From The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow

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FromThe Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow


Edmund Ludlow was a regicide (one of those held responsible for the trial, conviction, and execution of Charles I) and a republican associate of Cromwell who broke with him when, in 1655, he became lord protector. He was a lieutenant general of horse in Ireland and a commissioner for civil government from 1650 to 1655. At the Restoration he escaped to Switzerland. His memoirs,published in 1698, describe, among other things, the way confiscated Irish land was parceled out in the 1650s to repay soldiers for their services and investors (called "adventurers") for their loans to finance the campaign to reconquer Ireland.

SEE ALSO Cromwellian Conquest; Land Settlements from 1500 to 1690

The Commissioners also by order of the Parliament published a declaration to inform the publick, and particularly the adventurers, who had advanced money upon the Irish lands, that the war in Ireland was concluded. This they did as well that the said adventurers might have what was justly due to them, as that the poor wasted country of Ireland might have the assistance of their own purses and labour, to recover the stock and growth of the land; the Irish having all along eaten out the heart and vigour of the ground, and of late much more than ever, being in daily apprehension of being removed.

All arrears due to the English army in Ireland were satisfied by the Parliament out of the estates forfeited by the rebels, which were delivered to them at the same rates with the first adventurers. In this transaction those of the army shewed great partiality, by confining the satisfaction of arrears only to such as were in arms in August 1649, which was the time when the English army commanded by Lieutenant-General Cromwel arrived in Ireland; and tho the hardships endured by those who were in arms before had been much greater, yet nothing could be obtained but such a proportion of lands in the county of Wicklo, and elsewhere, as was not sufficient to clear the fourth part of what was due to them. Those who solicited the affairs of the army in Ireland with the Parliament, having perswaded the adventurers that there were forfeited lands enough in one moiety of nine principle counties, they accepted of them for their satisfaction, and the other moiety was assigned by the Act for the satisfaction of the souldiers; the rest of Ireland was also disposed of, only the province of Connaught was reserved for the Irish under the qualifications agreed upon by the Parliament; according to which they were to be put into possession of the several proportions of land which had been promised them in the said province; that so the adventurers, souldiers, and others to whom the Parliament should assign their lands, might plant without disturbance, or danger of being corrupted by intermixing with the natives in marriages or otherwise, which by the experience of former times the English had been found to be, rather than to have bettered the Irish either in religion or good manners: and that the natives being divided by the River Shannon from the other provinces, and having garisons placed round and amongst them in the most proper and convenient stations, they might not have those opportunities to prejudice the English as formerly they had. An Act being drawn up to this purpose, the parliament passed it, reserving the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Carlo and Cork, (together with the remaining part of the lands formerly belonging to the Bishops, Deans and Chapters of Ireland, whereof some had been already applied, to augment the revenues of the College of Dublin) to be disposed of as the Parliament should think fit.

The forfeited lands were divided between the adventurers and souldiers by lot, according to an estimate taken of the number of acres in the respective counties, in conformity to an order from the Commissioners of Parliament; by whom were appointed subcommissioners to judg of the qualifications of each person, and others, who upon certificate from the subcommissioners for determining qualifications, were required to set out so much land in the province of Connaught as belonged to every one by virtue of the said Act. They also established a committee to sit at Dublin to receive and adjudg all claims of English and others to any lands, limiting a time within which they were obliged to bring in and make appear their respective claims to be legal; to the end that the adventurers, souldiers, and others, might be at a certainty, and after such a time free from any molestation in the possession of their lands; and that none through ignorance or absence might be surprized, they prorogued the said time twice or thrice to a longer day.

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. 131–133.

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From The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow

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From The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow