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Focus Shifts from Money Problems to Scotland
By Michael D. Greaney

The intrusion of the Scots into Ulster in the late 1630s was seen by Thomas Wentworth not only as a danger to the State, but to his personal interests (i.e., income), not to mention a personal affront. Part of the Lord Lieutenant's outrage was due to the fact that a significant number of lords and others influential at court patronized known Covenanters and promoted their careers. This was in spite of the fact that these patrons in many cases were of unquestioned loyalty to the Crown, or at least clearly had no leanings toward the Covenanter position.

No, it was simply a manifestation of what seems to have been a national characteristic of the Scots, to promote fellow countrymen over the interests of others. This was, in fact, the source of one of Samuel Johnson's most biting epigrams against both Scots and Irish. As James Boswell related:

My much-valued friend Dr. Barnard, now Bishop of Killaloe, having once expressed to him an apprehension, that if he should visit Ireland he might treat the people of that country more unfavourably than he had done the Scotch; he answered, with strong pointed double-edged wit, "Sir, you have no reason to be afraid of me. The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of their countrymen. No, Sir; the Irish are a FAIR PEOPLE; - they never speak well of one another."1

Of course, the good doctor was not usually so hard on the Irish, who seemed to have a special place in his regard, as Boswell's many reports of Johnson's interests in the island, the people, and (especially) the culture, language, and history demonstrate. He saved his best and most witty barbs for the Scots.

National or religious interest, however, it was all the same to Wentworth. All the Scots were equally suspicious, and all were potential enemies both of Charles and his Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. As his friend, Archbishop Laud of Canterbury remarked to him, "I think as you do, Scotland is the veriest devil that is out of hell."2

Not that Wentworth looked more favorably on competition against his interests from other quarters. One of the more serious challenges - in the eyes of the Lord Lieutenant, anyway was from Randal MacDonnell, earl of Antrim, a Catholic, who was by this time utterly bankrupt, and who, in an effort to repair his fortunes, had joined James, Duke of Hamilton (Charles' chief advisor for Scottish affairs), in a venture to develop the Derry lands confiscated from the London Companies - land that Wentworth had marked down for himself.

Like a supporter of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s who might be finding communists under every bed, Wentworth was seeing Scots and their influence everywhere, and possibly with more justification. Even the duke of Lennox, whose family had held the patent for royal farthings tokens for a time, and whose religious and political orthodoxy were beyond question, tried to have a Covenanter receive preferment in the Irish (Protestant) church.

The earl of Antrim, for his part, opposed the Covenanters. He did, however, want to get out of debt and extend his land holdings back into Kintyre, an area once held by his family. Lord Lorne, who would eventually become the eighth earl of Argyll - and a Covenanter leader - currently occupied the territory. This should have sweetened the deal for Wentworth, except that he wanted the land for himself, so that he saw even mutual enemies as allied against him.

To influence Charles, MacDonnell (Antrim) offered the king the use of 2,000 men under his own leadership and at his own expense in order to help Charles in the troubles the king was having with the Covenanters in Scotland. In addition to Kintyre, MacDonnell also had ambitions in the west, which partnership with the duke of Hamilton made at least tentatively feasible. As the Lord Lieutenant remarked, "He [Antrim] will either have Coleraine or it shall cost him his blood." As for the earl's offer to Charles to supply the king with 2,000 soldiers at his own expense, "he is as well able to do, as I to take me upon the cross with so many for the Holy Land" (i.e., mount a new crusade to fight the Turks).

If this were not enough, there came a third proposal, this time from the tenants who held land from the City of London. Obviously, under the rather fluid interpretation of the law current under the Stuarts, the new owners would not inherit the obligations that went along with the property they acquired. The leases given by the City of London would be voided, and the tenants left out in the cold. Some 500 of these tenants, facing eviction, signed a petition to the king, requesting that they be granted security of tenure for their land.

