Report on the Trade of slaves of Irish peoples. A not insignificant number were forcibly deported and sold into indentured servitude. This peaked just after the brutal Cromwellian conquest of Ireland when there were orders given in multiple counties to round up and deport those who, it was claimed, could not support themselves.
Indentured servitude was more insidious than simply a case of labor exploitation. A four- to seven-year indenture to serve out, bond servants lives’ and movements were subject to control and dominance by their masters’ even outside of work hours, with punitive restrictions placed on marriage, locomotion, and pregnancy.
So there were both voluntary and involuntary servants. What’s the difference?
The laws were the same. Both were treated as servants and had a predetermined length of time to serve before they were freed. In Barbados the customary length of time to serve in the 1650s was between five or seven years, but in 1661 a new law was introduced that reduced this to between four to two years. This “custom” was altered by colonial administrators to attract servants to migrate to their colonies and it was also used to single out the Irish when they were not wanted. In 1655 harsh laws were passed in Virginia that targeted Irish servants who arrived in the colony without indentures. These terms for adults were two years longer than those that applied to other “Christian servants,” and three years longer for those under 16 years of age. But by 1660 (the Restoration) the law was repealed.
Meanwhile, you’re telling me that some Irish people profited directly and indirectly from the Caribbean slave trade?
Yes, absolutely. In Ireland it was mainly indirect via the provisions trade. It primarily benefited the Protestant Ascendancy, the Catholic elites, and the Catholic middle class who dominated trade in the cities. Many of our merchants (whether Catholic, Protestant, Huguenot, or Quaker) made fortunes trading with all of the slavecracies in the Caribbean. Shoes for enslaved people were manufactured in Belfast; and as mainly poor Irish Catholic tenants were forced off the land to make way for livestock, butter, beef, and pork that were salted and exported to the colonies in enormous quantities via Cork, Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick.
These provisions, especially cheap in Ireland, were essential for the operation of the slave labor camps as their constant supply meant that all the majority of the land could be used solely for cash crops (sugar cane, etc.)
So Irish peasants lost their land to make way for cattle, which was then exported by Irish landlords to feed enslaved peoples, who didn’t grow food of their own because the land was too valuable for making sugar. And then presumably Irish people bought sugar and rum?
Yes, the provisions exported from Ireland fed slaves, servants, overseers, and planters. Herring, pork, beef, and butter and so on. One cut of beef exported out of Cork was known as “Planters Beef.” And in the other direction a flood of slave-produced goods were sold in Ireland (sugar, tobacco, etc.). Every newspaper in Ireland in the 18th century carries adverts for sugar from Barbados or Jamaica being sold by a local grocer. By 1770 the Irish market absorbed nearly 90 percent of Antigua’s total rum exports and in 1774 Dublin imported 108,821 gallons of rum from Antigua. Many merchants in the colonies paid for their Irish provisions in slave produce.
Were there Irish people more directly involved in the slave trade? Were there Irish slavers?
Navigation laws ensured a monopoly for English and Scottish slavers. Some Irish sailors migrated to slave hubs like Liverpool, Bristol, and Nantes and became slave traders. An example of this is David Tuohy, from Tralee, County Kerry. He settled in Liverpool in the 1750s and captained at least four slave trading voyages from 1766 to 1771. By 1772 he had made enough money to become a slave ship owner and he was the part-owner of 10 Liverpool slave ships from 1772 to 1786.
For many of the Irish diaspora the profiteering was direct through slave ownership or employment as overseers. My survey of the slave schedules suggests that slave owners with recognizably Irish surnames owned over 110,000 slaves in the United States in 1860.
Given all this, why has the myth of the Irish slaves lasted so long?
Firstly, I think we need to be precise about what it is we are labeling a myth and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The “Irish slaves” myth that we contend with today is a relatively new manifestation (approximately two decades old) and refers to the drawing of a false equivalence with racialized perpetual hereditary chattel slavery and/or the refusal to delineate servitude and slavery. All the exaggerations and fabrications are secondary to the core mythos that “slavery was slavery” in the 17th-century Anglo-Caribbean.
But the concept of Irish people being enslaved in the Caribbean by Cromwellian forces is contemporary with the events themselves and is based on historical truth. This is why I have always referred to it in quotes, as a way of separating the present day propaganda from its use by Irish people who described it as slavery in the general sense at the time. The challenge in this discourse is identifying what [slavery] means in the past and the present.
Can we blame the English?
Cromwell’s “Irish slaves” are canon in Irish nationalist historiography. It is rarely explained that this “slavery” was in the form of involuntary indentured servitude for a fixed period of time. You see it referred to all down the line from James Connolly’s Re-Conquest of Ireland (1915) which claimed that “over 100,000 men, women and children were transported to the West Indies, there to be sold into slavery” to Daniel O’Connell’s speech in Mallow in 1843 when he asserted that “80,000 Irishmen [were] sent to [the West Indies] to work as slaves.” But these were rhetorical claims, based on truth, but greatly exaggerated for effect and are not to be confused with historical accuracy.
As an Irish pub musician, I think a lot about the sense of belligerent victimhood in 20th-century Irish culture. Is that part of what’s going on here?
[There’s] a selective memory about who we identify with [in] the colonization of the New World. There exists this sense that this complicity with imperial projects was individualist rather than connected to any the notion of Irish identity. Post-independence, a line was drawn by nationalists that everything that happened prior to this was to be laid at the door of British Empire. It’s of course a bit more complicated than that and as one might expect in a post-colonial state, our national story is presented as a linear history, a journey from bondage to liberation.
