Eustace Families Association

Our Eustice family comes from Ireland.  We do not know which city they emigrated from or when.  But our guess is around 1840`s and the city of Dublin.

Home Objectives

 

Genealogy Who's Who? Eustace Families Post Eustace Families Association Contacts

Maurice Eustace, Lord Chancellor

(Died 1665)

Back to Irish Families
   

 

Many centuries elapsed, and many generations of the house of Eustace had gone to their rest in the family burial place, Kilcullen, since the former Chancellor of this name - Sir Rowland Fitz Eustace Lord Portlester - held the Great Seal of Ireland in 1474. During that period a branch had, in the fifteenth century, acquired the title of Lord Baltinglas; but on the attempt to molest the O'Tooles, the clansmen of Eustace Lord Baltinglas joined the Wicklow Irish, and aided in routing the forces of Lord Deputy Grey, already narrated, in the defile of Glenmalure.

Numbers of the Viceroy's force, the best and bravest, were slain, and he retreated to Dublin with a damaged military reputation, and covered with disgrace. [Catechism of Irish History, by Rev. J. O'Hanlon, p. 263.] This success cost Lord Baltinglas his title and estates. He was attainted, and the estates of himself and his adherents were, in 1605, granted to Sir Henry Harrington, Knight, 'in regard that he had been a very good, ancient, and long servitor in the late wars and rebellions in Ireland.' [King James, Army List, p. 719.] The branch of Eustace, settled at Castlemarten and Harristown, held their ground, for we find the descendant of Sir Edward Fitz Eustace, of Castlemarten, who died about the year 1440, ennobled under the title of Lord of Kilcullen, in possession of the ancient family residence of Harristown, county Kildare. On the death of Sir Richard Eustace, Knight, of Harristown, without issue male, this estate devolved on William Fitz-John Eustace of Castle-marten, father of the subject of this memoir.

Maurice Eustace was born at his father's seat Castlemarten, about the year 1590. He was old enough to remember the last years of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of James I. He must have shared the feelings of enthusiasm with which James was regarded in Ireland, and remembered how very delusive were the hopes then entertained. The Irish regarded him as, in many respects, their rightful sovereign, descended from Edward Bruce, who was crowned King of Ireland at Dundalk, a.d. 1315. They also thought that the son of the pious Catholic, Mary Queen of Scots, would have tender regard to those who professed the faith which had comforted his mother in her long and rigorous imprisonments, and made her execution more a release than a punishment. As Maurice was to practise the legal profession, he devoted himself very assiduously to the study of the law. He received the best education his native country then afforded, was a graduate of the recently chartered University of Dublin, and therein attained a remarkable degree of learning, for he gained a Fellowship in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1619. Having duly kept the requisite terms, and eaten of the allotted legal dinners at his Inn of Court, Maurice Eustace was called to the bar. A grant to him, by letters patent, enable me to mention that he was admitted to the practice of the law by the Benchers of Lincoln's Inn. The grant is 'of lands to Maurice Eustace utter barrister of Lincoln's Inn, a native of Ireland, and his heirs, in consideration of the services of John Eustace his father.' [This appears to be a mistake. His father's name was William Fitz-John-Eustace.] The lands mentioned in the grant are Harristown, and some other denominations, which may have been part of the forfeited lands; and Maurice Eustace had sufficient interest to obtain a grant of them, whereby he acquired a new title, freed from any question of attainder. He soon established a high legal reputation in Ireland, and his knowledge of every department of law was considerable. He was a very clear-headed man and lost no opportunity of advancing his own interests, so that he stood well with the antagonistic parties into which it is the sad destiny of Ireland to be perpetually divided.

The natural result of confidence in legal talents followed - briefs came pouring into the lawyer's study. Mr. Eustace. soon acquired very extensive practice and obtained the rank of Serjeant-at-Law. His capacity for business, his great and varied learning and integrity, recommended him most strongly to the Deputy - Lord Wentworth; a man whose favour was not lightly won. The estimate this imperious Viceroy formed of Serjeant Eustace has been already mentioned in the reprimand he gave Lord Chancellor Lord Loftus for passing over the Serjeant and nominating a Mr. Alexander a Judge of Assizes in 1637, when Mr. Serjeant Catlin died on circuit. [Ante, p. 323.]

