CELT document E590001-002

Infformacion giuen to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliams, his gouernmente in Irelande

Captain Thomas Lee

Edited by Hiram Morgan

Infformacion giuen to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliams, his gouernmente in Irelande

Infformacion giuen to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliams, his gouernmente in Irelande.

Text of British Library, Harleian MS. 35 ff. 258-65.

 258Most gratious soveraigne, presuminge greatlye uppon the proteccion of your Maiestie to those your servaunts that shall iustlye informe your most excellent maiestie of the great dishonnorable seruyces donne unto your highness by hym, whoe was chosen, to be your chieffe, and onlye instrumente of Iustice, and cutting of all badd members unworthye to lyue, in that your pore and distressed commonwealth of Ireland, And this instrument soe chosen by your maiestie beinge Royallie and with great Bountye, enabled to doe you greate and honourable seruice, without extorcion, Bryberie or any suche like dishonourable gettings, hath for his owne lucre, used his place and Authoretye to the grete dishonour of your maiestie and the publique discomforte of your poore subiects in that realme; which is the Chiefest cause of this rebellion, that nowe is theire: And to the ende, your Maiestie maye hereafter by good proofe, the better understand the same, I haue made boulde uppon your highness proteccion in my true informacion Breaflye to set downe in these fewe noates, some parte of the carragde? and dishonnorable gettings of Sir William Fitzwilliams, late Lord Deputye of Ireland.

First within one quarter of a yeare after he came to Beare that Authorytie in Irelande, by greate providence, and Iustice of Almightie god, there was cast awaye uppon the North of Irelande, by shipwreck, a greate number of Spanishe shippes, that came with intent to invade this your highness kingdome of England, which being crediblye made knowne to Sir William Fitzwilliams, then Lord  259 deputye of Irelande. And that by meanes of that Shipwracke the lordes and gentlemen of that parte of Realme had gotten into their handes greate store of Treasure which he covetousely myndeinge to gett off them, by meanes of his place and force, he carryed?, into his owne possession or to be a sharer with them of that Spanishe goulde, stirred upp the whole kingdome into Armes, to Attende him, into the North, to the great weakeninge of your highness garrison, and to the exceedinge chardge of the countrye, of Tenn Thousand powndes at the least, The informacion of this Treasure, and the expected hope thereof, fayleinge him, he sent for Sir Owyn McToole to come before him, giueinge him by the Messenger his oath, and safe conducte to come and goe at libertye, yet notwithstandinge, contrary to his worde and oathe, he detained this Aged gentleman in prison, where he still remaynethe causleslye, being not pleadge forr anye, to the dishonour of the State and great hindrance of your Maiestyes seruice as shalbe dewlye proued, And that it maye Appeare unto your Maiestie that he undertooke this Iournye, rayther ffor the hope of his owne gayne, then for any seruyce of your Maiestyes. A poore Spanyarde, that was taken, for saffeguarde of his lyffe, did assure Sir William to bring any that he woulde sende to Aboundance of Treasure, which he sawe hidde, whereupon Hugh Stanbridge, his gentleman usher attended on by a bande of souldiers was sent with the Spanyarde, Butt in the ende, noe treasure coulde be ffounde, and the Spaniarde escaped ffrom them.

In short time after this, A plotte was layde downe to him; for the takeinge with the Garrison souldiers of 30000 cowes, and other goodes, from Sir Rosse McMahon, one of your maiesties good subiects, then soe helde and reputed. This praye was to be brought to Sir William; and the covetous desire of the same moued him to goe to the Lord bishopp of Meath, and there assuredlye expectinge the comeinge of the praye, dishonorablye before it came, disposed and distributed the same cowes into seuerall members and divers persons, whom he thought meete, And lyeinge VIIen days himselfe on the Bisshoppes charges, and his trayne, as men and horse, on the heauie chardge, and Burthen of the Countrye to the great ympoverisheinge of the same, without payeing for any thinge, notwithstanding your Maiesties Royall allowance. This praye ffayled, and noe more cowes were taken, then the souldiers did eate, But in this enterprise your maiestie lost many a tall souldier. Yf all the cowes had beene taken, it had nothinge hindred McMahon, ffor he woulde haue taken more ffrom the your maiesties poore subiects of the English Pale, But because the Accion tooke successe, contrarye to Sir Williams expectacion  260 he tooke such an conceipte against Sir Henry Duke as to this daye he coulde neuer abyde him.

