In 1551 the Lord Deputy Crofts succeeded Sir Thomas Cusack, and led an army into Ulster against the Scotch settlers, who had long been regarded with a jealous eye by the English Government; but he was defeated both at this time and on a subsequent occasion. No Parliament was convened during this short reign, and the affairs of the country were administered by the Privy Council. Dr. Browne and Dr. Staples were leading members. The Chancellor, Read, and the Treasurer, Brabazon, were both English. The Irish members were Aylmer, Luttrell, Bath, Howth, and Cusack, who had all recently conformed, at least exteriorly, to the new religion.
The most important native chieftain of the age was Shane O’Neill. His father, Con, surnamed Baccagh ("the lame"), had procured the title of Baron of Dungannon, and the entail of the earldom of Tyrone, from Henry VII., for his illegitimate son, Ferdoragh. He now wished to alter this arrangement; but the ungrateful youth made such charges against the old man, that he was seized and imprisoned by the Deputy. After his death Shane contended bravely for his rights. The French appear to have made some attempt about this period to obtain allies in Ireland, but the peace which ensued between that country and England soon terminated such intrigues.
All efforts to establish the new religion during this reign was equally unsuccessful. On Easter Sunday, A.D. 1551, the liturgy was read for the first time in the English tongue, in Christ Church Cathedral. As a reward for his energy in introducing the reform in general, and the liturgy in particular, Edward VI. annexed the primacy of all Ireland to the see of Dublin by Act of Parliament. There was one insuperable obstacle, however, in the way of using the English tongue, which was simply that the people did not understand it. Even the descendants of the Anglo-Norman were more familiar with the Celtic dialect, and some attempt was made at this time to procure a Latin translation of the Protestant communion service.
Dr. Dowdall had been appointed, in 1543, to the primatial see of Armagh, by Henry VIII., who naturally hoped he would prove a ready instrument in his service; but, to the surprise of the court, he put himself at the head of the orthodox party, and was one of the most faithful opposers of the introduction of the Protestant form of prayer. In 1552 he was obliged to seek refuge on the Continent. On the death of Dr. Wauchop, petitions were sent to Rome, requesting his appointment to the see of Armagh. He was proposed in Consistory on the 1st of March, 1553.