Lord Inchiquin succeeded to his title during his minority, and 19th July, 1628, was granted in ward to Patrick Fitzmaurice, Esq. By indenture dated 5th February, 1632, the King demised, during Lord Inchiquin's minority, his estate, which was very large in the Counties of Limerick and Clare, to Sir William St. Leger, whose daughter Lord Inchiquin subsequently married. To study war he went into Italy, and served in the Spanish army until 1639, when he returned to Ireland. On the 2d April, 1640, he was constituted Vice-President of Munster under Sir William St. Leger, whom he accompanied on the 4th of December, 1641, against the Irish insurgents in the County of Waterford. In the early part of the following year he performed various services in the field against the Irish; and on the death of Sir William St. Leger, the Lords Justices conferred on him the entire military command of Munster, joining the Earl of Barrymore in commission with him for the civil government, upon whose death in a few months after, he became solely vested with the civil command.
On the 2nd September, 1642, Lord Inchiquin, with a very inferior force, defeated the Irish army under Lord Mountgarret, at Liscarrol, in the County of Cork, with considerable slaughter.
After the cessation with the confederate Irish of the 15th September, 1643, Lord Inchiquin sent to the King before the middle of October, two regiments to Bristol, and two more in November, which were followed by a fifth in December. Waiting on the King at Oxford, his Lordship did not question but that his merits and services would have procured him a grant of the Presidency of Munster, for which he was also recommended by Lord Ormond, who represented that the investing of him therewith would be much for the advantage of the King's service in those parts. But by an intrigue of the Earl of Portland, who was desirous of obtaining the office, Lord Inchiquin was unsuccessful. Feeling that suspicions were entertained of his fidelity, and hearing that Lord Portland was coming to take possession of his command, Lord Inchiquin resolved not to serve under his rival, nor indeed under any man but the Marquis of Ormond; and unwilling at so critical a period, and from a distinguished station to be reduced to a private and inconsiderable condition, he determined to maintain his power; to break the cessation, and to carry on the war under the direction of the English Parliament.
This is the account given by Lord Clarendon; but Lord Inchiquin assigned another reason for this his defection, which was the manifest partiality of the King's party to the Irish, particularly at the treaty with their commissioners at Oxford, concerning a peace, the ruinous measures they evidently strove to take for their own exaltation, and the destruction of the Protestant party.
Lord Inchiquin now became devoted to the English Parliament, and openly declared his resolution on the 17th July, 1644; strongly remonstrating against the cessation. Being joined by Lord Broghill, they had under their command a considerable
p.120body of men, and asserting that the Irish had applied to foreign princes for supplies, that they would not make peace on reasonable terms, and intended to surprise all the English garrisons, they drove the Roman Catholic magistrates and inhabitants out of Cork, See page 28, and note XI.. Youghall and Kinsale, allowing them to take only such goods as they could carry, and seized their provisions and other effects. This revolt occasioned some severe expostulations between Lord Inchiquin and the Marquis of Ormond; but to no effect, as Lord Inchiquin was determined not to hazard himself or his friends, by re-admitting the excluded inhabitants. For this conduct the Parliament constituted Inchiquin Lord President of Munster, but without sending him supplies, which obliged his lordship to make a temporary cessation with the Irish until the following spring, when Lord Castlehaven renewed the war. Notwithstanding that Lord Inchiquin had received no support from England, he was obliged to take the field with 1000 horse and 1500 foot, in April, 1645; but his operations were confined to the capture of a few castles between Cork and Youghall, and putting that district under contribution. In 1647 Lord Inchiquin, with an increased force, reduced two or three places of strength upon the river Blackwater, and after investing Dungarvan, that town was surrendered to him on the 10th of May. Want of provisions obliged Lord Inchiquin to return to Cork; but being reinforced by the Parliament, he proceeded into the County of Tipperary in the September following. Caher surrendered to him; but Fethard and the Rock of Cashel his Lordship took by storm, at which latter place he is accused of having given no quarter. So that, says Lord Castlehaven, within and without the church, there was a
p.121great massacre, and amongst others more than twenty Priests and religious men were killed; among them possibly the Salamanca Students, whom M. le Gouz had lectured. See p. 17. Unpopular, however, as Lord Inchiquin appears to have been in 1644, when he was stiled the pest of his country, this act causes his name to be execrated at the present hour in Ireland, and appears indelibly impressed on the memory of the Irish peasantry of Munster.
On the 13th of November, in the same year , Inchiquin obtained an important and decisive victory over the Irish army, commanded by Lord Taaffe, at Knocknenoss, to the west of Mallow, in which more than one-third of the Irish engaged are reported to have been left dead on the field. In this battle fell Sir Alexander M'Donnell (Kolkitto), or Mac Allisdrum as he is popularly called in Ireland, who, it is said with most of his men, were put to the sword in cold blood; an action which in a great measure tarnished the glory of so complete a victory. For this service the Parliament voted 10,000 l. to be sent to Munster, and a letter of thanks to Lord Inchiquin with a present of 1,000 l. to his Lordship.
Immediately after this battle, and the delivery of Dublin to the commissioners of the Parliament by the Marquis of Ormond, Lord Inchiquin perceiving that the monarchy and constitution of England were about to be overturned, regretted his having attached himself to the destructive party, and commenced a correspondence with Ormond whilst he continued in England. In January, 16478, Lord Inchiquin sent a remonstrance to Parliament, and in the following month made a successful expedition into the Counties of Waterford and Kilkenny.
