Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Battle of Lisburn, 1641.


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the 28th day of Nov., 1641.

"A brief relation of the miraculous victory gained there that day over the first formed army of the Irish, soon after their rebellion, which broke out the 23d of October, 1641.

(From the Cathedral Records.)

"Sir Phelemy O'Neil, Sir Connor Maginnis, their general then in Ulster Major-General Plunkett, (who had been a soldier in foreign kingdoms) having enlisted and drawn together out of the counties of Armagh, Tyrone, Antrim, and Down, and other counties in Ulster, eight or nine thousand men, which were formed into eight regiments, and a troop of horse, with two field-pieces; they did rendezvous on the 27th of November, at and about a house belonging to Sir John Rawdon, at Brookhill, three miles distant from Lisnegarvy, in which they knew there was garrison of five companies, newly raised, and the Lord Conway's troop of horse. And their principal design being to march into and besiege Carrickfergus, they judged it unsafe to pass by Lisnegarvy, and therefore resolved to attack it next morning, making little account of the opposition that could be given them by so small a number, not half armed, and so slenderly provided of ammunition, (which they had perfect intelligence of by several Irish that left our party and stole away to them) for that they were so numerous and well provided of ammunition by the fifty barrels of powder they found in his Majesty's store, in the castle of Newry, which they surprised the very first night of the Rebellion; also they had got into their hands the arms of all the soldiers they had murdered in Ulster, and such other arms as they found in the castles and houses which they had plundered and burnt in the whole province. Yet it so pleased God to disappoint their confidence, and the small garrison they so much slighted, was much encouraged by the seasonable arrival of Sir George Rawdon, who being in London on the 23d of October, hastened over by the way of Scotland; and being landed at Bangor, got to Lisnegarvy, tho' late, on the 27th Nov. where those new-raised men, and the Lord Conway's troop, were drawn up in the market-place, expecting hourly to be assaulted by the rebels; and they stood in that posture all the night, and before sunrise, sent out some horse to discover their numerous enemy, who were at mass; )it being Sunday) but immediately upon sight of our scouts, they quitted their devotion, and beat drums, and marched directly to Lisnegarvy; and drawn up in battalia, in the warren, not above a musket-shot from the town, and sent out two divisions, of about six or seven hundred apiece, to compass the town and plant their field-pieces on the highway to it, before their body, and with them and their long fowling-pieces killed and wounded some of our men, as they stood in their ranks in the market-place; and some of our musketeers were placed in endeavouring to make the like returns of shot to he enemy. -- And Sir Arthur Yerringham (governor of Newry) who commanded the garrison, and Sir George Rawdon, and the officers foreseeing if their two divisions on both sides of the town should fall in together, that they would overpower our small number. For prevention thereof, a squadron of horse, with some musketeers, was commanded to face one of them that was marching on the north side, and to keep them at a distance as long as they could; which was so well performed, that the other division which marched by the river on the south side, came in before the other, time enough to be well beaten back by the horse, and more than two hundred slain of them in Bridge street, and in their retreat as they fled back to the main body.

