Creation of the Earls of Thomond and Clanrickarde—How the King procured Money—Prayers in English—Opposition of Dr. Dowdall—Accession of Queen Mary—Joy of the Irish—The Catholic Service restored Publicly—Accession of Queen Elizabeth—Shane O’Neill obtains his Dominions—Parliament assembled—Unfair Dealing—Martyrs in the Reign of Elizabeth—The Protestant Archbishop advises Persecution—Cruelties enacted by English Officers—Shane O’Neill—The Deputy tries to get him Poisoned or Assassinated, with the Queen’s Concurrence—His Visit to England—He refuses to Dress in the English Fashion.
Every official was now required to take the oath of supremacy, and the consequences of refusal were too well known to be estimated lightly. It has been asserted by several historians, that no Irish clergyman suffered death during this reign; but this statement is quite incorrect. A careful examination of the State Papers and of the private records of the religious orders, prove the contrary. In the spring of the year 1540, Lord Leonard Grey was recalled, and Sir William Brereton was appointed Chief Justice. Grey was soon after committed to the Tower, on a charge of high treason, and was executed in the following year. The usual feuds between the Irish chieftains and the settlers were continued during this period, as well as the usual feuds between the chiefs of each party. Sir Anthony St. Leger, who was appointed Deputy at the close of the year 1540, tried to reconcile the Ormondes and the Desmonds, and describes the latter as “undoubtedly a very wise and discreet gentleman”—a character which must be taken with some qualifications.
On the 1st of July, 1543, Murrough O’Brien was created Earl of Thomond and Baron of Inchiquin; and De Burgo, known by the soubriquet of Ulich-na-gceann ("of the heads"), from the number of persons whom he decapitated in his wars, was created Earl of Clanrickarde and Baron of Dunkellin. These titles were conferred by the King, with great pomp, at Greenwich; but the Irish chieftains paid for the honour, if honour it could be called where honour was forfeited, by acknowledging the royal supremacy.
The Four Masters record the following events under the year 1545:—A dispute between the Earl of Ormonde and the Lord Justice. Both repaired to the King of England to decide the quarrel, and both swore that only one of them should return to Ireland. “And so it fell out; for the Earl died in England, and the Lord Justice returned to Ireland.” Sir Richard Cox asserts that the Earl and thirty-five of his servants were poisoned, at a feast at Ely House, Holborn, and that he and sixteen of them died; but he does not mention any cause for this tragedy. It was probably accidental, as the Earl was a favourer of the reformed religion, and not likely to meet with treachery in England. The Irish annalists do not even allude to the catastrophe; the Four Masters merely observe, that “he would have been lamented, were it not that he had greatly injured the Church by advice of the heretics."