CHAPTER XII. IRELAND UNDER THE PROTECTORATE - ADMINISTRATION OF HENRY CROMWELL - DEATH OF OLIVER.
The English republic rose from the scaffold of the King, in 1649; its first government was a "Council of State" of forty-one members; under this council, Cromwell held at first the title of Lord General; but, on the 16th December, 1653, he was solemnly installed, in Westminster Hall, as "Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland." He was then in his fifty-fourth year; his reign - if such it may be called - lasted less than five years.
The policy of the Protector towards Ireland is even less defensible than his military severities. For the barbarities of war there may be some apology, the poor one at least that such outrages are inseparable from war itself; but for the cold-blooded, deliberate atrocities of peace, no such defence can be permitted before the tribunal of a free posterity.
The Long Parliament, still dragging out its date, under the shadow of Cromwell's great name, declared in its session of 1652, the rebellion in Ireland "subdued and ended," and proceeded to legislate for that kingdom as a conquered country. On the 12th of August, they passed their Act of Settlement, the authorship of which was attributed to Lord Orrery, in this respect the worthy son of the first Earl of Cork. Under this Act, there were four chief descriptions of persons whose status was thus settled: 1st. All ecclesiastics and royalist proprietors were exempted from pardon of life or estate. 2nd. All royalist commissioned officers were condemned to banishment, and the forfeit of two-thirds of their property, one-third being retained for the support of their wives and children. 3rd. Those who had not been in arms, but could be shown, by a Parliamentary commission, to have manifested "a constant, good affection" to the war, were to forfeit one-third of their estates, and receive "an equivalent" for the remaining two-thirds west of the Shannon. 4th. All husbandmen and others of the inferior sort, "not possessed of lands or goods exceeding the value of 10 pounds," were to have a free pardon, on condition also of transporting themselves across the Shannon.
This last condition of the Cromwellian settlement distinguished it, in our annals, from every other proscription of the native population formerly attempted. The great river of Ireland, rising in the mountains of Leitrim, nearly severs the five western counties from the rest of the kingdom. The province thus set apart, though one of the largest in superficial extent, had also the largest proportion of waste and water, mountain and moorland. The new inhabitants were there to congregate from all the other provinces before the 1st day of May, 1654, under penalty of outlawry and all its consequences; and when there, they were not to appear within two miles of the Shannon or four miles of the sea. A rigorous passport system, to evade which was death without form of trial, completed this settlement, the design of which was to shut up the remaining Catholic inhabitants from all intercourse with mankind, and all communion with the other inhabitants of their own country.
A new survey of the whole kingdom was also ordered, under the direction of Dr. William Petty, the fortunate economist, who founded the house of Lansdowne. By him the surface of the kingdom was estimated at ten millions and a half plantation acres, three of which were deducted for waste and water. Of the remainder, above 5,000,000 were in Catholic hands in 1641; 300,000 were church and college lands; and 2,000,000 were in possession of the Protestant settlers of the reigns of James and Elizabeth. Under the Protectorate, 5,000,000 acres were confiscate; this enormous spoil, two-thirds of the whole island, went to the soldiers and adventurers who had served against the Irish, or had contributed to the military chest, since 1641 - except 700,000 acres given in "exchange" to the banished in Clare and Connaught; and 1,200,000 confirmed to "innocent Papists." Such was the complete uprooting of the ancient tenantry or clansmen, from their original holdings, that during the survey, orders of Parliament were issued to bring back individuals from Connaught to point out the boundaries of parishes in Munster. It cannot be imputed among the sins so freely laid to the historical account of the native legislature, that an Irish parliament had any share in sanctioning this universal spoliation. Cromwell anticipated the union of the kingdoms by a hundred and fifty years, when he summoned, in 1653, that assembly over which "Praise-God Barebones" presided; members for Ireland and Scotland sat on the same benches with the commons of England. Oliver's first deputy in the government of Ireland was his son-in-law, Fleetwood, who had married the widow of Ireton; but his real representative was his fourth son, Henry Cromwell, Commander-in-Chief of the army. In 1657, the title of Lord Deputy was transferred from Fleetwood to Henry, who united the supreme civil and military authority in his own person, until the eve of the restoration, of which he became an active partisan. We may thus properly embrace the five years of the Protectorate as the period of Henry Cromwell's administration.