After nearly three years fighting the English Parliamentary invaders, the Irish brigades (Tories) began to sue for peace in the early part of 1652. They had very little choice. Neither France nor Spain had come to Ireland’s defence, being more concerned with keeping diplomatic relations with the new English Commonwealth. Aid promised by the Duke of Lorraine had come too little and too late. The Irish brigades had committed themselves well, but the time had come to make terms with the enemy.
Rather than negotiate as a group, each Tory commander settled their own treaty with the English. As a result the terms varied, with some brigades winning more concessions than others.
Colonel John FitzPatrick
Colonel Fitzpatrick was active around Northern Tipperary and Westmeath and commanded a large brigade. He was the first to negotiate terms with the English after a disastrous winter. The English spent the early part of the season burning out the area that Sankey referred to as the “great bog of Monely” where they discovered the whereabouts of Fitzpatrick’s encampment. It’s unclear where this great bog was, but it’s my estimation that it may have been in the area of the Silvermine Mountains. [If anyone knows for certain, I would be very interested in learning where this great bog was.]
The English launched a full-scale attack, capturing most of Fitzpatrick’s food stores and burning what they could not carry away. The weather had betrayed the Irish, being unusually cold enough to have hard frosts settle and freezing up the bogs, a place where the brigades would often slip in to hide from the English. In a letter written by Colonel Jerome Sankey, Commander-in-Chief of the English Forces in Tipperary, he claims the English had killed 400 Irish soldiers, taken 350 prisoners, hundreds of cows, garrons and troop horses, including equipment, arms and ammunition. A crippling blow.
On March 7, 1652, Fitzpatrick signed Articles of Agreement at Streamstown, County Westmeath. According to historian Micheál Ó Siochru, the treaty granted a pardon to himself and his men (exempting any who were involved in the murder of Protestant settlers during the Irish Rebellion of 1641). The English granted him permission to transport his men to the Continent to serve as a mercenary force, provided they did not act against England. The final term, the only detail captured in A Contemporary History of Ireland from 1641 to 1652*, was for the protection of his estate, or the value thereof. (*Note: The other treaties were recorded in their entirety.)
Colonel Edmund O’Dwyer
The next to sign a treaty of surrender was Colonel Edmund O’Dwyer on March 23, 1652 at Cahir Castle. O’Dwyer was Commander-in-Chief of the Irish brigade in Tipperary and Waterford. To read more about Edmund O’Dwyer, check out this article.
O’Dwyer’s Articles of Agreement were extremely detailed and were outlined in a number of clauses. He agreed that on the tenth day of April, 1652, all the forces under his command would deliver up their arms and horses at Cashel, and in exchange, they should have protection for their lives and personal estates and the liberty to live in places that the English commander, Colonel Sankey, deemed them to live. Not terribly comforting, considering the broad land confiscations that occurred thereafter.
Similar to Fitzpatrick’s treaty, O’Dwyer had the right to transport his forces to the Continent, under the same restrictions. The English also applied what would become their standard clause, that anyone who had been involved in the Irish Rebellion of 1641 would be exempt from protection. Sadly, one of O’Dwyer’s colonels who signed the Articles of Agreement, a close kinsman named Donogh O’Dwyer, was later charged and convicted for his involvement in an attack and massacre at Cashel in 1642. He was hanged November 1652.
What struck me was how O’Dwyer ensured his men would not be left destitute. The agreement stated that the Horse “cavalry” were entitled to receive “competent satisfaction” for theirs, the value to be determined by four officers of each party, while commissioned officers could keep their possessions. And finally, every single man in the brigade was owed a month’s wages.
Those clauses alone solidified for me that O’Dwyer was a true leader, keeping his men’s best interests at heart.
The rest of the brigades soon followed with agreements for surrender, but the last to reach terms with the English (June 22, 1652) was Donough MacCarthy, Viscount Muskerry, Commander-in-Chief of the forces in the province of Munster, commanding the area around Ross in County Kerry.
Muskerry was a vigorous negotiator and left nothing to chance, even naming the hour to which certain obligations were to take place. Being detail oriented, he was very specific about what (and how much) he and his men could keep, with himself being able to keep retain his horses and five cases of pistols. The terms also stipulated that he and his men should have “pardon for life” and he would have the liberty to transport five thousand men to serve as a mercenary army.
Similar to O’Dwyer’s treaty, Muskerry obtained wages for his men, only in his case, he won three months of wages. Having received satisfactory terms for his men, Muskerry pressed for the protection of his estates, including a provision that if they were ever to be under custodianship, he would still receive the rents and profits.
It could be that Muskerry insisted on more detailed provisions, having the benefit of being the last to sign a treaty with the English, and yet, that would have put him at a disadvantage. What we see here is evidence of a sharp and analytical mind.
In the end, the treaties did not protect, perhaps, as the Irish had expected. The English proved vigorous in their persecution of anyone believed to be involved in the massacre of Protestant settlers in 1641. In August 1652, the English enacted the Act of Settlement which resulted in wide-scale land seizures and relocation of the Irish to lands west of the Shannon in Connacht.
The saying “To Hell or Connacht” has always been attributed to Oliver Cromwell, but whether he did or did not actually utter those famous words, English Commonwealth policy for Ireland took far more than it ever conceded.