The commissioners appointed to conduct the transplanting had a busy time. They were overwhelmed with petitions: the heads of families demanding permission to return and save their crops; the women requesting to remain a few months longer for a similar purpose, when the men were not permitted to return. Hundreds of petitions were sent from aged and bedridden persons, to obtain leave to die in peace where they were. Then there were complaints from the officers who had charge of driving the people into the plantation; and above all, there was a charge, a grave charge, against the Irish people—they were as stiff-necked, wicked, and rebellious as ever, and could not be brought to see that they were created for no other end than to be sacrificed for the benefit of English adventurers; and, moreover, they were declared to be a most treacherous race, for, years after, they might revenge all this kindness, by murdering the men who had taken possession of their lands and farms; and some had absolutely refused to transplant, and preferred death.
The manner in which these difficulties were met is thus recorded in a letter which was written for publication in London:—
“Athy, March 4, 1664-5.
“I have only to acquaint you that the time prescribed for the transplantation of the Irish proprietors, and those that have been in arms and abettors of the rebellion, being near at hand, the officers are resolved to fill the gaols and to seize them; by which this bloody people will know that they [the officers] are not degenerated from English principles; though I presume we shall be very tender of hanging any except leading men; yet we shall make no scruple of sending them to the West Indies, where they will serve for planters, and help to plant the plantation that General Venables, it is hoped, hath reduced.”
So examples were made. Mr. Edward Hetherington was hanged in Dublin, on the 3rd of April, 1655, with placards on his breast and back, on which were written, “For not transplanting;” and at the summer assizes of 1658, hundreds were condemned to death for the same cause, but were eventually sent as slaves to Barbadoes. The miseries of those who did transplant was scarcely less than those of the persons who were condemned to slavery. Some committed suicide, some went mad, all were reduced to the direst distress. The nobles of the land were as cruelly treated and as much distrusted as the poorest peasant. The very men who had laid down their arms and signed articles of peace at Kilkenny, were not spared; and the excuse offered was, that the Act of Parliament overrode the articles. One of the gentlemen thus betrayed was Lord Trimbleston, and his tomb may still be seen in the ruined Abbey of Kilconnell, with the epitaph:—
“HERE LIES MATHEW, LORD BARON OF TRIMBLESTON, ONE OF THE TRANSPLANTED.”
[Illustration: SCULPTURES AT DEVENISH.]