CHAPTER IV. ADHESION OF O'NEIL, O'DONNELL AND O'BRIEN - A NEW ANGLO-IRISH PEERAGE - NEW RELATIONS OF LORD AND TENANT - BISHOPS APPOINTED BY THE CROWN - RETROSPECT.
The Act of Election could hardly be considered as the Act of the Irish nation, so long as several of the most distinguished chiefs withheld their concurrence. With these, therefore, Saint Leger entered into separate treaties, by separate instruments, agreed upon, at various dates, during the years 1542 and 1543. Manus O'Donnell, lord of Tyrconnell, gave in his adhesion in August, 1541, Con O'Neil, lord of Tyrowen, Murrogh O'Brien, lord of Thomond, Art O'Moore, lord of Leix, and Ulick Burke, lord of Clanrickarde, 1542 and 1543; but, during the reign of Henry, no chief of the McCarthys, the O'Conors of Roscommon or of Offally, entered into any such engagement. The election, therefore, was far from unanimous, and Henry VIII. would perhaps be classed by our ancient Senachies among the "Kings with opposition," who figure so often in our Annals during the Middle Ages.
Assuming, however, the title conferred upon him with no little complacency, Henry proceeded to exercise the first privilege of a sovereign, the creation of honours. Murrogh O'Brien, chief of his name, became Earl of Thomond, and Donogh, his nephew, Baron of Ibrackan; Ulick McWilliam Burke became Earl of Clanrickarde and Baron of Dunkellin; Hugh O'Donnell was made Earl of Tyrconnell; Fitzpatrick, became Baron of Ossory, and Kavanagh, Baron of Ballyan; Con O'Neil was made Earl of Tyrone, having asked, and been refused, the higher title of Earl of Ulster. The order of Knighthood was conferred on several of the principal attendants, and to each of the new peers the King granted a house in or near Dublin, for their accommodation, when attending the sittings of Parliament.
The imposing ceremonial of the transformation of these Celtic chiefs into English Earls has been very minutely described by an eye-witness. One batch were made at Greenwich Palace, after High Mass on Sunday, the 1st of July, 1543. The Queen's closet "was richly hanged with cloth of arras and well strawed with rushes," for their robing room. The King received them under a canopy of state, surrounded by his Privy Council, the peers, spiritual and temporal, the Earl of Glencairn, Sir George Douglas, and the other Scottish Commissioners. The Earls of Derby and Ormond led in the new Earl of Thomond, Viscount Lisle carrying before them the sword. The Chamberlain handed his letters patent to the Secretary who read them down to the words Cincturam gladii, when the King girt the kneeling Earl, baldric-wise, with the sword, all the company standing. A similar ceremony was gone through with the others, the King throwing a gold chain having a cross hanging to it round each of their necks. Then, preceded by the trumpeters blowing, and the officers at arms, they entered the dining hall, where, after the second course, their titles were proclaimed aloud in Norman-French by Garter, King at Arms. Nor did Henry, who prided himself on his munificence, omit even more substantial tokens of his favour to the new Peers. Besides the town houses near Dublin, before mentioned, he granted to O'Brien all the abbeys and benefices of Thomond, bishoprics excepted; to McWilliam Burke, all the parsonages and vicarages of Clanrickarde, with one-third of the first-fruits, the Abbey of Via Nova and 30 pounds a year compensation for the loss of the customs of Galway; to Donogh O'Brien, the Abbey of Ellenegrane, the moiety of the Abbey of Clare, and an annuity of 20 pounds a year. To the new lord of Ossory he granted the monasteries of Aghadoe and Aghmacarte, with the right of holding court lete and market, every Thursday, at his town of Aghadoe. For these and other favours the recipients had been instructed to petition the King, and drafts of such petitions had been drawn up in anticipation of their arrival in England, by some official hand. The petitions are quoted by most of our late historians as their own proper act, but it is quite clear, though willing enough to present them and to accept such gifts, they had never dictated them.
In the creation of this Peerage Henry proclaimed, in the most practical manner possible, his determination to assimilate the laws and institutions of Ireland to those of England. And the new made Earls, forgetting their ancient relations to their clans - forgetting, as O'Brien had answered St. Leger's first overtures three years before, "that though he was captain of his nation he was still but one man," by suing out royal patents for their lands, certainly consented to carry out the King's plans. The Brehon law was doomed from the date of the creation of the new Peers at Greenwich, for such a change entailed among its first consequences a complete abrogation of the Gaelic relations of clansman and chief.