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Sunday, August 20, 2017
Date Posted:

Days of Deliverance Part 5: The Deliverance Of The Protestants Of Ireland

Dr Clive Gillis

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chr 7:14

In our last two articles, we introduced Dean William King who wrote the State of the Protestants of Ireland under the late King James Government (1691).  It is a justification of the actions of Protestants in Ireland at that time of James II (James VII of Scotland).  What King wrote is as relevant today as it was then.  We intend in this article to continue to quote from Dean William King’s Prologue to his State of the Protestants of Ireland.

Cardinal Cahal Daly, the now retired Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, wrote some fine words in 1991 concerning Ulster Protestants.  He said, “No future for Ireland is conceivable or could be just that does not take into account their feelings, that does not respect their rights, that does not offer hope of securing their consent.  No talk of ‘British Withdrawal’ … is either politically meaningful or morally admissible that does not take cognisance of the rightful presence in Ireland of this million people.”

Dean William King’s description of the dire State of the Protestants of Ireland, just prior to their Day of Deliverance in the Williamite war 1689-1691, is very relevant for the Protestants of Ireland in our day.  It warns us to beware of Cardinal Daly’s smooth words.  King says that the actions of the priest manipulating the political situation, “plainly … showed us that all Laws were insufficient to secure us against such Jesuitical Prevaricators”.  So let us see how a Rome who never changes is likely to respect what Cardinal Daly calls, “the rightful presence,” of the Protestants, in the days of King James II.  Dean King’s prose is edited for ease of reading.

King James … made considerable progress in our Destruction

“The destruction of a people is so horrid a thing that it is not easy to persuade a good natured man that such an unnatural design was taking place.  We ourselves dare hardly relate it to others lest they should not believe us.  I question if anything but sad experience would have opened our eyes … For the design entertained by James II and his party required the ruin of Protestants and their religion, whereas his Interest required that it should not be believed … He ruined the Protestants by his Acts of Parliament and by his Proclamations … whilst he assured the world that the Protestant Religion and Interest were his special care.”

King James Chief Counsellors

“The chief Counsellors of the King were Popish Clergy descended from such as had shed the blood of so many Protestants in 1641.  They had ruined the Kingdom making it a heap of rubbish and a slaughter house.  While James II hearkened to the suggestions and counsels of these priests it was not possible for him to exert Clemency towards us.

“It was the continual business of these Popish Counsellors to incense the King against us; to represent us as a people unworthy of any favour.  That we were all rogues villains and traitors and not fit to be allowed the common offices of Humanity.  This they suggested publicly at his times of eating and (privately, through Jesuit confessors) at his going to bed and rising and on all other occasions.”

King James dealings with the army to destroy Protestants

“Immediately the army was put into the hands of Colonel Richard Talbot, afterwards Earl of Tyrconnell.  He knew the necessity of having the army fitted to his purpose, it being the engine he depended upon for destroying the Protestant Religion Liberty and Laws of the Kingdom.  In the morning he would take a (Protestant) Officer into his closet, profess friendship and the continuance of his Commission, yet in the afternoon cashier him with contempt having already given away his Commission.

“His way with the (Protestant) soldiers was to march them to a distant place.  There he stripped them; the Foot of their clothes for which they had paid, the Troopers of their horses and boots paid for with their own money.  He then set them to walk 100-150 miles home.  The new raised (Papist) Forces and Officers were put into this clothing and upon these horses for which they had not paid.”

King James ordering the Courts of Justice tended to destroy Protestants

“Protestant Judges would not do the work James II designed.  He found it necessary to employ others with a vested interest in destroying us.  The Chancery is the highest court.  Neither Lord Primate Boyle who had managed that court for 20 years no Sir Charles Porter who succeeded him could answer the Kings intention.

“So Sir Alexander Fitton, a man detected of forgery at Westminster, Chester and the House of Lords is brought out of jail and set on the highest court of the Kingdom.  After hearing a cause between a Protestant and a Papist, he would often declare he would consult a Divine, before he gave a decree.  That is he would have the opinion of a Popish priest, his Chaplain, educated in Spain and furnished with distinction as to how far he should do justice to Heretics.

“Dispensing with the Law, James II went much further than in England.  A verbal Dispensation from the King was sufficient to dispense with all laws favourable to Protestants.  If James II had a mind, he simply sent an Officer and file of Musketeers to seize goods or property (from Protestants). The Course of Justice was stopped to Protestants and tenderness shown to (Romanist) perjurers.  The Protestants were in an ill case whose lives and fortunes lie at the mercy of such Judges and Juries.”

King James progress to destroy his Protestant subjects by disposing of Civil Offices

“It was not so easy to out Protestants from their civil employment, because many had patents for life or good behaviour, and some civil officers were difficult and it was not easy to find a Roman Catholic capable of filling them.  To make short work they passed an Act, to void all patents, though granted by James II himself, and though the Protestants had laid out their fortunes to purchase them by James own consent.

