Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Making Ireland English

Making Ireland English

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 480
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Making Ireland English
    Book Description:

    This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive study of the remaking of Ireland's aristocracy during the seventeenth century. It is a study of the Irish peerage and its role in the establishment of English control over Ireland. Jane Ohlmeyer's research in the archives of the era yields a major new understanding of early Irish and British elite, and it offers fresh perspectives on the experiences of the Irish, English, and Scottish lords in wider British and continental contexts.

    The book examines the resident peerage as an aggregate of 91 families, not simply 311 individuals, and demonstrates how a reconstituted peerage of mixed faith and ethnicity assimilated the established Catholic aristocracy. Tracking the impact of colonization, civil war, and other significant factors on the fortunes of the peerage in Ireland, Ohlmeyer arrives at a fresh assessment of the key accomplishment of the new Irish elite: making Ireland English.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17750-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-xii)
    Jane Ohlmeyer
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Conventions
    (pp. xvii-xvii)
  6. Glossary
    (pp. xviii-xx)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    In July 1668 the Irish resident peerage gathered to mourn the sudden and premature death of the seventeen-year-old Mary Stuart, a granddaughter of the infamous first duke of Buckingham, daughter and heir of a great courtier of royal blood, James Stuart, duke of Lennox and Richmond, and the daughter-in-law of the duke of Ormond, lord lieutenant of Ireland and head of Ireland’s premier aristocratic dynasty.¹ Lady Arran’s body lay in state for a month in Dublin before being removed to Kilkenny, the seat of power for the Butlers of Ormond, for burial. A cortege of nearly 100 coaches accompanied the...

  9. Part I: The Reconstitution of Ireland’s Aristocracy, 1590s–1670s

    • CHAPTER 2 The Transformation of the Peerage
      (pp. 27-63)

      Like his Tudor predecessors, James VI and I was determined to ‘civilize’ Ireland. This involved imposing English legal, political, administrative and tenurial structures, along with an English honour system, the English language, Protestantism, English dress, customs, codes of behaviour and lowland economic and agricultural practices.¹ The peers played a central role in the Crown’s efforts to ‘civilize’ Ireland, and a study of titles reveals how the king manipulated the lords and created a primarily Protestant service nobility, akin to what the Habsburgs achieved in Bohemia and Lower Austria after 1620.² There, as in Ireland, land transfers underpinned and facilitated this...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Transformation of Noble Culture
      (pp. 64-83)

      The previous chapter examined the political and social reconstruction of the peerage in Ireland from the mid-sixteenth to the late seventeenth centuries. Three developments characterized this. First, the Tudor and Stuart monarchs combined Gaelic, Old English, New English and Scottish lords of both faiths into a composite hereditary peerage but immediately created tensions by allowing only Protestants to enjoy the full benefit of high administrative, legal and military office. Second, the ‘inflation of honours’, which began with the surrender and regrant programme of the mid-sixteenth century and peaked in the 1620s, accompanied by significant grants and transfers of land, allowed...

    • CHAPTER 4 Landed Nobility
      (pp. 84-134)

      Land was the basis for political power in seventeenth-century Ireland and the nobility was a landed one. Land, inherited through the practice of primogeniture when property passed from a father to his legitimate male heir and through marriage, provided the wealth that sustained a lineage and, during the 1640s, the fighting men it needed to wage war. The dissolution of the monasteries, the rebellions of the sixteenth century and the wars of the seventeenth century resulted in large swathes of Irish land being expropriated and redistributed by the Crown to favourites, clients, the ‘deserving’ and those who needed to be...

    • CHAPTER 5 Religion
      (pp. 135-168)

      By 1641 loyalty to the person of the king, a shared sense of honour, common landed and political interests together with social and economic interdependencies, held together a peerage of mixed ethnicity and faith. The Protestant earl of Anglesey later suggested that

      There never was more unity, friendship, and good agreement, amongst all sorts and degrees (except in the standing root of mischief, the difference in religion) then at this time [the summer before the 1641 rebellion], nor mutual confidence. I can say, being that time there, the sheep and the goats lived quietly together; and there was that intire...

