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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
- Dr. John McCavitt

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Just to show you the scale of disenchantment with the Ulster Plantation... This basically is linked into what is known as the ‘freeholder issue’ which was the government policy before the Plantation of Ulster, when Lord Deputy Chichester and the Crown administration in Ireland were encouraging native Irishmen in Ulster to assert their proprietorial rights against the leading lords in Ulster.

The Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell were targeted in this respect, but in 1606 in County Monaghan a redistribution of land was agreed and, at this stage, 200 freeholders in County Monaghan were given their lands in English law. But as a result of the Plantation of six entire counties in Ulster in 1610, less than 300 native Irish owners were identified, so I think that statistic gives you, you know, a good impression of the number of people who must have been dissatisfied.

Now that’s a statistical analysis of those who perhaps, you know, to demonstrate that the native Irish were unhappy. But there’s considerable testimony from the time, both from the native Irish themselves and from Crown officials, perhaps surprisingly, that the native Irish were unhappy. Lord Deputy Chichester worried basically that the native Irish would at one time rise up and cut their landlords’ throats, so unhappy they were about their allocations.

Sir Toby Caufield, an army commander with years of experience in Ulster, a major beneficiary himself of the Ulster Plantation, signalled his fear also that the native Irish were acutely discontented. In fact, he described them as the most discontented people in Christendom. And I don’t think it could be put in any clearer terms than that - and this is an Englishman saying how unhappy the native Irish are. So, you know, reading about the native Irish themselves articulating their sense of grievance, perhaps you might say ‘Well it’s only to be expected’, but Sir Toby Caufield was an Englishman and he gave this sense of acute discontent himself.
 

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