Afterwards he woulde ffayne other Iourneys under cullor of seruyce, purposelye to urge the greatest men, and others of the countrye to Attende him, with the ryseinge out; But yett still contynueinge his wonted desire of gayne, suche as woulde compounde with him should tarrye at home, and those that woulde not, he woulde tye to attendance at his pleasure to the great ympoverishinge of the countrye, burthening them as before he did in other Iournyes, And yett noe seruyce att all done, Butt as it seemeth a meere plott devised for his own gaine.

When a most monstrous and cruell murther hath bene committed by a lorde of a countrye of greate accompte and that by meanes thereof great benefitt should haue accrewed unto your Maiestie which woulde haue greatlye increased your revenewes, and defrayed parte of the greate chardges which Sir William Fitzwilliams put Your Maiestie unto; hee most unconscionablye in respecte of a greate Brybe hath pardoned the heyneous offence, and thereby kept your Maiestie from your right and benefit to noe small value.

He hath entered into most Base and dishonourable condicions, with some one great lorde of a countrye ffor a greate brybe, bestowed upon him; wherby your maiesties seruyce hath bene greatlye hindered, and yet after he had received the Brybe, and contrarye to his oathe, he hath sente some one Lewde person of noe qualletye, Butt made Capten by himselfe into that lordes countrye and a farther officer to terrifie him, and his people, whereupon good usage, your Maiestie might haue benefited and honourably serued by that lorde or mann of accompte.

He hath also uppon slender information, committed some one of your maiesties subiects to prison and there detayned him, until the poore man hath bin glad, for his enlardgmente to compounde with some neere unto him, for a greate somme of monye which brybe Sir William hath had eyther in part or in all.

He hath in the tyme of his government gave countenance with proteccion, to manye noteable, and knowne Traytors, from one murther to another and other notorious offences. And when seruyce, hath bene offered to be done uppon them, he hath a little commended it, Thoughe your seruante did it without charge to your Maiestie or Burthen to your subiects.

He hath alsoe uppon slender informacion giuen against your maiesties poorest and best subiects, the husbandmen, caused them to be apprehended, and  261 sent to prison without bayle, or Mancepryse for Bodye or goodes, and giuen awaye the poore mens goodes, for satisfaccion of his owne olde debts, growne in his latter tyme of gouernmente. And although the pooreman, hath by due course and Tryall of law beene acquitted, yet neuer coulde haue restitution of his goodes of 200 li value ffor lacke whereof at this daye his wyffe and children goe a Begginge, And seeing your Maiestie reaped noe Beneffitt, by those goodes, soe unlawfully taken, the Informaccion being only proued, there might bee commandmente sent by your Maiestie that restitution shalbe made of the goodes, by the sheryffe whoe tooke them.

In the rebellion of Magwyer, it shalbe proued that your Maiestie was greatlye dishonoured, by those whome Sir William Fitzwilliams appoynted to followe that warre, in the mannageinge of the same, forr the Castle of Iniskellinge, which your maiesties forces might haue taken, without any further chardge, was then most dishonourably giuen upp without warrante. Your Maiesties seruante after wardes uppon his cominge to Dublyn offered Sir William Fitzwilliams, without chardge to your maiestie to haue eyther taken the Castle, or cutt of Magwyre and to haue undertaken this with xxxtie of his owne seruants and fower Traytours worse than Magwyre, whoe woulde haue brought it to passe, to haue had their pardons, and yf not to haue lost their liues: But in respect their offerr was made by your maiesties seruaunt, the seruice was reiected, And since the takeinge of that castle hath cost your maiestie and subiects at least 1000 marks, And yielded in the end uppon composicion, And your maiesties woorde being past to the poore beggars that kept it, they were all notwithstandinge dishonourably putt to the sworde in a most miserable state; And yet was the mann, the Agente of this Accion, aduanced to all the honour Sir William could giue him, being a man, neyther of seruyce, nor worthye of other regarde.

