Timeline 1640: Prologue to Rebellion in Ireland & Civil War in England


Timeline 1640

(Julian dates have been adjusted to modern time frame)

The Irish Uprising of 1641 was a long-term result of the “plantation” policy of Tudor and Stuart monarchs under which Ireland was aggressively colonised by Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. From the mid-16th century, Irish landowners were dispossessed to make way for the settlers and a vicious cycle developed whereby rebellion against the English government was followed by further dispossession of rebels’ lands as punishment.

  • The province of Munster was heavily colonised by English settlers during the 1580s after the suppression of the Desmond Rebellions.
  • Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, resisted the English advance into Ulster, resulting in the Nine Years War (1594-1603).
  • In 1607, O’Neill and more than 100 other leading Ulster families left Ireland intending to return with military help from Spain
    • This military aid never materialised and the Flight of the Earls was followed by the mass colonisation of Ulster.
    • King James I ruled both England and Scotland so the Ulster plantation became a joint venture, with at least half the settlers coming from Scotland.

The displacement of the native Irish was compounded by the threat to the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. English Protestants dominated the government of Ireland and Catholics were barred from holding state office. The Irish Parliament was subservient to the English Parliament under a late-15th century statute known as Poynings’ Law, and during the early 17th century,

  • Irish constituencies were changed to allow the election of English and Scottish Protestant representatives
  • This resulted in a Protestant majority in the Irish Parliament.

However, the native Irish population remained devoted to Roman Catholicism, as did the Anglo-Norman “Old English” aristocracy that had existed in Ireland since medieval times.

Charles I like his father before him indulged the Catholic landowners not out of religious belief but out of greed. The Gaelic people were a good source of income for the throne which in turn helped pay for the defence against a possible invasion from the Spanish.

Charles I like his father before him indulged the Catholic landowners not out of religious belief but out of greed. The Gaelic people were a good source of income for the throne which in turn helped pay for the defence against a possible invasion from the Spanish.

  • He had promised to confirm ownership of these lands to the Irish in return for £120,000 to be paid over two years
  • This became known as ‘the Graces’ and Charles happily took the money but once it was paid he did no more to help the Irish landowners against the New English pressure to conform
  • The Catholic members had all agreed to the new taxes on the understanding that their Graces – by now a list of 51 reforms – would be passed in parliament (which never happened)

The severity of the administration of Sir Thomas Wentworth, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1632 to 1640, antagonised all parties in Ireland.

  • Wentworth worked to raise revenue for the Crown and to break the power of the Catholic Irish nobility.
  • He planned large-scale extensions of the plantations into Connacht and Leinster
  • He adopted a policy of disputing Irish land titles and confiscating estates wherever possible to make way for settlers.
  • Although Wentworth was recalled to England in 1640, his policies were continued by his deputy Sir Christopher Wandesford
  • On Wandesford’s death, the two (equally unpopular) Lord Justices Sir John Borlase and Sir William Parsons continued this policy
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (died 1641), National Portrait Gallery, London. Wentworth was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1632 and his main purpose, openly proclaimed, was to rule Ireland well in order to supply men and money to the King. He would make the country prosperous in order to wring from it abundant taxes for his sovereign; but he aimed at its entire submission and the transference of what remained of Irish soil to English owners. And so well did he succeed that he was able to boast at the end of his term of office that he had left the country prospering, its debts paid, its revenues increased, the army paid and disciplined, the poor relieved, the rich awed, and justice done to all alike. This said, his disdain of the Irish, his ruthless policies in overseeing the new plantations in Ulster, Wexford, and Longford, plus his extension of these into Connacht drove the Irish into open and uncontrolled rebellion in 1642

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (died 1641), National Portrait Gallery, London. Wentworth was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1632 and his main purpose, openly proclaimed, was to rule Ireland well in order to supply men and money to the King. He would make the country prosperous in order to wring from it abundant taxes for his sovereign; but he aimed at its entire submission and the transference of what remained of Irish soil to English owners. And so well did he succeed that he was able to boast at the end of his term of office that he had left the country prospering, its debts paid, its revenues increased, the army paid and disciplined, the poor relieved, the rich awed, and justice done to all alike. This said, his disdain of the Irish, his ruthless policies in overseeing the new plantations in Ulster, Wexford, and Longford, plus his extension of these into Connacht drove the Irish into open and uncontrolled rebellion in 1642

Although it was a long time in coming, the story of the Great Rebellion in Ireland has its roots in the year 1640. Some might say it was a part of the English Civil War and the Scottish Civil War – and some of the protagonists from these civil wars did play a role in the Great Rebellion – not least Oliver Cromwwell, who well and truly ended it !

