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England and the 1641 Irish Rebellion

England and the 1641 Irish Rebellion

Joseph Cope
Volume: 8
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 202
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81mz2
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  • Book Info
    England and the 1641 Irish Rebellion
    Book Description:

    The 1641 Irish Rebellion has long been recognized as a key event in the mid-17th century collapse of the Stuart monarchy. By 1641, many in England had grown restive under the weight of intertwined religious, political and economic crises. To these audiences, the Irish rising seemed a realization of England's worst fears: a war of religious extermination supported by European papists, whose ambitions extended across the Irish Sea. ‘England and the 1641 Irish Rebellion’ explores the consequences of this emergency by focusing on survivors of the rising in local, national and regional contexts. In Ireland, the experiences of survivors reflected the complexities of life in multiethnic and religiously-diverse communities. In England, by contrast, pamphleteers, ministers, and members of parliament simplified the issues, presenting the survivors as victims of an international Catholic conspiracy and asserting English subjects' obligations to their countrymen and coreligionists. These obligations led to the creation of relief projects for despoiled Protestant settlers, but quickly expanded into sweeping calls for action against recusants and suspected popish agents in England. ‘England and the 1641 Irish Rebellion’ contends that the mobilization of this local activism played an integral role in politicizing the English people and escalating the political crisis of the 1640s. JOSEPH COPE is Associate Professor at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-718-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Prelude: Survivors and Victims
    (pp. 1-8)

    When Elizabeth Danvers appeared in Dublin to report on her family’s losses in the Irish rebellion on 14 August 1645, she must have been a piteous sight. Having been driven from her home in county Cork twice, she and her family had lived as refugees for the better part of four years. During this time, they had seen their possessions plundered and had been threatened on several occasions with physical harm. For a time, they had lived in hastily thrown-up lodgings on the boundaries of a New English planter estate in county Cork, barely subsisting. When she made her deposition,...

  7. 1 Introduction: Irish Relief and British Problems
    (pp. 9-31)

    On 25 October 1641, the Lord Justices and Council of Ireland penned the first in a long series of frantic letters about the Irish rebellion to correspondents in England. Their news was dire, reporting ‘a most disloyal and detestable conspiracy intended by some evil affected Irish papists’.¹ The Lord Justices at the time, Sir William Parsons and Sir John Borlase, interpreted the rising unambiguously, presenting it as a Catholic rebellion. When their letters reached Whitehall and Westminster on 1 November, they generated considerable anxiety and distress. Subsequent days saw the arrival of evermore terrifying news from Ireland.² On 5 November...

  8. 2 Distress and Great Necessity: The Experience of Survival in 1641
    (pp. 32-56)

    The tale that Elizabeth Danvers told in August 1645 remains tantalizingly unfinished. After giving her account of close calls, survival, and eventual poverty in Dublin, she simply disappears, like the majority of other deponents. Historiographically, the survivors of 1641 also have tended to disappear. A wealth of scholarship over the past two decades has focused on the history of the 1641 rebellion and has allowed the recovery of this history from crude sectarian interpretations and misuses. However, the problem of survivors’ experiences has merited significantly less attention than violence, the causes of the rebellion, and the impact of the rising...

  9. 3 The Hand of God and the Works of Man: Narrations of Survival
    (pp. 57-75)

    The 1641 depositions are in many respects an archive of survival stories. Imbedded within individual depositions are narrations that shed light on the ways that settlers saved themselves during the rising and provide clues about the fate of many other settlers who remained behind. This chapter focuses on several sets of depositions that are especially full in detail. They present information on a wide variety of survival strategies implemented by deponents and those with whom they interacted with in the provinces. In many cases, the stories that deponents told reveal confusion, ambiguities, inconsistencies, and often manipulation.

    A microhistorical view reveals...

  10. 4 Imagining the Rebellion: Atrocity, Anti-Popery, and the Tracts of 1641
    (pp. 76-88)

    During the early years of the ‘Wars of the Three Kingdoms’, the London artisan Nehemiah Wallington reflected on the political, spiritual, and personal significance of the crisis. Ireland, and specifically the Protestants who suffered under the yoke of the papist rebels, was a central part of this reflection. In late 1641 and 1642, Wallington felt compelled to memorialize stories of atrocities against the godly in Ireland in a commonplace book. He summed up his awareness of the intense suffering of his brethren, lamenting ‘the daily bemoanings of the poor oppressed Protestants [which] would almost pierce a Christian’s heart’.¹

    Wallington is,...

  11. 5 ‘A World of Misery’: The International Significance of the 1641 Rebellion
    (pp. 89-103)

    Nehemiah Wallington’s extracts placed the violence of 1641 into a broad historical context and underscored the spiritual significance of Protestant suffering. Although horrific, the atrocities that pamphleteers disseminated about Ireland were in many respects identical to those that had been reported from war-ravaged France and Germany in the preceding two decades. Wallington understood this connection and explained it within a providential framework. As he saw it, the sufferings of Protestant noncombatants were tests of faith for the godly, reminders of the natural ferocity of the papists, and should serve as a divine warning of God’s anger over Protestants’ own spiritual...

  12. 6 Many Distressed Irish: Refugees and the Problem of Local Order
    (pp. 104-118)

    In the months following the outbreak of the Irish rebellion, news of atrocity, hardship, and crisis from Ireland assailed English audiences. The pamphlets of 1641 and 1642 saturated the print shops with news of the horrors facing victims of the Irish rebellion. By and large these published works echoed the sentiments in Nehemiah Wallington’s commonplace book, stressing the Protestantism and fidelity of the war victims and the broad international threat posed by the popish enemy. The Act for a Speedy Contribution and Loan set in motion a national collection for those despoiled and victimized at the hands of the rebels...

  13. 7 Local Charity: Contributions to the Irish Cause
    (pp. 119-142)

    In coastal communities, individuals fleeing the rebellion in Ireland had an important impact on perceptions of local safety, especially during the first few months after the outbreak of the rising. In inland parishes, Irish refugees appeared more often as fleeting inconveniences. In Wiltshire, large numbers of Irish poor passed through local parishes in the early 1640s, but do not appear to have caused many disruptions.¹ They also did not receive particularly generous treatment. Although the outpouring of sympathy for victims of the rebellion in print might suggest otherwise, in Wiltshire much of the evidence from local parishes suggests that local...

  14. 8 Hard and Lamentable Decisions: The Distribution and Decline of Irish Relief
    (pp. 143-160)

    As the 1640s progressed and England plunged into turmoil, Irish war victims fell out of the public eye, at least in print and political discourse. Many, however, continued to wander English roads in search of charity, possibly hoping for a future return to Ireland. By 1643, they were largely left to their own devices as the charitable projects that had mobilized English sympathy and activism in 1641 and 1642 gradually disappeared. Much of this reflected the basic anti-popish motivations behind early responses to the rebellion. Irish war victims might be objects of pity, but as the evidence from the first...

  15. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 161-164)

    In the immediate aftermath of the 1641 rebellion, refugees posed significant challenges to local economies and public order in Ireland and England. They packed the suburbs of Dublin, choked the ports of England, and eventually swarmed into London or took to the roads seeking assistance from increasingly anxious and impoverished parishes. War victims and survivors for a brief but important time took center stage in print and political culture. In a basic way, graphic horror stories of Catholic atrocities against English settlers fed a sensationalized print industry, but the significance of these discourses ran much deeper. Irish war victims became...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 165-184)
  17. Index
    (pp. 185-190)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)