Abbey of St. Wolstan near Leixlip, belonging to the Canons Regular of
St. Victor was suppressed, both the spiritual and the lay peers
together with the proctors of the clergy offered a strenuous
opposition to the attack on the religious establishments. They knew
better than the English officials the work that was being done by many
of these institutions for religion, education, and hospitality, as
well as for the comfort of the poor and the infirm. In October 1537,
however, an act was passed for the suppression of Bective, St. Peter's
beside Trime, Duisk, Duleek, Holmpatrick, Baltinglass, Taghmolin,
Dunbrody, Tintern, and Ballybogan. Their lands, houses and possessions
generally were to be vested in the king, and a pension was to be
secured to the abbots and priors.[31] Together with these, eight
abbies mentioned in a special commission under the great seal were

The other religious houses, alarmed by the course of proceedings both
in England and at home, began to cut down the timber on their
properties, to dispose of their goods, to hide their valuable church
plate, and to lease their farms. Urgent appeals were sent to Cromwell
from Archbishop Browne and others, requesting that a commission should
be issued instantly for the suppression of the monasteries and
convents. Henry VIII. and Cromwell were nothing loath to accede to
these demands, particularly as some of the Mendicants had been very
zealous in defence of the rights of the Pope; and accordingly a royal
commission was addressed to the Archbishop of Dublin, John Alen
Chancellor, William Brabazon Vice-Treasurer, Robert Cowley Master of
the Rolls, and Thomas Cusake empowering them to undertake the work of
suppression (April 1539). "From information of trustworthy persons,"
it was stated, "it being manifestly apparent that the monasteries,
abbies, priories and other places of religious or regulars in Ireland,
are at present in such a state that in them the praise of God and the
welfare of man are next to nothing regarded; the regulars and nuns
dwelling there being so addicted, partly to their own superstitious
ceremonies, partly to the pernicious worship of idols, and to the
pestiferous doctrines of the Romish Pontiff, that, unless an effective
remedy be promptly provided, not only the weak lower order, but the
whole Irish people, may be speedily infected, to their total
destruction by such persons." To prevent such a calamity the king
resolved to take into his hands the religious houses and to disband
the monks and nuns, for which purpose he commanded the commissioners
to notify his wishes to the heads of the religious houses, to receive
their resignations and surrender of their property, to offer to those
who surrendered willingly a benefice or a pension, and "to apprehend
and punish such as adhere to the usurped authority of the Romish
Pontiff and contumaciously refuse to surrender their houses."[33] It
should be noted that from the terms of this commission it is clear
that no serious abuses or irregularities could have been charged
against the religious houses, else in the decree condemning them to
extinction something more serious would have been alleged to their
charge than adherence to their own superstitious ceremonies, to the
worship of idols, and to the Roman Pontiff. A month later Alen,
Brabazon, and Cowley were appointed to survey and value the rents and
revenues of the dissolved monasteries, to issue leases for twenty-one
years of both their spiritualities and temporalities, to reserve for
the king the plate, jewels, and ornaments, and to grant to the monks
and nuns pensions for their maintenance.[34]

Although many members of the privy council in Ireland had petitioned
more than once for such a commission, yet when rumours reached Dublin
that it had been granted, a request was forwarded from the council to
Cromwell begging him to spare St. Mary's Abbey Dublin, Christ's
Church, Grace-Dieu, Conall, Kells (Co. Kilkenny), and Jerpoint, on the
ground amongst others that "in them young men and children, both
gentlemen children and others both of man kind and woman kind, be
brought up in virtue, learning and in the English tongue and
behaviour, to the great charge of the said houses; that is to say, the
woman kind of the whole Englishry of this land, for the more part, in
the said nunnery, and the man kind in the other said houses."[35] This
petition received but scant consideration, and no wonder; because,
although the Archbishop of Dublin had agreed to it, he wrote on the
same day to Cromwell asking him for the lands of Grace-Dieu,[36] and,
according to a letter addressed to Cromwell by another prominent Irish
official, the Deputy at that very time "had obtained from the abbot of
St. Mary's leases of all the good lodgings in the monastery, and of
the farms of Ballyboghill and Portmarnock on an agreement evidently
meant to defraud the king."

Hardly had the commission been received than Browne and his companions
went to work in good earnest to carry out the task entrusted to them.
The superiors of most of the monasteries and convents situated within
the Pale or in the territories dominated by the Ormond faction
surrendered their houses at the first summons. Not even the Abbey of
St. Mary's, which petitioned for mercy on the ground that it kept open
house for poor men, scholars, and orphans, was spared,[37] nor the
priory of Conall, which boasted that though it lay among the wild
Irish it had never any brethren unless they belonged to the "very
English nation."[38] During the years 1539, 1540, and 1541 nearly all
the monasteries and convents in the territories within the
jurisdiction of the king were suppressed. Amongst the communities and
institutions that suffered were St. Mary's and the Abbey of St. Thomas
the Martyr, the Carmelite, Dominican and Franciscan houses of Dublin;
the Hospital of St. John and the Augustinians and Franciscans of Naas,
the Priories of Conall and Clane, the Hospital of Castledermott, the
Dominicans of Athy; the Franciscans of New Abbey, the Carmelites of
Cloncurry, the Abbey of Baltinglass, and the College of Maynooth, the
Priory of St. John in Kilkenny together with the houses of the
Franciscans, and Dominicans, and the Hospital for Lepers near the same
city, Jerpoint, Inistoge, Kells (Co. Kilkenny), the Carmelites of
Leighlin Bridge, Knocktopher, Thurles, Clonmel, the Augustinians of
Callan, Tipperary and Fethard, the Franciscans of Cashel and Clonmel,
the monastery of Duisk, Hore Abbey, Kilcool and Inislonagh, Mellifont,
the Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary near Trim, and of Kells, the
Priories of St. Fechin at Fore, and of Mullingar, the Hospital of St.
John of Jerusalem at Kilmainham, together with several other religious
houses at Louth, Dundalk, Drogheda, Waterford, and Carlow. At the same
time most of the convents within the English sphere of influence
surrendered their houses and possessions, amongst the last to do so
being the celebrated convent of Grace-Dieu.[39]

As a rule whenever a house was suppressed a pension was assigned to
the superior, to be paid out of the tithes of some of the
ecclesiastical livings in the gift of the monastery or priory. The
amount of the pension depended to some extent upon the value of the
property which was owned by the particular house. The Abbot of St.
Thomas the Martyr's, Dublin, received £42 Irish, the Abbot of
Mellifont £40, the Prior of Fore £50, the Abbot of Jerpoint £10, the
Prioress of Grace-Dieu £6, the Abbess of Grane £4, and the Prioress of
Termonfechin £1 6s. 8d., etc. Grants were also made to the members of
the suppressed communities, but very frequently these were very small.
Of the community of Mellifont one received £4, two £3 6s. 8d., two £2
13s. 4d., six £2, and two £1, while five of the community at Granard
received 13s. 4d., and some from other institutions received only 4s.
Many of the superiors and religious merely threw off the habit of
their order to become secular clergymen, and to accept a rectory or
vicarage in some of the churches over which their community had
enjoyed the rights of patronage.[40]

Long before the commission for suppression arrived the scramble for a
share in the plunder had begun. In this contest the Deputy, Archbishop
Browne, and the principal members of the privy council led the way.
John Alen, Master of the Rolls, was the first to profit by the
spoliation of the religious houses by getting possession of the
property of St. Wolstan's (1536), Lord Grey secured for himself the
goods and possessions of the Convent of Grane. The Earl of Ormond and
the Butler family generally enriched themselves out of the lands of
the monasteries situated in the south-eastern portion of Ireland, as
did also a host of hungry officials and gentlemen in different parts
of Ireland, such as the Cowleys, Alens, St. Legers, Lutrells,
Plunketts, Dillons, Nugents, Prestons, Berminghams, Townleys, Aylmers,
Flemings, Wyses, Eustaces, Brabazons, etc.[41] Even Patrick Barnewall,
who had resisted so strenuously the suppression of the monasteries in
1536, could not resist the temptation of sharing in the plunder. He
secured for himself a large portion of the lands and advowsons of the
Convent of Grace-Dieu. In this way the Anglo-Irish nobles were bribed
into acquiescence with the king's religious policy, and were enabled
to transmit to their descendants immense territories over which they
were to rule as hereditary landlords long after the origin of their
title had been forgotten. Similarly, in order to put an end to the
opposition of the city authorities, which had good ground to complain
of the suppressions of houses that were doing so much in the cause of
charity and education, large grants were made to the corporations of
Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Clonmel, etc. Wealthy merchants who had
money to invest were not slow in coming forward to secure leases of
portions of the monastic land and thereby to lay the foundations of a
new so-called aristocracy. The gold and silver ornaments, the sacred
vessels, the bells, and the church plate generally were sold for the
benefit of the king, but the officials were never particularly careful
about making the proper returns. From a partial account given by the
commissioners in 1541 it appeared that from the sales of the jewels,
reliquaries, pictures, and goods of the monasteries they had received
over £2,500 (Irish) of which they had given close on £500 to the
superiors, servants, etc., and retained £375 as travelling
expenses.[42] With the submission of the Earl of Desmond, O'Brien of
Thomond, O'Donnell, etc., a more determined campaign was initiated for
the total destruction of the religious houses, and particularly of
those belonging to the Mendicants, not merely in the Pale but
throughout Ireland. A special commission was issued (Aug. 1541) to the
Earl of Desmond and others "to take inventories of, to dissolve, and
to put in safe custody, all religious houses in Limerick, Cork, Kerry,
and Desmond." In return for his activity the Earl of Desmond was
rewarded with several grants of monastic land, and even O'Brien did
not think it beneath him to share in the plunder. In some places, as
for instance in Monaghan, the Franciscan Friars were put to death. But
in the Irish districts generally the decree of suppression was not
enforced, and even in the English portions of the country the
suppression of the monasteries did not mean the extinction of the
monks. The Franciscans and Dominicans in particular seem to have been
almost as numerous at the end of the reign of Henry VIII. as they had
been before he undertook his campaign against Rome.

