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By Abbot he is said to have been first instructed in the principles of Protestantism, to which he adhered till his death.
At sixteen, he quitted Lambeth for the roof of his grandfather, who with his liberty had recovered a considerable part of his property; and, being no longer confined to his former penurious allowance, he en. gaged in the ordinary amusements of his age. Among these, he was more particularly delighted with the performances of the theatre; so that several of the eminent players had the honour of his acquaintance. In his diversions, however, he did not lose a due regard to the reparation of his fortune; for the estate of his relation Lord Preston, which had been violently rent from the House of Ormond, having devolved to an heiress, he married her in 1630, and thus terminated the family-feud.
About two years afterward by his grandfather's death he became Earl of Ormond, and being naturally of an enterprising character (under the counte, nance of the Earl of Strafford, then Lord Deputy of Ireland) immediately engaged in public affairs. This countenance originated in a very singular occurrence. Animosities in the Irish parliament had risen so high, that it was feared their debates would terminate in blood; upon which Strafford published a Proclamation, forbidding any man to sit in either House with his sword. These weapons, therefore, were delivered by them on entering to the Usher of the Black Rod, who stood ready to receive them. The Earl of Ormond, however, refused to surrender his; and when the Usher, with some rudeness, enforced his demand, replied, If he had it, it should be in his body. Upon this, the Deputy inquired the reason of his disobedience; and received in answer the writ, by which he was summoned, as Earl of Ormond, to sit in parliament girded with a sword. Henceforward, his Excellency held him in particular esteem ; and on returning to England, recommended him to the Privy Council as one likely to prove an able servant of the Crown.
In 1640, when it was deemed necessary to raise troops in Ireland, the care of making the levies, and ascertaining their maintenance from the parliamentary funds, was reposed in the Earl of Ormond. This army was to have rendezvoused at Carrickfergus, and thence to have been transported to Scotland; but the pacification, which soon afterward ensued, superseded the execution of the design.
In 1641 broke out the Irish rebellion, an insurrection rendered memorable by the cruelty, which for many years desolated that unhappy country. It's most furious leader was Sir Phelim O'Neil, who opened the horrid scene by. seizing the castle of Charlemont, a very important fort upon the Pass of Blackwater.
The perfidy, with which he transacted this part of his scheme, was a natural prelude to his subsequent barbarities. He sent word to Lord Charlemont, the governor, that he would that day be his guest;' and an entertainment was accordingly provided, to which (as was not uncommon in those times) great numbers resorted, as to a general festival. His Lordship had one company of soldiers in his garrison; but they not suspecting danger, and being fully disposed to participate in the general merriment, laid aside their arms and mingled with the company. The table was spread, and all was feasting and jollity till toward evening; when Sir Phelim, finding his accomplices entered and every danger of resistance removed, seized Lord Charlemont and his family, while his followers murthered or secured the soldiers, and took possession of the castle.
On the same day, many other chieftains raised their septs, and endeavoured with various success to take possession of the towns in their neighbourhood. They now grew rapidly stronger, as they were absolute masters of the open country, and had therefore sufficient means to secure the aid of the needy peasantry. The whole district of Cavan was reduced by Philip O'Reily, and seven others by other leaders, in the first week; and Sir Phelim O'Neil had collected, within the same short interval, a body of nearly thirty thousand men: a sufficient proof of the intention of the Irish to rebel. But is it not, likewise, a sufficient proof that they had received proportional provocation; and that the English had forgotten the courtesy, with which disputed titles ought ever to be enjoyed ?
The followers of O'Neil had, obviously, soon learnt to take pleasure in blood : and so much had he heightened their ferocity, that if they happened to have no prisoners to destroy, they would amuse themselves with seizing the cattle for the mere purposes of torture; cutting off the legs of sheep or oxen, and leaving them to expire in lingering agonies. This savage tendency their leader encouraged by his own example; always breaking out, whenever he was accidentally discomposed, in some horrible and useless act of cruelty. At one time, he ordered his noble prisoner Lord Charlemont to be shot; at another, he massacred great numbers, to whom he had himself promised quarter: in short, he every day invented or exercised new forms of barbarity.*
It was upon this occasion, that the Earl of Ormond received his first military appointment from Charles I. in an affectionate letter (dated Edinburgh, October 1641) desiring him to take upon him the command of the army, as Lieutenant General of his Majesty's forces in Ireland.
In consequence of this commission, he served his Sovereign with all the zeal which bravery and fidelity could inspire; though not with the success which might have been expected, had he been at liberty to form his own measures, and to improve those occasional advantages, which the delays of the Lords Justices frequently compelled him to forego. In the mean time, he was compelled to struggle with numberless calumnies, which his loyalty probably drew upon him; for at this time the prevailing party in England began to charge the King, among other attempts against the constitution and the religion of the realm, with the crime of having encouraged the Irish Rebellion. Having defeated the rebels however at Kilrush, and distinguished himself by many other achievements, his Majesty whose affairs were in such a situation that he had nothing but honours to bestow, in 1642 created him Marquis of Ormond.
About the same time, the decision of a dispute be
* The accounts, however, which have been generally propagated of this horrid massacre, are in many circumstances very remote from truth. It is asserted, that at least 150,000 English were destroyed;' and, to aggravate the horror, it is added that they were all butchered in one day!' But it is certain, that there was no particular day appointed for this national carnage ; and it is highly probable, that the numbers massacred did not exceed one fourth of the number specified.
tween him and the Earl of Leicester (then Lord Lieutenant) authorised him, in the absence of that functionary, to dispose of such posts as should become vacant in the army. But this new dignity, with all it's influence, conferred no real strength; and he was only exposed to the mortification of seeing himself unable to display his gratitude to his royal master by any important service. Some forces were, indeed, despatched to his assistance; but under commanders, who rather prevented than promoted the suppression of the rebels by their indiscriminate pillage, unrelenting severity, and ungovernable insubordination
In the spring of the year 1643, an expedition was projected for the conquest of Ross and Wexford. Of these, Ormond would soon have been able to take the first, at that time but weakly garrisoned, had not the Justices neglected to send him both ammunition and victuals for his soldiers. Under these circumstances, it was judged necessary, by counterfeiting a retreat, to induce the enemy to sally out, and come to an engagement. The stratagem succeeded : the rebel army was defeated; and the Marquis, gaining possession of the open country, supplied his troops for a short time with abundant provisions.
When these were exhausted, however, they were compelled to break up and return to Dublin, where they were again to represent, to remonstrate, to petition, and to starve. The Justices were unwilling, that the King should receive any correct information of the state of the nation, or of the army: Ormond therefore, who was not equally inclined to make his Sovereign contemptible, despatched without their concurrence a narrative concerted between himself and several of the Privy Council.