Ironically, this would continue to be an issue for the next two-and-a-half centuries, when the "Land War" of the late 19th century attempted to settle the matter. "Canon Sheehan of Doneraile," the Reverend Patrick Augustine Sheehan, parish priest of (obviously) Doneraile, who as a young man recalled watching the Fenians drilling in the woods near his home, took a peaceful, if active role in the Land War, negotiating on behalf of the common people, and embodying the ideals of the Land League in his novels. His obvious learning, intelligence, integrity and devotion to duty had earned Father Sheehan the respect of everyone in the parish, Catholic and Protestant, Nationalist and Unionist alike. He was thus able to play a major role in the peaceful negotiations between the tenant farmers and the landlords, negotiations that in other places not infrequently resulted in bloodshed. As one of the tenants, J. O'Leary of Carrigeen, who benefited from his efforts, recorded:

In 1904 a few of us put our heads together and decided to ask Canon Sheehan to come with us to meet our agent [A.G. Creagh of Mallow] in order to put before him our demands to purchase our farms. ... I shall never forget that hour, 12 noon of 17th. Sept. 1904 when Canon Sheehan cut the first link of that chain which had bound generations of tenants on the Creagh estate to the chariot of landlordism.

Ordinarily the plight of the tenants of Derry shouldn't have been a problem. Finding tenants for the planted and replanted lands seized in (among other areas) Connaught had presented serious difficulties in making the plantation successful. Having a set of tenants ready, willing and able to assume new leases, thereby assuring that the lands would generate revenue immediately, should have been a definite bonus, and their request "rubber stamped," regardless who ended up owning the land.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the tenants had selected as their legal representative a man named Sir John Clotworthy. Sir John had good credentials for the task, having his own freehold estate in Antrim as well as a lease from the Drapers' Company in County Derry. The tenants signed the petition on June 23, 1638, and sent it to Whitehall, the administrative office of the government in London, where it arrived in early July.

Prior to this, however, Sir John had traveled to England, obtaining a license to travel from the Lord Lieutenant on the grounds that he had to go to London to represent his clients' interests in the capital. Wentworth, of course, granted this very reasonable request, and sent Clotworthy on his way.

Sir John, however, had a private agenda. Yes, his ostensible purpose in traveling to England was to represent the interests of the tenants of Derry in their petition to the king ... but he took a slight detour on the way. He did, in fact, go to England, but he went by way of Scotland, where on June 11 he met with Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, one of the leaders among the Covenanters. The purpose of the meeting was to arrange for a method and means of exchanging information - essentially setting up a spy network for the Covenanters in Ireland.

Only then did Sir John go south to London and presented the tenants' petition. While there, and after returning to Ireland, he kept up a correspondence with the Covenanter leaders. Among the valuable information he conveyed was the flanking movement later attempted by the earl of Antrim when matters finally broke out into armed conflict.

Clearly, despite the concern the Lord Lieutenant had earlier expressed about the state of the currency in Ireland, he had other, more important things to worry about. Later evidence suggests that, contrary to the effort to standardize the currency, English money continued to enjoy a premium in Ireland over Irish money. Seamus Mac Manus, in his somewhat polemical but generally reliable sketch of Irish history, The Story of the Irish Race3, puts the blame on the arbitrage between English and Irish money on official policy:

And Irish trade was attacked from yet another angle. At the same time that the pirate admiral was appointed by Edward III, Irish coinage was forbidden to be received in England. However, Irish merchants and Irish money had such worthy repute that not only did they still succeed with it on the Continent, but, one hundred years later, Irish coinage had to be prohibited again in England. That was in 1447.

In 1477, after imprisoning some Irish merchants who traded with Irish money in Bristol, the English Government adopted a radical reform by introducing into Ireland an English coinage debased twenty-five per cent below the English standard, and compelled Ireland to accept it as her legal currency.

This accomplished two good objects. English merchants bought in Ireland by the cheap standard and sold these purchases abroad by the dear standard. Also England was enabled to pay her army in Ireland with cheap Irish coin. When Ireland's merchants refused to honour at its face value the debased coinage tendered by the soldiers, an Act was passed (in 1547) making such refusal treason.4

While sympathetic to the state of trade and economic development in Ireland under the English,5 Professor Mac Manus' analysis is flawed by an inadequate understanding of the effects of trade, money and credit on a nation's economy, to say nothing of access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property.