The whole story of these sad years is summarised in a striking if
slightly exaggerated fashion by the Four Masters. "A heresy and new
error," they say, "sprang up in England through pride, vain-glory,
avarice, and list, and through many strange sciences, so that the men
of England went into opposition to the Pope and to Rome. . . . They
styled the king the chief head of the Church of God in his own
kingdom. New laws and statutes were enacted by the king and council
according to their own will. They destroyed the orders to whom worldly
possessions were allowed, namely, the Monks, Canons, Nuns, the
Crouched Friars, and the four Mendicant Orders, namely the Friars
Minor, the Friars Preachers, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians, and
the lordships and livings of all these were seized for the king. They
broke down the monasteries and sold their roofs and their bells, so
that from Aran of the Saints to the Iccian See there was not one
monastery that was not broken and shattered, with the exception of a
few in Ireland, of which the English took no notice or heed. They
afterward burned the images, shrines, and relics of the saints of
Ireland and England; they likewise burned the celebrated image of Mary
at Trim, which used to perform wonders and miracles, to heal the
blind, the deaf, the crippled, and persons affected with all kinds of
disease; they burned the Staff of Jesus, which was in Dublin, and
which wrought miracles from the time of St. Patrick, and had been in
the hands of Christ while He was among men. They also appointed
archbishops and bishops for themselves, and though great was the
persecution of the Roman emperors against the Church, scarcely had
there ever come so great a persecution from Rome as this, so that it
is impossible to narrate or tell its description unless it should be
narrated by one who saw it."[43] The Annalists might have added a fact
noticed by a distinguished Protestant historian that "instead of
bestowing their [of the monasteries] incomes on the amelioration of
the Church, or expending them in providing for the religious or
secular improvement of the people in any other way, caring little
apparently for the impoverishment of the Church, he [Henry VIII.]
misapplied those revenues for the purposes of promoting his own
gratification or enriching his favourites."[44]

Very early in his reign Henry VIII. had dreamt of the complete
subjugation of Ireland, but it was only after the successful overthrow
of the Geraldine Rebellion (1534-5) that the realisation of these
dreams seemed to be within measurable reach. The boldness and military
genius of Lord Leonard Grey bade fair to bring all Ireland within the
sphere of English jurisdiction, until the religious crisis arose to
complicate the issues. Many of the Irish princes took offence at the
doctrine of royal supremacy, the attack on images, pictures,
pilgrimages, relics, etc., and at the desperate efforts that were
being made to drive out entirely the monks and nuns. During the years
1537 and 1538 rumours of a great confederation reached the ears of the
English officials. It was represented that Con O'Neill, Manus
O'Donnell, O'Brien of Thomond, the De Burgos of Connaught, and the
Earl of Desmond had joined hands to protect the young Garrett
Fitzgerald and to defend the authority of the Pope. Messengers, it was
said, were passing constantly from Ireland to Scotland, and from
Scotland to Rome. It was reported in 1539 that the Irish princes
regarded Henry VIII. as a heretic, who had forfeited all title to the
Lordship of Ireland, that they were determined to uphold the authority
of the Pope, that they expected help from the Emperor, from France,
and from Scotland, and that if an invasion were attempted not even the
Anglo-Irish of the Pale could be relied upon on account of their
attachment to the Pope and to the Geraldines.[45]

But the successful expeditions against both the North and South
undertaken by the Deputy in 1539 seems to have put an end to all
concerted defence, and to have reduced the Irish princes to a state of
utter helplessness. One after another they hastened to make their
submission, to accept titles and honours and money from the king, and
to consent to hold their territories by royal patent. Already in 1534
the Earl of Ormond had accepted the religious policy of Henry VIII. in
the hope of scoring a triumph over his old rivals, the Geraldines.
Three years later (1537) MacGillapatrick of Ossory promised faithfully
to abolish the usurped jurisdiction of the Pope, to have the English
language spoken in his territories, and to send his son to be brought
up with a knowledge of the English language and customs. In return for
this he received a royal grant of his land and possessions, was
created Baron of Colthill and Castleton, and was promised a seat in
the House of Lords, a favour which he obtained in 1543, when he was
appointed a peer[46] with the title of Baron of Upper Ossory. Brian
O'Connor of Offaly and his rival Cahir made their submission in March
1538. They renounced the jurisdiction of the Pope, agreed to hold
their lands from the king, and to abandon all claims to tribute or
black rent from their neighbours of the Pale. Brian O'Connor was
created Baron of Offaly. He was followed in his submission by the Earl
of Desmond (1541), MacWilliam Burke, O'Brien of Thomond, Manus
O'Donnell (Aug. 1541) and finally by Con O'Neill (1542). All these,
together with a host of minor chieftains and dependents, renounced the
authority of the Pope, accepted re-grants of their lands from the
king, begged for English titles, and did not think it beneath their
dignity to accept gifts of money and robes. Con O'Neill became Earl of
Tyrone, his son Matthew Baron of Dungannon, O'Brien Earl of Thomond,
his nephew Donogh Baron of Ibricken, MacWilliam Burke Earl of
Clanrickard, while knighthoods were distributed freely among the
lesser nobles.[47] Although there may have existed in the minds of the
Irish chieftains a certain amount of confusion about the temporal and
spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope, especially as the Popes seem to
have claimed a peculiar sovereignty in Ireland, yet it is impossible
to suppose that they could have acted in good faith in signing the
documents of submission to which they attached their signatures. That
they recognised the dangerous and heretical tendencies of Henry's
religious policy is evident enough from the correspondence of the
years 1537-39, and that they never made any serious efforts to carry
out the terms of these agreements must be admitted. It is quite
possible that like the noblemen of England they were personally
willing to acquiesce in Henry VIII.'s religious policy for the sake of
securing good terms for themselves, but that they found it impossible
to do anything on account of the opposition of the vast body of the
people. Henry VIII. recognised that he was not in a position to
enforce his authority in case of O'Brien, O'Donnell, O'Neill,
MacWilliam Burke, etc., and hence he advised his officials to seek to
win these over by kindness and persuasion rather than by force. In
particular they were to endeavour "to persuade them discreetly" to
suppress the religious houses in their territories, but at the same
time no attempt was to be made "to press them overmuch in any vigorous
sort."[48] O'Brien of Thomond and Desmond were not unwilling to share
in the plunder of the monasteries, but as a rule the condition of
affairs as regards religion was but slightly affected by the
submissions of the chieftains.

The new Deputy, Anthony St. Leger (1540), was well fitted to profit by
the military successes of Lord Grey. As a royal commissioner three
years before he had ample opportunity of knowing the condition of
Ireland, the characters of the principal leaders, and the inducements
by which they might be tempted to acknowledge the authority of the
King of England. He relied upon diplomatic rather than military
pressure, and he was so completely successful that the privy council
could report in 1542 that Ireland was at peace. Already in 1537, Alen,
the Master of the Rolls, had called the attention of the royal
commissioners to the fact that many of the Irish regarded the Pope as
the temporal sovereign of Ireland and the King of England only as Lord
of Ireland by virtue of the Papal authority, and advised them that
Henry should be proclaimed King of Ireland by an Act of Parliament.
This advice was approved warmly by Staples, Bishop of Meath (1538),
and was endorsed by the Deputy and council in a letter addressed to
Henry VIII. in December 1540.[49] The suggestion was accepted by the
king, who empowered St. Leger to summon a Parliament to give it effect

Parliament met in June 1541. How many members attended the House of
Commons or what particular districts were represented is not known for
certain; but in all probability it was only from the eastern and
southern counties and cities that deputies were appointed. In the
House of Lords there were present two archbishops together with twelve
bishops, the Earls of Ormond and Desmond, and a number of viscounts,
lords and barons, nearly all of whom belonged to the Anglo-Irish
faction. O'Brien of Thomond did not attend, but he sent deputies to
represent him; O'Donnell and O'Neill held themselves aloof from the
proceedings; and Donogh O'Brien, MacWilliam Burke, Cahir MacArt
Kavanagh, O'Reilly, Phelim Roe O'Neill of Clandeboy, and Kedagh O'More
attended in person, but were not allowed to take an active part in the
proceedings or to vote.[50] A bill was introduced by St. Leger
bestowing on Henry VIII. the title of King of Ireland, and was read
three times in the House of Lords in one day. The next day it was
passed by the House of Commons. It was agreed that the monarch should
be styled "Henry VIII. by the Grace of God King of England, France,
and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England, and
also of Ireland, on earth the Supreme Head." The proclamation, it was
reported, was received with joyous acclamation in Dublin, where a
modified general amnesty was declared in honour of the happy event.
The report of what had taken place produced undoubtedly a great effect
on those princes who still held aloof, so that before the end of the
year 1542 even Con O'Neill had made an ignominious peace with the

