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The bulk of the Cecil Manuscripts at Hatfield for the closing years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the opening years of her successor is such that the calendar of them for this period will probably fall into a convenient arrangement of twelve months to a volume. At any rate, the present volume, like its immediate predecessors, deals with this space of time, setting forth the contents of the papers of the year 1599, January to December, according to the modern reckoning.
It will be remembered that what is known as the Winwood Collection of State Papers commences, as regards its main contents, with documents of this year, and it may therefore be well to state at once that none of those connected with Sir Henry Neville's mission to France there printed will be found in this volume. The only letters from Sir Henry Neville are two or three preliminary to his departure. As to other collections of contemporary papers, it may suffice again to name the State Papers (Domestic, Ireland and Foreign), in the Public Record Office, and for the first time to refer to the mauuscripts of Mr. Savile Foljambe which have been reported upon by the Historical MSS. Commission. Among the last are some which, having been set out in that Report at length, when also found at Hatfield in duplicate, have received only such notice in this calendar as is necessary to identify them.
With regard to the events of the year 1599, it is safe to Bay The Irish that, had there then existed any agency similar to the modern daily newspaper, whose business it was to keep the English nation informed of the progress of such events as were of greatest general interest, the topic which, throughout the year, would have held the first place—except, perhaps, for one short interval in the month of August—would have been the military expedition under the command of the Earl of Essex sent to reduce the Earl of Tyrone and his followers in Ireland to subjection. Special
interest would, we think, have been taken in the story of the fortunes of its commander, both during the campaign in Ireland and afterwards, when his sudden return to England proved to be the first step of his descent to an ignominious end. This Irish expedition was, however, a matter affecting all classes, and in no small degree the humblest. From the counties of England and Wales, North and South, East and West, from town and village, considerable bodies of men were suddenly withdrawn from their ordinary labour, in most cases hastily trained, or even not trained at all, and forthwith shipped to Ireland, there to meet an alert enemy and to endure great hardships; there also, numbers of them, to lay down their lives. And although, among individuals—chiefly the young "gallants" and officers professionally trained to arms—there was plenty of eagerness to serve under the Earl of Essex, who received numberless applications for posts in his army from old men and young, from men at home and men abroad, yet it is also evident that the ordinary countryman or villager, suddenly and compulsorily turned into a soldier in order to be sent across the Irish Sea, did not enter upon the service always with alacrity or enthusiasm. Nor, even in the case of men trained to arms, was the desire for service out of the country invariably to be relied upon. For instance, a writer, now anonymous, from a northern Border county (p. 43), charges certain of his fellows who had volunteered to serve with their trained bands under the Earl of Essex in Ireland, with having made the offer rather to fill their own pockets than to show their affection for his service. The writer continues:—
This county stands ever in readiness for defence. We have 600 trained soldiers divided into bands with captains over them, and 500 more, likewise divided Into bands with their captains, which we term Scottish bands, to be in readiness for defence of that nation. The captains are gentlemen of very good haviour, and the soldiers are of the richest farmers' and best freeholders' sons of the whole shire. We have been at great charges of training and furnishing them, and they were promised when chosen that they should never be pressed to any foreign service. I assure you there is not one man of them but. before he will go to Ireland, will give his captain £20, £30 or £'40 to put another in his room. What a charge and discontentment that would breed here you can well conceive. I hope you will make a stay if any such matter be attempted; or, that if companies must go from this shire to Ireland, such men as are fittest may be pressed, but our trained bands may be kept for the purpose for which they were iirst chosen.
And, moreover, from Essex's own county, Hereford, comes the complaint (p. 420):—
The continuance of the Irish wars makes Ub in these parts to fear that our countries are like to feel the burden ere long of levying more soldiers, with which we have been for these many years exceedingly afflicted, by reason that my Lord of Essex hath not gone any journey but that, out of a pretended interest of the affection of this county of Hereford nnto his Lordship, he has ever drawn a charge upon as such as we groan under but know not how to remedy.
But, whatever individual men's sentiments may have been, willingly or unwillingly, pressed into military Bervice large numbers of them were; were then mustered and put into some sort of martial order; were "habited1" —, as regards the horsemen, "in long horsemen's coats of strong cloth of orange-tawny "colour with white lace and white lining throughout," and "armed with curates, open head pieces, long pistols and "swords"—and having been supplied with conduct money, were then marched hundreds of miles to the port of embarkation, Bristol or Chester or Liverpool, as the case might bo. From Chester or Liverpool, two thousand six hundred men, brought in this way to their rendezvous at the former place—all in good case "except eleven of the men raised in Norfolk, whose coats "were coarse, who wanted altogether both hose and shoes, and of "whom some had no swords" (p. 108)—were in the month of March (p. 113) embarked for Dublin with a favourable wind. Eight hundred more were despatched about the same time from the same quarter for Waterford (p. 113).
To Waterford also were sent from Bristol, a little earlier in the same month, certain companies of horse under the command of Sir Thomas Brooke and Sir Anthony Cooke, who suffered much ill-fortune on the way (p. 101). Windbound for several days after going on board-ship, they at last set sail, and after six days at sea (p. Ill), made shift to reach Ilfracombe. From Ilfracombe, on a fair Monday evening, they again put out, a small flotilla of Bhips with boats to aid and speed them on their way, "thinking "that tide to get to Lundy Island." But worse misadventures were still to come. A bark in which Sir Anthony Cooke had sixteen men and horse and his cornet and goods, " came first foul "ol Sir John Brooke's great ship, whereby they were constrained "to cut divers of their tacklings." If the master of the bark had then let fall an anchor, "as he was called unto and willed " by many stentorian voices of masters and pilots—no doubt in
»The dress and arms, in 1596, of levies for Ireland are thus described: •• One"half to be shot, whereof some fourth part to be mnakeU, the other half . . . "armed with corslets and pikes, saving some few halberds .... coats of "good cloth, well-lined, and of a blue colour." See p. 8'J infra, in a letter auigned in error to the year-1599,