In 1639, the Irish House of Commons elected Mr. Serjeant Eustace their speaker, 'being a wise, learned, and discreet man of great integrity.' On March 20th, the Speaker, with other members of the Commons, being sent for, attended at the bar of the House of Lords, where the Lord Lieutenant sat in state. The usual formalities having been gone through, the learned speaker was determined to display the great stores of his mind by delivering an address which is remarkable for the bombastic and inflated style peculiar to that pedantic period.

As a specimen of the Serjeant's oratory I give it place : [Commons' Journal, Ireland, vol. i. p. 134.] 'Welcome, most worthy Lord, to the new birth of this our Parliament; this is the voice of the House of Commons, and I am sure it is the voice of the whole assembly; it is besides vox Popuii abroad, and I make no doubt but it is vox Dei; for otherwise, how could your Lordship have had such an auspicious passage, considering how the winds blew, but that the prayers and strong wishes of the Royal Assembly prevailed against the winds, to waft your Lordship over to us, and that at such a time, wherein your Lordship may say, In tempore veni, &c. I hope it will prove so to me, the most humble of your Lordship's servants, for I have appealed from the House of Commons unto your Lordship's impartial justice, and all the grounds of my appeal is shortly this:-

'The Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses here assembled, by his Majesty's Most Royal License, to consult about the great and mighty affairs of this kingdom, not observing, as it seemeth, that cujuscumque potissima pars est principium, have, upon their first entrance into this great work, made choice of me, the most unworthy amongst them, to be their Speaker.

'It hath been heretofore the most constant use in all times, that those, who for their great parts were accounted like gods amongst men, were always chosen for this place, and, like the golden apple which fell from heaven, it had a detur digniori upon it; but those worthiest are all passed over, and they have stooped upon me, the lowest shrub in this great Libanon; for which cause I do, in all humbleness, appeal unto your Lordship for justice, and do humbly pray that your Lordship will be pleased, in your great wisdom, and in favour of the great service now in hand, to give directions unto them to proceed unto a more worthy choice.' This application not being acceded to, the speaker continued:-

'May it please your Lordship, this gracious encouragement hath put new life and spirit into me, and methinks I do bear, to my great comfort, a divine whisper within me of that speech which God used to Moses, when be was unwilling to be their speaker, "who hath made man's mouth, or who maketh the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind, have not I, the Lord?"

'Now, therefore, O my Lord, be thou my mouth, as Thou didst promise to be with Moses, and teach me what I shall say, that so my mouth may speak of wisdom, and the meditation of my heart may be of understanding, and Thou that hast the hearts of all men in Thy hands, as the rivers of waters, so guide and direct this Great Council, which is now summoned and called together ad tractandum de arduis negotiis regni, that all of us may be of one mind in all such things which may concern Thy glory, the honour of our King, the safety of ourselves, and the good of our country, and all this royal assembly here present say Amen. And now that I have taken my rise from God, according to the old rule observed amongst the very heathen, a Jove principium, give me leave, before I leave this mount, to contemplate the glory which I see, a glory far surpassing that which was to be seen in the Roman senate-house when it was in the greatest glory.'

He then proceeds to pass in review the constituent branches of the legislature. It is very quaint and not without merit:- 'For, in the first place, methinks I see your Lordship, like another Solon or Lycurgus, studying the good of this your country. Your country let me now call it, and I beseech your Lordship to account it so, seeing God hath exceedingly blessed your Lordship with a kind of blessing since your first entrance thereunto, and that we hope your Lordship will have a numerous posterity amongst us, and let it be your Lordship's greatest ambition to say hic ames dici pater atque princeps, and let that of the twelve tables be most supreme in your Lordship's thoughts, salus hujus populi suprema lex esto.

'Next in order I see placed the glorious lights of our Church, the Most Reverend Archbishops and Bishops, who show us the true via lactea which leadeth unto heaven.

'When your Lordship came first amongst us, the most of these lights did but burn dim, and many of them were like to be extinguished for want of oyle in their lamps; but your Lordship's first care was, that their lamps, as next fit, should be trimmed and replenished, and that these lights, which show us the way to heaven, should be placed in golden candlesticks, and so the thief which wasted the candle was taken away.

'I cannot think this to be the least cause of your Lordship's great success in all your undertakings; for I have it from the mouth of Truth, "Those which honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." And this is the method which his Lordship, in my poor observation, hath hitherto kept in the course of his government, "to give unto God the things which are God's, and unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." Witness the great increase of revenue which hath come into God's house and into the Exchequer by your Lordship's means; in both which, though many of your Lordship's predecessors have done worthily, yet your Lordship doth surmount them all; let all who can, deny it.

