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Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 779 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.

Jones, the Protestant Bishop of Meath, was, unfortunately for himself, influenced by fanaticism.  He had served in Cromwell’s army,[510] and had all that rancorous hatred of the Catholic Church so characteristic of the low class from whom the Puritan soldiery were drawn.  He was determined that the Archbishop should be condemned; and as men could not be found to condemn him in Ireland, he induced Lord Shaftesbury to have him taken to London.  The Archbishop was removed to Newgate, about the close of October, 1680, and so closely confined, that none of his friends could have access to him.  He spent his time in prayer, and his gaolers were amazed at his cheerfulness and resignation.  His trial took place on the 8th of June, 1681; but he was not allowed time to procure the necessary witnesses, and the court would not allow certain records to be put in, which would have proved the character of his accusers.  Six of the most eminent English lawyers were arrayed against him.  The legal arrangements of the times deprived him of the assistance of counsel, but they did not require the judges to help out the men who swore against him:  this, however, they did do.

The prelate was condemned to die.  The speech of the judge who pronounced sentence was not distinguished by any very special forensic acumen.  Dr. Plunkett had been charged by the witnesses with political crimes; the judge sentenced[511] him for his religious convictions; and, by a process of reasoning not altogether peculiar to himself, insisted that his supposed treason was a necessary result of the faith he professed.  The Archbishop suffered at Tyburn, on Friday, July 11, 1681.  He went to his death rejoicing, as men go to a bridal.  His dying declaration convinced his hearers of his innocence; and, perhaps, the deep regret for his martyrdom, which was felt by all but the wretches who had procured his doom, tended to still the wild storm of religious persecution, or, at least, to make men see that where conscience was dearer than life, conscientious convictions should be respected.  It is at least certain, that his name was the last on the long roll of sufferers who had been executed at Tyburn for the faith.  Blood was no longer exacted there as the price which men should pay for liberty of belief.  It were well had that liberty been allowed by men to their fellow-men in after years, without fines or confiscations—­without those social penalties, which, to a refined and sensitive mind, have in them the bitterness of death, without the consolations of martyrdom.

[Illustration:  ANCIENT PITCHER, FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE R.I.A., FOUND IN A CRANNOGE, AT LOUGH TAUGHAN, LECALE, CO.  DOWN.]

[Illustration:  OLDERFLEET CASTLE, LARNE.]

FOOTNOTES: 

[498] Barbadoes.—­Threnodia Hib. p. 287.

[499] Evidence.—­In a work written expressly to excite feeling in England against the Irish, it is stated that they [the Irish] failed in the massacre.—­See Cromwellian Settlement, p. 5, for further evidence.

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