Plantations in Ireland

The state in which the king found Ireland at his accession, afforded an opportunity for commencing a more generous policy in reference to that country, and introducing regulations favorable to internal improvement. Previously to this reign, the legislative authority of the English government was confined to the small district called the 'Pale,' while the rest was governed by native sovereigns or chiefs, whose connection with the king of England was merely that of feudal homage, which did not prevent them from making wars or alliances with each other. Subject to depredations from these powerful barons, the native Irish, from a very early period, petitioned for the benefit of the English laws; but the Irish Parliament, which was composed of the English barons, was never at a loss for the. means of preventing this desirable measure from being effected. James was in reality the first king who extended the English law over the whole of Ireland, by making judicial appointments suited to the extent of the country. This he was enabled to do, by the recent wars having put the country more completely in his power than it had been in that of any former monarch. He began by extending favor to the Irish chiefs, not excepting Tyrone. He passed an act of oblivion and indemnity by which all persons who had committed offenses, coming to the judges of assize within a certain day, might claim a full pardon. At the same time, toleration was virtually refused to the Catholic persuasion, and much discontent therefore still existed. Some of the chieftains having conspired against the crown, were attainted, and their lands were given to English settlers, with a view to improving the population of the country by an infusion of civilized persons. But this experiment, though well-meant, was managed in a partial spirit, and gave rise to much injustice. In 1613, the first Irish Parliament was held in which there were any representatives of places beyond the Pale.