  • Thomas Wentworth was an Episcopalian like Charles himself and did not like the New English (Non-Conformists) or the Old English (Catholics) as they would not conform to the Episcopalian state.
    • His taxation policies did little to endear him to either party
  • Charles I wanted (as did Henry VIII before him) to be supreme ruler and to be only answerable to God.
    • He ruled without parliament
    • Charles desired one religion throughout his realm, Anglicanism.
      • This was to cause the English Civil War.
      • He had driven the Scottish Calvinists into rebellion with his desire for one religion
      • In 1640 he was forced to recall parliament but with the majority of parliament consisting of Calvinists
      • Subsequently, the two sides went to war
    • The situation Ireland was more complicated
      • The Old English (Catholics) supported Charles, provided he gave them concessions
      • The New English (Non-Conformists) supported Charles because, without his help, the native Irish would wipe them out
      • The Native Irish (Catholic) were against Charles because his policies took their lands and titles away
        • The rebellion Ireland was, initially, the Native Irish v the Old English & New English (planters/adventurers)
        • The latter group was most hated and would be subject to uncontrolled aggression and atrocities
      • A further complication occurred when reports reached Ireland that the Covenanter Army in Scotland was considering an invasion of Ireland in order to eradicate the Catholic religion – this drove the some of the Old English towards the Native Irish side, resulting in a Catholic Confederacy with varying degrees of loyalty to the King but equal animosity towards the New English planters and the Non-Conformist Parliament in England – the English Civil War would now have an Irish dimension.

January 12

  • Sir Thomas Wentworth elevated to the position of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and created Earl of Strafford

January 15 ?

  • The Estates give additional instructions to the commissioners appointed to go to London.
  • New taxes imposed to pay for preparations for war.

January 17

  • John Finch appointed Lord-Keeper of the Great Seal through the influence of Queen Henrietta Maria.

February

  • Ships arrive at Leith with 100 English soldiers, ammunition and other supplies for Edinburgh Castle.

February 3

  • Against Strafford’s wishes, Sir Henry Vane the elder is appointed Secretary of State.

February 19

  • A letter signed by seven Covenanter lords sent to Louis XIII of France requesting his intercession on Scotland’s behalf.

February 20

  • King Charles receives a delegation of four Scottish commissioners in London.

March

  • A copy of the Covenanters’ letter to Louis XIII handed to King Charles.

March

  • Strafford leaves for Dublin with the King’s authority to raise the Irish army with subsidies from the Irish Parliament.

March 10

  • Meeting of Covenanter noblemen at Edinburgh alarmed at the strengthening of the castle garrison.
  • Guards are posted to watch developments, leading to a confrontation with Patrick Ruthven the castle governor.

March 15

  • William Hamilton, Earl of Lanark, appointed Secretary of State for Scotland through the influence of his brother the Marquis of Hamilton and the Queen.

March 16

  • The Irish Parliament meets in Dublin.
  • Coerced by Lord Strafford, the Irish Parliament grants subsidies to recruit an Irish army of 9,000 men to serve the King against Scotland.

March 31

  • The Irish Parliament prorogued – Strafford returns to England.

April 11

  • The King orders the arrest of Lord Loudoun and the Scottish commissioners in London.
  • Other signatories of the Covenanters’ letter to Louis XIII refuse the King’s summons to answer charges in London.

April 13

  • The Short Parliament meets.
  • King Charles demands subsidies to continue the war against Scotland but MPs question the legality of the dissolution of the 1629 Parliament and criticise the King for imprisoning MPs who had opposed him.
  • The Covenanters’ letter to the King of France ignored by Parliament.

April 14

  • The Convocation of the Church of England meets in London with authority from the King to make new canons to legitimise Laud’s ecclesiastical reforms.

April 16

  • The Covenanters appeal to the English Parliament emphasising their wish for friendship and closer union between the two kingdoms.
  • Most of the King’s opponents in Parliament regard the Covenanters as allies.
  • The Estates re-appoint General Leslie commander of the Army of the Covenant.
  • Lord Almond appointed lieutenant-general; William Baillie and Robert Monro major-generals.

April 17

  • John Pym attacks the King’s policies in a two-hour speech.
  • The House of Commons refuses to grant any money for the Scottish war until civil and ecclesiastical grievances in England are addressed.

April 22

  • The Convocation agrees to grant subsidies to the King.

April 24

  • The King appeals in person to the House of Lords for support against the Commons.

April 25

  • A conference held between members of the Lords and Commons.
  • The Lords support the King in insisting that money for the wars should be granted before Parliament’s grievances are addressed.

April 27

  • The House of Commons protests that the Lords’ interference is a breach of privilege.