Yes, there was interference in Irish trade, but it was the result of government support for mercantilism, which forbids export of gold and silver under the illusion that specie constitutes real wealth, and export of precious metal decreases a nation's wealth. The arbitrage between English and Irish money, while damaging, was (in this instance at least) not an attempt to attack the Irish by manipulation of the money supply, but an inadvertent (and undesired) side effect of policies that were established and maintained in an effort to keep Ireland in subjugation to England. In the words of the Lord Lieutenant:

We therefore, in obedience to his majesties commands, doe, by this proclamation publish and declare, and doe hereby strictly charge and command, that from and after the twentieth of March6 last preceding the date hereof, all the accompts, receipts, payments and issues of his majesties moneys, in this kingdome, doe passe, and be accomptable in English money, and not as hath been formerly used, in Irish money, viz. accompting twelve pence sterling for sixteen pence Irish, and so pro rata for greater and lesser summes.7

Wentworth was obviously concerned about the currency, as his focus on the problem clearly demonstrates, particularly the problem of the ubiquitous royal farthing tokens that continued to flood into the country despite the Lord Lieutenant's best efforts to control them. The latest issue of these troublesome items consisted of the Rose type of the "single arched crown" variety, but with the crossed scepters below the crown on the obverse instead of the crown being superimposed over the scepters.

Other than that change, the obverse and reverse designs are identical to that of the preceding variety. The reverse consists of a single crowned rose. The observe legend is CAROLV " D.G " MAG " BRI [mintmark], while the reverse legend, continued from the obverse, is FRA " ET " HIB " REX [mintmark]. There are some minor variations, which none of the catalogs I consulted bothered to list.

Prices are slightly higher for this final variety than for the other Rose Farthings, but still well within the range of the collector with modest means. They begin at around $8 in Very Good, and go up to about $120 in Extremely Fine.

The Lord Lieutenant's concern with the situation in Scotland was, however, diverting his attention away from the relatively minor matter of the reform of the currency. In this instance, at least, Wentworth's suspicions of anyone and anything connected with Scotland seems to have been justified. Sir John Clotworthy's connections with the Covenanters and the Puritan cause were almost as complicated as the relations of a soap opera heroine. Evidence suggests that his motivations were more religious than political, but that hardly mattered when the end result was the same - and gives good evidence for the traditional western ideal (albeit rarely realized) of separating civil and religious affairs. As de Tocqueville was to clarify in his monumental Democracy in America:

The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God. If it be of the highest importance to man, as an individual, that his religion should be true, it is not so to society. Society has no future life to hope for or to fear; and provided the citizens profess a religion, the peculiar tenets of that religion are of little importance to its interests.8

Sir John was a good friend and relation by marriage of John Pym, a member of the English House of Commons and leader of the hardly-loyal opposition. He had close ties with Puritan groups in England. John Winthrop, a backer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and important "mover and shaker" among the Puritans, had land in Ireland, and his son had visited with Clotworthy in 1635.

Clotworthy was also deeply involved in the "Parsons-Ranelagh" faction in Ireland. This was lead by Sir William Parsons, Roger Jones viscount Ranelagh, and Sir Adam Loftus. The Parsons-Ranelagh faction was alleged to have joined in a conspiracy to unseat Wentworth from the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland. They had, it was said, approached Sir Henry Vane the Elder, controller of the king's household, and James, duke of Hamilton (who had gone into partnership with Randall MacDonnell, earl of Antrim on the proposal to take over the forfeited lands in Derry) in order to obtain allies in England to remove Wentworth from office.

If that were not enough (I said it was complicated), Clotworthy was also tied in with the faction in England headed by Henry Rich, first earl of Holland. It may have been through Holland's influence as well as that of Robert Rich, second earl of Warwick (the leading opposition peer) that Sir John managed to obtain a seat in the "Long Parliament," even though he was resident in Ireland, not England. (This gave Sir John the opportunity, on Nov. 11, 1640, to second the motion to impeach Wentworth.)