'Next unto these in order, I do with much joy behold the nobles of our land, like many sparkling stars, shining in this our firmament; and all of them gladiis succincti, ready in their order, like so many stars, to fight against Sisera, if there were occasion; amongst which, I may say of your Lordship as was said of Julius Caesar:-

- Micas inter omnes
- velut inter ignes
Luna minores.

'The time was, and that not very long since, when a man might espy in the horizon, which is now so clear and serene, sowe like blazing stars, or rather fiery comets, breathing nothing but ruin and destruction to their country; others, like wandering stars, following irregular motions; and some like falling stars, leaving the station wherein they were placed. But these, my Lords, are so fixed in their proper orbs, and move so naturally in the sphere of loyalty and obedience, following our Charles Wayne, that you may as well pluck a star out of the fixed firmament as throw any of these from their loyalty and obedience.

'Next unto these, I do with joy behold the Chief Judges of the land, attended by his Majesty's learned Council, and ready to untye any Gordian knot which shall be proposed unto them. The rest of the Judges are, at this time, dispersed in several parts of the kingdom, like painful bees, labouring in their several places to bring honey to the bee-hive of the Commonwealth, and to increase it.

'The time was, and not very long since, when the Judges of our land were, as it were, impaled within the English the Pale, and went no further; but now their circuit is, like the sun, from one end of the kingdom unto the other, and there is no place where their voice and sound is not heard, The Brehon law, with her two brats of Tanistry and Irish gavelkind, like the child of the bond-woman, are cast out as spurious, and every man desireth and rejoiceth that the Brehon Common law, which is the child of the freewoman, should reign over them. Let not, O God, this sceptre depart from our Judah, nor such law-givers from between her feet, until Shiloh come again!

'And, in this survey, let me not pass over in silence the knights, citizens, and burgesses, without whom these superior bodies, which we have all this time admired, can no more move than the natural body can walk without feet; for take these away, or do but strain the veins and sinews, by which they are tied together, and this goodly frame, which we see like antient Rome, ruit mole sua; for these are carda rerum, the very hinge upon which all business here below doth move; and, therefore, most excellent Lord, as I said before, salus populi suprema lex esto; for then decies repetita placebit.'

State of Having at considerable length referred to the condition Ireland. of many European nations, this rather prosy speaker contrasted the then peaceful state of Ireland with the days 'when there was nothing beard but the rattling noise of the drum and trumpet, the neighing of horses, looking after lost masters, the shrieks of the wounded and slain.' 'Now every man doth sit in safety at home, under his own roof, our swords are turned into plow-shares, and we have wholly forgotten the use of war.

Jam fides, et pax, et honor, pudorque
Priscus, et neglecta redire virtus
Audet; apparetque beata pleno
Copia cornu.'

He next referred to the writs which formerly compelled the Irish nobles to attend the king in 'Westmonasterum ad tractandum cum proceribus hujus Regni de statu Hibernae,' he contended that, by Poyning's Act, providing that Bills which are to be passed here shall be first transmitted into England, and, when approved, these are to be sent hither, with power to reject or receive them. He said, 'Thus England is become an handmaid to her weaker sister, and that power and freedom are given unto us, that England cannot make laws at this day, to bind our estates without our consent; a very great and high honour, and so to be accounted.' He wound up his long, and rather tiresome harangue by the usual formula of asking freedom of speech, and the other privileges of Parliament. ['Commons' Journals of Ireland, vol. i. p 134.]

The important office of Master of the Rolls was granted to Mr. Serjeant Eustace in 1644, and he discharged the duties with efficiency and attention.

The Speaker's cattle were not respected by the troops. In 1647, Sir Maurice Eustace made an unintelligible statement, which, in the margin of its journals, is stated, 'Complaint of the Speaker.' It is so incomprehensible, that, but for the order of the House, there could be no inference drawn from it, I transcribe it as printed in the journal: [Ibid. p. 369.]

'Mr. Speaker, - That little fortune in Kildare is lost; and that was left I brought to Irishtowne, and from other of this House, and by the gallantry of an officer of the horse, that Lieutenant Harman may command those soldiers,' - Sic orig.

It is ordered 'that Lieutenant Harman do cause the troops under his command, who took the cattle from Clontarffe belonging unto Sir Maurice Eustace, Knight, Speaker of this House, under pretence of contribution, do forthwith bring them back, and leave them at the same place from whence they were taken; whereof he or they do not fail.'

