Elizabeth I dies and James VI of Scotland accedes to the English throne becoming James I. James is the first Stuart ruler of England, uniting the three separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland under a single monarch.
The Nine Years War is fought in Ireland between the Gaelic Irish Lords and the English. The English are keen to expand their control over Ireland by pursuing a strategy of 'Native Plantation' by dividing up the lands of the Gaelic Lords. The Irish Lords, led by Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and 'Red' Hugh O'Donnell, Lord of Tír Conaill, want to retain their land and power and prevent the advance of the English. The war ends in the defeat of the Irish lords at Mellifont, Co. Louth on the 30th of March 1603.
Situated strategically between the lands of the Lords O'Neill and O'Donnell, the island of Derrie in Co. Donegal is captured in 1600 by English forces. These troops, led by Sir Henry Docwra, are part of an English offensive against the combined forces of the O'Neills and O'Donnells. When the Nine Years War ends, Docwra rebuilds and fortifies the town, developing it as a trading centre. King James I issues a charter in 1604, creating the new "city of Derrie" which is described as "a City fit for war and merchandise".
Following their defeat in the Nine Years War, Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O'Donnell, the new Lord of Tír Connaill (now Earl of Tyrconnell), are allowed to retain their lands and English titles by the English Government. This angers many English officials who feel the Gaelic lords have been treated too leniently after nine years of rebellion. In 1605, the new Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Arthur Chichester, begins to undermine the Irish lords' authority. The lords decide to seek the help of King Philip III of Spain to drive the English out of Ireland. O'Neill and O'Donnell, with relatives and other noblemen sail out of Lough Swilly in September 1607 bound for Spain. This 'Flight of the Earls' marks the end of the power of Ireland's Gaelic aristocracy.
Sir Cahir O'Doherty, Lord of Inishowen, in Donegal, clashes with the new English governor of Derry, Sir George Paulet. O'Doherty rises in rebellion and attacks and destroys Derry, killing Paulet. The rebellion ends at Kilmacrenan in Donegal where O'Doherty is killed in battle. O'Doherty's defeat results in the seizing of large pieces of land by the English. This territory, added to the land taken from the earls who fled the previous year, enables the English to begin the 'Plantation of Ulster'.
Encouraged by the success of the British colonisation of Antrim and Down, the English decide to plant (or colonise) the confiscated lands in Ulster taken from the Irish Lords. English and Scottish Protestants are settled on the land using funding from the City of London. The plantation is mainly organised through guilds and corporations from London. Six entire counties are included in the scheme of plantation: Donegal, Cavan, Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone and the newly-named county of Londonderry.
Derry formally becomes Londonderry with the granting of a new charter by James I.
"It is granted that the City or Town of Derry should be called the City of Londonderry, and all lands within the liberties and jurisdictions thereof. That the citizens be incorporated by the name of mayor, commonalty, and citizens, consisting of a mayor, twelve aldermen, two sheriffs, a chamberlain and twenty-four burgesses."
The walls are laid out and built under the direction of Thomas Raven for a total cost of £8357.
"The City of Londonderry is now compassed about with a very strong wall, excellently made, ... being of good stone and lime, ... besides the four gates, ... it is 24 feet high, and 6 feet thick. The gates are all battlemented, ... two draw-bridges serve for two of them, and two portcullices for the other two.... The rampart within the city, is twelve feet thick of earth...".
Henry, James I's first son dies in 1612, leaving 24-years-old Charles as heir to the throne. James dies on 27th March 1625 and is succeeded by Charles. Three months after his accession, Charles I marries Henrietta Maria of France.
Throughout his reign Charles comes in to conflict with Parliament over financial and religious policies. He dissolves parliament three times between 1625 and 1629 and in 1629 begins eleven years of personal rule.
St Columb's Cathedral is finished at a cost of £4000. It is built under the direction of Sir John Vaughan, alderman and governor of Derry. St Columb's is the first cathedral to be built by the Anglican church after the Reformation in the British Isles and the first Protestant cathedral to be built in Europe.
The Plantation continued to cause resentment amongst a large number of the Gaelic Irish who had their land planted by new English and Scottish Protestant settlers. The new settlers dominate administration in the kingdom and actively discriminate against the largely Catholic population. The Gaelic Lords, many hopelessly in debt, are unable to adapt to the new regime. In late 1641, rebellion breaks out in Ireland. Led by Sir Phelim O'Neill, the Ulster Irish seize forts and towns over most of Ulster. The situation descends into nationwide conflict and thousands of British settlers are massacred by the rebels. Londonderry becomes the chief place of refuge in the North for English and Scottish colonists.