While the questions of royal supremacy and the jurisdiction of the
Pope were being debated in Parliament (1536-7) the bishops and
proctors of the clergy incurred the wrath of Browne and the English
officials generally by their courageous resistance to the new
proposals, showing thereby that they had no sympathy with the anti-
Roman measures. Nor is there any reason to suppose that any
considerable body of them adopted a different attitude, though the
submission of their English brethren could not have failed to produce
some effect on them, particularly as some of them were Englishmen
themselves, and many of them must have received their education at
some of the English universities. In addition to Browne, who boasted
of being only "a king's bishop," the only men who can be proved to
have taken an active part in propagating the new views were Edmund
Staples of Meath and Richard Nangle, the bishop whom Henry VIII.
endeavoured to intrude into Clonfert (1536). The former of these was
an Englishman appointed by the Pope (1529) at the request of Henry
VIII. As might have been expected he took the side of the king against
the Earl of Kildare, and when the struggle began in Ireland between
the friends and the opponents of royal supremacy in Ireland he joined
the former. Like so many of the other Reformers he showed his anxiety
for the gospel by taking to himself a wife and by appropriating for
his own use the goods of the Church, but there is no evidence that his
efforts produced any effect on the great body of his clergy. Richard
Nangle of Clonfert found himself opposed by Roland de Burgo, the
bishop provided by the Pope to the See of Clonfert (Feb. 1539) Browne
announced that he intended personally to carry the light of the gospel
wherever English was understood, and that he had secured a suffragan
in the person of Dr. Nangle, Bishop of Clonfert, to set forth God's
Word and the king's cause in the Irish tongue.[51] Owing to the state
of open hostility existing between Browne and Staples the archbishop
did not regard the latter as a fellow-labourer. But evidently at this
period these were the only three bishops on whom any reliance could be
placed by Henry VIII. Similarly in a document drawn up in 1542
entitled /Certain Devices for the Reformation of Ireland/, Browne and
Staples alone were mentioned as favouring the gospel or as capable of
"instructing the Irish bishops of this realm, causing them to
relinquish and renounce all popish or papistical doctrine, and to set
forth within each of their dioceses the true Word of God."[52]

But though none of the Irish bishops appointed by the Pope, with the
single exception of Staples of Meath, took any active steps to assist
the king, few of them entered the lists boldly in defence of the Roman
See, and many of them, like their English brethren, tried to temporise
in the hope that the storm might soon blow past.[53] Edmund Butler,
the illegitimate son of Sir Piers Butler, afterwards Earl of Ormond,
seems to have joined with the rest of his family in acknowledging
royal supremacy. He took a seat in the privy council, acted as
intermediary between the government and the Earl of Desmond, signed as
a witness the document by which the latter renounced the authority of
the Pope, accepted for himself portions of the property of the
suppressed Franciscan Friary at Cashel, and was present at the
Parliament of 1541.[54] Hugh O'Cervallen of Clogher was appointed by
the Pope in 1535, but he went to London in 1542 as chaplain to Con
O'Neill, surrendered his Bulls of appointment, took the oath
proscribed by Henry VIII., and accepted a grant by royal patent of his
diocese, together with a pension of £40 a year.[55] Needless to say he
was repudiated by the Pope, who appointed another to take his place,
and was driven from his See. John Quinn of Limerick was reported by
Lord Grey to have taken the oath of royal supremacy in 1538,[56] but
the Deputy's leanings towards Rome even on this journey were
proclaimed so frequently by his opponents on the council that it would
be difficult to believe him, did not the name of the Bishop of
Limerick appear amongst the witnesses to the submission of the Earl of
Desmond.[57] Though his attitude at this period was at least doubtful,
it is certain that he stood loyal to Rome once he discovered the
schismatical tendency of the new movement, since it was found
necessary by the government to attempt to displace him in 1551 by the
appointment of one who was likely to be more pliable.

The fact that some of the bishops surrendered the religious houses of
which they were commendatory priors, as for example, Edmund Nugent of
Kilmore, Milo Baron of Ossory, and Walter Wellesley of Kildare,[58]
and accepted pensions from the king as a compensation for the loss
they sustained by the suppression of the monasteries, creates a grave
suspicion of their orthodoxy, though it does not prove that they
accepted royal supremacy. Baron was undoubtedly in close communication
with the government officials, and Nugent seems to have been removed
by the Pope. Again, several of the bishops, Roland de Burgo of
Clonfert, Florence Kirwan of Clonmacnoise, Eugene MacGuinness of Down
and Connor, and Thady Reynolds of Kildare[59] surrendered the Bulls
they had received from Rome, and accepted grants of their dioceses
from the king. Such a step, however, affords no decisive evidence of
disloyalty to the Holy See. For years a sharp controversy had been
waged between the Kings of England and the Pope regarding the
temporalities of bishoprics. The Popes claimed to have the right of
appointment to both the spiritualities and the temporalities, and gave
expression to these claims in the Bulls of appointment. The kings on
their part asserted their jurisdiction over the temporalities, and to
safeguard their rights they insisted that the bishop-elect should
surrender the papal grant in return for a royal grant. Such a custom
was well known before any schismatical tendencies had made themselves
felt in England, and compliance with it would not prove that the
bishops involved looked upon the king as the source of their spiritual
jurisdiction. The main point to be considered in case of the bishops
who surrendered their monasteries or their Bulls is what kind of oath,
if any, were they obliged to take. If they consented to swear the form
of renunciation prescribed for Irish bishops by the king their
orthodoxy could not well be defended, but it is possible that, as
Henry VIII. did not wish to press matters to extremes with the Irish
princes, he may have adopted an equally prudent policy in case of the
bishops, and contented himself with the oath of allegiance.

Fully cognisant of the importance of winning the bishops to his side,
Henry VIII. took care to appoint his own nominees as soon as a vacancy
occurred. By doing so he hoped to secure the submission of the clergy
and people, and to obtain for himself the fees paid formerly to Rome.
During the ten years, between 1536 and 1546, he appointed Dominic
Tirrey to Cork, Richard Nangle to Clonfert, Christopher Bodkin,
already Bishop of Kilmacduagh to Tuam, Alexander Devereux to Ferns,
William Meagh to Kildare, Richard O'Ferral, late prior of Granard to
Ardagh, Aeneas O'Hernan (or O'Heffernan), late preceptor of Aney, to
Emly, George Dowdall, late prior of Ardee, to Armagh, Conat
O'Siaghail, a chaplain of Manus O'Donnell to Elphin, and Cornelius
O'Dea, a chaplain of O'Brien of Thomond, to Killaloe. Though there can
be little doubt that some of these received their appointments as a
reward for their acceptance of royal supremacy, it is difficult to
determine how far they were committed to the religious policy of Henry
VIII. It is certain that none of them, with the possible exception of
Nangle, took an active part in favouring the cause of the Reformation
in Ireland once they understood the real issues at stake, and that the
fact of their being opposed in every single case by a lawful bishop
appointed by the Pope rendered it impossible for them to do much,
however willing they might have been to comply with the wishes of the

During this critical period in Irish history Pope Paul III. was in
close correspondence with several of the Irish bishops and lay
princes. Time and again the officials in Ireland complain of the
"Rome-runners," of the provisions made by the Pope to Irish
bishoprics, of the messengers passing to and fro between Ireland and
Rome, and of the Pope's co-operation in organising the Geraldine
League in 1538 and 1539. It should be noted, however, that the silly
letter attributed by Robert Ware to Paul III., wherein he is supposed
to have warned O'Neill that he and his councillors in Rome had
discovered from a prophecy of St. Laserian that whenever the Church in
Ireland should fall the Church of Rome should fall also, is a pure
forgery published merely to discredit the Pope and the Roman See.[61]
Undoubtedly Paul III. was gravely concerned about the progress of a
movement that threatened to involve Ireland in the English schism, and
was anxious to encourage the bishops and princes to stand firm in
their resistance to royal supremacy. In 1539 reports reached Rome that
George Cromer, the Archbishop of Armagh, who had resisted the measures
directed against the Pope during the years 1536-38, had yielded, and
as a result the administration of the See was committed (1539) to
Robert Wauchope, a distinguished Scotch theologian then resident in
Rome. What proofs were adduced in favour of Cromer's guilt are not
known, but it is certain that the official correspondence of the
period will be searched in vain for any evidence to show that Cromer
accepted either in theory or in practice the ecclesiastical headship
of Henry VIII. He held aloof from the meetings of the privy council,
never showed the slightest sympathy with the action of the Archbishop
of Dublin, and though his name appears on some of the lists of the
spiritual peers in the Parliament of 1541, the official report of St.
Leger makes it certain that he did not attend.[62] It is quite
possible that the Archbishop did not find himself in agreement with
the political schemes whereby the Irish princes and the King of
Scotland were to join hands for the overthrow of English authority in
Ireland, and on this account the King of Scotland was desirous of
having him removed to make way for his agent at the Roman Court.

