It was now nearly a century since the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland. Henry III. died in 1272, after a reign of fifty-six years. He was succeeded by his son, Edward I., who was in the Holy Land at the time of his father’s death. In 1257 his father had made him a grant of Ireland, with the express condition that it should not be separated from England. It would appear as if there had been some apprehensions of such an event since the time of Prince John. The English monarchs apparently wished the benefit of English laws to be extended to the native population, but their desire was invariably frustrated by such of their nobles as had obtained grants of land in Ireland, and whose object appears to have been the extermination and, if this were not possible, the depression of the Irish race.
Ireland was at this time convulsed by domestic dissensions. Sir Robert D’Ufford, the Justiciary, was accused of fomenting the discord; but he appears to have considered that he only did his duty to his royal master. When sent for into England, to account for his conduct, he “satisfied the King that all was not true that he was charged withal; and for further contentment yielded this reason, that in policy he thought it expedient to wink at one knave cutting off another, and that would save the King’s coffers, and purchase peace to the land. Whereat the King smiled, and bid him return to Ireland.” The saving was questionable; for to prevent an insurrection by timely concessions, is incomparably less expensive than to suppress it when it has arisen. The “purchase of peace” was equally visionary; for the Irish never appear to have been able to sit down quietly under unjust oppression, however hopeless resistance might be.
The Viceroys were allowed a handsome income; therefore they were naturally anxious to keep their post. The first mention of salary is that granted to Geoffrey de Marisco. By letters-patent, dated at Westminster, July 4th, 1226, he was allowed an annual stipend of L580. This was a considerable sum for times when wheat was only 2s. a quarter, fat hogs 2s. each, and French wine 2s. a gallon.
Hugh O’Connor renewed hostilities in 1272, by destroying the English Castle of Roscommon. He died soon after, and his successor had but brief enjoyment of his dignity. In 1277 a horrible act of treachery took place, which the unfortunate Irish specially mention in their remonstrance to Pope John XXII., as a striking instance of the double-dealing of the English and the descendants of the Anglo-Normans then in Ireland, Thomas de Clare obtained a grant of Thomond from Edward I. It had already been secured to its rightful owners, the O’Briens, who probably paid, as was usual, an immense fine for liberty to keep their own property. The English Earl knew he could only obtain possession by treachery; he therefore leagued with Roe O’Brien, “so that they entered into gossipred with each other, and took vows by bells and relics to retain mutual friendship;” or, as the Annals of Clonmacnois have it, “they swore to each other all the oaths in Munster, as bells, relics of saints, and bachalls, to be true to each other for ever.”