This explains why some Irish people express shock when informed that many of our kin were say, slave owners in America or involved and benefited from the dispossession of indigenous peoples lands across multiple continents. The cognitive dissonance that follows often leads to the knee-jerk response: “Were they really Irish though?”
The deeper problem here is that if we don’t admit to complexity in our past, how were we going to confront it in the present? I’m thinking of the Magdalene Laundries, the Mother and Baby Homes, or our vivid memory of anti-Irish discrimination existing alongside a collective amnesia of the fact that anti-Semitism was once an official part of our immigration policy.
Is your relentless online debunking having an impact?
I think at this point I can say, after three years of labor, that it is working. This is measurable to the extent that my fact-checking has caused mainstream publications to retract articles based on bogus sources I’ve targeted and it will hopefully caution and encourage carefulness about this topic in others going forward.
I hear from people all the time about how useful it has been. It seems to be especially appreciated by those who use it as a go-to resource to help people who may be sharing propaganda without realizing how ahistorical, damaging, or insensitive it is.
David M. Perry is a former professor of history and a contributing writer at Pacific Standard’s Ideas section on the topic of health-care access. He’s currently senior academic adviser to the Department of History at the University of Minnesota.
As deportation arrests soar under the Trump administration, Irish immigrants are feeling the pressure to leave the U.S.
No, you don’t, but it happened well into his presidency. Aaron Gordon speaks to the man who has tried to paint a true, human portrait of the Great Emancipator—even if we don’t want to hear it.
In ‘The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry,’ Ned and Constance Sublette offer a radical re-interpretation of American history. It’s brutal and uncompromising, and, for better or worse, it’s how we should understand the country.
As you watch 12 Years a Slave recall that the market in humanity really was a market—with dizzying asset price changes, speculative bubbles, and a fear of volatility greater than a fear of civil war.
When one cultural tradition evolves, borrowing and melding with other cultural traditions, it increasingly belongs to everyone.
Cromwellian conquest of Ireland
|Cromwellian conquest of Ireland|
|Part of the Eleven Years’ War and|
Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Oliver Cromwell, who landed in Ireland in 1649 to re-conquer the country on behalf of the English Parliament. He left in 1650, having taken eastern and southern Ireland, passing his command to Henry Ireton.
|Date15 August 1649 – 27 April 1653LocationIrelandResultDecisive English Parliamentarian victoryEnglish Parliamentarian conquest of IrelandEnd of the Confederation of KilkennyAct for the Settlement of Ireland 1652|
| Irish Catholic Confederation|
| English Parliamentarian|
New Model ArmyProtestant colonists
|Commanders and leaders|
| James Butler, Marquess of Ormonde(Aug. 1649 – Dec. 1650)|
Ulick Burke, Earl of Clanricarde (Dec. 1650 – Apr. 1653)
| Oliver Cromwell (Aug. 1649 – May 1650)|
Henry Ireton (May 1650 – Nov. 1651)
Charles Fleetwood(Nov. 1651 – Apr. 1653)
|Up to 60,000 incl. guerrilla fighters, but only around 20,000 at any one time||~30,000 New Model Army troops,|
~10,000 troops raised in Ireland or based there before campaign
|Casualties and losses|
15,000–20,000 battlefield casualties,
over 200,000–600,000 civilian casualties (from war-related violence, famine or disease)
~50,000 deported as indentured labourers
|8,000 New Model Army soldiers killed,|
~7,000 locally raised soldiers killed
The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland or Cromwellian war in Ireland (1649–53) was the conquest of Ireland by the forces of the English Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell invaded Ireland with his New Model Army on behalf of England’s Rump Parliamentin August 1649.
Following the Irish Rebellion of 1641, most of Ireland came under the control of the Irish Catholic Confederation. In early 1649, the Confederates allied with the English Royalists, who had been defeated by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War. By May 1652, Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army had defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, ending the Irish Confederate Wars (or Eleven Years’ War). However, guerrilla warfare continued for a further year. Cromwell passed a series of Penal Laws against Roman Catholics (the vast majority of the population) and confiscated large amounts of their land.
The Parliamentarian conquest was brutal, and Cromwell is still a hated figure in Ireland. The extent to which Cromwell, who was in direct command for the first year of the campaign, was responsible for the atrocities is debated to this day. Some historians argue that the actions of Cromwell were within the then-accepted rules of war, or were exaggerated or distorted by later propagandists; these claims have been challenged by others.
The impact of the war on the Irish population was unquestionably severe, although there is no consensus as to the magnitude of the loss of life. The war resulted in famine, which was worsened by an outbreak of bubonic plague. Estimates of the drop in the Irish population resulting from the Parliamentarian campaign range from 15 to 83 percent. The Parliamentarians also transportedabout 50,000 people as indentured labourers. Some estimates cover population losses over the course of the Conquest Period (1649–52) only, while others cover the period of the Conquest to 1653 and the period of the Cromwellian Settlement from August 1652 to 1659 together.
- 2The Battle of Rathmines and Cromwell’s landing in Ireland
- 3The Siege of Drogheda
- 4Wexford, Waterford and Duncannon
- 5Clonmel and the conquest of Munster
- 6The collapse of the Royalist alliance
- 7Scarrifholis and the destruction of the Ulster Army
- 8The Sieges of Limerick and Galway
- 9Guerrilla warfare, famine and plague
- 10The Cromwellian Settlement
- 11Historical debate
- 12Long-term results
- 13See also
- 17Further reading
The English Rump Parliament, victorious in the English Civil War, and having executed King Charles in January 1649, had several reasons for sending the New Model Army to Ireland in 1649.