The new administrator of Armagh, Robert Wauchope, though suffering
from weak sight, was recognised as one of the ablest theologians of
his day. He took a prominent part in the religious conference at Worms
(1540) and at the Diet of Ratisbon (1541). He attended the Council of
Trent during its earlier sessions, and rendered very valuable
assistance, particularly in connexion with the decrees on
Justification. The date of his consecration cannot be determined with
certainty. Probably he was not consecrated until news of the death of
Cromer (1543) reached Rome. In 1549 he set out for Scotland, and
apparently landed on the coast of Donegal in the hope of inducing
O'Neill and O'Donnell to co-operate with the French and the Scots. His
efforts were not, however, crowned with success. Finding himself
denounced to the government by O'Neill and by George Dowdall, who had
been appointed to the See of Armagh by the king, he returned to Rome
where he was granted faculties as legate to Ireland, but he died in a
few months before he could make any attempt to regain possession of
his diocese.[63] Before the death of Cromer Henry VIII., against the
wishes of some members of his council in Ireland, who favoured the
nomination of the son of Lord Delvin, had selected George Dowdall,
late prior of Ardee, to succeed him in Armagh. Dowdall went to London,
in company with Con O'Neill, and received from the king a yearly
pension of £20 together with the promise of the Archbishopric of
Armagh.[64] Though he must have given satisfactory assurances to the
king on the question of royal supremacy, Dowdall was still in his
heart a supporter of Rome, and as shall be seen, he left Ireland for a
time rather than agree to the abolition of the Mass and the other
sweeping religious innovations that were undertaken in the reign of
Edward VI.[65]

At the urgent request of Robert Wauchope Paul III. determined to send
some of the disciples of St. Ignatius to Ireland to encourage the
clergy and people to stand firm in defence of their religion. St.
Ignatius himself drew up a set of special instructions for the
guidance of those who were selected for this important mission. The
two priests appointed for the work, Paschasius Broet and Alphonsus
Salmeron, together with Franciscus Zapata who offered to accompany
them, reached Scotland early in February 1541, and, having fortified
themselves by letters of recommendation from the King of Scotland
addressed to O'Neill and others, they landed in Ireland about the
beginning of Lent. Their report speaks badly for the religious
condition of the country at the period. They could not help noting the
fact that all the great princes, with one exception, had renounced the
authority of the Pope and had refused to hold any communications with
them, that the pastors had neglected their duty, and that the people
were rude and ignorant, though at the same time not unwilling to
listen to their instructions. In many particulars this unfavourable
report was well founded, especially in regard to the nobles, but it
should be remembered that these Jesuits remained only a few weeks in
the country, that they were utterly unacquainted with the manners and
customs of the people, and that it would have been impossible for them
to have obtained reliable information about the religious condition of
Ireland in the course of such a short visit. It should be noted, too,
that they placed the responsibility for the failure of their mission
on the King of Scotland who failed to stand by his promises.[66]

During the last years of Henry VIII.'s reign St. Leger continued his
efforts to reduce the country to subjection not by force but by
persuasion. The religious issue was not put forward prominently, and
with the exception of grants of monastic lands and possessions very
little seems to have been done. The Deputy's letters contain glowing
reports of his successes. In the course of the warm controversy that
raged between him and John Alen, the Chancellor, during the years 1546
and 1547, the various reports forwarded to England are sufficient to
show that outside the Pale the English authorities had made little
progress. Although St. Leger was able to furnish a striking testimony
from the council as to his success, and although a letter was sent by
the Irish princes in praise of Henry VIII.[67] (1546), proofs are not
wanting that Henry's policy had met with only partial success.
According to a letter sent by Archbishop Browne in 1546 the Irish
people were not reconciled to English methods of government, and
according to the chancellor, the king's writ did not run in the Irish
districts. The Irishmen who pretended to submit did not keep to their
solemn promises. They still followed their own native laws regardless
of English statutes, and the king could not get possession of the
abbeys or abbey lands situated within their territories. Even the
council, which sought to defend the Deputy against these attacks, was
forced to admit that his Majesty's laws were not current in the Irish
districts.[68] One of the last steps taken by the council at the
suggestion of Henry VIII. was the appointment of a vice-regent in
spirituals for the clergy, to grant dispensations as they were granted
in England by Cranmer, so as to prevent the Irish from having recourse
to Rome for such grants.[69]

Henry VIII. died with the knowledge that he had done more than any of
his predecessors for the subjugation of Ireland. "The policy that was
devised," writes Cusacke, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, "for the sending
of the Earls of Desmond, Thomond, Clanrickard, and Tyrone, and the
Baron of Upper Ossory, O'Carroll, MacGennis, and others into England,
was a great help of bringing those countries to good order; for none
of them who went into England committed harm upon the King's Majesty's
subjects. The winning of the Earl of Desmond was the winning of the
rest of Munster with small charges. The making of O'Brien an Earl made
all that country obedient. The making of MacWilliam Earl of
Clanrickard made all that country during his time obedient as it is
now. The making of MacGillapatrick Baron of Upper Ossory hath made his
country obedient; and the having their lands by Dublin is such a gage
upon them as they will not forfeit the same through wilful folly."[70]
As far as religion was concerned, however, there was very little
change. The Mass was celebrated and the Sacraments were administered
as before. Here and there some of the bishops and clergy might have
been inclined to temporise on the question of royal supremacy, but
whatever documents they might have signed, or whatever appointments
they might have accepted from Henry's agents, the vast body of the
princes, bishops, clergy, and people had no desire to separate
themselves from the universal Church. Henry VIII. had, however,
rendered unintentionally an immense service to religion in Ireland by
preparing the way for the destruction of royal interference in
episcopal and other ecclesiastical appointments and of the terrible
abuse of lay patronage that had been the curse of the Catholic Church
in Ireland for centuries. All these abuses having been transferred to
the small knot of English officials and Anglo-English residents, who
coalesced to form the Protestant sect, the Catholic Church was at last
free to pursue her peaceful mission without let or hindrance from

The accession of Edward VI. made no notable change in Irish affairs.
The Deputy, St. Leger, was retained in office, as were also most of
the old officials. Some new members, including George Dowdall,
Archbishop of Armagh, were added to the council, and arrangements were
made for the collection of the revenues from the suppressed
monasteries and religious houses. A royal commission was issued to the
Deputy, the Lord Chancellor, and the Bishop of Meath to grant
faculties and dispensations in as ample a manner as the Archbishop of
Canterbury. From the terms of this commission it is clear that the
royal advisers were determined to derive some financial profit from
the royal supremacy. The fee for dispensations for solemnising
marriage without the proclamation of the banns was fixed at 6s. 8d.
(about £3 4s.), for marriage within the prohibited times at 10s., for
marriage within the prohibited times and without banns at 13s. 4d.,
and for marriages to be celebrated without the parish church of the
contracting parties at 5s.[71] Similarly, an order was sent that the
plate and ornaments of St. Patrick's Cathedral should be dispatched by
some trustworthy messenger to Bristol, there to be delivered to the
treasurer of the mint. This command must not have been carried out
completely, because seven months later (Jan. 1548) the Dean of St.
Patrick's was requested to deliver over for the use of the mint the
"one thousand ounces of plate of crosses and such like things" that
remained in his hands.[72]

From the very beginning of Edward's reign the Protector set himself to
overthrow the Catholic Church in Ireland by suppressing the Mass and
enforcing the Lutheran or rather the Calvinist teaching regarding
Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
The /Injunctions/ of Edward VI. and the /Homilies/ of Cranmer were
dispatched for the guidance of the Archbishop of Dublin, and of those
who, like him, were supposed to favour religious innovations. In like
manner the English Communion service (1548) and the First Book of
Common Prayer (1549) were made obligatory in those districts where the
English language was spoken or understood. As in England, the great
subject of controversy in Ireland during the early years of Edward's
reign was the Blessed Eucharist. A Scotch preacher had been sent into
Ireland during the year 1548 to prepare the way for the abolition of
the Mass by attacking the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of
the Altar. The Archbishop of Dublin, who had been noted previously for
his radical tendencies, objected to such doctrines, and complaints
were forwarded against him to the council. He was charged with having
leased or otherwise disposed of the greater portion of the property of
his diocese to his children and favourites, with having failed to set
forth his Majesty's /Injunctions/ and /Homilies/, with having
calumniated the Deputy and held secret communications with the Earl of
Desmond and other Irish princes, and with having neglected to preach a
single sermon between November 1547 and September 1548, when he took
occasion to inveigh against the Scotch preacher who condemned "the
abuse of the Bishop of Rome's masses and ceremonies."[73] About the
same time the Deputy felt obliged to reprove the Treasurer of Christ's
Church for having refused to allow the English Communion Service to be
followed in that church, and to warn him of the punishment in store
for him if he persisted in his obstinacy.