    • CHAPTER 6 Marriage
      (pp. 169-208)

      Several years before he died in 1689, Robert Barnewall, ninth Baron Trimleston, a lesser Catholic peer of Old English extraction whose family had risen to prominence in the fifteenth century, wrote a long and touching letter to his 16-year-old son, Matthias, who was then living in France.¹ Only a fragment of Lord Trimleston’s letter, dating from September 1686, survives but it nevertheless encapsulates the family’s successful strategy for economic and political survival. It began by encouraging Matthias to ‘Serve God, your king and your country, all that possibly you can. Be just and honest in all your dealings; for that...

  10. Part II: The Peerage in Politics

    • CHAPTER 7 Power, Politics and Public Office
      (pp. 211-231)

      This chapter and the next one on early Stuart parliamentary politics examine how the peers exercised political power in seventeenth-century Ireland. These discussions highlight the level of mutual dependence between the Crown and the titled nobility. On the one hand, the king relied on these lords in his task of making Ireland English; while, on the other, the Crown remained for the peers the best source for securing titles, offices, land and wealth. The focus of this chapter is threefold. First, it underscores the importance of the royal court in London, the ‘nerve centre’ of politics, as the place where...

    • CHAPTER 8 Early Stuart Parliaments
      (pp. 232-249)

      In an important article on communication in early modern England Kevin Sharpe noted that open two-way communications – from the court to the locality and from the locality to the centre – underpinned the effective operation of government, the key elements of which were the court, the council and the aristocracy. Parliament was not an ordinary institution of government and its two most important functions – passing laws and voting taxes – were themselves extraordinary. However, with the collapse in England of this chain of communication, problems, grievances and issues normal to political life (and generally ironed out by informal contact and action between...

    • CHAPTER 9 Civil War
      (pp. 250-279)

      The seventeenth century was one of intense soldiering across early modern Europe and during the 1640s war came to Ireland. This was a particularly complex period in the island’s history and one in which the resident peers, as the military caste, played a prominent role both on and off the battlefield. The established Catholic lords and a few of the Protestant ones, especially the converts, called their followers and tenants to arms in time-honoured fashion and provided them with weapons. For some Catholics the outbreak of war offered them the first opportunity to serve at home since the conclusion of...

    • CHAPTER 10 Survival
      (pp. 280-300)

      Cromwellian military victory after 1649, followed by English reconquest, paved the way for another round of expropriation on a scale that not even Edmund Spenser or Thomas Wentworth would have imagined possible. The completion of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland reduced the titled nobility, especially those lords with royalist and confederate track records, to particularly low ebbs. In a world where land, wealth and power were inextricably linked, expropriation represented a profound threat to their status and their very existence as a privileged group in Irish society. Many peers preferred exile on the Continent to remaining in Ireland. Abroad, as...

    • CHAPTER 11 The Restoration Land Settlement
      (pp. 301-335)

      It is commonly held that the revolution in Irish landholding, which began with the plantations of the early seventeenth century and culminated in the Cromwellian and Restoration land settlements, reduced the Catholic share of land from 59 per cent in 1641 to 22 per cent in 1688, and thus paved the way for the Protestant ascendancy of the eighteenth century.¹ More recently these figures have been revised. Kevin McKenny in a statistical interpretation of the land settlements, which draws on figures from the Books of Survey and Distribution for landholding in 1641 and c. 1670 when the Restoration land settlement...