"After which expedition, the horse returning to the market-place, found the enemy had forced in our small party on. the north side, and had entered the town, and was marching down Castle-street, which our horse so charged there, that at least 300 were slain of the rebels in the street, and in the meadows behind the houses, through which they did run away to their main body; whereby they were so much discouraged, that almost in two hours after, their officers could not got any more parties to adventure upon us; but in the main space, they entertained us with continued shot from their main body, and their field pieces, till about one of the clock, that fresh parties were issued out and beaten back as before, with the loss of many of their men, which, they supplied with others till night; and in the dark they fired all the town, which was in a few hours turned into ashes; and in that confusion and heat of the fire, the enemy made a fierce assault. But it so pleased God, that we were better provided for them than they expected, by a relief that came to us at night-fall from Belfast, of the Earl of Donegall's troop, and a company of foot, commanded by Captain Boyd, who was unhappily slain presently after his first entrance into the town. And after the houses were on fire, about six of the clock, till about ten or eleven, it is not easy to give any certain account or relation of the several encounters in divers places in the town, between small parties of our horse, and those of the enemy, whom they charged as they advanced, and hewed them down, so that every corner was filled with carcases, and the slain were found to be more than thrice the number of those that fought against them, as appeared next day, when the constables and inhabitants, employed to bury them, gave up their accounts. About ten or eleven o'clock, their two generals quitted their stations, and marched away in the dark, and had not above 200 of their men with them, as we were informed next morning, by several English prisoners that escaped from them, who told us that the rest of their men had either run away before them, or were slain; and that their field-pieces were thrown into the river, or into some moss-pit, which we never could find after; and in this their retreat, they fired Brookhill house, and the Lord Conway's library in it, and other goods, to the value of five or six thousand pounds, their fear and haste not at all allowing them to carry any thing away, except some plate and some linen; and this they did in revenge to the owner, whom they heard was landed the day before, and had been active in the service against them, and was shot that day, and also had his horse shot under him, but mounted presently upon another: and Captain St. John and Captain Furley were also wounded, and about thirty men more of our party, most of whom recovered, and not above twenty-five or twenty-six were slain. And if it be well considered, how meanly our men were armed, and all our ammunition spent be fore night, and that if we had not been supplied with men, by the timely care and providence of the Earl of Donegall, and other commanders from his Majesty's store at Carrickfergus, (who sent us powder, post, in mails, on horseback, one after another) and that most of our new-raised companies, were of poor stript men that had made their escape from the rebels, of whom they had such a dread, that they thought them not easily to be beaten, and that all our horse (that did the most execution) were not above 120. vis., the Lord Conway's troop, and a squadron of the Lord Grandison's troop, (the rest of them having been murdered in their quarters in Tanragee) and about 40 of a country troop, and a company from Belfast that came to us at night. It must be confessed that the Lord of Hosts did signally appear for us, who can save with or without any means, and did by very small means give us the victory over his and our enemies, and enough of their arms to supply the defects of our new companies, and about 50 of their colours and drums. But it is to be remembered with regret, that this loss and overthrow did so enrage the rebels, that for several days and weeks after, they murdered many hundreds of the Protestants, whom they had kept prisoners in the counties of Armagh and Tyrone, and other parts of Ulster, and tormented them by several manners of death. And it is a circumstance very observable, that much snow had fallen in the week before this action, and on the day before it was a little thaw, and a frost thereupon it in the night, so that the streets were covered with ice, which proved greatly to our advantage; for that all the smiths had been employed that whole night to frost our horses, so that they stood firm, while the brogues slipt and fell down to our feet. For which, and our miraculous deliverance from a cruel and bloody army, how great cause have we to rejoice, and praise the name of our God, and say with that kingly prophet -- 'If it had not been the Lord himself who was on our side, when men rose up against us, they had swallowed us up quick, when they were so wrathfully displeased at us. Yea the waters of the deep had drowned us, and the stream had gone over our soul; but praised be the Lord who has not given us over a prey unto their teeth: our soul is escaped even as a bird out of the snare of fowler: the snare is broken and we are safe. Our hope standeth in the name of the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth." -- Amen.

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Copy of patent which erected the Church of Lisburn into a Cathedral for the United Diocese of Down and Connor, and empowered the Town of Lisburn to return two Burgesses to the Irish Parliament. The original of this document, in Latin, was in 1834 in the Hertford Estate Office.

"Charles II. by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all to whom these our present Letters shall come Greeting. WHEREAS we understand that the cathedral church of Down and Connor, in our province of Ulster, within our kingdom of Ireland, being at present not only ruinous and laid waste, but also were founded in inconvenient places and extreme parts of the several dioceses of Down and Connor, by means whereof, not only the service of God was much neglected, but the necessary meetings and assembly of the bishops and clergy in those places obstructed and impeded. AND WHEREAS the Church of Lisburne, alias Lisnagarvie, in our county of Antrim, and diocese of Down, being situate near, the middle of the dioceses aforesaid, and now united, can more conveniently serve for a Cathedral church for the bishopricks aforesaid. KNOW YE, therefore, that WE being mindful of nothing more than that true religion and the true worship of God should flourish of our royal authority and by our authority, of Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland, which we enjoy of our special grace likewise with the assent and consent of our Right Trustie and Right Well-beloved Cousin and Counsellor, James, Duke of Ormond, our Lieutenant-General of our said kingdom of Ireland, and also according to the tenor and effect of our certain letters under our privy signet and sign, Manl. dated at our court at Whitehall, the 10th day of Sep. in the 14th year of our reign, and now inrolled in the rolls of our chancery of our said kingdom, have erected, created, founded, ordained, made, constituted, and established the said Church of Lisburne, alias Lisnagarvie, and the place of the same church to be for over hereafter the Cathedral church and episcopal seat of the aforesaid several bishopricks of Down and Connor, and to continue for ever in all future times. And so to bo established, and for ever to be inviolably observed, WE will and command by those Presents. And that the said church of Lisburne, alias Lisnagarvie, shall for ever hereafter be named and called by the name of the Cathedral Church of Christ Church of Lisburne, alias Lisnagarvie, all shall use and enjoy  all jurisdictions, rights, privileges, advantages, and immunities to a cathedral church belonging, or in any manner appertaining; and that the same church, with all and singular its rights and members, shall be the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Down and Connor, and his successors for ever. AND FURTHER, of our more ample special grace, and also with the advice and consent aforesaid, HAVE given and granted, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors WE do give and grant that the Dean and Chapter of Down, and their successors, and also the Dean and Chapter of Connor and their successors, from time to time, and as often as occasion shall require, can and may assemble and congregate themselves at the Cathedral Church of Christ Church aforesaid of Lisburne, alias Lisnegarvie, and there to make and constitute from time to time, such and the like ordinances, confirmations, acts, and statutes, as in the several ancient churches of assemblies of the said Bishopricks might and ought to appertain. And that all and singular confirmations, ordinances, statutes, and other acts, to be made by the several and respective Deans and Chapters aforesaid, and their successors in the said Cathedral Church of Christ Church of Lisburne, alias Lisnagarvie, shall be as good and valid in Law to all intents and purposes, as if the same was made in the several assemblies or churches of Down and Connor. And further of our more ample, special grace, and also with the advice and consent aforesaid for us, our heirs and successors, WE do will and grant, that the choyr and other officers and ministers serving in the cathedral church aforesaid, may have and receive out of the several impropriations appointed and granted by us for the augmentation of the revenues of the church, such allowances, pensions, stipends, and salaries for divine service to be performed in the cathedral church aforesaid, as the Lord Primate of all Ireland for the time being, and the Bishop of the Diocese for the time being, with the consent and approbation of the Lieutenant-General, or General Governor of our said kingdom of Ireland for the time being, shall see competent and convenient for celebrating devine service there, and their proper maintenance.