But if Browne were somewhat backward in adapting himself to the new
theories, his rival, Staples of Meath, who had prided himself hitherto
on his conservative tendencies, hastened to the relief of the
government. He went to Dublin to support the Scotch preacher in his
attack on the Mass and the Blessed Eucharist, but if we are to believe
his own story his stay in Dublin was hardly less agreeable than was
the welcome that awaited him on his return to Meath. His friends
assured him that the country was up in arms against him. A lady, whose
child he had baptised and named after himself, sought to change the
name of her baby, for she "would not have him bear the name of a
heretic." A gentleman would not permit his child to be confirmed by
one who had denied the Sacrament of the Altar. Many people who heard
that the bishop was going to preach at Navan the following Sunday
declared their intention of absenting themselves lest they should
learn heresy. A clergyman of his own promotion came to him in tears,
and having asked permission to speak his mind freely, informed him
that he was detested by the people since he had taken the side of the
heretics and preached against the Eucharist and Saints, that the
curses poured out upon him were more numerous than the hairs of his
head, and that he would do well to take heed as his life was in

Sir Edward Bellingham succeeded St. Leger as Deputy, and arrived in
May 1548. During the early months of his term of office he was busily
engaged against the O'Connors of Offaly, the O'Carrolls, and others,
who threatened the Pale once more. His efforts were crowned with
considerable success, and during the year 1549 he found himself in a
position to push forward with the religious campaign. From inquiries
made he learned that in all Munster, Thomond, Connaught, and Ulster
the monasteries and other religious establishments remained, and that
they followed still the old religious practices.[75] He wrote to the
secretary of the Protector asking him to inform his master of the lack
of good shepherds in Ireland "to illuminate the hearts of the flock of
Christ with His most true and infallible word," taking care at the
same time to recommend the Protector to appoint the clergymen who had
been brought over from England to vacant bishoprics, so that the
public funds might be relieved by the withdrawal of their pensions.
The mayor and corporation of Kilkenny were ordered to see that the
priests of the city should assemble to meet the Deputy and members of
the council. They promised that all the clergy should be present
without fail, but, as shall be seen, the instructions of Sir Edward
Bellingham and his colleagues produced but little effect even in the
very stronghold of the Ormonds (1549). Walter Cowley was sent on a
commission into the diocese of Cashel to "abolish idolatry, papistry,
the Mass Sacrament and the like," but he complained that the
archbishop, instead of being present to assist him, tarried in Dublin
although he had been warned that his presence was required.[76] The
truth is that, though the archbishop, as one of the Butlers, was
willing to go to great lengths in upholding the policy of Edward VI.,
he had no intention of taking part in a campaign against the Mass or
the Blessed Eucharist.[77] The latter written by this prelate (Feb.
1548), in which he praised highly the conduct of Walter Cowley, who
played such a prominent part in the suppression of the monasteries and
the seizure of ecclesiastical property, is often quoted as a proof
that he was strongly in favour of the Reformation, but such a
statement could be made only by one who has failed to understand the
difference between Ormondism and Protestantism, and the relations of
both Cowley and the archbishop to the former.

Bellingham was recalled to England in 1549, and soon after his
departure new disturbances broke out in Ireland. Desmond and O'Brien
were regarded as unreliable; a union between the two great rival
families of the Ormonds and the Desmonds was not improbable, and to
make matters worse, news arrived in Dublin that Robert Wauchope, the
papal Archbishop of Armagh, had arrived in the North to bring about a
league between O'Donnell, O'Neill, the Scotch, and the French (1550).
Dowdall, who had been introduced into Armagh by royal authority,
reported the presence of his rival in Innishowen, and O'Neill and
Manus O'Donnell pledged themselves to resist the invaders. The council
hastened to thank the northern chieftains for their refusal to hold
correspondence with the French emissaries, who had accompanied
Wauchope, and warned them that the French intended to reduce the Irish
to a state of slavery, and that the French nobility were so savage and
ferocious that it would be much better to live under the Turkish yoke
than under the rule of France.[78]

In July 1550 St. Leger was sent once more as Deputy to Ireland. He was
instructed "to set forth God's service according to our (the king's)
ordinances in English, in all places where the inhabitants, or a
convenient number of them, understand that tongue; where the
inhabitants did not understand it, the English is to be translated
truly into the Irish tongue, till such time as the people might be
brought to understand English." But as usual the financial side of the
Reformation was not forgotten. The Deputy was commanded to give order
that no sale or alienation be made of any church goods, bells, or
chantry and free chapel lands without the royal assent, and that
inventories were to be made in every parish of such goods, ornaments,
jewels, and bells, of chantry or free chapel lands, and of all other
lands given to any church, "lest some lewd persons might embezzle the
same."[79] On his arrival in Dublin St. Leger found affairs in a very
unsatisfactory condition. "I never saw the land," he wrote, "so far
out of good order, for in the forts [there] are as many harlots as
soldiers, and [there was during] these three years no kind of divine
service, neither communion, nor yet other service, having but one
sermon made in that space, which the Bishop of Meath made, who had so
little reverence at that time, as he had no great haste since to
preach there."[80] Rumours were once more afloat that the French and
Scotch were about to create a diversion in Ireland. A large French
fleet was partially wrecked off the Irish coast, and some of the
Geraldine agents in Paris boasted openly that the Irish princes were
determined to "either stand or die for the maintenance of religion and
for the continuance of God's service in such sort as they had received
it from their fathers."[81]

While St. Leger was not slow in taking measures to resist a foreign
invasion, he did not neglect the instructions he had received about
introducing the Book of Common Prayer in place of the Mass. He
procured several copies of the English service and sent them to
different parts of the country, but instead of having it translated
into Irish he had it rendered into Latin for the use of those
districts which did not understand English, in the hope possibly that
he might thereby deceive the people by making them believe that it was
still the Mass to which they had been accustomed. Apparently, however,
the new liturgy met with a stubborn resistance. In Limerick, although
the city authorities were reported to be favourable, the Bishop, John
Quinn, refused to give his consent to the proposed change, and
throughout the country generally the Deputy was forced to confess that
it was hard to plant the new religion in men's minds. He requested
that an express royal command should be addressed to the people
generally to accept the change, and that a special commission should
be given to himself to enforce the liturgy.[82]

The formal order for the introduction of the English service was
forwarded to St. Leger in February 1551, and was promulgated in the
beginning of March. Bishop Quinn of Limerick was forced to resign the
temporalities of his See to make way for William Casey, who was
expected to be more compliant. A number of bishops and clergy were
summoned to meet in conference in Dublin to consider the change. At
this conference the reforming party met with the strongest opposition
from the Primate of Armagh. Although George Dowdall had accepted the
primatial See from the hands of the king and had tried to unite
loyalty to Rome and to Henry VIII., he had no intention of supporting
an heretical movement having for its object the abolition of the Mass.
From the very beginning of the Protector's rule he had adopted an
attitude of hostility to the proposed changes, as is evident from the
friendly letter of warning addressed to him by the Lord Deputy
Bellingham.[83] The Primate defended steadfastly the jurisdiction of
the Bishop of Rome, and refused to admit that the king had any
authority to introduce such sweeping reforms by virtue of his office.
Finding that his words failed to produce any effect on the Deputy he
left the conference, together with his suffragans, except Staples of
Meath, and repaired to his own diocese to encourage the people and
clergy to stand firm. St. Leger then handed the royal commission to
Browne, who declared that he submitted to the king "as Jesus Christ
did to Caesar, in all things just and lawful, making no question why
or wherefore, as we own him our true and lawful king."[84]

Though St. Leger pretended to be a strong supporter of the new
religion, yet, according to Archbishop Browne, he contented himself
with the formal promulgation of the royal orders. He himself on his
arrival in Ireland assisted publicly at Mass in Christ's Church, "to
the comfort of his too many like Papists, and to the discouragement of
the professors of God's word." He allowed the celebration of Mass,
holy water, Candlemas candles, and such like to continue in the
diocese of the Primate and elsewhere without protest or punishment. He
seemed, even, to take the side of the Primate at the council board,
and sent a message to the Earl of Tyrone "to follow the counsell and
advice of that good father, sage senator and godly bishop, my lord
Primate in everything." He went so far as to present the Archbishop of
Dublin with a number of books written in defence of the Mass and
Transubstantiation, and when the archbishop ventured to remonstrate
with him on his want of zeal for God's word the only reply he received
was, "Go to, go to, your matters of religion will mar all."[85] St.
Leger's main object was the pacification of the country and the
extension of English power, both of which, he well knew, would be
endangered by any active campaign against the Mass.

