A Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend, of certain services done by Sir Richard Bingham upon the Rebels and Scots in Connaught." [This heading is in Carew's hand. The letter has neither signature nor address. It is dated "Anno 1585" by Carew, but was evidently written either in 1586 or later.]
My good and right dear Friend,"--This discourse of the late services of Sir Richard Binghame, Governor of Connaught, against the Burkes in the county of Mayo, and the Scots of the Out Islands, I send you confirmed under the hands of divers captains employed in the said services.
In September 1585, at the sessions holden at Doonnemoine, co. Mayo, by Bingham, chief commissioner (Sir Nicholas White, Master of the Rolls, then being present, and employed with him for perfecting the last composition made within the said province), the whole country stood on peaceable terms. But when by this composition the gentlemen and freeholders perceived that the names, titles, and superiorities of their chief lords, and specially of McWilliam [Burke], should cease, it did not a little grieve them, although they had expostulated the like reformation. Thomas Roe Burke, a chief of that sept, kept himself within a strong castle in an island on Lough Maske, even within sight of the Governor and the other Commissioners, and refused to come at them. Sir Richard, upon his return out of that country to Roscomon, dealt with the sheriff of co. Mayo for the apprehension of the said Thomas Roe, who, resisting the sub-sheriff, was slain.
His death, and the hanging of two others, Moyler Oge Burke and Thebott Reogh, who had devised for the drawing of Scots into the province, would have prevented the stirs that after ensued, had not some men [in Dublin] who depended on the State, through envy to Sir Richard, persuaded the Burkes not to come to any officer till their pardon should be procured from the Lord Deputy (Perrot). They assembled together, and made the Clandonnells, the Joyes, and most of the country believe that Sir Richard would also take away their ancient customs and liberties. They drew many to them, and persuaded themselves that, by the friendship of their foresaid counsellors in Dublin, their assemblies should there be thought as a thing done by them for their defence and safety. Sir Richard was restrained from following them without directions from Dublin.
The sons of Edmund Burke, of Castle Barrye (an old man, and one of the competitors of the McWilliam-ship), and others, with many idle persons, entered into Castle Necalley, in Lough Maske, and manned the same, together with Thomas Roe's castle, now in the possession of his brother Richard Burke, called the Palle of Ireland; which castles they kept in rebellious manner. About this time Sir R. Bingham took the castle of Clanowen, in Thomond, and slew Mahowne O'Brian, a chief champion of the Pope's, and a great practiser with foreign powers. He then besieged Castle ne Calley, but was forced to leave the attempt by contrary weather. Before he could return, the traitors escaped into the woods, and were chased by Captain Mordant. Bingham razed the said two castles, and one strong pile of Ferroghe McDonnell's.
Richard Burke, alias the Pall of Ireland, under colour of dutiful subjection, intended to have betrayed Sir Richard and all his company, and was executed. He was the most dangerous member in all Mayo.
Bingham then followed the Burkes to the woods and mountains, and hunted them from bush to bush and hill to hill; and the gentlemen of the country offered to pursue them at their own charges; but a commandment came from the Lord Deputy (Perrot) to protect them. Sir Richard granted them protections under his own hand and the seal of the province; but they "had intelligence that the Lord Deputy had protected them, and commanded the Governor to perform it.
Sir Richard then repaired to his dwelling-house, and thence to Dublin, where he had not long stayed, when the Burkes revolted again, joining to them the Clangibbons, the Clandonnells, and the Joyes. These last murdered certain officers of Yerconnoght. "About this time order came from the Lord Deputy for the levying of men within this province for the service of (sic) in the Low Countries; the bruit whereof and the repair hither of Francis Barckley, sent by the Lord Deputy for the levying of the said men, caused many idle men (who had no zeal to serve beyond the seas) to join themselves with the said Burkes.
These Burkes said they would have a McWilliam, or else they would go into Spain for one; and that they would have no sheriff, nor answer at any assize or sessions. They articled these terms. Bingham sent Commissioners to them, viz., the Archbishop of Tuam, the Lord Bremingham, Baron of Athenry, Tho. Dillon, Chief Justice of the province, Gerald Comerford, Attorney of the same, and others, to whom they delivered the said articles. Peace was granted them for eight days, that in the meantime the Lord Deputy's pleasure might be signified to the Governor.
The Commissioners were no sooner departed, than the rebels began to break down castles and burn towns. They made most odious speeches against her Majesty, saying, "What have we do with that caliaghe? How unwise are we, being so mighty a nation, to have been so long subject to a woman! The Pope and the King of Spain shall have the rule of us, and none other." Sir Richard forbore to serve upon them, according to the Lord Deputy's many cautions. The rebels were now increased to 700 or 800 men, and had sent Edmund Kerraghe Burke and Jo. Itcleane, brother to Walter Kittagh Burke, to practise with the Scots.
At length the Lord Deputy willed Sir Richard to prosecute them. He marched towards the county of Mayo on 12 July 1586 with 100 footmen and 50 horsemen, and came to Ballinroba on the 14th. Here he parled with the Burkes, and gathered his whole forces. The Earl of Clanricard came to him with 30 horsemen and 100 kerne; also the Lord Bremingham, Lord Baron of Athenry, Sir Hubbert McDame, Teig O'Kelley, and others; also 100 footmen of Captain Mordant's, 100 under Captain Merryman, and 100 footmen under Captain Mostean, besides 600 or 700 kearne.