"AND WHEREAS we retain a sense of the many Losses which the Inhabitants of the said Town of Lisburne. alias Lisnegarvie, have sustained for their allegiance towards us and our Royal Father of Glorious Memory. KNOW YE THEREFORE that WE of our special grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, for us our heirs and successors, Do Give and Grant to the dwellers and inhabitants of the said Town of Lisburne, alias Lisnegarvie, That they and their successors for ever hereafter, can, and may, from time to time, elect and choose two fit and proper persons to be Burgesses to attend, and sit in every parliament hereafter to be summoned, appointed, and held within our said kingdom of Ireland, And that, such persons so hereafter to be appointed to sit and attend in Parliament, as Burgesses for the said Town, can, and may freely, lawfully, and without fear, treat and consult of such maytters and things which to them there shall be set forth and declared, and thereupon to render their votes and suffrages as any other burgesses, of any other ancient Borough within our said kingdom of Ireland, might, or could do, or heretofore was accustomed to do. AND FURTHER WE will, and by these Presents for us, our heirs and successors, with the advice end consent aforesaid, and according to the tenor of our aforesaid Letters, Do strictly enjoin and command, that whenever a Parliament hereafter to be summoned in our said kingdom of Ireland, the Sheriff of us, our heirs and successors of our county of Antrim aforesaid for the time being, by virtue of a writ directed to him for the electing of knights, citizens, and burgesses for such Parliament, shall make and send his precept to the Seneschal of the Manor of Killultagh for the time being, (within which Manor the said Town is situate) for the making such election in and for the aforesaid town of Lisburne, alias Lisnegarvie, in the same form as such precept to any ancient Borough, in such case, was accustomed to be sent; which Seneschal, also, we strictly enjoin and command that such precept to him to be directed, in all things to execute, and to cause such election to be made, and to return in such manner and form as in any other Borough of our said kingdom of Ireland, usually, or anciently was made, or now ought to be done, notwithstanding that the Inhabitants of the said Town are not Incorporated, and any law, statute act, ordinance, or any thing whatsoever made to the contrary thereof, in any wise notwithstanding. Willing, moreover, and granting that these our letters Patent, or the Involvement thereof, shall be in and by all things firm, good, valid, sufficient, and effectual in the law against us, our heirs and successors, as well in all the courts of us as elsewhere, -- wheresoever within our said kingdom of Ireland, without any other confirmation, license, or tolleration from us, our heirs or successors, hereafter to be procured or obtained. Notwithstanding the ill naming, or ill reciting, or not reciting the said cathedral church, and notwithstanding any defect in the certainty of the premises, and any other thing, cause, custom, or statute, in any manner to the contrary notwithstanding. Altho' express mention of the true yearly value or certainty of the premises, or either of them, or of any other gifts or grants, by us or by any our progenitors, heretofore being made in these presents, any statute, act, ordinance, or provision; or any other thing, cause, or matter whatsoever, to the contrary of the promises in any wise notwithstanding. In witness whereof, we have caused these our letters to be made patent, witness our aforesaid Lieutenant-General of our said kingdom of Ireland, at Dublin, the 27th day of October, in the 14th year of our reign."

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 17 November 1916 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)


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