Catalogue description THE COUNCIL to JOHN ALEN.

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Instructions from the King's Council in Ireland to John Alen, Master of the Rolls there, to be declared to the King for the weal and reformation of the said land.


(1.) You shall instruct the King of the great decay of this land; that neither the English order, tongue, nor habit has been used, nor the King's laws obeyed above 20 miles in compass.


(2.) This decay "groweth by the immoderate taking of coyne and livery without order, after men's own sensual appetites, cuddees, gartie, taking of caanes for felonies, murders, and all other offences, alterages, biengis, saultes, and slauntiaghes, and other like abusions and oppressions.


(3.) Also by default of English inhabitants, "which in times past were archers, and had feats of war, and good servants in their houses for defence of the country in time of necessity;" but now "the inheritors of the land of the Englishry have admitted to be their tenants those of the Irishry, which can live hardily without bread or other good victuals; and some for lucre to have of them more rent, and some for other impositions than English husbands be able to give, together with the oppression of coyne and livery, have expelled them; and so is all the country in effect made Irish.


(4.) By the relation of ancient men, all the English lords and gentlemen within the pale heretofore kept retinues of English yeomen in their houses, after the English fashion, according to the extent of their lands, but now they keep horsemen and knaves, who live upon the King's subjects, and not in their houses; and they keep no hospitality, but live upon the poor people.


(5.) Liberties of the temporal lords of this land have been and are very prejudicial to the King and the weal of the land, for that by their abuse the King has lost the due obedience and strength of the inhabitants, and his regalities and revenues there.


(6.) The black rents and tributes which Irishmen by violence have obtained of the King's subjects are a great mischief; "and yet, when the Deputies go upon Irishmen by the aid of the King's subjects for redress of their nightly and daily robberies, they keep all they get to their own use and restore nothing to the poor people.


(7.) Another hurt is, the committing of the governance of this land to native lords, and the frequent change of Deputies.


(8.) By the negligent keeping of the King's records, and by grants of "clerks' offices of the Four Courts" to persons unlearned or not expert in the same, the King's Courts and revenues are greatly decayed, "and his records imbeciled (i.e., embezzled), and his inheritance and right thereby unknown.


(9.) The King has lost and given away his manors, customs, and other revenues, "so as he hath not now whereof to maintain a Deputy for defence of his subjects.


Signed: G. Armachañ; John Dubliñ; Edward Mideñ; J. Rawson, Prior of Kilm.; Walterus Dareñ; Jeneco Viscount of Gorm.; James Abbot of S. T[homas'] Courte; W. Abbot of S. M[ary's] Abbey, by Dublin; R. Prior of Lowth; Sir J. Barnwall, Lord of Trymlettiston; P. Fynglas, Baron; Christopher Delahide, Justice; P. White, Baron.




(1.) That there be captains in every march, as of old time; and that the kinsmen and inhabitants under their rule be at their leading, under the Deputy, and no other.


(2.) That no English lord or captain make any bond or covenant with any Irishman "to have right out of him or bearing of men of war or 'termons' to his own use, for that were a great infeeblishing of the King's strength and diminution of his profits, unless the same should be converted to the King's use;" any lord who has any such at this time to express the certainty thereof and renounce the same. And that the King shall take order with his Deputy for the exonerating of his subjects of such black rents as Irishmen take of them now.


(3.) No person to take "caanes" anywhere amongst the King's subjects for felony or murder, and the King to take an order about "the liberties aforesaid," which shall greatly increase his strength and profits.


(4.) "By means of the dissension of those of this land, the default of the execution of the laws, other mischiefs before expressed, and especially coyne and livery, which is now so immoderately universally used in manner by all men, that all shall be brought to be Irish without redress be had, which is not like to be remedied by any our English lords of this land for divers and many causes, too long here to be expressed." There is grown also such a rooted dissension between the Earls of Kildare and Ossory, that it is not likely to bring them to good conformity, especially if either of them be Deputy or aspire to that room; and if any other of this land should be admitted thereto, we fear they will not assist or obey him. "The next mean is to send hither an English Deputy, who we trust, within three years, shall bring the English shires of Leinster and Munster to good purpose, so as the King's subsidy may rynne there.


(5.) There must be a resumption of the King's revenues from a certain time hitherto, for "by the importunate labours of those of this land," the King and his progenitors have granted the revenues to divers of them, so that the remainder is small. By means of this resumption the subsidy and other things, "which within three years the said Deputy will get of Irishmen and otherwise," there will be revenues sufficient to maintain him without further charge to the King. But who shall be most apt for that room it becomes us not to name.


(6.) If the King should have war with any outward prince, we think his Grace should take good order for this land.


(7.) All the King's castles are fallen into utter ruin and decay.


(8.) Means must be found for repressing the Scots, who increase daily and inhabit in Ulster, &c.


(9.) An order to be had for the keeping of the King's records; that the King's revenues may appear in the Chancery and Exchequer, as of old time, and [be] let to farm under the King's seal, and not privately by the Deputy; and that he grant no clerks' offices but by the advice of the Judges of the Court where such offices are.


(10.) That the King's book of instructions, sent hither by my Lord Chancellor that now is, may be observed from henceforth by the Deputy as nigh as possible is, for hitherto it was not so.


(11.) That all the lords and gentlemen within the four shires of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, and Uriell, be compelled to obey the King's laws, "and all others as nigh as may be.


Signed as above.


Contemp. copy.

Date: 1533
Related material:

State Papers II. 162.

Held by: Lambeth Palace Library, not available at The National Archives
Former reference in its original department: MS 603, p. 66
Language: English
Physical description: 4 Pages.
Unpublished finding aids:

Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, ed. J. S. Brewer & W. Bullen (6 vols., 1867-73), vol. I, document 39.

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