Uppon McGwyre his first goeinge forth your Maiesties garrison souldiers, for the most parte were all drawn together, with many other great forces to serue uppon that Traytor: soe that when they came together, there was of seruiceable men, the number of 2000 horse and foote, The Chief Commander of those forces, was Sir Henry Bagnall, with as much Authoritye as coulde be giuen him Royallie enhabled, by your Maiestie to doe your Highnes seruice: he encamped six dayes together within one myle of the Traytor being to the number of 1200 Base rebels, and would suffer them euery daye, to Brave uppon your maiesties armye, rayleinge against your highness, as yf your maiestie had bene one of the meanest of his howse, yet  262 this woulde not provoke him to offer himselfe unto seruice uppon that Traytor: your maiesties souldiers beinge most willinge thereunto, And besides, had greate advauntage giuen him, to haue done great seruice at his pleasure, as shalbe prooued, after those six days rest, there were some 300 more of the garrison souldiers to assist him, whereof my selfe was one, he then presentlye Brooke up the Campe, and marched to another passage on that River, where the Traytors in like sorte, were Braveinge and Rayleinge as before, And although your maiesties forces came to this passage, at a verye good tyme of the daye, yet he would haue encamped them, And yf your maiesties seruaunte had not spoken more then became him, and encouraged the souldiers to the seruyce, it had not bene undertaken, And being undertaken, some one captain being a Cheiffe leader, uppon slender cause foorsooke his place, and his leiutennaunte, that all the souldiers he commaunded ranne awaye, And yet ffor all, the seruyce was gone through withal, to the common discomforte of the Traytors, beinge scattered and slayne, to the number of 600: And your maiesties seruante, beinge Chiefe undertaker and performer of this seruice, was nothing spoken of, But the honour layde upon him, whoe fforsooke his place.

Uppon Sir Henry Bagnalls comeinge ffrom the warre against Magwyre, ffor that six weekes seruyce, he had payde him, by Sir William Fitzwilliams of your maiesties Treasure, and by defaults of the countrye, 400li which he little needed, but had bene farre better Bestowed uppon the poore souldiers consideringe hee sufficientlye advauntaged himselfe; by the perquisits Belonginge to his Offyce, and his other entertainments: And your maiesties garrison souldiers, horse and foote, which had receyued manye hurtes and greate losses in seruyce, could not get one pennye extraordinarye, to their great discouragement to hazard their lyues and goodes, uppon the like occasion for your maiesties seruyce hereafter, beinge soe slenderlye rewarded, nor receiued with their owne; And where the whole garrison souldiers, imployed in that seruyce were imprest upon the comeinge of the Treasure, some one of your maiesties seruaunts, whoe was a Cheife furtherer of that seruyce, and had many of his souldiers hurte, in respecte of the dislike Sir William bare him, could not haue his souldiers imprest one Pennye to their great discouragement; in soe much as your maiesties seruaunt was fayne to impresse them uppon his owne credit, as he had done many times before, And this harde measure, would he without cause offer those, whome he fauoured not.

Sir Henry Bagnall, your maiesties marshall (then whome never Prince of your highness worthines had a worse) hath bene called by Sir William Fitzwilliams, in the  263 hearinge of manye of greate creditte Cowarde, with other vyle Tearmes of greate disgrace; Sir Henry knoweinge himselfe to be iustlye Chardged with these imperfeccions sought by large bribes of plate, and other things to purchase Sir Williams favour, And nowe he accompts him as tale a gentleman as is in Irelnad, The virtue of this Plate will cause cowardes to be accompted tall menn.

