From The Great Case of Transplantation Discussed

views updated

FromThe Great Case of Transplantation Discussed


Vincent Gookin

After his military victories of 1649–1650, Oliver Cromwell called for the transplantation of virtually all the Catholic Irish to areas west of the Shannon, principally in the agriculturally poorest province, Connacht. An Irish Protestant, Vincent Gookin, who served as surveyor general of Ireland, in 1655 published this pamphlet arguing against this draconian and impractical, not to say unjust, scheme.

SEE ALSO Cromwellian Conquest; Land Settlements from 1500 to 1690

For future Inhabitants, Adventurers, Souldiers, and such others as shall engage in the planting of Ireland. The first and chiefest Necessaries to the settlement and advancement of a Plantation, are those natural riches of Food, Apparel, and Habitations. If the first be regarded, there are few of the Irish Commonality but are skilfull in Husbandry, and more exact that any English in the Husbandry proper to that Country. If the second, there are few of the Women but are skilfull in dressing Hemp and Flax, and making of Linnen and Woollen Cloth. If the third, it is believed, to every hundred Men there are five or six Masons and Carpenters at least of that Nation, and these more handy and ready in building ordinary Houses, and much more prudent in supplying the defects of Instruments and Materials, than English Artificers. Since then 1000 Acres of Land (Plantation measure) being but of indifferent goodnes, with the rest of the Lands in Ireland, shall require as much Stock as whose original price and charge of transporting will amount to 1500 or 2000l. Since likewise Husbandmen and Tradesmen that are laborious, can subsist by their Labours and Trades comfortably in England, and most will not probably leave their native soyl on any terms; and those who will, on extraordinary terms. It is necessary consequent, that the transplantation of the Irish doth not onely deprive the Planter of those aforementioned advantages, but also so exceedingly aggravates his charge and difficulty in planting (by his irredeemable want of whatever he brings not with him out of England) that his charge will manifestly appear to be more than his profit; and it is not easily conceivable how or when five or six Millions of Acres are like to be planted or inhabited upon so clear an account of expence and loss.

Objection. Against all these advantages it is onely objected, that the English may degenerate, and turn Irish, unless a separation by transplanting the one from the other be observed; and to this purpose experience of former ages is urged.

Answer. Of future contingents no man can pass a determinate judgement; but if we speak morally, and as probably may be, it may much rather be expected that the Irish will turn English. Those Topicks before instanced concerning Religion do infer it as very probable, that with the Religion professed by the English, it is likely they may receive their Manners also. And this is confirmed by experience of all that Nation who embraced the Protestant Religion. And as to the former experience, even that likewise seems to add weight to this expectation, because whatever inducements perswaded the English formerly to turn Irish, the same more strongly invite the Irish now to turn English.

1. When England was reformed from Popery, no care was took, nor endeavours used to spread the reformation in Ireland; by which means the English Colonies there continued still Papists, and so in Religion were alienated from the English, and fastened to the Irish: But now it being most probable that most of the Irish will embrace the Protestant Profession, it is upon the same grounds most probable that they will embrace the English Manners.

2. Former Conquests of Ireland were either the undertakings of some private persons, or so managed by publick persons, that the power and profitable advantages of the Land remained in the hands of the Irish: But as in the present Conquest the Nation of England is engaged, so is the power and advantage of the Land in the hands of the English. For instance.

  1. The Irish were the Body of the People, and too potent for the English (especially at such times as the troubles of England caused the Armies to be called thence, which Historians observe to have been the times of degeneration, as a means to self-preservation.
  2. The Irish were the general Proprietors of Land, and an English Planter must be their Tenant; and the temptation of this relation and dependence is very prevelant (at least) to bring the Posterity to a complyance, and that to a likeness, and that to a sameness.
  3. The Irish were the chiefly estated, and the inter-marriages with them were accompanied with greater Friends and Fortunes than with the English, who were not onely Strangers, but for the most part (till of late years) comparatively poor.
  4. The Lawyers were Irish, the Jurors Irish, most of the Judges Irish, and the major part of their Parliament Irish; and in all Disputes between Irish and English, the Irish were sure of the favour.

But now the condition of Ireland is (through Gods goodness) so altered, that all these Arguments are much more forcibly perswasive, that the Irish will turn English.

3. The frequent use of the Irish Language in all commerce, and the English habituating themselves to that Language, was one great means of Irishying the English Colonies: But now the Language will be generally English; and if the Irish be mingled with the English, they will probably learn and be habituated to the English Tongue, which is found by experience to be suddenly learn'd by the Irish; whereas if they be transplanted into Connaught, the distinction of the English and Irish tongue will not onely be continued, but also the Irish left without means of learning English.

Concerning the Security of the English, and Their Interests

1. For the present, This Plantation will necessarily make many Tories. For,

  1. Many inhabitants, who are able to subsist on their Gardens in their present Habitations, are unable to subsist in travelling to Connaught, and for the present to derive subsistence from the wast Lands of Connaught, when they come thither; and therefore will rather choose the hazard of Torying, than the apparent danger of starving.
  2. Many Irish Masters will disburthen themselves of their attendants and servants on this occasion, in regard the charge of retaining them will be greater, and their imployment of them less, both in the journey, and journeys end; and these servants, however disposed to honest labour and industry, yet being thus secluded from the means of subsistence, necessity will enforce to be Tories.
  3. The range of the Tories will be so great, and advantages thereby of securing themselves and Cattel so much, that until the whole Land be otherwise planted, it will not be probable that our Armies should either have intelligence of their places of abode in their fastnesse, or be enabled to find them, those who are acquainted with the service of Tory hunting, know how much of this difficulty. And impossible it is, that those parts of the Land which adjoin to those Fastnesses, should be planted in many ages, if Tories (secured in them) make incursions on such as shall plant.
  4. The Irish numbers (now abated by Famin, Pestilence, the Sword, and Forein Transportations) are not like to overgrow the English as formerly, and so no fear of their being obnoxious to them hereafter: but being mixed with, they are likelyer to be swallowed up by the English, and incorporated into them; so that a few Centuries will know no difference present, fear none to come, and scarce believe what were pas'd. The chiefest and eminentest of the Nobility, and many of the Gentry, have taken Conditions from the King of Spain, and have transported at several times 40000 of the most active spirited men, most acquainted with danger and discipline of War, and inured to hardness; the Priests are all banished; the remaining part of the whole Nation are scarce the sixth part of what were at the beginning of the War, so great a devastation has God and Man brought upon that Land, and so far are they from those formidable numbers they are (by those that are strangers to Ireland) conceived to be; and that handfull of Natives left, are poor laborious usefull simple Creatures, whose design is onely to live, and their Families, the manner of which is so low, that it is design rather to be pitied, than by any body feared, envyed, or hindered.

Reprinted in Strangers to That Land: British Perceptions of Ireland from the Reformation to the Famine,edited by Andrew Hadfield and John McVeagh (1994), pp. 124–127.

About this article

From The Great Case of Transplantation Discussed

Updated About content Print Article


From The Great Case of Transplantation Discussed