Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Coventry Letter, 1686, on Acts of Settlement and Explanation (Author: Sir Richard Nagle)

section 2

Observations upon the king's declaration, the acts of settlement and explanation.

By the king's declaration the adventurers are to be settled in their estates, and where they are deficient they are to be reprised. And yet it is owned by the same declaration that the king was not obliged to


confirm them, having pursued the methods prescribed by the acts in England in Charles the first's time, and in effect most of their money was brought up when the king and parliament was divided, and most of the money was employed by the parliament against the king and his army in England; and this was the reason that the usurper was so much concerned to see them provided for.

The soldiers that were of the army when the late king was restored were to be settled in their possessions, so that those who were formerly of the army, and were not then members of the same, were not by the king's declaration to be confirmed, but by the act of settlement that confirmed the declaration those that were formerly of the army were provided for, and these were many in number, and had great possessions, and the same much obstructed the execution of the king's declaration.

These soldiers so provided for were those that fought against the king's army in Ireland, upon whose account the Irish (who, since the peace in 1648, fought under the king's commands) were dispossessed, and their lands given to those for their service to the usurper; and it is to be considered how reasonable it is that the king's army should be dispossessed by an usurper, and that the usurper should give their estates to his own soldiers, and that the king, upon his declaration, should confirm those possessions.

By this declaration Coote, Orrery, Mountrath, and other leading men in the usurper's army are confirmed in their possessions, given to them by the usurper for their service under him.

The earl of Anglesey is confirmed in the purchases he made from those who had lands given them by the usurper; this can extend but to such purchases as he made before the declaration, and which were made for his own use. It is credibly supposed that many of those purchases were made in trust for others, and that accordingly he did, in performance of the said trust, make long leases and conveyances to those persons at small rents, and by this means he passed in patent vast possessions, and preferred the interest of Wallis, Sankey, Phaire, Morley and several others, considerable persons of the usurper's party, who, for being very notorious, despaired to be confirmed in their


acquisitions, and so sheltered themselves under the earl of Anglesey's proviso.

The 1649 officers are provided for, and to those the walled towns and large plantations are given, yet many of these sometimes served under the parliament, sometimes under the king, and sometimes were for the king and parliament, and many that were 1649 officers, before 1649, betrayed several of the king's towns to the usurpers, and yet those 1649 officers, who could not expect to be in a better condition than the officers of the king's army in England, have got for their satisfaction a vast interest in Ireland, and had very considerable power and conditions of redemption of great value allowed to them for a small matter.

By this declaration innocents are to be restored; but by the act of settlement such qualifications are put upon them, that it was providence that any of them were ever declared innocent, and several of those were qualifications which could not make a man criminal by the law of the land. This act ordered it so that those should suffice to make one innocent. In the trial of innocence there were great oppositions made that took up much time, and yet in all there were not six months allowed to trial of the innocents of Ireland, so that one thousand widows, infants and other persons that could be declared innocent, were precluded for want of being heard.

And, to amend the matter, there is an express clause in the act of explanation that no man, upon account of innocency, that was not already declared so, can pretend to any estate in Ireland, —contrary to reason, natural equity and justice.

Innocents restored are made liable to quit-rent, a year's value excluded from all mean profit due before the restoration; innocents quoad hoc, that is, restored to part, are barred from other part of their estates, —though they had the best right in the world to the same.

Innocents that had lands in Connaught and Clare, where their lands were set out to transplantors, —never to be put into possession till the transplantor be reprised, —which was never done or can be done as the matters do stand.


Several are indicted and outlawed wrongfully, and though they offered to traverse these outlawries, and to be tried, they were refused and this outlawry enough to criminate them.

Several heirs in tail are declared innocent, yet barred of their estates because their fathers were not declared innocents, though never indicted nor outlawed.

Innocents not to be restored to their estates in corporations with the king's letter, —whereby many were excluded.

By the king's declaration, all ensign men that served abroad, all those that submitted to the peace of 1648, without apostasy, and had no lands in Connaught, and several other persons there named, are to be restored to their ancient estates for reprisals. These are to this day unrestored for want of reprisals, and though the king, by his declaration, declared that he thought himself bound to provide for these persons, and to make good the peace of, being grounded upon public faith, yet by the act of explanation 'tis enacted that no man shall have the benefit of the articles of peace. The acts of settlement and explanation were past in a parliament when most of the persons that were members thereof were concerned, and it may he doubted whether the parliament was legal, most of the knights being neither freeholders nor chosen by freeholders, they being, for the most part, new interest men, who could have no freeholds, the acts themselves vesting those estates in the king since 1641, and because those estates were vested in the king by the acts of 17 and 18 and 16 and 17. Also the burgesses are supposed not to be legal burgesses, they being persons that intruded into those corporations in the usurper's time without legal election. Besides that, the proceedings of the commissioners for executing the acts were by witness when it should be by juries.

By the act of explanation, all letterees that by the king's letters were restored to all their estates were confined to two thousand acres, and that only where they were in possession in 1663. The nominees, who for the most part were to be restored by the first act, are confined to two thousand acres, and most of these kept out for want of reprisals. By these acts, all forfeited impropriations are given to the church, great


augmentations given to bishops, great possessions given the college of Dublin, and great estates confirmed to several persons by the act of settlement and explanation that were not provided for by the king's declaration, which was done by those that contrived the ruin of this nation, as well to engage them to stand by the settlement as to exhaust the stock of lands in Ireland, to the end that those who are designed by the king to be restored by his declaration may never be restored for want of reprisals; by this means the innocents not heard are barred.

Innocents in Connaught and Clare are barred, though declared innocents. Ensign men, letterees not in possession in 1663, nominees, natives of Cork, Youghal and Kinsale, that stuck to the king's interest, until expelled by the king's party, are barred.

The inhabitants in several towns in Ireland who, with the loss of their lives for lands and estates, defended the said towns against the usurpers and their heirs, are barred.

So that the act of settlement of one hand confirms the king's declaration, by which many persons are provided for to be restored, and of the other hand gives away all the lands that should reprise those that had the estates, by which the act becomes contradictory, repugnant, and unpracticable.