The first and most pressing reason was an alliance signed in 1649 between the Irish Confederate Catholics, Charles II (who had been proclaimed King of Ireland in January 1649), and the English Royalists. This allowed for Royalist troops to be sent to Ireland and put the Irish Confederate Catholic troops under the command of Royalist officers led by James Butler, Earl of Ormonde. Their aim was to invade England and restore the monarchy there. This was a threat which the new English Commonwealth could not afford to ignore.
Secondly, Parliament also had a longstanding commitment to re-conquer Ireland dating back to the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Even if the Irish Confederates had not allied themselves with the Royalists, it is likely that the English Parliament would have eventually tried to invade the country to crush Catholic power there. They had sent Parliamentary forces to Ireland throughout the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (most of them under Michael Jones in 1647). They viewed Ireland as part of the territory governed by right by the Kingdom of England and only temporarily out of its control since the Rebellion of 1641. Many Parliamentarians wished to punish the Irish for atrocities against English Protestant settlers during the 1641 Uprising. Furthermore, some Irish towns (notably Wexford and Waterford) had acted as bases from which privateers had attacked English shipping throughout the 1640s.
In addition, the English Parliament had a financial imperative to invade Ireland to confiscate land there in order to repay its creditors. The Parliament had raised loans of £10 million under the Adventurers Act to subdue Ireland since 1642, on the basis that its creditors would be repaid with land confiscated from Irish Catholic rebels. To repay these loans, it would be necessary to conquer Ireland and confiscate such land. The Parliamentarians also had internal political reasons to send forces to Ireland. Army mutinies at Banbury and Bishopsgate in April and May 1649 were unsettling the New Model Army, and the soldiers’ demands would probably increase if they were left idle.
Finally, for some Parliamentarians, the war in Ireland was a religious war. Cromwell and much of his army were Puritans who considered all Roman Catholics to be heretics, and so for them the conquest was partly a crusade. The Irish Confederates had been supplied with arms and money by the Papacy and had welcomed the papal legate Pierfrancesco Scarampi and later the Papal Nuncio Giovanni Battista Rinuccini in 1643–49.
Main article: Battle of Rathmines
By the end of the period, known as Confederate Ireland, in 1649 the only remaining Parliamentarian outpost in Ireland was in Dublin, under the command of Colonel Jones. A combined Royalist and Confederate force under the Marquess of Ormonde gathered at Rathmines, south of Dublin, to take the city and deprive the Parliamentarians of a port in which they could land. Jones, however, launched a surprise attack on the Royalists while they were deploying on 2 August, putting them to flight. Jones claimed to have killed around 4,000 Royalist or Confederate soldiers and taken 2,517 prisoners.
Oliver Cromwell called the battle “an astonishing mercy, so great and seasonable that we are like them that dreamed”, as it meant that he had a secure port at which he could land his army in Ireland, and that he retained the capital city. With Admiral Robert Blake blockading the remaining Royalist fleet under Prince Rupert of the Rhine in Kinsale, Cromwell landed on 15 August with thirty-five ships filled with troops and equipment. Henry Ireton landed two days later with a further seventy-seven ships.
Ormonde’s troops retreated from around Dublin in disarray. They were badly demoralised by their unexpected defeat at Rathmines and were incapable of fighting another pitched battle in the short term. As a result, Ormonde hoped to hold the walled towns on Ireland’s east coast to hold up the Cromwellian advance until the winter, when he hoped that “Colonel Hunger and Major Sickness” (i.e. hunger and disease) would deplete their ranks.
Main article: Siege of Drogheda
Upon landing, Cromwell proceeded to take the other port cities on Ireland’s east coast, to facilitate the efficient landing of supplies and reinforcements from England. The first town to fall was Drogheda, about 50 km north of Dublin. Drogheda was garrisoned by a regiment of 3,000 English Royalist and Irish Confederate soldiers, commanded by Arthur Aston. After a week-long siege, Cromwell’s forces breached the walls protecting the town. Aston refused Cromwell’s request that he surrender. In the ensuing battle for the town, Cromwell ordered that no quarter be given, and the majority of the garrison and Catholic priests were killed. Many civilians also died in the sack. Aston was beaten to death by the Roundheads with his own wooden leg.
The massacre of the garrison in Drogheda, including some after they had surrendered and some who had sheltered in a church, was received with horror in Ireland and is used today as an example of Cromwell’s extreme cruelty. Tom Reilly in Cromwell, an Honourable Enemy (Dingle 1999), argues that what happened at Drogheda was not unusually severe by the standards of 17th century siege warfare. In Cromwell was Framed (2014), he claims that civilians were not targeted.
Having taken Drogheda, Cromwell took most of his army south to secure the south western ports. He sent a detachment of 5,000 men north under Robert Venables to take eastern Ulster from the remnants of a Scottish Covenanter army that had landed there in 1642. They defeated the Scots at the Battle of Lisnagarvey (6 December 1649) and linked up with a Parliamentarian army composed of English settlers based around Derry in western Ulster, which was commanded by Charles Coote.
The New Model Army then marched south to secure the ports of Wexford, Waterford and Duncannon. Wexford was the scene of another infamous atrocity, when Parliamentarian troops broke into the town while negotiations for its surrender were ongoing, and sacked it, killing about 2,000 soldiers and 1,500 townspeople and burning much of the town. Cromwell’s responsibility for the sack of Wexford is disputed. He did not order the attack on the town, and had been in the process of negotiating its surrender when his troops broke into the town. On the other hand, his critics point out that he made little effort to restrain his troops or to punish them afterwards for their conduct.