St. Leger was recalled, and Sir James Crofts, who had been sent on a
special commission to Ireland a few months earlier, was appointed
Deputy in his place (April 1551). His instructions in regard to the
Book of Common Prayer and the inventory of the confiscated church
plate were couched in terms similar to those given to his
predecessor.[86] Anxious from the beginning to conciliate Primate
Dowdall, he forwarded to him a respectful letter (June 1551) calling
his attention to the respect paid by Christ Himself and St. Peter to
the imperial authority, offering his services as mediator between the
Primate and his opponents, Browne and Staples, and warning him of the
likelihood of much more serious changes, which he (the Deputy) pledged
himself if possible to resist.[87] To this communication the Primate
sent an immediate reply, in which he offered to meet his opponents in
conference, though he could hold out no hope of agreement, as their
"judgments, opinions, and consciences were different."[88]

The conference took place at St. Mary's Abbey in the presence of the
Deputy. The Archbishop of Dublin, Staples of Meath, and Thomas
Lancaster, who had been intruded into the See of Kildare by royal
authority, attended to defend the new teaching against the Primate.
The subjects discussed were the Mass and the Blessed Virgin. Staples
took the leading part on the side of the Reformers, and, as Dowdall
had anticipated, no agreement could be arrived at. The Primate
appealed to the terms of the oath of loyalty to the Pope taken by both
himself and his opponents at their consecration, but Staples had no
difficulty in proclaiming that he refused to consider himself bound by
this oath. The meeting broke up without any result.[89] Dowdall,
having forwarded a declaration to the Lord Chancellor that he could
never be bishop where the Holy Mass was abolished, fled from Ireland.
Browne wrote immediately to the Earl of Warwick beseeching him to
confer on Dublin all the primatial rights enjoyed hitherto by Armagh,
while the Deputy sought for instructions about the vacant See of
Armagh (Nov. 1551).[90] Dowdall was deprived of his diocese, and the
Primacy was transferred to Dublin (1551).

Still Crofts was forced to admit that the Reformation was making but
little progress in Ireland. The bishops and clergy gave him no
support, and in spite of all he could do "the old ceremonies" were
continued. He besought his friends in England to send over reliable
men from England to fill the vacant bishoprics and to set forth the
"king's proceeding," or if they could not do that, to send some
learned men to remain with him by whose counsel he might better direct
"the blind and obstinate bishops." The Sees of Armagh, Cashel, and
Ossory were then vacant, and, as the Deputy pointed out, it was of
vital importance to the Reformers that reliable priests should be
appointed. Cranmer nominated four clerics for the See of Armagh, from
whom the king selected Richard Turner, a vicar in Kent. But he
declined the honour, preferring to run the risk of being hanged by
rebels than to go to Armagh, where he should be obliged to "preach to
the walls and the stalls, for the people understand no English."
Cranmer tried to re-assure him by reminding him "that if he wilt take
the pains to learn the Irish tongue (which with diligence he may do in
a year or two) then both his doctrine shall be more acceptable not
only unto his diocese, but also throughout all Ireland."
Notwithstanding this glorious prospect Turner remained obdurate in his
refusal, and at last Armagh was offered to and accepted by one Hugh
Goodacre.[91] Cashel was, apparently, considered still more hopeless,
and as nobody upon whom the government could rely was willing to take
the risk, the See was left vacant during the remainder of Edward VI.'s
reign. Though Crofts was strongly in favour of the new religion, he
had the temerity to suggest that Thomas Leverous, the tutor and former
protector of the young heir of Kildare, should be appointed to Cashel
or Ossory. "For learning, discretion, and good living," he wrote, "he
is the meekest man in this realm, and best able to preach both in the
English and the Irish tongue. I heard him preach such a sermon as in
my simple opinion, I heard not in many years."[92]

But as Leverous was well known to be not only a Geraldine but also a
strong Papist the Deputy's recommendation was set at nought, and the
See of Ossory was conferred on John Bale. The latter was an
ex-Carmelite friar, who, according to himself, was won from the
ignorance and blindness of papistry by a temporal lord, although
according to others, "his wife Dorothy had as great a hand in that
happy work as the Lord." On account of his violent and seditious
sermons he was thrown into prison, from which he was released by
Cromwell, with whom he gained great favour by his scurrilous and
abusive plays directed against the doctrines and practices of the
Church. On the fall of his patron in 1540 Bale found it necessary to
escape with his wife and children to Germany, whence he returned to
England after the death of Henry VIII. He was a man of considerable
ability, "with little regard for truth if he could but increase the
enemies of Popery," and so coarse and vulgar in his language and ideas
that his works have been justly described by one whose Protestantism
cannot be questioned as a "dunghill."[93]

The consecration of Goodacre and Bale was fixed for February 1553, and
the consecrating prelates were to be Browne, Lancaster, who had been
intruded by the king into Kildare, and Eugene Magennis of Down. At the
consecration ceremony itself a peculiar difficulty arose. Although the
First Book of Common Prayer had been legalised in Ireland by royal
proclamation, the Ordinal and the Second Book of Common Prayer had
never been enforced by similar warrant, and their use was neither
obligatory nor lawful. Bale demanded, however, that they should be
followed. When the dean of Christ's Church insisted on the use of the
Roman Ordinal, he was denounced by the bishop-elect as "an ass-headed
dean and a blockhead who cared only for his belly," and when Browne
ventured to suggest that the ceremony should be delayed until a
decision could be sought, he was attacked as "an apicure," whose only
object was "to take up the proxies of any bishopric to his own
gluttonous use." The violence of Bale carried all before it even to
the concession of common bread for the Communion Service.[94]

Goodacre was by English law the Archbishop of Armagh, but the
threatening attitude of Shane O'Neill prevented him from ever having
the pleasure of seeing his own cathedral. Bale was, however, more
fortunate. He made his way to Kilkenny where he proceeded to destroy
the images and pictures in St. Canice's, and to rail against the Mass
and the Blessed Eucharist, but only to find that his own chapter, the
clergy, and the vast majority of the people were united in their
opposition to him.

[1] /State Papers Hen. VIII./, ii., 9.

[2] /State Papers/, ii., 197.

[3] Gasquet, /Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries/, p. 51.

[4] /State Papers/, ii., 465, 539; iii., 1, 5, 8, 29, 35, 65. Bagwell,
i., 379 sqq.

[5] This account of the Parliament, 1536-7, is taken from Brewer's
/Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII./, vols. x.,
xi., xii. The references can be found under the respective dates.

[6] For the account of the proceedings of this Commission, cf.
/Letters and Papers of Henry VIII./ xii., pt. ii., pp. 294-316.

[7] /Letters and Papers Hen. VIII./, xii., pt. i., no. 1447; pt. ii.,

[8] /State Papers/, ii., 465-6.

[9] /Letter of Browne to Cromwell/, Id., 539-41.

[10] /Letters and Papers Henry VIII./, xiii., pt. i., no. 961.

[11] /State Papers/, ii., 570.

[12] Id., iii., 6.

[13] Id., ii., 516. /Letters/, etc., xii., pt. 1, 159, 658, 769;
xiii., pt. 1, 1420.

[14] /State Papers/, iii., 1-3.

[15] /State Papers/, iii., 8, 29, 31.

[16] /Letters and Papers/, xii., pt. 2, no. 64.

[17] /State Papers/, ii., 560.

[18] Grey to Henry VIII., 26 July, 1538. Id. iii., 57 sqq.

[19] Browne to Cromwell, iii., 122-4.

[20] Id., 63-65.

[21] /State Papers/, ii., 570.

[22] /State Papers/, iii., 110.

[23] Id., iii., 18.

[24] /State Papers/, iii., 122.

[25] /State Papers/, iii., 35.

[26] Id., iii., 95.

[27] Id., iii., 103.

[28] /Annals of F. M./, 1537; /of Loch Cé/, 1538 (correct date,

[29] /Hib. Dominiciana/, pp. 726-52.

[30] /Letters and Papers Hen. VIII./, vol. xi., no. 1416.

[31] /Irish Statutes/, i., 127-32.

[32] /State Papers/, ii., 438.

[33] /Calendar of Patent Rolls, Ireland/, i., 55.

[34] /Calendar of Patent Rolls, Ireland/, i., 54-55.

[35] /State Papers/, iii., 130.

[36] /Letters and Papers/, xiv., 1st pt., no. 1006.

[37] /State Papers/, iii., 142-3.

[38] /Letters and Papers/, xiv., pt. 1, no. 1021.

[39] For surrenders, cf. /Calendar of Patent Rolls/, i., 53-9.
/Calendar of State Papers, Ireland (1509-73)/, 56-58.

[40] For the pensions granted to the religious, cf. /Fiants of Henry
VIII./ (App. Seventh Report Public Rec. Office). /Calendar of
Patent Rolls, Ireland/, i., 59 sqq.

[41] For these grants, cf. /Fiants of Henry VIII. Seventh Report of D.
Keeper of P. R., Ireland./

[42] /Letters and Papers/, xvi., no. 775.

[43] Under year 1537. The date is not correct.

[44] Mant, /Church History of Ireland/, 1846, ii., 713.

[45] /State Papers/, iii., 56-7, 136-7, 147, 175-6.

[46] /State Papers/, ii., 514-5.

[47] Cf. /State Papers/, vol. iii. /Letters and Papers Henry VIII./,
xiii.-xvii. /Calendar of Documents, Ireland (1537-41)/. /Calendar
of Carew Manuscripts/, vol. i.

[48] /State Papers/, iii., 332-3.

[49] Cf. /State Papers/, ii., 480; iii., 30, 278.

[50] /Letters and Papers/, xvi., no. 935. There is a clear discrepancy
between this document and the official report of St. Leger (/State
Papers/, iii., 305) in regard to the ecclesiastics present.

[51] /State Papers/, iii., 123.

[52] Id., 431.

[53] Gogarty, /The Dawn of the Reformation in Ireland/ (/Ir. Th.
Quart./, viii.).