The Earle of Tyrone, soe longe as he fedd Sir William Fitzwilliams, with one Riche jewell or other, was accompted of him, the honorablest gentleman in the Worlde, but when he left of his liberalletye, then did he accompte him the notablest traytor lyueinge, and was ready to here any thinge, that might tended to the dishonour of the Earle, though never soe untrue.

When Odonell brake out of the Castle of Dublin, the springe followinge to the noe smale chardge of your maiesties subiects, he made a journeye to Dundalke, together, to bringe Odonnell uppon proteccion, But the substance of the Iourneye was to get him 1000 marks whereof 500li at the least came to his share, where otherwise yf he had been handled accordinglye, your maiesty might haue bene aduanced in your seruyce.

He did bargayne ffor, and get into his handes, ffor little or nothing, all the imprest Bills he possiblye coulde, and would commande payment of them at his pleasure, And a pore souldier that had loste Bothe lymbes, and goodes in your maiesties seruyce, he would see him starue rayther then order him paymente of a small somme of his releiffe.

Yf he aduanced any man ffor the moste parte to place of honnor, as he did manye, it was not ffor their virtue, nor in rewarde of deserte ffor seruyce done to your maiestie, but for the Brybes they gaue him or by other meanes which they procured, And soe in all offices that fell into his guyfte.

Miserye and couetousnes was so settled in him, that notwithstanding your maiesties Bountifull allowance to the mayntennaunce of your highness seruyce in Ireland, he lyued most sparinglye as a meane gentleman to the dishonnor of your maiestie, yea many gentlemen in England carrye greater parts then he did in the tyme of his gouernment.

And whereas your maiesty to your greate chardge doth mayntayne a garrison of souldiers in Irelande able to doe your highness greate and honnorable seruyce, he euer used them to be a terror to some greate lorde of a countrye or other to make his Benefit in some sorte, ffor he is not able to sette downe one dayes honnorable seruyce done in all the tyme of his gouernment by his direccions, or was able to doe your subiects of the English Pale, Justice upon those that lyued by the contynuall spoyle of them, one outrage beinge committed to intreate the offender, to doe noe more, was all the best Justice he could, or att least, woulde doe to your maiesties subiects that were spoiled

 264 The Countie of Monahan, which appertaineth to the McMahons, was most wickedlye, and with greate dishonnor gotten to your Maiestie as shalbe proued uppon examinacion and hearinge of these noates with the rest, And that your Maiestie might haue had the same interest in the countrye with more honnor and better assurance for the establishinge thereof, then nowe you haue, by that vyle practise and deuise used to that McMahon, which was executed, Being assured your maiestie doth hate all Base and dishonest meanes, that shalbe used to entrappe your subiects when your highnes spares for noe coste, to reforme them otherwise; which makes me wryte thus Bouldlye of that seruyce.

Uppon the devideinge of the Countie of Monahon, that lande whiche he reserued to bestowe uppon those that were men of accion and seruyce, to be ffreeholders there, he gaue to men of noe accion,And yf in abillytie, yet soe miserable that unlesse they sawe good assurance, they might gayne in disburseinge of 1s 4s (1d 4d??) they would not hazarde anythinge, howe unfitted these men of this qualletye are to be preferred to suche lande, I leaue your maiesties wisdom to iudge.

After this countrye soe gotten, the gentleman that hee made choice of to be Seneshall, there was not one preferred for his sufficiency, But as one that gaue most for itt, And soe your Maiestyes seruyce doth shewe, for since his preferment to that chardge, he neuer did you one dayes seruyce there, allwayes haueinge the commaund of 200 of your garrison souldiers and 100 when he had least.

In the rebellion of the Viscount of Baltinglas, a seruant of your maiesties had in possession a certayne howse of the viscounts, wherein to his noe small chardge, hee maintained a greate number of men, at his owne coste to serue against him, in the hottest furye of the rebellion. And after the warre ended, your seruaunt came ouer hether, and upon his humble suite, it pleased your highness to bestowe upon him that house, with many other small cottages annexed, and signified your pleasure therein by letter from the lords of your highness privye councell of Ireland (??), which notwithstanding your maiesties graunte, and without, all regard of his seruyces, losses and chardges, he tooke ffrom your seruaunte all the said villages, to his great hinderance, and gaue the same to one that he brought ouer with him, together with ffyue horsemen, for the defence of the same, which he tooke out of your seruaunts Troope of horse, to the great weakeninge of the same, and the hindraunce of your highnes seruyce.