Arguably, the sack of Wexford was somewhat counter-productive for the Parliamentarians. The destruction of the town meant that the Parliamentarians could not use its port as a base for supplying their forces in Ireland. Secondly, the effects of the severe measures adopted at Drogheda and at Wexford were mixed. To some degree they may have been intended to discourage further resistance. The Gaelic Irish majority saw such towns as culturally English; seeing the Anglo-Irish being punished so harshly, the rural Gaelic Irish might expect even worse unless they complied with the invaders.
The Royalist commander Ormonde thought that the terror of Cromwell’s army had a paralysing effect on his forces. Towns like New Ross and Carlow subsequently surrendered on terms when besieged by Cromwell’s forces. On the other hand, the massacres of the defenders of Drogheda and Wexford prolonged resistance elsewhere, as they convinced many Irish Catholics that they would be killed even if they surrendered.
Such towns as Waterford, Duncannon, Clonmel, Limerick and Galway only surrendered after determined resistance. Cromwell was unable to take Waterford or Duncannon and the New Model Army had to retire to winter quarters, where many of its men died of disease, especially typhoid and dysentery. The port city of Waterford and Duncannon town eventually surrendered after prolonged sieges in 1650.
The following spring, Cromwell mopped up the remaining walled towns in Ireland’s southeast—notably the Confederate capital of Kilkenny, which surrendered on terms: see Siege of Kilkenny. The New Model Army met its only serious reverse in Ireland at the Siege of Clonmel, where its attacks on the towns walls were repulsed at a cost of up to 2,000 men. The town nevertheless surrendered the following day.
Cromwell’s treatment of Kilkenny and Clonmel is in contrast to that of Drogheda and Wexford. Despite the fact that his troops had suffered heavy casualties attacking the former two, Cromwell respected surrender terms which guaranteed the lives and property of the townspeople and the evacuation of armed Irish troops who were defending them. The change in attitude on the part of the Parliamentarian commander may have been a recognition that excessive cruelty was prolonging Irish resistance. However, in the case of Drogheda and Wexford no surrender agreement had been negotiated, and by the rules of continental siege warfare prevalent in the mid-17th century, this meant no quarter would be given; thus it can be argued that Cromwell’s attitude had not changed.
Ormonde’s Royalists still held most of Munster, but were outflanked by a mutiny of their own garrison in Cork. The British Protestant troops there had been fighting for the Parliament up to 1648 and resented fighting with the Confederates. Their mutiny handed Cork and most of Munster to Cromwell and they defeated the local Irish garrison at the Battle of Macroom. The Irish and Royalist forces retreated behind the River Shannon into Connacht or (in the case of the remaining Munster forces) into the fastness of County Kerry.
In May 1650, Charles II repudiated his father’s (Charles I’s) alliance with the Irish Confederates in preference for an alliance with the Scottish Covenanters (see Treaty of Breda). This totally undermined Ormonde’s position as head of a Royalist coalition in Ireland. Cromwell published generous surrender terms for Protestant Royalists in Ireland and many of them either capitulated or went over to the Parliamentarian side.
This left in the field only the remaining Irish Catholic armies and a few diehard English Royalists. From this point onwards, many Irish Catholics, including their bishops and clergy, questioned why they should accept Ormonde’s leadership when his master, the King, had repudiated his alliance with them. Cromwell left Ireland in May 1650 to fight the Third English Civil War against the new Scottish-Royalist alliance. He passed his command onto Henry Ireton.
Main article: Battle of Scarrifholis
The most formidable force left to the Irish and Royalists was the 6,000 strong army of Ulster, formerly commanded by Owen Roe O’Neill, who died in 1649. However the army was now commanded by an inexperienced Catholic bishop named Heber MacMahon. The Ulster Army met a Parliamentarian army, composed mainly of British settlers and commanded by Charles Coote, at the Battle of Scarrifholis in County Donegal in June 1650. The Ulster army was routed and as many as 2,000 of its men were killed. In addition, MacMahon and most of the Ulster Army’s officers were either killed at the battle or captured and executed after it. This eliminated the last strong field army opposing the Parliamentarians in Ireland and secured for them the northern province of Ulster. Coote’s army, despite suffering heavy losses at the Siege of Charlemont, the last Catholic stronghold in the north, was now free to march south and invade the west coast of Ireland.
The Parliamentarians crossed the River Shannon into the western province of Connacht in October 1650. An Irish army under Clanricarde had attempted to stop them but this was surprised and routed at the Battle of Meelick Island. Ormonde was discredited by the constant stream of defeats for the Irish and Royalist forces and no longer had the confidence of the men he commanded, particularly the Irish Confederates. He fled for France in December 1650 and was replaced by an Irish nobleman Ulick Burke of Clanricarde as commander. The Irish and Royalist forces were penned into the area west of the river Shannon and placed their last hope on defending the strongly walled cities of Limerick and Galway on Ireland’s west coast. These cities had built extensive modern defences and could not be taken by a straightforward assault as at Drogheda or Wexford. Ireton besieged Limerick while Charles Coote surrounded Galway, but they were unable to take the strongly fortified cities and instead blockaded them until a combination of hunger and disease forced them to surrender. An Irish force from Kerry attempted to relieve Limerick from the south, but was intercepted and routed at the Battle of Knocknaclashy. Limerick fell in 1651 and Galway the following year. Disease however killed indiscriminately and Ireton, along with thousands of Parliamentarian troops, died of plague outside Limerick in 1651.