[54] Cf. /State Papers/, vol. iii., 427 sqq., /Letters and Papers Hen.
VIII./, xvi. p. 225, /Fiants of Hen. VIII./ (157, 387).

[55] /State Papers/, iii., 429.

[56] /Letters and Papers/, xii., pt. 1, no. 1467.

[57] Id., xvi., p. 225.

[58] Cf. /Fiants of Henry VIII./, nos. 104, 108, 147.

[59] Cf. Id., nos. 187, 262-3, 378.

[60] For these appointments, cf. /Calendar of Patent Rolls/, i.,

[61] Bridgett, /Blunders and Forgeries/, 1890, 244.

[62] /State Papers/, iii., 305.

[63] Cf. Stuart-Coleman, /Historical Memoirs of Armagh/, xi., Moran,
/Spicileg. Ossiriense/, i., 13-32.

[64] /State Papers/, iii., 429.

[65] Stuart-Coleman, xi. Gogarty, /Documents Concerning Primate
Dowdall/, (/Archiv. Hib./, vols. i., ii.).

[66] Hogan, /Hibernia Ignatiana/, 1880, 6-8.

[67] /State Papers/, iii., 562. It is very probable, both from
internal and external evidence, that this letter is a forgery.

[68] /State Papers/, iii., 555-66.

[69] Id., 580 sqq.

[70] /Carew Papers (1515-74)/, 245-6.

[71] /Calendar of Patent and Close Rolls/, i., 150.

[72] Shirley, /Original Letters and Papers/, 3, 31.

[73] Shirley, /Original Letters and Papers/, 18, 20.

[74] Id., 22-25.

[75] Shirley, /Original Letters and Papers/, 22.

[76] Id., 32-5.

[77] Shirley, /Original Letters and Papers/, 35. Renehan-McCarthy,
/Collections on Irish Church History/, vol. i., 239.

[78] /Calendar of State Papers/ (Ireland), i., 107.

[79] /Calendar of Carew Papers/, i., 226-7.

[80] Shirley, op. cit., 41-2.

[81] Bagwell, /Ireland under the Tudors/, i., 352.

[82] Shirley, op. cit., 47-8.

[83] /Archiv. Hib./, i., 260.

[84] Cf. /Archiv. Hib./, i., 264-76. Cox, /Hib. Anglicana/, 288-90.
The report of the Conference is evidently garbled. It is due
probably to the pen of Robert Ware.

[85] Shirley, op. cit., 54-60.

[86] /Calendar Carew Papers/, i., 231.

[87] /Archiv. Heb./, ii., 245.

[88] Id., 246.

[89] /Archiv. Hib./, ii., 246-55. (A very partial account of the

[90] Shirley, op. cit., 58-61.

[91] Bagwell, op. cit., i., 369.

[92] Shirley, op. cit., 62.

[93] Ware's /Works/, i., 416-17.

[94] From his own account in /Vocacyon of John Bale/, etc. (/Harl.
Miscell./, vi.).



See bibliography, ii. Hamilton, /Calendar of State Papers,
Ireland/, 4 vols. /Calendar of State Papers/ (Carew), 6 vols.,
1867-73. /Archivium Hibernicus/, vols. i., ii., iii. (1912-14).
Moran, /Spicil. Ossor. Id./, Editions of the /Commentarius de
Regno Hiberniae/ (Lombard), 1863, and of the /Analecta/ (Rothe),
1884. O'Sullevan, /Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium/ (ed.
Kelly), 1850. Bruodin, /Passio Martyrum/, 1666. Molanus, /Idea
togatae constantiae . . . cui adjungilur tripartita martyrum
Britannicarum insularum epitome/, 1629. Shirley, op. cit. Brady,
/State Papers Concerning the Irish Church in the Time of Queen
Elizabeth/, 1866. Cotton, /Fasti Ecclesiae Hiberniae/, 6 vols.,
1851-78. Hogan, /The Description of Ireland, etc., in 1598/, 1878.
O'Daly-Meehan, /The Rise, Increase, and Exile of the Geraldines,
Earls of Desmond/, etc., 1878. Spenser, /View of the State of
Ireland/, 1633. Lynch-Kelly, /Cambrensis Eversus/, etc., 3 vols.,
1848. /Liber Munerum publicorum Hiberniae/, 1152-1824, 2 vols.,
1848. Gilbert, /History of the City of Dublin/, 3 vols., 1859.
Id., /Facsimiles of National MSS. of Ireland/, 4 vols., 1875.
Lodge, /Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica/, etc., 2 vols., 1772.
/Pacata Hibernia/, 1633.

The death of Edward VI. (6 July 1553) and the accession of Queen Mary
put an end for the time being to the campaign against the Catholic
Church. The party of the Earl of Northumberland made a feeble attempt
in Ireland, as they had done in England, to secure the succession for
Lady Jane Grey, but their efforts produced no effect. On the 20th July
the privy council in England sent a formal order for the proclamation
of Queen Mary, together with an announcement that she had been
proclaimed already in London as Queen of England, France, and Ireland,
Defender of the Faith, and on earth Supreme Head of the Churches of
England and Ireland.[1] This command was obeyed promptly in Dublin and
in the chief cities in Ireland. In Kilkenny Lord Mountgarret and Sir
Richard Howth ordered that a Mass of thanksgiving should be
celebrated, and when Bale refused to allow such idolatry they informed
the clergy that they were no longer bound to obey the bishop. Mary was
proclaimed in Kilkenny (20 Aug.), and on the following day the clergy
and people took possession of the Cathedral of St. Canice. Crowds of
the citizens proceeded to attack the palace of the bishop, so that it
was only with the greatest difficulty that the Mayor of Kilkenny was
able to save his life by sending him to Dublin at night under the
protection of an armed escort. From Dublin Bale succeeded in making
his escape to Holland, from which he proceeded to Basle, where he
spent his time in libelling the Catholic religion and the Irish clergy
and people.

Shortly after the coronation of Queen Mary Sir Thomas St. Leger was
sent over to Ireland as Deputy with instructions that he was to take
steps immediately for the complete restoration of the Catholic
religion. Primate Dowdall was recalled from exile, and restored to his
See of Armagh; the primacy, which had been taken from Armagh in the
previous reign owing to the hostile attitude adopted by Dowdall
towards the religious innovations, was restored, and various grants
were made to him to compensate him for the losses he had sustained.[2]
In April 1554 a royal commission was issued to Dowdall and William
Walsh, formerly prior of the Cistercian Abbey of Bective, to remove
the clergy who had married from their benefices. In virtue of this
commission Browne of Dublin, Staples of Meath, Thomas Lancaster of
Kildare, and Travers, who had been intruded into the See of Leighlin,
were removed. Bale of Ossory had fled already, and Casey of Limerick
also succeeded in making his escape. O'Cervallen of Clogher, who had
been deposed by the Pope, was driven from his diocese, and an inquiry
was set on foot at Lambeth Palace before Cardinal Pole to determine
who was the lawful Archbishop of Tuam. Christopher Bodkin, Bishop of
Kilmacduagh, had been appointed to Tuam by the king in 1536, while two
years later Arthur O'Frigil, a canon of Raphoe, received the same See
by papal provision. At the inquiry before Cardinal Pole it was proved
that though Bodkin had contracted the guilt of schism he had done so
more from fear than from conviction, that he had been always a stern
opponent of heresy, and that in the city and diocese of Tuam the new
opinions had made no progress. Apparently, as a result of the inquiry,
an agreement was arranged whereby Bodkin was allowed to retain
possession of Tuam.[3] The other bishops were allowed to retain their
Sees without objection, a clear proof that their orthodoxy was

In place of those who had been deposed, Hugh Curwen, an Englishman,
was appointed to Dublin, William Walsh, one of the royal
commissioners, to Meath, Thomas Leverous, the former tutor of the
young Garrett Fitzgerald, to Kildare, Thomas O'Fihil, an Augustinian
Hermit, to Leighlin, and John O'Tonory, a Canon Regular of St.
Augustine, to Ossory, while John Quinn of Limerick, who had been
forced to resign the See of Limerick during the reign of Edward VI.,
was apparently restored. The selection of Curwen to fill the
archiepiscopal See of Dublin was particularly unfortunate. However
learned he might have been, or however distinguished his ancestry, he
was not remarkable for the fixity of his religious principles. During
the reign of Henry VIII. he had acquired notoriety by his public
defence of the royal divorce, as well as by his attacks on papal
supremacy, though, like Henry, he was a strong upholder of the Real
Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and of Transubstantiation. Like a
true courtier he changed his opinions immediately on the accession of
Queen Mary, and he was rewarded by being promoted to Dublin and
appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1555). The Cathedral Chapter of
St. Patrick's that had been suppressed was restored to "its pristine
state;" new dignitaries and canons were appointed, and much of the
possessions that had been seized were returned.[4]

