This short treatise about the parlous condition of the Pale during the Nine Years' War focuses on the burden imposed upon the inhabitants of the Pale by the Crown army, and offers invaluable insight into the suffering of the Queen's loyal subjects of the Pale during this war. Central to this treatise is the assertion that the inhabitants of the Pale were subject to unjust exploitation by the very forces appointed for their defence. The author contends that in addition to the depredations of the rebels and State-authorised demands for food, shelter, carriage, and other necessities for the maintenance of the Crown army, the inhabitants of the Pale suffered under excessive illegal extortions by army captains and soldiers, all of which greatly contributed to their increasing impoverishment during this war. But, this treatise not only serves to present the grievances of the Palesmen against these army abuses; it also acts as a declaration of the Palesmen's loyalty to the Crown. Despite their increasing poverty under these insufferable burdens, the author insists that the Palesmen have always been, and still are, loyal subjects of the queen, and that no amount of suffering was enough to deter them from their obedience to the English monarch. The author also objects to government suspicions of Palesmen's loyalties on account of their Catholic religion, contending that matters of conscience did not alter their Crown allegiance or their desire to further the Queen's interests in Ireland. As further testament to their loyalty, the author concludes this treatise with a reminder of the historic military services provided by the Old English against the Crown's enemies in Ireland, including enemies who had emerged from their own community earlier that century. This pronouncement not only serves to expound the loyal services of the Old English, but also aims to discredit the New English by demonstrating that it was the Old English, not the New English, who had defended and preserved Ireland for the English Crown. Thus, the author reveals his animosity towards the newcomers who were effectively replacing the Old English in their traditional role as administrators and defenders of the Queen's realm of Ireland, a role for which he, and many other Palesmen, believed the Old English were better suited.
The unidentified author of this treatise is almost certainly an Old English inhabitant of the Pale. This may be discerned from his pride in the community's past military endeavours, as well as his use of us and them when complaining of English administrators' unacceptable ignorance of the differences between the meere Irish and the descendants of the original Anglo-Norman conquerors. By these means the author defines the Old English community as separate and distinct from both the Gaelic Irish and New English populations. The treatise itself offers little help in identifying the author, as no specific location within the Pale is discussed in detail, nor does it offer the name of a single individual. Moreover, the recipient of this declaracion is not identified, which could be some help to identifying the author by suggesting his possible benefactor. However, the language used in the treatise, your Maiestie rather than her Maiestie, strongly suggests that the author intended it to be read by the queen, and it may have been addressed directly to Elizabeth without the use of an intermediary like Burghley or Sir Robert Cecil. These omissions, as well as the fact that no major events are mentioned, have also made the actual composition date of the treatise difficult to ascertain. The manuscript is calendared in the Irish State Papers under the year 1598, but bears no date itself. It was most likely written after April 1596, when the Irish Council issued Orders to be obserued and kept within the seuerall counties of Thenglish Pale and the Countries adioyninge against the abuses and extorcions of the Souldiers1, as some of the regulations contained in those orders are referred to by the author.
The treatise transcribed here, found among the Irish State Papers held by the Public Records Office, is strikingly similar to another manuscript calendared in the Carew MSS in June 1597.2 Although the spelling is quite different in these two manuscripts, the content is largely the same, so it is presumed that they were penned by the same author, but possibly copied by a different transcriber. It is conceivable that the Carew MSS was a draft on which the treatise here transcribed was based, as it appears that several minor corrections were made from the Carew MSS in the copy contained in the State Papers. Four paragraphs contained in the Carew MSS appear to have been cut out in the State Paper manuscript. Although this has little effect on the author's overall argument, and it is possible that the transcriber accidentally overlooked the section while copying, it is also possible that the omission was strategic and, therefore, may be of some social or political significance. The likelihood of this is borne out when comparing this treatise with the petitions and complaints of Counties Meath and Kildare in 1596 and 1597 respectively.3 The inhabitants of Meath and Kildare provided the names of offending officers within those counties and detailed each officer's offences; however, while cataloguing the various outrages committed by military officers and soldiers in the Pale, the author of this treatise does not proffer the name of a single transgressor, preferring to speak in more general terms of the abuses committed by the army as a whole. There are a number of credible reasons for this, particularly the fact that the author may have feared the retribution of the accused, a reality which he denounced in this tract. The main thrust of the excised section addresses the erection of quarter masters to determine the billeting of travelling troops on the country inhabitants, which had previously been the responsibility of local sheriffs or leading citizens. Its exclusion could be explained by a number of scenarios: the author's desire to avoid antagonising these officials; that he actually favoured the establishment of quarter masters; or, that he himself, or some individual close to him, may have been appointed to this office, in which case he would be loathe to disparage the office. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the author renders any conclusion concerning his intentions in these matters hypothetical at best. Nevertheless, this treatise remains an insightful source for any examination of the Crown army in the Pale and the suffering of Elizabeth's loyal subjects of Ireland during the Nine Years' War.