Haueinge, dread soueraigne, in dischardge of my dutye and ffor the zeale I beare to the honnor of your Maiesty, thus sett downe Breifflye, such matters as wilbe well proued, of the carryadge and best endeavor of Sir William Fitzwilliams in the tyme of his gouernment in your maiesties seruyce, to the end  265 your maiestie should take notice of the same, and acquaint your honnorable councell therewith; And yf it maye please your maiestie ffor the ffurtherance, and better encouragement of your seruyce hereafter, that Commissioners maye bee appointed to assiste the nowe Lorde Deputye, in examination of all those and such like other matters, as shalbee then offered touching his dishonourable carriadge, in the tyme of his gouernment. And those commissioners may be soe substantiallye chosen, as that without ffeare or corrupt meanes, they maye make true reporte to your Majesty. And that the Commissioners to Ioyne with the Lord Deputye, maye be these, Sir Robert Gardiner, Sir Anthony St. Leger and Sir Richard Bingham: I dare pawne my creditte unto your maiestie this accusacion shalbe sufficientlye proued, that your highness shalbe fully satisfied of his dishonnorable dealinge,and haue iust cause to Benefitte your maiestie of such somme, as he hath unconscionablye gotten, to beare the chardges he put yow unto; Besides be rightlye aduertised of the cowardlye mannageinge of your warre, then by those there unto appointed by him, and iudge of their desertes, the Coward maye be remoued and sufficient men putt in their steades, which wilbe a greate incouragement and aduancement to your highness seruyce, soe leauinge the consideracion thereof to your high and excellent wisdome, I cease with my contynuall prayers to the euer liueinge god longe to contynewe your Blessed and Tryumphante raigne ouer us in all princelye and royall dignetye.

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Title (uniform): Infformacion giuen to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliams, his gouernmente in Irelande

Title (translation, English Translation): Information given to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliam's government in Ireland

Title (extended): [London, British Library, Harley MS. 35 ff. 258-65]

Author: Captain Thomas Lee

Editor: Hiram Morgan

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Donated by: Hiram Morgan

Electronic file compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: University College, Cork and The President's Strategic Fund via the Writers of Ireland II Project.

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1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 3770 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of the Department of History at University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2007

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E590001-002

Availability: Hardcopy copyright lies with Hiram Morgan. The text is reproduced here with his kind permission.

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  • London, British Library, Harley MS. 35 ff. 258-65.

The edition used for the digital edition

Lee, Captain Thomas. Infformacion giuen to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliams, his gouernmente in Irelande‍. Ed. by Hiram Morgan. 7 folios.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  title 	 = {Infformacion giuen to Queen Elizabeth against Sir William Fitzwilliams, his gouernmente in Irelande},
  author 	 = {Captain Thomas Lee},
  editor 	 = {Hiram Morgan},
  edition 	 = {0},
  note 	 = {7 folios},
  publisher 	 = {},
  address 	 = {},
  date 	 = {Forthcoming}


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The transcribed text by Hiram Morgan comprises 7 folios.

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Creation: by Captain Thomas Lee

Date: c. 1594

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    The text is in Elizabethan English.

Keywords: political; prose; letter; report; 16c

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  1. 2019-06-05: Changes made to div0 type. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-09-23: Keywords added; file validated; minor changes to header. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2007-06-16: Minor changes to header; XML/SGML files parsed; HTML file created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2007-06-05: File converted and proofed (2); header constructed; structural and content markup applied. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  5. 2007-05-25: Text donated to the CELT Project. (ed. Hiram Morgan)
  6. 2005-08: Text transcribed from original MS. source (ed. Hiram Morgan)

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