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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Reaction of the Natives
- Professor Nicholas Canny

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The people who were identified by the Crown as worthy of gaining land, did include some of those who had made their peace with the Crown Earlier and therefore might come under the category of ‘deserving’. It also included a significant number of people that the Crown was very dubious about as ever becoming ‘loyal subjects’, but nonetheless the Advisor to the Crown realised that, pragmatically, that some accommodation had to be provided for them within the system otherwise they were going to be a discontented element.

It was very difficult - I suppose all of them would have been disappointed in the amount of land which they individually were assigned and, in most instances, where they were assigned land, it was different from where they traditionally had been located; in that sense there was a severance between them and those who they would have regarded as their natural followers. If you took somebody from County Fermanagh and gave them land in County Tyrone, for example, that was a major dislocation and it forced them to find new tenants to occupy land for them.

And there was a difficulty in finding tenants, because there had been a prolonged period of warfare from the 1590s forward to 1603, leading to a massive depopulation. So in that sense there was a scarcity of tenants and providing an Irish proprietor with land in an area and location, different from what he had traditionally occupied, presented him with the immediate problem of finding tenants who would pay him rent - because land without tenants was of no benefit in itself.

In that sense it was a major challenge for them, and there was a very limited prospect on their part of introducing tenants from Scotland and from England which - that was the other source of tenants that an English or a Scottish proprietor would have that an Irish proprietor mightn’t normally be able to draw upon, because they wouldn’t have the social and political connections or perhaps the financial resources necessary for bringing in tenants from outside. So in that sense they were at a disadvantage relative to the newcomers who were coming in.

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