May 4

  • Oliver St John moves that Parliament should vote to overturn the judgement on the legality of ship-money

May 5

  • The Short Parliament dissolved.
  • King Charles prepares to attack Scotland (the Second Bishops’ War).
  • Strafford negotiates with Spanish ambassadors for a loan from the King of Spain in exchange for English protection for Spanish ships in the Channel en route to the Netherlands.
  • The Earl-Marischal William Keith occupies Aberdeen in a show of strength for the Covenanters.

May 6

  • The Earl of Warwick, Lord Brooke, Lord Saye, John Pym, John Hampden and Sir Walter Earle arrested; their lodgings in London searched for evidence of correspondence with the Scots.

May 10

  • The Mayor and alderman of London refuse to loan money for war against the Scots.

May 11

  • Riots in London in protest at the dissolution of Parliament.
  • Lambeth Palace attacked by a crowd of apprentices and others hunting Archbishop Laud.

May 12

  • The Privy Council authorises the Convocation to continue sitting as a Synod
  • This means that it is not dependent upon Parliament being in session

(Mid-May)

  • Negotiations for a Spanish loan break down under pressure from the Dutch.
  • In desperation, the King permits Henrietta Maria to approach the Pope’s emissary on the possibility of a loan from the Vatican.

May 21

  • Two of the London rioters brought to trial for treason.
  • One, named Archer, is tortured on the rack in an attempt to discover the ringleaders

May 22

  • The bishop of Gloucester protests against the new canons agreed by the Convocation.
  • Archbishop Laud orders his imprisonment.

May 28

  • Major-General Monro reinforces the Earl-Marischal at Aberdeen and occupies the lands of the Royalist Gordons in north-eastern Scotland.

May 29

  • Members of the Convocation subscribe the seventeen new Canons of the Church of England, which include an affirmation of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, and the introduction of an oath to be taken by all members of the learned professions in which they swear never wittingly to subvert established doctrine.
  • This oath, known as the “Etcetera Oath”, provokes widespread opposition.

(Late May)

  • Covenanters besiege Edinburgh Castle when Patrick Ruthven refuses their summons to surrender.

June 1

  • Covenanter leaders meet to discuss strategy for the forthcoming Parliament in Edinburgh.

June 2

  • The Scottish Parliament meets despite the King’s order that it should be prorogued for another month. The Committee of Estates appointed to govern Scotland and to prepare for war with England.
  • Thomas Benstead, a ringleader of the May riots, hanged, drawn and quartered in London.

June 12

  • The Earl of Argyll granted a commission of “fire and sword” against the Royalist clans in the Highlands.

June 18

  • The Earl of Argyll musters 4,000 Campbells at Inverary Castle and marches into the Highlands.

(Late June)

  • Argyll arrests the leaders of the Stewart clan.

July

  • Strafford’s Irish army assembles at Carrickfergus in preparation for invading Scotland.
  • Violent disorders reported from all parts of England as the troops levied for war against Scotland make their way north.

(Early July)

  • The Army of the Covenant begins to muster.
  • Major-General Monro marches north, plundering the lands of the Gordons and other Royalists.
  • Argyll’s forces turn out a garrison placed by Montrose at the House of Airlie to subdue the Royalist Ogilvy clan.
  • The House of Airlie plundered and burnt to the ground.

June 28

  • The General Assembly of the Scottish Church convenes in Aberdeen.

(End of July)

  • The Army of the Covenant encamped at Duns near the English border.

August

  • The Cumbernauld Band signed in secret between the Earl of Montrose, the Earl Marischal and other Scottish noblemen vowing to defend the interests of the King and Covenant against the Earl of Argyll and his supporters.

August 2

  • The Earl of Argyll besieges Dumbarton Castle to prevent Strafford’s Irish army from landing in Scotland.

August 3

  • The Committee of Estates unanimously decides to mount a pre-emptive invasion of England.
  • The Earl of Strafford appointed Captain-General of the Irish army which the King still expects to invade Scotland.

August 5

  • The General Assembly of the Scottish Church dissolves itself until July 1641

August 20

  • The Army of the Covenant crosses the Tweed and marches into England.
  • King Charles leaves London and sets out for York.

August 23

  • The King arrives in York.

August 26

  • In failing health, the Earl of Strafford arrives at York.

August 27

  • The Covenanter army reaches the River Tyne.
  • Dumbarton Castle surrenders to Argyll.

August 28

  • The battle of Newburn; Lord Conway fails to prevent the Covenanters from crossing the River Tyne.
  • The English army abandons Newcastle and withdraws to Durham.
  • Twelve English peers sign a petition drafted by John Pym and Oliver St John calling for a new Parliament in England.