He employed the Earl of Clanricard, the Archbishop of Tuam, the Bishop of Kilmore, the Lord Bremingham, Thomas Dillon, Justice of the province, and others in parling with the Burkes. As no persuasions might win them to peace, he executed certain of their pledges. It appeared to him that the sparing of rebels' pledges heretofore had done no small hurt, as they trusted to the accustomed mercy showed to the like pledges. Then he marched to the abbey of Ballentubber, 22 July, and sent his footmen and kerne, under Captain John Bingham, into the mountains and woods to seek the rebels, who submitted within six or seven weeks. Himself and Clanricard kept the champagne country.
About this time there came an espial out of Munster (being sent, as he said, from those parts to Francis Barckley, Provost-Marshal of Connaught), and gave it forth that the Earl of Leicester was slain in the Low Countries and the English forces overthrown there,--that there were two great armies of Spaniards landed in England,--that there was a great navy of Spanish ships in Baltymore,--that the King of Scots was in arms against her Majesty,--and that her Highness was sick and in great danger of death. Sir Richard caused him to be executed.
The Burkes were hunted from place to place. 4,000 or 5,000 head of cattle were taken, all which, except 1,000, he bestowed on the captains and their companies, or else on the kerne, as a consideration of their entertainments. 100 or 120 rebels were slain; the rest dispersed, and sent in messengers for pardon. Ewster McDonnell, chief of the galloglasses, Edmund Burke McRichard Enerrine, son to the last McWilliam save one, William Bourke, alias the Blind Abbot, (the chief of that surname, Edmond Burke, of Castle Barry, being dead, who claimed to be McWilliam,) Moyler Oge Burke, the Joies, and Riccard Burke, alias the Devil's Hook's son, submitted themselves, and gave pledges. They were so ghasted with fear, by reason they were so roundly followed, that they looked rather like ghosts than men.
Edmund Burke's sons, of Castle Barry, persisted in the action. Their father, a notable traitor, was executed by course of the common law, in order that her Majesty might have his lands by escheat. After this his sons offered to submit, so as they might have their father's lands; but herein the Governor referred them to the Lord Deputy. They were in number six or seven.
News came that 2,000 Scots were come over the river of Earne, towards Sligo, with Edmund Kerraghe Burke and John Itcleane, who had been sent by the Burkes to draw in those Scots. Sir Richard despatched the Earl of Clanricard against them, who joined with George Bingham, brother to Sir Richard, sheriff of co. Sligo. After Sir Richard had ordered things in Mayo, he set fowards towards Sligo, when he had news that the Scots had been brought through O'Rowrk's country into the Mawgherrie or plains by Roscommon, whither he repaired; and hearing that the Scots were between Sligo and Bundroies, he rode to Sligo. His highway was to pass by the abbey of Boyle, where he found Sir Thomas Lestrainge and others the risings-out of the country.
He came to Sligo on 28 August. The Scots lay still at the Earnie. Sir Arthur O'Neale and Hugh McGwyer had aided them. Their forces were now about 2,000 able men, besides many women, boys, and churls, with great store of carriages. Sir Richard wrote to the Lord Deputy for two more bands, as he could not trust the Irish horsemen. The Scots drew on by little and little through O'Rowrk's country towards the Curlewes, to pass into Mayo, always encamping in fastnesses. In a tempestuous and dark night (Sir Richard having been assured by O'Connor Sligoe that the Scots had encamped for that night) they stale towards the bridge of Kilnowney, near to which was a castle, where he had placed his footmen and 50 Irish horsemen, of whom the former won the bridge, while the latter did no service. Sir Richard lay at another straight or passage. The Scots found an unknown ford. Dangerous service in the dark. Sir Richard killed and drowned 40 or 50 Scots.
He then removed his forces into Tyreraghe, to save the prey of that country. He encamped the second night at Ardglasse. The enemy lay on the other side of the mountains, not far from an abbey called Banneda. He took with him good guideship over them, and encamped at Ocouran, a town of Bishop O'Harte's. He gave it forth in policy that the enemy was marching up through Gallen towards inner and civil countries, as the Lord Bremingham's country and the county of Roscommon. He hasted to a castle called Moygarie. On the news of his returning back they grew somewhat careless, and supposed he had returned to Roscommon.
Lying at Moygarie on Monday, and at Castle More in the barony of Costelloghe on Tuesday and Wednesday, he received reinforcements and victuals. On Wednesday he marched to the abbey of Banned, where the guide, Edmond McCostelloghe, found out a priest who had been prisoner with the Scots, and who informed the Governor that they were all encamped at Arduary, and had proclaimed themselves lords of the country. The priest undertook to be his guide, if he might have a couple of horsemen of the O'Haries. About three in the morning Sir Richard marched to Belclea towards the enemy, and thence over the mountain in great silence, and came in sight of the castle. He then gave direction for the fight, and slew or drowned them all, saving 80, who swam over the Moyne into Tyrawlie, and the hundred and odd who had gone the day before into Tyrawlie for a prey with some of the Burkes. But most of these were afterwards slain in flying homewards by their old friends. The number slain was 1,400 or 1,500, besides as many more horse and footboys, women, churls, and children. Only two Englishmen were slain, and those through being too forwards for the spoil; but many men and horses were hurt and galled. James McDonnell's [So in the margin. "McConnell's" in the text, here and elsewhere.] son[s], viz., Donnell Gorum and Alexander Carroghe, were slain, with all the rest of their leaders, and the chiefest Burke which drew them into the province.
The names of the captains and the numbers of the English forces employed in this service are specified.
With the rebels' goods, and 300l. or 400l. of his own money, Sir Richard defrayed the extraordinary expenses of these services. Now, it is said, there are not 40 Scots to bear up head in all Ireland, "to the eternal commendations of this worthy gent' Sir Richard Bingham for ever.