"Lest imputation of blame may be cast upon me, that I have not (as in former times) written oftener unto your Lordships, in my just excuse, the blame thereof ariseth for want of shipping, trade being lately ceased between this realm and England. No one bark to my knowledge since the middest of November last hath passed between this province and this (that?) kingdom."
Since my last of 31 October, "it hath pleased God to bless our proceedings in such sort as I hope the war of Munster is absolutely broken. After Cormock McDermod, the lord of Muskerry, was reduced, and Terrell beaten by Sir Samuel Bagnall, .. and that country of Muskerry well settled, the rebels repaired to their old strength in O'Solyvan Beare's country, not thinking at this season of the year I would have given them any disturbance, which they knew to be very difficult to enterprise. Neither in truth any service was possibly to be performed upon them until garrisons were planted at Bantry in the west of the county of Cork and at Donkerran in Desmond; in peforming whereof all October and November was expired, by reason of the great incommodities which the forces found to answer them with land carriages for the necessaries, and the want of winds to transport their victuals and munitions by sea.
"As soon as these garrisons were planted, I lost no time in prosecution, every day the enemy receiving great damages by them, insomuch as near unto those places all was throughly wasted. And to give the greater expedition to the business, I assembled the rising out of the province, to be commanded by the Lord Barry, to the number in list of 1,600 foot, at their own charges, who though with unwilling minds were drawn unto it, and that I stood in no great need of their help, or trusted much in it, yet I held it necessary to draw as many hands together as I could, who, according to their manner, for spoil's sake will not spare their dear friends; and also I held it meet in policy, (if possibly I might,) to make them draw blood upon the rebels.
"With this rising out, to countenance them the better, I joined Sir George Thornton with 550 English foot in list. The garrison of Bantry, being 1,050 in list, was commanded by Captain Flower, and that at Donkerran, consisting of 1,000 in list, was commanded by Sir Charles Wyllmott; and, preparing myself to have gone the journey, was drawn from it by the Lord Deputy's direction to attend him at Gallwaye, which I held secret to myself, lest the rising out by any prescience of my stay should become more slack to attend the service, and prolonged my going until I saw this assembly of the country on foot. Sir George Thornton, with his regiment, joined unto them. And because the traitors lodged in Beare (being part of the government which I assigned unto Sir Charles Wyllmott,) I left him commission in my absence to command these forces in chief; whom I may not omit to recommend unto your Lordships for the good discretion he hath used in the charge committed unto him.
"The rebels, by continual advertisements understanding of these great preparations made to rouse them out of their fastness, to divert the same, in their counsels thought it fit to dispose their forces into three bodies; one to reside in Beare with O'Solevan, and with him William Bourke, consisting of 700 able men; another of 400 in Carbry, to be commanded by Sir Owen McCartie's sons; and the third, of 500 strong, with Tyrrell, who with McMorrice was to go into Kerry. But Tyrrell, being on his march thitherward, fearing to run a hard fortune, (notwithstanding he had lately received a large imprest in Spanish money of O'Solevan,) resolved with all possible expedition to quit the province; which he performed, and making McMorrice acquainted with his departure but at the instant, neither yet resting day or night, leaving all his carriages and impediments, as they tired, scattered to hazard, until he came into O'Carroll's country, being 60 long Irish miles from the mountain of Slewghlogher, from whence he departed. This was upon the day of appointment for the meeting of the forces at their rendezvous; whose desertion from the rest made the work so much the more easy.
"Our forces abovesaid met with Sir Charles Wyllmott the 27th of the last month, and the last of the same, being encamped upon a mountain near unto the traitors' fastness, they entered into it; and after six hours' fight, with loss of slain and hurt on both sides, but more of the rebels, and most of them of the best sort, and some of them principal leaders, drave them out of it, possessed their fastness, and took a prey from them of 1,000 cows, as many garrons, and 2,000 sheep. The 1st and 2nd of this instant her Majesty's forces did not dislodge from the mountain aforesaid; within which time the enemy's force was weakened by desertion, many of them (whereof some were captains of their buonyes) came unto Sir Charles with their goods, and made their submission to him. Which distraction possessed William Bourke, the chief commander of the buonyes, with such fear, as without further consultation or advice, the 3rd of this present, in the night, he willed O'Solevan Beare either to rise with him or that he would leave him there. This sudden warning, unlooked for by O'Solyvan, and finding no other means for safety of his life, [he] assented unto him, and fled; so as the next morning, when Sir Charles prepared himself to seek the enemy in his camp, he found no resistance, for the traitors were gone, leaving behind them all their baggage, their hurt men, women, and children, and churls, whereof the soldiers made booty; their hurt men being executed, and the rest escaped not free.