August 30

  • The Covenanters march into Newcastle unopposed.

September 4

  • The Covenanters send their demands to King Charles at York.
  • The King agrees to negotiate providing the Scottish army advances no further into England.

September 7

  • The King sends out writs calling his peers to a Great Council to be held at York.

September 13

  • King Charles confers the Order of the Garter on the Earl of Strafford.

September 15

  • Patrick Ruthven surrenders Edinburgh Castle to Argyll.

(Mid-September)

  • The Scottish army in Northumberland obliged to demand supplies from the local population because of a shortage of supplies from Scotland.

September 22

  • A deputation of Londoners arrives at York to petition the King to call a new Parliament.

September 24

  • King Charles convenes the Great Council of Peers at York.
  • The peers unanimously advise him to call a truce with the Scots and summon a Parliament.

September 29

  • The King gives his instructions to sixteen commissioners appointed to negotiate with the Covenanters.

October 2

  • Treaty negotiations begin at Ripon in Yorkshire.

October 17

  • The King and peers at York agree to bear the cost of supplying the Scottish army.

October 26

  • The Treaty of Ripon signed to end the Bishops’ Wars.
  • The Scots occupying Northumberland exact an indemnity of £850 a day until a final settlement is agreed and confirmed by the English Parliament.

October 22

  • A London mob breaks into the Court of High Commission and sacks it.

November 3

  • The Long Parliament meets.

November 6

  • Parliament appoints committees for religion, grievances, trade, privileges and Irish affairs. HCJ

November 7

  • MPs from around the country begin to present petitions against various aspects of the King’s government.
  • John Pym warns of a Roman Catholic design to alter the fundamental laws and religion of England.
  • Parliament approves petitions for the release of Henry Burton and John Bastwick.

November 9

  • Parliament approves a petition for the release of William Prynne.
  • Oliver Cromwell presents a petition for the release of John Lilburne.

November 10

  • At the King’s request, the Earl of Strafford arrives in London.
  • George Digby, MP for Dorset, proposes that a remonstrance against the government should be presented to the King.
  • Scottish commissioners arrive in London to negotiate the finalisation of the Treaty of Ripon.
  • They are welcomed by London Puritans.

November 11

  • The impeachment of the Earl of Strafford begins with an accusation by Sir John Clotworthy that Strafford had urged the King to use an Irish army against England.
  • The charge is presented in the House of Lords and Strafford arrested.

November 13

  • John Lilburne released from the Fleet prison.

November 19

  • The Scottish commissioners in London hold their first meeting with their English counterparts.
  • The Scots refuse to negotiate with the King in attendance and he is obliged to stay away from future meetings.

November 25

  • Strafford imprisoned in the Tower.

November 28

  • Released from prison and exile, William Prynne and Henry Burton arrive in London to great popular rejoicing.

December 3

  • The King agrees to ratify the Acts passed by the Scottish Parliament of June 1640.
  • Death of Sir Christopher Wandesford, Strafford’s vice-deputy in Ireland.
  • Sir William Parsons and Lord Dillon appointed Lord-Justices to govern Ireland, but the Westminster Parliament objects to the appointment of Dillon and he is replaced by Sir John Borlase.
    • The Lords Justices were three office-holders in the Kingdom of Ireland who in the absence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland fulfilled the social and political duties of the Viceroy as head of the Irish executive – many Lord Lieutenants of Ireland delayed coming to Ireland and some never even set foot on its shores.
    • The office-holders were usually:
      • Church of Ireland primate, the Archbishop of Armagh
      • Lord Chancellor of Ireland
      • Speaker of the Irish House of Commons

      Among their duties was to welcome the incoming Lord Lieutenant when he arrived in state in the port of Dublin, having travelled from England to take up his post.

      The decision in 1765 of the government of Great Britain to require the viceroy to be a full-time resident in Ireland, rather than just pay visits during sessions of parliament, removed the need for the Lords Justices.

December 4

  • John Bastwick returns to London from imprisonment in Cornwall.

December 7

  • The House of Commons declares ship-money to be an illegal tax.

December 10

  • Fearing persecution for his association with Catholicism, the King’s Secretary of State Francis Windebank flees the country.

December 11

  • London alderman Isaac Penington presents the Root and Branch Petition in Parliament, calling for overall reform of the Church and the abolition of episcopacy.

December 18

  • Impeachment by the House of Commons of Archbishop Laud for high treason.

December 21

  • Impeachment of Lord Keeper Finch and other judges who had upheld ship-money.
  • Finch flees abroad.

December 30

  • The Scottish commissioners agree to drop their demand that “Incendiaries” who had caused the recent wars should be liable to punishment by the Parliaments of England and Scotland.
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