The Mass and Catholic ceremonies were restored without any opposition
in those churches in Dublin and Leinster into which the English
service had been introduced. A provincial synod was held in Dublin by
the new archbishop (1556) to wipe out all traces of heresy and schism.
Primate Dowdall had convoked previously a synod of the Northern
Provinces at Drogheda to undertake a similar work. In this assembly it
was laid down that all priests who had attempted to marry during the
troubles of the previous reign should be deprived of their benefices
and suspended; that the clergy who had adopted the heretical rites in
the religious celebrations and in the administration of the Sacraments
should be admitted to pardon in case they repented of their crimes and
could prove that their fall was due to fear rather than conviction;
that all the ancient rites and ceremonies of the Church in regard to
crosses, images, candles, thuribles, canonical hours, Mass, the
administration of the sacraments, fast days, holidays, holy water, and
blessed bread should be restored; that the Book of Common Prayer,
etc., should be burned, and that the Primate and the bishops of the
province should appoint inquisitors in each diocese, to whom the
clergy should denounce those who refused to follow the Catholic
worship and ceremonies. Arrangements were also made to put an end to
abuses in connexion with the bestowal of benefices on laymen and
children, with the appointment of clerics to parishes and dignities by
the Holy See on the untrustworthy recommendation of local noblemen,
with the excessive fees charged by some of the clergy, with the
neglect of those whose duty it was to contribute to the repairs of the
parish churches, and with the failure of some priests to wear a
becoming clerical dress.[5]

In July 1556 Lord Fitzwalter was sent to Ireland as Deputy. "Our said
Deputy and Council," according to the royal instructions, "shall by
their own good example and all other good means to them possible,
advance the honour of Almighty God, the true Catholic faith and
religion, now by God's great goodness and special grace recovered in
our realms of England and Ireland, and namely they shall set forth the
honour and dignity of the Pope's Holiness and Apostolic See of Rome,
and from time to time be ready with our aid and secular force, at the
request of all spiritual ministers and ordinaries there, to punish and
repress all heretics and Lollards, and their damnable sects, opinions,
and errors." They were commanded, too, to assist the commissioners and
officials whom Cardinal Pole as papal legate intended to send shortly
to make a visitation of the clergy and people of Ireland.[6] On the
arrival of the new Deputy in Dublin he went in state to Christ's
Church to assist at Mass, after the celebration of which he received
the sword of state from his predecessor before the altar, and took the
oath in presence of the archbishop. "That done, the trumpets sounded
and drums beat, and then the Lord Deputy kneeled down before the altar
until the /Te Deum/ was ended."[7]

The new Deputy was instructed to take measures for summoning a meeting
of Parliament in the following year to give legal sanction to the
restoration of the Catholic religion, and to deal with the
ecclesiastical property that had been seized. Possibly in the hope of
securing some of these again for the Church a commission was issued to
the Archbishop of Dublin, the Bishop of Kildare, and a number of
clerics and laymen "to inquire concerning the chalices, crosses,
ornaments, bells, and other property belonging to the parish churches
or chapels in the county of the city and county of Dublin and of sales
made thereof to any person or persons, the price, in whose hands they
then remained, and also in whose possession were the houses, lands,
and tenements, belonging to those churches." Similar commissions were
issued to others for the counties of Drogheda and Louth, Kildare,
Carlow, Wexford, Kilkenny, Meath, Westmeath, Waterford, Tipperary,
Limerick, Cork, and "for the county of Connaught."[8]

In June 1557 the Irish Parliament met. A Bull of absolution from the
penalties of heresy and schism was read by the Archbishop of Dublin on
bended knees, while the Lord Deputy, officials, and members, both
Peers and Commoners, knelt around him. When this ceremony was finished
all retired to the cathedral, where the /Te Deum/ was sung in
thanksgiving, and all pledged themselves as a sign of their sincere
repentance to abolish all the laws that had been passed against the
Holy See. The acts prejudicial to the rights of the Pope enacted since
the year 1529 were abolished. The title of supreme head of the church,
it was declared, "never was or could be justly or lawfully attributed
or acknowledged to any king or sovereign governor, nor in any wise
could or might rightfully, justly, or lawfully, by the king or
sovereign governor of the same realms, be claimed, challenged, or
used." "All Bulls, dispensations, and privileges obtained before the
year 1529 or at any time since, or which shall hereafter be obtained
from the See of Rome, not containing matter contrary or prejudicial to
the authority, dignity, or pre-eminence royal or imperial of these
said realms or to the laws of this realm" were allowed to be "put in
execution, used, and alleged in any civil court in Ireland and
elsewhere." The jurisdiction of the bishops was restored, the laws
against heresy passed in the reign of Richard II. and Henry IV. were
renewed, and the payment of First Fruits was suppressed. Care was
taken, however, to avail of the dispensation granted by the Holy See,
whereby those who had obtained possession of the property of churches
and monasteries should not be disturbed, although it was enacted that
none of the laymen who had obtained such grants could plead the rights
of exemption enjoyed by some of their former owners against the
jurisdiction of the bishops, and that notwithstanding the Statutes of
Mortmain those who then held "manors, tenements, parsonages, tithes,
pensions or other hereditaments" might bequeath or devise them to any
spiritual body corporate in the kingdom, such clause to have the force
of law for twenty years.[9]

From no quarter was the slightest opposition offered to the
restoration of Catholic worship, and consequently there was no need to
have recourse to persecution. There was no persecution of the
Protestants of Ireland by fire or torture during this reign. "In
truth, the Reformation, not having been sown in Ireland, there was no
occasion to water it by the blood of martyrs; insomuch that several
English families, friends to the Reformation, withdrew into Ireland as
into a secure asylum; where they enjoyed their opinions and worship in
privacy without notice or molestation."[10] Yet in spite of this
tolerant attitude of both the officials and people of Ireland an
absurd story, first mentioned in a pamphlet printed in 1681, is still
to be found in many books dealing with Mary's reign. According to this
story the queen appointed a body of commissioners to undertake a
wholesale persecution in Ireland, and she entrusted this document to
one of the commissioners, a certain Dr. Cole. On his way to Ireland
the latter tarried at Chester, where he was waited upon by the mayor,
to whom he confided the object of his mission. The landlady of the
inn, having overheard the conversation, succeeded in stealing the
commission and replacing it by a pack of cards. Dr. Cole reached
Dublin and hastened to meet the Lord Deputy and council. "After he had
made a speech relating upon what account he came over, he presents the
box unto the Lord Deputy, who causing it to be opened, that the
secretary might read the commission, there was nothing but a pack of
cards with the knave of clubs uppermost." Dr. Cole assured them that
"he had a commission, but knew not how it was gone." Then the Lord
Deputy made answer, "Let us have another commission and we will
shuffle the cards in the meanwhile." The messenger returned promptly
to England, "and coming to the court, obtained another commission, but
staying for a wind at the waterside, news came unto him that the queen
was dead. And thus God preserved the Protestants of Ireland."[11] This
ridiculous fabrication was first referred to in a pamphlet written by
that well-known forger, Robert Ware, in 1681, and was reprinted in his
"Life" of Archbishop Browne (1705). Its acceptance by later writers,
in spite of its obvious silliness, and unsupported as it is by the
official documents of the period, or by any contemporary authority,
can be explained only by their religious prejudices.[12]

But though Mary restored the Mass and re-asserted the jurisdiction of
the Pope, her political policy in Ireland differed little from that of
her father or her brother. She was as determined as had been Henry
VIII. to bring the country under English law, and to increase thereby
the resources of the Treasury. It is true that she allowed the young
Garrett Fitzgerald, who had found a refuge in Rome, to return to the
country, that she restored to him his estates and honoured him with a
seat at the privy council. Brian O'Connor of Offaly was also released
from prison and allowed to revisit his territories. During the time
St. Leger held office he followed the old policy of strengthening
English influence by conciliation rather than by force. But the Earl
of Sussex was of a different mind. He marshalled his forces and made
raids into the Irish districts, for the princes and inhabitants of
which he entertained the most supreme contempt. It was during the
reign of Mary that the plan of the English Plantations was first put
into force by the removal of the native Irish from large portions of
Leix and Offaly to make room for English settlers. And yet, in spite
of the warlike expeditions of Sussex, the country went from bad to
worse, so that Primate Dowdall could write to the privy council in
England (1557) that "this poor realm was never in my remembrance in
worse case than it is now, except the time only that O'Neill and
O'Donnell invaded the English Pale and burned a great piece of it. The
North is as far out of frame as it was before, for the Scots beareth
as great rule as they do wish, not only in such lands as they did
lately usurp, but also in Clandeboy. The O'Moores and O'Connors have
destroyed and burned Leix and Offaly saving certain forts."[13]

On the death of Queen Mary in November 1558, her sister Elizabeth
succeeded to the English throne. Although she had concealed carefully
her Protestant sympathies, and had even professed her sincere
attachment to the old religion during the reign of her predecessor,
most people believed that important changes were pending. As soon as
news of her proclamation reached Ireland early in December, the small
knot of officials, who had fallen into disgrace during the reign of
the late queen, hastened to offer their congratulations and to put
forward their claims for preferment. Sir John Alen, formerly Lord
Chancellor and Chief Commissioner for the dissolution of the
monasteries, wrote to Cecil to express his joy at the latter's
promotion, enclosed "a token," and reminded him of what he (Alen) had
suffered during the previous five years. Sir John Bagenall,
ex-governor of Leix and Offaly, recalled the fact that he had lost
heavily, and had been obliged to escape to France for resisting papal

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