"In pursuit of the rebels the Lord Barry with the light Irish followed them with the best expedition he might, but the traitors' fear enforced such a hasty march as he could not overtake them, being light, and free from all impediments, and never looked behind them until they had clean quit this province, and were come into O'Carroll's country in Leinster, passing by many preys in their march, and (as Tyrrell did) durst not make stay to carry away any with them. When they departed Desmond they were 500 strong, but before they came into Leinster a great many of them stole away, so as by this time I think they are all scattered, every traitor drawing to his own country's safety for himself. O'Solyvan (as I understand) is gone directly to Tyrone, and with him of this province rebels O'Connor Kerry and Thomas Oge, a Geraldine. There is yet remaining of men of note, McMorrice, the Knight of the Valley, John FitzThomas, and O'Solevan More's son, a nephew to Florence McCartie; who amongst them all are not now able to make 100 men. They live separated in small companies, seeking safety in every bush.
"After the departure of the foresaid rebels, and the rising out returned, Sir Charles Wyllmott, with the English regiments, overcame all Beare and Bantry, destroying all that they could find meet for the relief of men, so as that country is wholly wasted. The like waste and slaughter was made by sea upon O'Solevan's islands. Captain Flemynge, who at the same time, (being sent thither by Sir Charles,) having the aid of soldiers, entered into them with boats, took all their boats, and an English bark, which O'Solevan had taken and kept there to serve him for his flight into Spain when he should be enforced unto it. Moreover, whereas O'Solevan held the castles of Ardea and Carignasse with strong guards, Ardea is rendered to Sir Charles, and by this time I think that Carrignass is likewise in his possession. So as, if O'Solevan should return (which I little doubt), he hath no place of safety left in it, nor anything for his relief, and thereby unabled to renew a war in Munster. The sharpness of this winter's journey hath tried the strength of our companies, for the mountains of Beare, being at that time covered with snow, tested the strongest bodies, whereby many returned sick, and some (unable to endure the extremity) died standing sentinel. And that which much weakened them was their ill victualling, consisting most of poor-John, and no other drink but water. Yet, I thank God, of men slain and dead I do not hear of 20, and am in good hope for the recovery of the rest.
"In this interim, whiles this service was in prosecution in Beare, in my journey to the Lord Deputy meeting with some part of the rising out of the country to the number of 400 in list that came short to their rendezvous, and understanding that the sons of Sir Owen McCartie and Donnoghe Keough, brother to Florence McCartie in the Tower, had retired out of Beare into the strengths of Carbry, with their creats and followers, to the number of 400 fighting men, I commanded this bearer, Captain Taaff, with the 400 aforesaid, together with his own troop of horse and 40 of Sir Edward Wyngefeld's foot, to draw into those parts, and to endeavour the best service he could upon them, whiles the other forces were busied in Beare. Wherein it pleased God to give him good success, for the 5th of this present, his foot entering their fastness, these Carties, before remembered, gave him a good skirmish, and put his men in rout, whereof many of them were slain; which he seeing, being with his troop upon the skirt of the wood, charged them into the same [and] slew four horsemen of theirs; whereat their foot amazed fled. Which Owen McEgan, the Pope's Nuncio, perceiving, with a drawn sword in one hand, and his portus and beads in the other, with 100 men led by himself, came up to the sword, where he was slain; whose death so amazed the rest as they instantly brake, and for expedition cast away their weapons. In which flight there was killed and drowned in the river of Banden, besides many commanders and principal men of the rebels, at least 120 of the Irish on both sides, their loss double exceeding ours. Of Taaff's troop one slain, and of Sir Edward Wyngfeld's, 40 footmen either killed or hurt. He also took another priest, who is here prisoner, and shall have his reward. Of the creats about 300 were taken, besides many sheep and garrons.
"Immediately after this discomfiture, Sir Owen McCartie's sons, who formerly had been humble suitors to me to be protected, and were refused, did now again importune to be received into the Queen's mercy. At which time Captain Taaff, not knowing of the good success that our forces had in Beare, and having formerly received instructions from me, after a blow, to receive them if it were humbly sought, did accept of their submissions, and hath brought them, with Donnoghe Keoghe, Florence's brother, unto me. By which means all the country of Carbrye (being the largest scope of land of any lordship in Munster) is clearly reduced, and at this hour no one traitor remaining in action in it.
"The taking in of these men is a great ease to the service, for their strength was great and friends many; and to say truly of them, I do think they are heartily sorry for their offences past, and will redeem it with future service. In token whereof they are not satisfied in themselves until they have made their humble submissions in England, and to that end have desired my leave to go with this bearer to humble themselves before your Lordships, trusting (seeing they have put in sufficient and good assurances unto me for their future loyalties, although they be not pardoned, but have my word only,) that they shall not be detained, and that your Lordships will be pleased by your letters to direct their particular pardoning in this kingdom; which, for the performance of my word, in their behalf I most humbly beseech.
"Notwithstanding that these men have thus submitted themselves, yet I have withdrawn and removed them with their creats and their followers forth of Carbry into the east parts of the county of Cork, meaning thereby to leave absolutely waste all the west part of the country of Carbry, as I have already ordered for the countries of Beare, Bantry, and Desmond, that the home traitors, now departed the province, knowing the waste that is made therein, and those which are yet remaining behind, finding their hopes weakened by the want of these places, may have no relief to succour them there, or the Spaniard, upon his arrival, if he come, any assistance in those parts.
