CHAPTER IX. THE CHURCH IN IRELAND DURING THE REIGNS OF MARY AND ELIZABETH (1553-1603)

Commissioners were appointed to administer the oath of supremacy to the bishops, the judges, and higher officials, to the justices of the peace, etc., in Kildare (1560), and to the officials in Westmeath.[41] But unless bishops could be found willing to take the place of those who refused to accept the new laws, no progress could be made. Curwen of Dublin, following his old rule of accepting the sovereign's religion as the true one, submitted to the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity. In accordance with the queen's instructions he removed the pictures and statues from Christ's Church and St. Patrick's, blotted out the paintings and frescos on the walls, so as to cover up all signs of "idolatry" and to prepare a back-ground for carefully assorted Scriptural texts. He was not, however, happy in his new position. He petitioned to be transferred from Dublin to Hereford, basing his claim on the fact that "he was the man that of his coat hath surlyest stood to the crown either in England or Ireland."[42] But his petition was not granted. Two years later Adam Loftus, who though nominally Archbishop of Armagh feared to visit his diocese, charged Curwen with serious crimes which he was ashamed to particularise, and probably as a result of this the queen instructed her Deputy to induce him to resign on the promise of an annual pension of £200 (1563).[43] But Curwen, fearing that "the leaving of the archbishopric and not receiving another" might lead people to believe that he was deprived, stood out boldly for better terms. Hugh Brady, the queen's Bishop of Meath, then proceeded to attack him. According to him everybody in Dublin from the archbishop to the petty canons were "dumb dogs," "living enemies to the truth," "neither teaching nor feeding any save themselves," and "disguised dissemblers."[44] As this did not produce any effect, he wrote once more, demanding that the authorities should "call home the old unprofitable workman," a petition in which he was supported by Adam Loftus.[45] Their prayers were heard at last, and Curwen was translated to Oxford. When the news of his recall was announced to him he merely expressed the wish that he could get "the last half-year's rent of the Bishopric of Oxford," and that he should be allowed to change quickly so that "he might provide fire for the winter and hay for his horses."[46]

The See of Armagh which was vacant by the death of Primate Dowdall was conferred by the Pope on Donat O'Teige (Feb. 1560). The latter was consecrated at Rome, and arrived in Ireland probably towards the end of the same year. In the summer of 1561 he was present at Armagh with the army of Shane O'Neill whom he encouraged to go forward boldly against the forces of the Deputy. Needless to say such a primate was not acceptable to Elizabeth who determined to appoint one Adam Loftus, then a chaplain to the Earl of Sussex. Loftus was a young man only twenty-eight years of age, who had made a favourable impression on the queen as well by his beauty as by his learning. Letters were dispatched immediately to the Chapter of Armagh commanding the canons to elect him, but as they refused to obey the order, nothing remained except to appoint him by letters patent (1562). As he dare not visit the greater part of his diocese he applied for and received the Deanship of St. Patrick's, Dublin, and about the same time he became a suitor for his brother that he might get the rectory of Dunboyne. In 1563 Elizabeth thought of changing him to Kildare, and in 1566 the Deputy recommended him for Meath, believing that "he would thankfully receive the exchange, and willingly embase his estate to increase so much his revenue." But Loftus had set his heart on securing the Archbishop of Dublin. Time and again he made the most damaging charges against Curwen so as to secure his removal, although when the removal was arranged he learned to his surprise that the authorities intended to promote not himself, but his fellow-labourer, Hugh Brady of Meath. In April 1566, when he thought that Brady had no chance of succeeding to Dublin, he had recommended him for the appointment, but in September, when he learned that there was danger of his recommendation being followed, he wrote to warn Cecil that "if it would please his honour to pause a while he could show such matter as he would, except it were for the Church of God's sake, be loath to utter by any means, but least of all by writing, upon knowledge whereof the matter, he knows, should go no further." Brady having learned that Loftus had gone to England wrote to Cecil to put him on his guard against believing any charges against him that might be made by the Primate. He returned in November without having succeeded, only to find that Shane O'Neill had overrun his diocese so that it was not worth more than £20 a year. He petitioned to be allowed to resign, "for," he said, "neither is it [Armagh] worth anything to me, nor [am] I able to do any good in it, for that altogether it lieth among the Irish." At last in 1567 his wishes were granted, and he became Archbishop of Dublin. But he was still dissatisfied. As the diocese, according to him, was worth only £400 (Irish) a year (over £30,000) and had only two hundred and forty acres of mensal land, he insisted that he should be allowed to hold with it the Deanship of St. Patrick's, a request, however, that was refused peremptorily by the queen.[47] In Dublin he continued the same policy of grabbing everything for himself, his relatives and dependents until at last the chapter, weary of his importunities, obliged him to promise not to ask for anything more. Fortunately his guarantee was entered in the records, as he appeared soon again to solicit one last favour.