“Protestant Revenue Officers were often former Traders themselves.  They knew all the arts of Cheating.  It was hard to find (honest and intelligent Romanist) replacements.  Yet the Romanists did it by degrees.  When any had a friend to prefer, his argument to remove the Protestant possessor was, as the Popish Bishop of Elphin wrote to Sir Patrick Trant from Galway in order to remove a Protestant Gauger employed there, “This Man must be removed, and why not now?”

Where Papist and Protestant differed a mere complaint procured the Protestant’s Committal

“There was not one Protestant Sheriff in all Ireland in 1687. The new (imposed Romanist) Mayors and Justices of the Peace made no scruple about sending warrants to Protestants of impeccable character.  A complaint alone procured a Committal and this was done in the most humiliating circumstances imaginable.

“Protestant Lord Primate Boyle’s son in law and nephew could not escape Warrants from Lord Thomas Hackett Mayor of Dublin … Their crime was refusing to contribute to the maintenance of two Begging Fryars, one, McGee a debauchee and renegade.  The vexed Fryars attempted the execution in my Lord Primates’ house with a rabble of 200.

“Sir Thomas extended his authority where the Mayor’s power was never owned and committed the Officers of Christ Church Dublin to the stocks because he fancied they did not make the bells ring merrily enough for the birth of the Prince of Wales (James III born 10th June 1688, a male Stuart heir widely believed to have been smuggled in to the royal bedchamber).”

Protestants everywhere were robbed and plundered

“At last it came to a general seizure, and almost all of the Protestant gentlemen, without reasons or pretence of reason, without so much as a warrant or form of law were put in jails under the custody of men and barbarous guards.   Their Captains had no better education than of footman or cowherd.  They exercised what understanding they had to invent new methods of vexing their prisoners.  This continued … until the victory at the Boyne.”

King James II completed the ruin of the Protestants

“The Protestants by Deputies taking away their horses, and (Tyrconnel’s) army their cattle, were unable to earn a living from their farms by ploughing or grazing.  Any Absentees (having fled to England) had their houses land and money confiscated.  Protestants could not serve in the army yet were taxed (excessively) for the maintenance of it, and imprisoned if they refused to pay.”

“Educating Youth at School and University was in the hands of Protestants and maintained by their clergy by law.   The Early of Tyrconnell ignored the law, and put Papists in their place or set up rival Jesuit schools by enacting new charters to ruin Protestant schools.  There is but one University founded by Queen Elizabeth I. never designed to be converted into a Seminary of Popery.  They put in Popish Fellows.   The first, Doyle, a convert, was so exceedingly lewd and vicious and of so little sense or learning it seemed impossible any Government should have countenanced such a man.

“Tyrconnell dissolved the Foundation’s Protestant warrant (endowment) and stopt the fountains of learning.  The succession of ministers was hindered and the finance for livings went to the Exchequer and was dispensed to Popish Bishops and priests against the Law.  Protestant livings lay neglected.  The Popish priests said the tithes belonged to them and forbad the people to pay them to the Protestant ministers.  The Government allowed the rabble to break into Protestant Churches, breaking windows pulling up seats pulling down the pulpit and communion table.  In Dublin the Government ordered Churches seized.”

The utter Extirpation of Protestantism was intended

“Whoever considers all circumstances will conclude that no less was designed by them than the execution of the third chapter of the Papal Lateran Council, the utter extirpation of the heretics of this Kingdom … Notwithstanding the great number of Protestants that fled, yet many stayed behind.  We owe it, next to God’s goodness, to the prudence, industry and courage of the clergy remaining that so few were prevailed with to change their religion.  Notwithstanding they saw they must be ruined if they stood firm, but if they complied they would not only be safe but sharers in the booty.  Tis true many of them suffered by their staying, but it pleased God to support and deliver them …”

And great was that Day of Deliverance in the Annals of Protestantism.  Richard Doherty in his, The Williamite War in Ireland 1688-1691, was at pains to write a military account, not an ‘apologetic’ for either side.  He says, “Anyone seeking support for narrow views of the present day situation of this island should look elsewhere, they will not find them here”.  But the Lord’s Providential dealings on behalf of His people stand up to just such scrutiny, and need neither legend nor the passage of time to embellish them.  The cries of His people were heard and their prayers answered.

Dean King’s Conclusion to his book contains some solemn words which did not escape the great Irish historian JC Beckett who quoted them in his popular pocket history, The Making of Modern Ireland 1603-1923.  “On the whole the Irish (Romanists) may justly blame themselves and their idol the Earl of Tryconnell, as King James may them both, for whatever they … shall suffer in the issue of this matter, since it is apparent that the necessity was brought about, by them that either they or we must be ruined”.

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