From The Interest of England in the Irish Transplantation Stated

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FromThe Interest of England in the Irish Transplantation Stated


Richard Lawrence

Richard Lawrence was a colonel in the Cromwellian army in Ireland from 1651 to 1659. He published a pamphlet in answer to Vincent Gookin's Great Case of Transplantation Discussed and argued in favor of the plan to move the Irish west of the Shannon. The plan was virtually impossible to implement, and after King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, it was abandoned.

SEE ALSO Cromwellian Conquest; Land Settlements from 1500 to 1690; Rebellion of 1641

Therefore consider what punishment it was they did incur by their offence, which will be the better done, First, by considering the offence it self, which was the most horrid causless Rebellion, and bloudy Massacre that hath been heard of in these last Ages of the world, and the Offenders not particular persons or parties of the Irish Nation (for that had been another case) but the whole Irish Nation it self consisting of Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, and Commonality, are all engaged as one Nation in the Quarell, to root out and wholly extirpate all English Protestants from amongst them, who had (for the most of them) as legal and just right to their Estates and interest in Ireland, as themselves, many of them possessing nothing, but what they had lawfully purchased, and dearly paid for, from the Irish, and others of them possessing by right of grant from the Crown of England, time out of minde what they did enjoy, and the Irish Nation enjoying equal privileges with the English, if not much more . . . so that they were under no provocation, nor oppression, under the English government at that time when the bloudy Rebells in 1641 committed that inhumane Massacre upon a company of poor, unarmed, peaceable, harmless people living quietly amongst them, wherein neither Age nor Sex were spared . . . in which rebellious practices and cruel War they persisted to the ruining of that flourishing Nation, and making of it near a waste Wilderness, thereby necessitating England (in the time of its own Trouble) to maintain an Army in Ireland, to preserve a footing there, and at last forced them to send over and maintain a potent Army, greatly exhausting their Treasure and People to recover their Interest out of the hands of this bloudy Generation, and bring the Offenders to condign punishment . . . Ireland having cost England more money and men to recover it, than it is or ever is like to be worth to them many a time over, and for England now at the close of all to heal up this wound slightly, and to leave the Interest and People of England in Ireland at as eminent uncertainties as ever, (whereby the posterity of this present Generation (if not themselves) shall after a few years to come to be at the mercy and disposition of the bloudy people again (except a few inwalled Towns and Garisons) if it may be any lawfull and prudent means prevented) I judg those who are wise and ingenious of the Irish themselves would acknowledg it a weakness, and great neglect in those in whose hand God hath placed the power, much more all true hearted Englishmen who are so much concerned therein.

And therefore it remains now to prove that the work of Transplantation (at least so far as it is at present declared and intended) is the most probable means to secure the present English Interest in Ireland, and obtain one there able to secure it self without such immediate dependence upon England (as hitherto hath been) for men and money to effect the same.

And for the better making out of this:

First, confident wherein the advantage of the Irish above the English consisted at the first breaking out of the late horrid Rebellion, whereby the many thousands of English People then inhabiting in that Countrey became so inconsiderable either as to the preservation of their own Lives and Estates, or the publick Interest of England there; which chiefly proceeded from their not being imbodied, or from their not cohabiting together, whereby they might have been in a capacity to imbody, they being scattered up and down the whole Nation, here and there, a few families, being thereby wholly subjected to the mercy of the Rabble Irish, to the general destruction and ruine of them, before the Enemy had either Army, Arms, or Ammunition, more than Skeanes and Stayes, whereas had those English that were then in Ireland been cohabiting together in one entire Plantation, or in several Plantations, so they had been but entire Colonies of themselves, and Masters of the Countrey in which they lived, the Irish would hardly have had confidence to have attempted a War, much less a Massacre upon them . . . Whereas by their promiscuous and scattered inhabiting among the Irish, who were in all places far the greatest number and in most a hundred to one, they were even as sheep prepared for the slaughter, that the very Cripples and Beggars of several of the Countreys where they lived (if they toke against them) were able to destroy them. . . .

And therefore I would propose (as essential to the security of the English interest and People in Ireland) that the England inhabitating in that Nation should live together in distinct Plantations or Colonies, separated from the Irish, and (so far as the natural advantage of the Countrey, or their own ability will afford it) to maintain frontier Garrisons, upon Lines or Passes, for the security of ever Plantation, and to admit no more Irish Papists (that they had not eminent grounds to believe were or would be faithful to the English interest) to live within them . . . it is my judgement it would not be safe to admit in any English Plantation, above the fifth part to be Irish Papists, either in the capacity of Tenants or Servants, unless in such cases where two Justices of the Peace, with two godly Ministers of that English Plantation should receive satisfaction of their being converted to the Protestant Religion, and English Civil Manners and Customs.

For though the Lord hath been pleased so far to own the English Cause and Interest in the late War, that they have been able to engage them with far less numbers, that one hath put ten, and ten one hundred to flight, yet in the work or surprisings and unexpected assaults and inroads upon the English, the Irish have been usually more expect and vigilant, for the Irish are naturally a timorous, suspicious, watchfull People; and on the other hand, the English are a confident, credulous, careless People, as our daily experience in Ireland teacheth us. And therefore if their numbers should be equal, that advantage which they would have of their Irish Neighbors to correspond with them, and fall into their assistance, would much add to their encouragement to attempt mischief upon the English, with or among whom they lived, though they were far less numbers. And if this be not admitted, that it is essential in order to the safety of the English interest and people, that their Plantation should consist of many more English than Irish (as above), then there is a necessity (in order thereto) that some of the Irish should be removed out of some parts of Ireland, to make way for the English Plantations, and if so, then a Plantation must be admitted to be essential in order to the security of the English interest and People there. . . .

[A]s to that concerning Religion, where he [Gookin] endeavoureth to hold forth that the not transplanting of the Irish, would no ways hazard the perverting of the English, and would be much in order to the converting of the Irish, which the Transplantation (saith he) will wholly prevent . . . I do not judge the Discussor can suppose that the continuing of the popish, superstitious Souldier and Proprietor among and over the common people will be a means to make way for their conversion to the Protestant Religion, more than to continue their Priests, but it is so evident it will much rather tend to the contrary, even shutting that door of hope, that may otherwise be opened to that work, that to spend time about arguing of it would not be to profit, and besides require more Lines than I am willing to swell this paper into, it being much larger already than I intended it.

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. 128–131.

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From The Interest of England in the Irish Transplantation Stated

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From The Interest of England in the Irish Transplantation Stated