But his design of promoting the King's service being suspected
p.122by some of his officers, they formed a plot to seize Cork and Youghall, whilst his lordship was abroad with the army; which conspiracy (though discovered and prevented, and the chief contrivers seized and imprisoned by order of a council of war, and all the officers sworn to stand by him, and be true to one another) discovered his designs too early, and caused the Parliament by their ships, to block up the harbours of Cork, Youghall and Kinsale; of which event he sent immediate notice to the Marquis of Ormond, earnestly pressing his return with a supply of money, if he could, if not, without it, as his presence was absolutely necessary, and would make the King master of the provinces of Leinster and Munster.
The Marquis being disabled to comply with his request, and soon after flying into France, his lordship held a close correspondence with him, and frankly promised to receive him into Munster as the King's Lord Lieutenant; that the province and the army should pay him all obedience; and in order to his reception, he would make a cessation with the Irish to bring about a firm conjunction of the whole kingdom to the King. But before the Marquis could arrive to embrace this generous proposal (being detained by the specious promises of Cardinal Mazarin), Cromwell had got Philip, Lord Lisle, son of Robert, Earl of Leicester, to be sent into Ireland Lord Lieutenant, with a commission for a limited time; who landed in Munster with an intent to destroy the Lord Inchiquin's reputation and command there; but his commission terminating 13th April, 1648, before he could effect it, he left his lordship in the command of the whole English army there, which was a better body of men than the Parliament
p.123had in any other part of the kingdom, and in greater reputation than ever; which army he had preserved with wonderful dexterity, expecting every day the arrival of the Marquis, and every day informing the Parliament of the ill condition he was in, and pressing for a supply of men and money, when he knew they would send neither.
At last the Marquis arrived, and landing at Cork, 29th September, 1648, his lordship received him as the King's Lieutenant (having as proposed concluded, May 22, a cessation with the Irish), whereby he became possessed of the whole province of Munster. For which signal service, Lord Inchiquin (14th April, 1649) was voted a traitor by the Parliament; but by the King's letter from the Hague, was appointed President of Munster.
In the June following Lord Inchiquin, after a short skirmish with Colonel Chidley Coote, in which his lordship exhibited considerable military skill, took Drogheda; nearly the whole of the garrison of which town joined Lord Inchiquin, and took service in the royal army. He then invested Dundalk, which in two days Colonel Monk (afterwards Duke of Albemarle) was forced by his soldiers to deliver up; and most of the officers and soldiers engaging in the King's service, he soon took in the garrison of Newry, Narrow-water, Greencastle, Carlingford, and Trim; and having thus reduced the northern garrisons, returned to the royal camp at Finglas with more men than he carried out.
But in the latter end of the year, his forces, seduced by Cromwell's spies, revolted; whereby, finding himself exposed to his enemies, and his life in danger, he embarked 6th December, 1650, with Lord Ormond, landed at Perose, in
p.124Basse-Bretagne, in France; and an act being passed by Cromwell's Parliament, 12th August, 1652, for settling the affairs of Ireland, his lordship (among others) was excepted from pardon. From Basse-Bretagne he went to Italy, and returning to France, was made by the French King Lieutenant-General of his army; upon the conquest of Catalonia appointed Viceroy thereof; and by patent, bearing date at Cologne, 21st October, 1654, his Majesty King Charles II. was pleased to advance him to the dignity of an Earl of the Kingdom of Ireland, remainder to his issue male by the title of Earl of Inchiquin, with the creation fee of 20 l. a-year, payable out of the Exchequer of Ireland.
After this he served in Spain and the Netherlands, and being ordered to command the troops sent to assist the Portuguese, on their revolt from Spain, he, with his eldest son and all his family, were taken by an Algerine corsair, which occasioned the sending of Count Schomberg on that service, who extricated his Portuguese Majesty from many troubles. Having ransomed himself and family, he retired into France, and surviving his own private troubles and the confusion of the public, lived to see the restoration of the King, with whom he returned to England, was restored to his estate by a British act of parliament, which was confirmed by the act of settlement; and in the act of explanation the sum of 8,000 l. was ordered to be paid him out of the Treasury, as a mark of his Majesty's favourable and gracious consideration for his losses and sufferings.
Lord Inchiquin had also a discharge of the quit rents imposed by the acts of settlement, and his arrears as a commissioned officer before 5th June, 1649, stated after the rate of
p.12510l. a-day, as Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of the army in Munster, were directed to be satisfied by debentures.
Lord Inchiquin died on the 9th September, 1674, and was buried in the Cathedral Church of Limerick. It is to be regretted that a complete account of the life of a nobleman so intimately connected with the historical and political events of a most important period of English history has not been written.
On whatever side Inchiquin commanded, says O'Driscol in his History of Ireland, he was the scourge of his country. Of one of the noblest and most ancient Irish families, he seemed actuated by a thirst for the blood of his countrymen, hardly to be satiated; wherever he marched, the burnt crops, the ruined cottages of the peasants, the dead and mangled bodies of age and infancy strown upon the way, pointed out the route of the Lord Inchiquin.
On taking Cashel, he massacred the priests at their altars, and put to death several hundred of the inhabitants; he committed similar deeds of barbarity in other towns. The memory of his murders is still engraven upon the heart of the country, and his name will remain for ever united with that of Grey and Coote and Cromwell, a curse and an anathema in Ireland. The peasants of Clare and Limerick still scare their children with the name of the bloody Morrough O'Brien, and tell of the judgment that has descended upon his posterity, that no male child should ever be born to the name of Inchiquin.
Now, my poor friend John O'Driscol, ought not to have repeated this absurd story, (although current among the peasantry
p.126of Ireland,) in a political sketch, which professes to be a history of Ireland, as it is a matter of notoriety that the Earl of Inchiquin was succeeded in the title by his eldest son William, who died in 1691, Governor of Jamaica; that he was again succeeded by his eldest son, William, who died in 1719; and was succeeded by his eldest son, Willliam, on whose death, in 1777, the title of Inchiquin devolved upon his nephew MorroughC.