The Munster Plantation, 1583-1641
The subject concerns the settlement of English families in southern Ireland after the death in rebellion of the last earl of Desmond. The survey commission of 1584 reveals the fragmented extent of escheated land and the haphazard nature of confiscation. The decision to colonise from England was not taken until consideration had been made of several alternative schemes. It is shown that the questions of moral legitimacy for the plantation and the general thrust of government policy - much worried over by historians today - did not preoccupy those planning the Munster venture. Brief mention is made over the background of the settlers and their recruitment and grouping. It is shown that a proportion of leading colonists were army men or administrators on the Irish establishment, many of whom with insufficient wealth or influence in England to promote their stipulated settlement. Because of faulty direction and the practical difficulties of such a vast project, assigning land and settling the newcomers took several years. Land claims from local inhabitants further slowed events. The English settlers in the 1590s numbered 3,500 and invested about 20,000 in the plantation. This sum and the small population proved inadequate faced with the rising in 1598. Re-establishment of the plantation in the 17th century was at a much higher level, the English population becoming four times greater in the 1620s than the 1590s, and powerful enough to control a considerable area after the 1641 rebellion. Motives for this increased emigration to Munster are then examined. The traditional reasons - land, new jobs, religious freedom, social advancement, escape from authority - are paraded and found wanting. The final, geographical explanation comes in the last chapter which also establishes the extent to which the English modified Munster and in turn were changed by local conditions. In an appendix are included brief biographical entries of the 35 chief settlers and the fate of their portions up to 1641.