The fall of Galway saw the end of organised resistance to the Cromwellian conquest, but fighting continued as small units of Irish troops launched guerrilla attacks on the Parliamentarians.
The guerrilla phase of the war had been going since late 1650 and at the end of 1651, despite the defeat of the main Irish or Royalist forces, there were still estimated to be 30,000 men in arms against the Parliamentarians. Tories (from the Irish word tóraidhe meaning, “pursued man”) operated from difficult terrain such as the Bog of Allen, the Wicklow Mountains and the drumlin country in the north midlands, and within months, made the countryside extremely dangerous for all except large parties of Parliamentarian troops. Ireton mounted a punitive expedition to the Wicklow mountains in 1650 to try to put down the tories there, but without success.
By early 1651, it was reported that no English supply convoys were safe if they travelled more than two miles outside a military base. In response, the Parliamentarians destroyed food supplies and forcibly evicted civilians who were thought to be helping the Tories. John Hewsonsystematically destroyed food stocks in counties Wicklow and County Kildare, Hardress Wallerdid likewise in the Burren in County Clare, as did Colonel Cook in County Wexford. The result was famine throughout much of Ireland, aggravated by an outbreak of bubonic plague. As the guerrilla war ground on, the Parliamentarians, as of April 1651, designated areas such as County Wicklow and much of the south of the country as what would now be called free-fire zones, where anyone found would be, “taken slain and destroyed as enemies and their cattle and good shall be taken or spoiled as the goods of enemies”. This tactic had succeeded in the Nine Years’ War.
This phase of the war was by far the most costly in terms of civilian loss of life. The combination of warfare, famine and plague caused a huge mortality among the Irish population. William Petty estimated (in the 1655–56 Down Survey) that the death toll of the wars in Ireland since 1641 was over 618,000 people, or about 40% of the country’s pre-war population. Of these, he estimated that over 400,000 were Catholics, 167,000 killed directly by war or famine, and the remainder by war-related disease. Modern estimates put the toll at closer to 20%.
In addition, some fifty thousand Irish people, including prisoners of war, were sold as indentured labourers under the English Commonwealth regime.They were often sent to the English colonies in North America and the Caribbean where they subsequently comprised a substantial portion of certain Caribbean colony populations in the late 17th century. In Barbados, some of their descendants are known as Redlegs.
Eventually, the guerrilla war was ended when the Parliamentarians published surrender terms in 1652 allowing Irish troops to go abroad to serve in foreign armies not at war with the Commonwealth of England. Most went to France or Spain. The largest Irish guerrilla forces under John Fitzpatrick (in Leinster, Edmund O’Dwyer (in Munster) and Edmund Daly (in Connacht) surrendered in 1652, under terms signed at Kilkenny in May of that year. However, up to 11,000 men, mostly in Ulster, were still thought to be in the field at the end of the year. The last Irish and Royalist forces (the remnants of the Confederate’s Ulster Army, led by Philip O’Reilly) formally surrendered at Cloughoughter in County Cavan on 27 April 1653. However, low-level guerrilla warfare continued for the remainder of the decade and was accompanied by widespread lawlessness. Undoubtedly some of the tories were simple brigands, whereas others were politically motivated. The Cromwellians distinguished in their rewards for information or capture of outlaws between “private tories” and “public tories”.
Main articles: Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652 and Act of Settlement 1662After Cromwell’s victory, huge areas of land were confiscated and the Irish Catholics were banished to the lands of Connacht.
Cromwell imposed an extremely harsh settlement on the Irish Catholic population. This was because of his deep religious antipathy to the Catholic religion and to punish Irish Catholics for the rebellion of 1641, in particular the massacres of Protestant settlers in Ulster. Also he needed to raise money to pay off his army and to repay the London merchants who had subsidised the war under the Adventurers Act back in 1640.
Anyone implicated in the rebellion of 1641 was executed. Those who participated in Confederate Ireland had all their land confiscated and thousands were transported to the West Indies as indentured labourers. Those Catholic landowners who had not taken part in the wars still had their land confiscated, although they were entitled to claim land in Connacht as compensation. In addition, no Catholics were allowed to live in towns. Irish soldiers who had fought in the Confederate and Royalist armies left the country in large numbers to find service in the armies of France and Spain—William Petty estimated their number at 54,000 men. The practice of Catholicism was banned and bounties were offered for the capture of priests, who were executed when found.
The Long Parliament had passed the Adventurers Act in 1640 (the act received royal assent in 1642), under which those who lent money to Parliament for the subjugation of Ireland would be paid in confiscated land in Ireland. In addition, Parliamentarian soldiers who served in Ireland were entitled to an allotment of confiscated land there, in lieu of their wages, which the Parliament was unable to pay in full. As a result, many thousands of New Model Army veterans were settled in Ireland. Moreover, the pre-war Protestant settlers greatly increased their ownership of land (see also: The Cromwellian Plantation). Before the wars, Irish Catholics had owned 60% of the land in Ireland, whereas by the time of the English Restoration, when compensations had been made to Catholic Royalists, they owned only 20% of it. During the Commonwealth period, Catholic landownership had fallen to 8%. Even after the Restoration of 1660, Catholics were barred from all public office, but not from the Irish Parliament.
The Parliamentarian campaign in Ireland was the most ruthless of the Civil War period. In particular, Cromwell’s actions at Drogheda and Wexford earned him a reputation for cruelty.