Charles alienates many of his English subjects with his religious policies and his apparent determination to rule without parliaments. Puritans fear that Charles is determined to restore the Catholic faith in England and call for religious reform. England and Scotland divide into two main factions, Royalists and Parliamentarians, and go to war in August 1642.
After years of loyalty to the crown the 'Old English' Catholics of Ireland unite with the Gaelic Irish and the clergy to form the Confederation of Kilkenny. The confederates hope to strengthen the Irish war effort and to control civil unrest in the country. The confederation's key aims are full rights for Catholics in Ireland, toleration of the Catholic religion, and self-government for Ireland. The confederates believe this strategy will only be achieved with the support of Charles I and an alliance with the Royalists. Negotiations with Charles I begin.
Charles is desperate for more men to fight against the Parliamentarians and orders James Butler, Earl of Ormond, to arrange a ceasefire with the Catholic 'confederates' in Ireland. This ceasefire allows English Protestant soldiers, fighting in Ireland, to return to England and join the Royalist side. Meanwhile a Scots army, landing at Carrickfergus, recovers control of all of eastern Ulster for the British settlers. In revenge for the 1641 massacres, the Scots slaughter many of the native Irish. However, Eoghan Roe O'Neill arrives in Donegal with Spanish arms and, after defeating the Scots at Benburb, recovers much of Ulster for the 'confederates'.
The Parliamentarians ally themselves with the Scots and overwhelm the Royalists. Charles is forced to surrender to the Scots who turn him over to the Parliamentarians. The captive King starts a second civil war and the Parliamentarians realise that there will be no peace while Charles remains alive. Charles is charged with high treason, found guilty and beheaded.
Many in Ireland support the Royalists, however Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, won the civil war in England. Cromwell is determined to place 'the rebellious Irish' firmly under English rule. He brings his army of 'Ironsides' to Dublin in August 1649, to defeat the Royalists and punish those he considered responsible for the 1641 massacres. Cromwell quickly moves to Drogheda and, after a hard-fought siege, takes the town and puts over 2,000 soldiers, citizens and priests to the sword. After a further massacre at Wexford, Irish towns surrender one by one and, by 1653, all of Ireland falls under the control of Parliament. Great areas of land are confiscated, principally from Catholics.
On his return from his military campaign, Cromwell is dissatisfied with parliament and replaces it with a nominated assembly. This too is dissolved and replaced by a new constitution which makes Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector for life. As Protector, Cromwell is bestowed rights similar to a monarch. His aim is to restore the stability of the country after the turbulent years of civil war.
Oliver Cromwell dies and his son, Richard succeeds to the position of Lord Protector. Richard lacks the support from the army and parliament that his father enjoyed and he is forced to resign in May 1659. The protectorate ends and the country is left with no clear leadership, providing the opportunity for the reinstatement of the monarchy.
Charles lived in exile until 1660 when he is invited back to England to reclaim his throne. Although he punishes those responsible for Charles I's execution, the new king pursues a policy of political and religious tolerance. In Ireland, however, Charles does not reverse Cromwell's land confiscations and only the Catholic Earl of Antrim receives back his great estates.
The act demands that public office holders take Protestant communion and swear allegiance to the Monarch as head of the Church of England. The act excludes Catholics and Dissenters from public office. Charles II's Catholic brother James, Duke of York, is forced to surrender his public office as Lord High Admiral when he refuses to take the oath.
Mary Stuart is the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York, future King of England and his first wife Anne Hyde. Although James subsequently converts to Catholicism, Mary is brought up a Protestant. Charles II encourages Mary's marriage to her cousin, the Dutch Protestant Prince William of Orange and they are wed in London.
James', the heir-presumptive, conversion to Catholicism causes unease amongst Protestants, who fear an increase in Catholic influence. Titus Oates, a disgraced former clergyman, warns of a 'Popish Plot' to assassinate Charles II. Oates' allegations fuel the increasing anti-Catholic feelings in the country. Charles does not believe the allegations but orders an investigation which results in the execution of fifteen men and a second Test Act. Titus Oates is eventually convicted of perjury for his false allegations.
Charles dies in 1685 and his brother James accedes to the throne. King James II, who converted to Catholicism during his exile in France, sets about restoring the influence of his Catholic subjects. He wants Catholics and Non-Conformists to enjoy the same rights as members of the Anglican Church. Since only Anglicans can be members of parliament, James' views brings him into conflict with parliament which he suspends in 1685. In 1687, James appoints Richard Talbot, the Earl of Tyrconnell, as Lord Deputy in Ireland. Tyrconnell begins to restore the influence of his Catholic subjects in Ireland, appointing Catholics as sheriffs and to other government positions.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.