    • CHAPTER 12 Political Life
      (pp. 336-358)

      This confidential memo, though it dated from 1685, captured the reality of the relationship between Ireland and England throughout the later seventeenth century. The growing influence of the Westminster Parliament and the return of a king in 1660 whose prerogative had been weakened did indeed trouble the ‘digestion’ of many Irishmen. Like it or not, Ireland was becoming more of a colony than a kingdom. Despite the very real political and economic predominance of London, Dublin also grew as a political, commercial and cultural centre during the later seventeenth century. The city, as will become apparent later in this chapter,...

  11. Part III: The Sinews of Power

    • CHAPTER 13 Income
      (pp. 361-388)

      One government official, writing in the early seventeenth century, predicted that ‘the love of [money] will sooner effect civility than any other persuasion whatsoever’.¹ He had a point. One of the key features of the seventeenth century was the emergence of a more commercially oriented, money-driven economy, which privileged relationships between a lord and his tenant and focused on the production of marketable goods that could be exchanged for cash. Moreover, the nobility now needed access to money – or credit – in order to fund lifestyles commensurate with their status and privileged position in society. Across early modern Europe land was...

    • CHAPTER 14 Expenditure
      (pp. 389-418)

      Much expenditure for seventeenth-century resident peers was unavoidable and driven by the necessities of daily life and the wider needs of the lineage. Major outgoings included taxation, provisions for wives, widows and children, education, marriage, litigation, and costs associated with public service that appear to have increased after 1660 (and were usually belatedly recompensed). Many financial burdens also stemmed from the fact that resident lords, like their English and Scottish counterparts, increasingly felt the need to live a life of conspicuous consumption. Members of the titled nobility were expected to live in a style commensurate with their rank and status,...

    • CHAPTER 15 Lineage and Formation
      (pp. 419-447)

      Though cattle raids were a thing of the past and the bards no longer held the position of influence that they once had, Ireland, even during the later decades of the seventeenth century, retained many elements of medieval lordship.¹ Good lordship remained a highly effective means of exercising power. A lord may have been expected to carry the king’s writ to the corners of his estates, to collect his rents and act as an improving landlord, but he was also expected to respect the obligations associated with good lordship: to reside within his community, to provide hospitality in his castle...

    • CHAPTER 16 Death and Memory
      (pp. 448-474)

      Death was the final rite of passage in the life cycle of a peer.¹ As in other early modern societies, the nobility in Ireland engaged in a complex dialogue over the meaning of death, how to die, what to do with dead bodies, the most appropriate way to remember the dead, and how in death the collective honour of a lineage might be enhanced and celebrated. This chapter examines death and two closely related issues – funerals and memorialization – from the perspective of the resident peers. How did a lord die and how did his lineage prepare for his death and...

    • CHAPTER 17 Conclusion
      (pp. 475-482)

      At the heart of this book is the argument that during the course of the seventeenth century a composite parliamentary peerage played a key role in making Ireland English. Contemporaries acknowledged the effectiveness of the anglicizing processes. An anonymous pamphlet, dating from 1652, and presumably written by an English parliamentarian, noted how ‘we have fought to make Ireland English’.¹ An early seventeenth-century Ulster poet, Fear Flatha Ó Gnímh, whose family had served as the hereditary poets to the O’Neills, wrote a lament (‘Pitiful are the Gaels’) that described Ireland as ‘a new England in all but name’.² Later in the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 483-571)
  13. Appendix I: Lands held by resident titled nobles in 1641, ranked according to size.
    (pp. 572-574)
  14. Appendix II: Office holding and political activity of resident peers, c.1600–c.1690.
    (pp. 575-598)
  15. Appendix III: Military and political activity of resident peers during the 1640s.
    (pp. 599-605)
  16. Appendix IV: Peers recorded in the 1660 poll tax (the so-called ‘1659 census’).
    (pp. 606-607)
  17. Appendix V: Attendance and activity in the House of Lords, 1661–6
    (pp. 608-613)
  18. Appendix VI: The land settlement and the process of restoration
    (pp. 614-616)
  19. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 617-627)
  20. Index
    (pp. 628-668)