However, pro-Cromwell accounts argue that Cromwell’s actions in Ireland were not excessively cruel by the standards of the day. Cromwell himself argued that his severity when he was in Ireland applied only to “men in arms” who opposed him. Accounts of his massacres of civilians are still disputed.
Cromwell’s critics point to his response to a plea by Catholic Bishops to the Irish Catholic people to resist him in which he states that although his intention was not to “massacre, banish and destroy the Catholic inhabitants”, if they did resist “I hope to be free from the misery and desolation, blood and ruin that shall befall them, and shall rejoice to exercise the utmost severity against them”.[a]
It has also recently been argued, by Tom Reilly in Cromwell, an Honourable Enemy, that what happened at Drogheda and Wexford was not unusually severe by the standards of 17th century siege warfare, in which the garrisons of towns taken by storm were routinely killed to discourage resistance in the future. John Morrill commented, “A major attempt at rehabilitation was attempted by Tom Reilly, Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy (London, 1999) but this has been largely rejected by other scholars.” Morrill himself argued, that what happened at Drogheda, “was without straightforward parallel in 17th century British or Irish history… So the Drogheda massacre does stand out for its mercilessness, for its combination of ruthlessness and calculation, for its combination of hot- and cold-bloodiness”. Moreover, historians critical of Cromwell point out that at the time the killings at Drogheda and Wexford were considered atrocities. They cite such sources as Edmund Ludlow, the Parliamentarian commander in Ireland after Ireton’s death, who wrote that the tactics used by Cromwell at Drogheda showed “extraordinary severity”.
Cromwell’s actions in Ireland occurred in the context of a mutually cruel war. In 1641–42 Irish insurgents in Ulster killed between 4,000 and 12,000 Protestant settlers who had settled on land where the former Catholic owners had been evicted to make way for them. These events were magnified in Protestant propaganda as an attempt by Irish Catholics to exterminate the English Protestant settlers in Ireland. In turn, this was used as justification by English Parliamentary and Scottish Covenant forces to take vengeance on the Irish Catholic population. A Parliamentary tract of 1655 argued that, “the whole Irish nation, consisting of gentry, clergy and commonality are engaged as one nation in this quarrel, to root out and extirpate all English Protestants from amongst them”.
Atrocities were subsequently committed by all sides. When Murrough O’Brien, the Earl of Inchiquin and Parliamentarian commander in Cork, took Cashel in 1647, he slaughtered the garrison and Catholic clergy there (including Theobald Stapleton), earning the nickname “Murrough of the Burnings”. Inchiquin switched allegiances in 1648, becoming a commander of the Royalist forces. After such battles as Dungans Hill and Scarrifholis, English Parliamentarian forces executed thousands of their Irish Catholic prisoners. Similarly, when the Confederate Catholic general Thomas Preston took Maynooth in 1647, he hanged its Catholic defenders as apostates.
Seen in this light, some have argued that the severe conduct of the Parliamentarian campaign of 1649–53 appears unexceptional.
Nevertheless, the 1649–53 campaign remains notorious in Irish popular memory as it was responsible for a huge death toll among the Irish population. The main reason for this was the counter-guerrilla tactics used by such commanders as Henry Ireton, John Hewson and Edmund Ludlow against the Catholic population from 1650, when large areas of the country still resisted the Parliamentary Army. These tactics included the wholesale burning of crops, forced population movement, and killing of civilians.
Total excess deaths for the entire period of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in Ireland was estimated by Sir William Petty, the 17th Century economist, to be 600,000 out of a total Irish population of 1,400,000 in 1641. One modern estimate estimated that at least 200,000 were killed out of a population of allegedly 2 million.
In addition, the whole post-war Cromwellian settlement of Ireland has been characterised by historians such as Mark Levene and Alan Axelrod as ethnic cleansing, in that it sought to remove Irish Catholics from the eastern part of the country, others such as the historical writer Tim Pat Coogan have described the actions of Cromwell and his subordinates as genocide. The aftermath of the Cromwellian campaign and settlement saw extensive dispossession of landowners who were Catholic, and a huge drop in population. In the event, the much larger number of surviving poorer Catholics were not moved westwards; most of them had to fend for themselves by working for the new landowners.
The Cromwellian conquest completed the British colonisation of Ireland, which was merged into the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1653–59. It destroyed the native Irish Catholic land-owning classes and replaced them with colonists with a British identity. The bitterness caused by the Cromwellian settlement was a powerful source of Irish nationalism from the 17th century onwards.
After the Stuart Restoration in 1660, Charles II of England restored about a third of the confiscated land to the former landlords in the Act of Settlement 1662, but not all, as he needed political support from former parliamentarians in England. A generation later, during the Glorious Revolution, many of the Irish Catholic landed class tried to reverse the remaining Cromwellian settlement in the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–91), where they fought en masse for the Jacobites. They were defeated once again, and many lost land that had been regranted after 1662. As a result, Irish and English Catholics did not become full political citizens of the British state again until 1829 and were legally barred from buying valuable interests in land until the Papists Act 1778.
- Wars of the Three Kingdoms
- Irish Confederate Wars
- British military history
- Early Modern Ireland 1536-1691
- ^ The wording of this version is taken from a London edition, Thomas Carlyle notes that another contemporary version copied from the original Cork edition, ends with the phrase “and shall rejoice to act severity against them” and that he states “is probably the true reading” (Carlyle 2010, p. 132).