"I may not omit to inform your Lordships of the benefit which the service hath received by the death of that traitorly priest, Owen McEgan, which, in my opinion, is more beneficial to the State than to have the head of O'Solevan or any other capital rebel in the province; for the respect that was borne unto him by reason of his authority from the Pope, and the credit which he had obtained in Spain, was so great, as that his power was absolute over them all, and he only hath been the means of their obstinacy hitherunto. The dignity in being the Pope's Nuncio did hold them in vassalage unto him, and the livings given unto him in Munster by the Pope's grant were to be valued, if he might have enjoyed them, at no less than 3,000l. per annum. And further, to bind the popish clergy unto him the faster, he had power from Rome to dispose of all the rest of the spiritual livings within this province; by which authority, together with the credit he had with the Spanish King, (well known to the Irishry,) did give him in a manner an absolute power of the temporality and spirituality in the province. And a more malicious traitor against the State and Crown of England never breathed, which well appeared by the barbarous tyranny he exercised upon his countrymen Catholics who were not of his party, when they fell into his hands; for as soon as any prisoner was taken, the party by himself, or by some other priest assigned by him, in piety (as he pretended), was absolved, and instantly in his own sight he would cause him to be slain; which religious tyranny was in him held sanctity, and bred terror in many from serving the Queen. The numbers which in this manner have been put to death are very many, as is confirmed unto me by divers of the rebels of the latter quality that have been in action with him.
"The province of Munster being thus cleared, the buonies and O'Solevan gone, and the remaining rebels, as McMorrice, John FitzThomas, the Knight of the Valley, and O'Solevan More's son, weakly dispersed, together with the order which I have taken in wasting and withdrawing the inhabitants of Desmond, Beare, Bantry, and the west of Carbry, doth in reason assure me, that the rebellion in Munster is not only absolutely broken, but all means taken away from them which are now in action to return; so as I boldly presume (which I seldom do) to assure your Lordships that no rebellion shall in any short time break out again, except the Spaniard by an invasion do move the same. Notwithstanding, I may not omit to put your Lordships in mind that the provincials have no less corruption in their hearts than heretofore, and how obedient soever they protest or seem to be, nothing but the sword held over their heads can hold them in subjection.
"The list of Munster is now upon the last general cash; it is reduced to 2,400 foot and 200 horse, an army evermore sufficient to hold the province in good terms, and after a little time (the country being better settled), in respect of the province itself, may in part be diminished. Nevertheless (under your Lordships' reformation), until such time as the rumour of Spanish forces be clear extinguished, in my simple judgment I think it meet that the list be continued in the height it is, as well to keep down the malicious humour of the provincials, that cannot be beaten out of the hopes of Spain, (for of this province, as formerly I have advertised your Lordships, there is remaining in that kingdom above 120 who daily poison the hearts of their friends and kinsmen here with large promises from thence), as also to assure the towns from any sudden surprise of any sudden enemy, the inhabitants whereof how they now stand affected more dangerously tha[n] accustomed, your Lordships may well judge by the multiplicity of suitors that there attend you.
"At the writing hereof I received a letter from one of my friends in Court, that in November last it was there rumoured and vulgarly reported that the Lord Roche and the Lord Caher were in actual rebellion, and that Tyrrell at noon-day had burned the town of Mallo, in the which I held a garrison, and likewise Cormock McDermod, after his escape, had by force removed her Majesty's army from the siege of Mocrompe. How untrue these reports are (although I know that your Lordships are fully satisfied), yet because until this present I had no knowledge thereof, or once dreamed that any such untruths would have been suggested, I held it my duty to deliver the truth unto you.
"And first, for the Lord Roche, if I have any judgment in me, I do not think any nobleman within the province of Munster to be more assured to the Crown of England, which all his actions do manifest, for I have not the company of any one of his rank so much as of himself; and therefore the Viscount is much wronged. As for the Baron of Caher, having been already once touched, I dare not answer for him, and to say my opinion truly, if opportunity serve, he will declare the ill affection he beareth. But that he hath actually relapsed since my coming into Munster is merely false. For the burning of Mallo, since my coming into Munster no rebels hath dared to look into it, much less to burn it by daylight. And to demonstrate the fear that the rebels have lived in, ever since the siege of Kynsale, I do assure your Lordships, upon my poor reputation, that all the traitors and buonies in the province (if all their spoils were accompted) have not taken from the subject 300 cows, but have lived in their strengths, spending upon themselves. For the removing of her Majesty's forces from the siege of Mocrompe by Cormock McDermod, I need not to say no other than formerly I have written, that the castle was taken by her Majesty's forces. And thus much for himself since his last submission: he hath carried a good fashion, and in the last service before remembered, being himself with Sir Charles Wyllmott in the west, he lost at the same time with Captain Taaff 30 of his best men."
I beg credence for Captain Taaff, the bearer. The Lord Deputy "at the siege of Kynsale, both before and at the overthrow of the Irish army of Tyrone, hath been an eyewitness of his extraordinary merit."
Cork, 22 January, 1602.
"Sent by Captain William Taaff."