Finally, Sir John Clotworthy had a significant number of personal grievances against Wentworth. Among these was the fact that Sir John had repeatedly been denied command of a company in Wentworth's "New Army," although there was a shortage of potential officers who held the "right" political and religious views. Clotworthy had also managed to irritate the Lord Lieutenant in the matter of reform of the linen manufactories, opposing the government's policy on linen yarn (recall the difficulties incurred in attempting to instruct people who spoke only Irish about the new methods in English). Finally, Wentworth had even gone after Clotworthy's wife, on Jan. 12, 1638 (1639 New Style), summoning her to answer for her religious beliefs before the Irish Court of High Commission.

This last was particularly scurrilous on the part of Wentworth. The position of women in the west had, in general, degenerated from the advances made in the Middle Ages. Outside of Ireland, where in the native culture women generally had equal rights and status, even holding political office and acting as military commanders (cf. Grace O'Malley), women had rights, although in certain circumstances they could only exercise them through their husbands, male relatives or a State-appointed representative.

The feudal system was, essentially, a development of the Roman Imperial system, organized along the lines of what we would tend to consider a military dictatorship (the word "emperor," the title for the individual at least nominally head of State of all of Christendom, derives from imperator, which signifies "worthy to command Romans"). Women, even under the Law of the Salic Franks, could own and in some circumstances administer privately-owned land, but were generally forbidden from owning "demesne" or public land, which required military service as one of the qualifications to hold the land.

In those areas where women could hold demesne land, they had to pay a special "helmet tax" so that their liege lords could hire substitutes to perform their military duties. The Irish were considered particularly barbaric (as well as the Celts in Europe before them) because it was not unusual for a woman to act as a field commander (although not as common as today's feminist fiction would have us believe), and even take part in the fighting.

As Europe lost its Celtic heritage and relied increasingly on the revival of Roman law that began in the 12th century, the status of women paradoxically began to degrade and improve. Women had recognized rights, but frequently couldn't exercise them beyond the doors of their own homes. Only a male guardian or other stand-in could, in general, exercise civil rights as opposed to domestic rights on a woman's behalf.

This was a holdover from the philosophy of Aristotle, one of the parts that the corrections by Aquinas didn't manage to take hold and extend to the surrounding culture. When Joan of Arc was captured wearing man's clothing, one of the charges at her trial was that she was clearly a pervert or witch for going against the natural order, instead of letting a man fill in for her. Contrary to popular thought, however, she did not usually take part in the actual fighting, but acted as field commander.

With the Reformation, however, the whole idea of delegated rights was jettisoned, along with such inconvenient notions as natural rights (especially to life, liberty and property), democracy and the dignity of every human being under God within the context of the common good. Women were no longer viewed as having rights that they could not exercise, but as not having rights at all.

Thus, just as he was for his children and slaves (if any), a man was personally liable for the acts of his wife. By going after Sir John Clotworthy's wife and hauling her into court, Wentworth was not only violating Sir John's authority in his own home (the dictum of the law being that a man's home is his castle), he was directly attacking the whole of society, a point made by Shakespeare in a number of his plays. It was, in fact, illegal for Wentworth to proceed against Sir John's wife instead of Sir John as guardian of his wife in a court of law, to say nothing of the fact that it was a matter of the deepest possible insult to Clotworthy's honor, authority and dignity.

Note that explaining this situation does not constitute agreement with it; my goal is to explain why Sir John would have viewed Wentworth's prosecution of Clotworthy's wife in a court of law as possibly worse than anything else the Lord Lieutenant might have done. Small wonder that Sir John was quick to second a motion for Wentworth's impeachment.

It was, however, all for nothing. Charles ended up not approving any of the schemes proposed for the reorganization and replantation of Derry. Historians differ on whether the Lord Lieutenant's influence led to the king rejecting all of the proposals, especially that of the duke of Hamilton and earl of Antrim. Nevertheless, Thomas Wentworth received most of the blame for Charles' act and the resultant inability of the Scots who surrounded the throne to obtain any significant amount of land in Ireland.


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