- ^ Mícheál Ó Siochrú/RTÉ ONE, Cromwell in Ireland Part 2. Broadcast 16 September 2008.
- ^ Jump up to: a b c O’Callaghan 2000, p. 85.
- ^ Higman 1997, pp. 107,108.
- ^ “Of all these doings in Cromwell’s Irish Chapter, each of us may say what he will. Yet to everyone it will at least be intelligible how his name came to be hated in the tenacious heart of Ireland”. John Morley, Biography of Oliver Cromwell. Page 298. 1900 and 2001. ISBN 978-1-4212-6707-4.; “Cromwell is still a hate figure in Ireland today because of the brutal effectiveness of his campaigns in Ireland. Of course, his victories in Ireland made him a hero in Protestant England.” “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-25. British National Archives web site. Accessed March 2007; “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved 2006-01-17. From a history site dedicated to the English Civil War. “… making Cromwell’s name into one of the most hated in Irish history”. Accessed March 2007. Site currently offline. WayBack Machine holds archive here
- ^ Philip McKeiver in his, 2007, A New History of Cromwell’s Irish CampaignISBN 978-0-9554663-0-4 and Tom Reilly, 1999, Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy ISBN 0-86322-250-1
- ^ Coyle, Eugene (Winter 1999). “Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy, Tom Reilly [review of]”. Book Reviews. History Ireland. 7 (4). Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- ^ Prendergast, John Patrick (2 January 1868). The Cromwellian settlement of Ireland. P.M. Haverty – via Internet Archive.
- ^ “Inventory of Conflict and Environment (ICE), Cromwell’s Famine”. mandalaprojects.com.
- ^ “Historical Context – The Down Survey Project”. downsurvey.tcd.ie.
- ^ Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War (2001) p112, ‘As late as 1650, provisions were cheaper in Ireland than in England; the famine of 1651 onwards was a man made response to stubborn guerrilla warfare. Collective reprisals against the civilian population included forcing them out of designated no man’s lands and the systematic destruction of foodstuffs’.
- ^ 15–25%
- Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, p112
- ^ “Down Survey”. Trinity College Dublin Department of History. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
- ^ O’Siochru, God’s Executioner, p.69 & 96.
- ^ McKeiver, A New History of Cromwell’s Irish Campaign, page.59
- ^ Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, our Chief of Men (1973), p. 324
- ^ Fraser, Cromwell our Chief of Men, p.326
- ^ Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, p.113
- ^ Reilly, Tom (1999). Cromwell, An Honourable Enemy. London: Phoenix Press. p. 61. ISBN 1-84212-080-8.
- ^ Reilly, Tom (1999). Cromwell, An Honourable Enemy. London: Phoenix Press. p. 71. ISBN 1-84212-080-8.
- ^ Fraser, pp.336–339. Kenyon & Ohlmeyer 1998, p. 98.
- ^ O Siochru, God’s Executioner, pp. 82–91. Faber & Faber (2008)
- ^ “Opinion: ‘Cromwell was Framed'”. 13 August 2014.
- ^ Kenyon & Ohlmeyer 1998, p. 100.
- ^ McKeiver, A New History of Cromwell’s Irish Campaign, p.167.
- ^ Micheal O Siochru, God’s Executioner, Oliver Cromwell and Conquest of Ireland, p.187.
- ^ Lenihan, p.122
- ^ James Scott Wheeler, Cromwell in Ireland
- ^ Kenyon & Ohlmeyer 1998, p. 278. Scott Wheeler, Cromwell in Ireland.
- ^ “From Catastrophe to Baby Boom – Population Change in Early Modern Ireland 1641-1741”. 22 January 2014.
- ^ Kenyon & Ohlmeyer 1998, p. 134.
- ^ Higman 1997, pp. 107, 108.
- ^ Mahoney, Michael. “Irish indentured labour in the Caribbean”. UK National Archive. UK National Archive. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- ^ Irish Times staff 2009.
- ^ Prendergast, John Patrick (1868). The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland. P M Haverty New York. p. 178, 187. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- ^ Lenihan, p. 111
- ^ Carlyle 2010, p. 132.
- ^ Reilly, Dingle 1999[page needed]
- ^ John Morrill. “Rewriting Cromwell: A Case of Deafening Silences.” Canadian Journal of History. Dec 2003: 19.
- ^ Morrill pp. 263–265
- ^ Richard Lawrence, The Interest of England in Irish transplantation (1655), quoted in Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, p.111.
- ^ John Morrill. “Rewriting Cromwell: A Case of Deafening Silences.” Canadian Journal of History. December 2003: 19.
- ^ Faolain, Turlough (1983). Blood On The Harp. p. 191. ISBN 9780878752751. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- ^ O’ Connell, Daniel (1828). A collection of speeches spoken by … on subjects connected with the catholic question. p. 317. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- ^ Patrick, Brantlinger (15 January 2014). Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800-1930. ISBN 9780801468674. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- ^ Dregne, Lukas. “Just Warfare, or Genocide?: Oliver Cromwell and the Siege of Drogheda”. University of Montana. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- Albert Breton (Editor, 1995). Nationalism and Rationality. Cambridge University Press. Page 248. “Oliver Cromwell offered Irish Catholics a choice between genocide and forced mass population transfer”.
- Ukrainian Quarterly. Ukrainian Society of America, 1944. “Therefore, we are entitled to accuse the England of Oliver Cromwell of the genocide of the Irish civilian population”.
- David Norbrook (2000).Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics, 1627–1660. Cambridge University Press. 2000. In interpreting Andrew Marvell’s contemporarily expressed views on Cromwell Norbrook says; “He (Cromwell) laid the foundation for a ruthless programme of resettling the Irish Catholics which amounted to large scale ethnic cleansing”.
- Frances Stewart Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine (2000). War and Underdevelopment: Economic and Social Consequences of Conflict v. 1 (Queen Elizabeth House Series in Development Studies), Oxford University Press. p. 51. “Faced with the prospect of an Irish alliance with Charles II, Cromwell carried out a series of massacres to subdue the Irish. Then, once Cromwell had returned to England, the English Commissary, General Henry Ireton, adopted a deliberate policy of crop burning and starvation, which was responsible for the majority of an estimated 600,000 deaths out of a total Irish population of 1,400,000.”
- Alan Axelrod (2002). Profiles in Leadership, Prentice-Hall. 2002. Page 122. “As a leader Cromwell was entirely unyielding. He was willing to act on his beliefs, even if this meant killing the king and perpetrating, against the Irish, something very nearly approaching genocide”.
- Tim Pat Coogan (2002). The Troubles: Ireland’s Ordeal and the Search for Peace. ISBN 978-0-312-29418-2. p. 6. “The massacres by Catholics of Protestants, which occurred in the religious wars of the 1640s, were magnified for propagandist purposes to justify Cromwell’s subsequent genocide.”
- Peter Berresford Ellis (2002). Eyewitness to Irish History, John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-26633-4. p. 108. “It was to be the justification for Cromwell’s genocidal campaign and settlement.”
- John Morrill (2003). “Rewriting Cromwell: A Case of Deafening Silences”, Canadian Journal of History. December 2003. “Of course, this has never been the Irish view of Cromwell.
Most Irish remember him as the man responsible for the mass slaughter of civilians at Drogheda and Wexford and as the agent of the greatest episode of ethnic cleansing ever attempted in Western Europe as, within a decade, the percentage of land possessed by Catholics born in Ireland dropped from sixty to twenty. In a decade, the ownership of two-fifths of the land mass was transferred from several thousand Irish Catholic landowners to British Protestants. The gap between Irish and the English views of the seventeenth-century conquest remains unbridgeable and is governed by G. K. Chesterton’s mirthless epigram of 1917, that ‘it was a tragic necessity that the Irish should remember it; but it was far more tragic that the English forgot it’.”
- James M. Lutz Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Brenda J Lutz (2004). Global Terrorism, Routledge: London. p.193: “The draconian laws applied by Oliver Cromwell in Ireland were an early version of ethnic cleansing. The Catholic Irish were to be expelled to the northwestern areas of the island. Relocation rather than extermination was the goal.”
- Mark Levene Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine(2005). Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: Volume 2. ISBN 978-1-84511-057-4. Pages 55–57. A sample quote describes the Cromwellian campaign and settlement as “a conscious attempt to reduce a distinct ethnic population”.
- Mark Levene (2005). Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State. London: I.B. Tauris.
- Coyle Eugene, “A review”. Archived from the original on 31 October 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2007. , of Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy, by Tom Reilly, Brandon Press, 1999, ISBN 0-86322-250-1
- Carlyle, Thomas (2010), Traill, Henry Duff; Cromwell, Oliver (eds.), The Works of Thomas Carlyle, 2, Cambridge University Press, p. 132, ISBN 9781108022309
- Fraser, Antonia. Cromwell Our Chief of Men, Panther, St Albans 1975, ISBN 0-586-04206-7
- Ó Siochrú, Mícheál. RTÉ ONE, Cromwell in Ireland Part 2. Broadcast 16 September 2008.
- O’Callaghan, Sean (2000). To Hell or Barbados. Brandon. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-86322-272-6.
- Higman, B. W. (1997). Knight, Franklin W. (ed.). General History of the Caribbean: The slave societies of the Caribbean. 3 (illustrated ed.). UNESCO. pp. 107, 108]. ISBN 978-0-333-65605-1.
- Irish Times staff (12 December 2009). “Remnants of an indentured people”. Irish Times. (subscription required)
- Kenyon, John; Ohlmeyer, Jane, eds. (1998). The Civil Wars. Oxford. ISBN 0-19-866222-X.
- Lenihan, Padraig, Confederate Catholics at War, Cork 2001. ISBN 1-85918-244-5
- Morrill, John. Rewriting Cromwell: A Case of Deafening Silences. Canadian Journal of History. Dec 2003.
- Reilly, Tom. Cromwell, an Honourable Enemy, Dingle 1999, ISBN 0-86322-250-1
- Scott-Wheeler, James, Cromwell in Ireland, Dublin 1999, ISBN 978-0-7171-2884-6
- Butler, William (1903). “Oliver Cromwell in Ireland” . In O’Brien, R. Barry (ed.). Studies in Irish History, 1649-1775. Dublin: Browne and Nolan. pp. 1–65.
- Canny, Nicholas P. Making Ireland British 1580–1650, Oxford 2001, ISBN 0-19-820091-9
- Gentles, Ian. The New Model Army, Cambridge 1994, ISBN 0-631-19347-2
- O’Siochru, Micheal, God’s Executioner- Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland, Faber & Faber, London, 2008.
- Plant, David. Cromwell in Ireland: 1649–52, British Civil Wars, Retrieved 22 September 2008
- Stradling, R.A. The Spanish monarchy and Irish mercenaries, Irish Academic Press, Dublin 1994.
- Excerpts, support for and a critique of Tom Reilly’s Cromwell, an Honourable Enemy (1999)
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