The Speaker was in some trouble about words imputed to him, as conniving at 'Papists sitting in Parliament. The words were, 'You need not put him to his oath. I wish we had more of them,' Simon Luttrell was the person alluded to. It appearing that the words were spoken at dinner, and a reference to some wager, the House considered the matter should drop; and Captain Schoute, who was the person stating 'that a Papist sat in the House,' should be reconciled to the Speaker, whereon the following edifying scene took place. [Com. Jour. Ir. vol. i. p. 373.]

'Memorandum, - That Mr. Speaker would give good example; that he did call for Captain Schoute, who came to the chair, and shook hands together.'

When the Session was over, a marked compliment attests the sense entertained of the services of Sir Maurice Eustace as Speaker. 'The House, understanding that there is a resolution to prorogue the Parliament for some long time, and not knowing when they shall meet again, did take into their consideration the many good services performed by Sir Maurice Eustace, Knight, their Speaker, unto the House, his singular affections to the English nation, and public services, his earnest endeavours for the advancement of the Protestant religion, the inveterate hatred and malice of the detestable rebels, many ways declared and acted against him, and the great expense which he hath been formerly at, for the honour and service of the House, and having at the present no better way of requital than to convey the memory thereof to posterity, do think fit, in manifestation of their high esteem thereof, to declare, and do hereby declare the same to be such, as in all times ought to be remembered for his advantage, and do therefore order that this be entered amongst the Acts and Orders of this House.' [Ibid. p. 374.]

It is not my province, and certainly could afford me neither profit nor pleasure, to recount the terrible civil war of this dreadful period, from 1641 to 1652. That there were fearful massacres on both sides cannot be denied; and, whether that of Island Magee preceded that of Lisburn, or the slaughter of Lisburn provoked that of Island Magee, is now matter of little moment. Good men of all parties must lament these blots upon national history; and, I make no doubt, it is best to forget them. The results of the civil war had, however, a very disastrous effect upon the beaten party. It placed almost unlimited power in the hands of the conquerors, who used it in exterminating, under the sanction of Acts of Parliament, those spared by the sword. The horrors of the transplanting have recently been graphically described, and the subject has been fully and fearlessly exposed. [The Cromwellian Settlement by Prendergast. 2nd edn. Longmans: 1870.]

I pass on gladly to brighter days. Even in the midst of the conflict of contending parties some gleams of sunshine beamed forth. The state of the North of Ireland in 1655, is cleverly described in the following charge delivered to the Grand Jury at the Quarter Sessions held at Londonderry, on January 21, in that year [From papers of Sir John Henry Butler (of the Ormond family), published in Anthol. Hib. vol. i. p. 413.]:-

'Gentlemen,
'In obedience to this command, and in pursuance of the trust reposed in us by this Commission, which you have heard, we are thus publickly and openly assembled here this day - a day which, to us, is a calm after a tempest; a sunshine after a fog; a time of peace and tranquillity after the horror and confusion of an intestine war, and the distraction of an unsettled Commonwealth. It were but a loss of time and labour to descant on the present state of things, or to cast into the balance the advantages and emoluments of a peaceable and orderly Government, with the spoils, rapines, and innumerable calamities of a rebellious and domestic war. You all that are now partakers of the benefit of the one, can give a more ample and judicious account, having a more distinct remembrance, and some of you a woeful experience, of the effects of the other, Religion, the mother of Peace; Plenty, the daughter; and Law, the guardian - how often., how long have they been obscured, estranged, and ravished from us; and, in their stead, Heresy had misguided us. Famine devoured us, and the lawless arbitrary humours of evil men undone us! - but now, through the great goodness of God, and the prudent care of him that governs us, we begin to recover from our miseries, and to return to our pristine establishment. Religion is presented to us in restored. so many shapes, and preached to us by so many mouths of all sorts, that, unless we be blind and deaf, we cannot miss it. Plenty was never more generally, more sensibly known to this nation. The windows of heaven are largely opened, and the fertile womb of the earth hath prodigally delivered her burthen, to our comfort and refreshment; insomuch that I might well say (but that Latin is forbidden) there is a cornucopia among you.

'The laws, which the loud clamour of war had so long silenced, do now speak aloud in our ears, the Courts are re-erected, and the law books are thrown open before us, and being translated into our mother tongue, we can now, without relying on the weak crutches of human learning, pry into those secrets which were hidden from our forefathers, and speak our minds in plain English. A ready instance and confirmation hereof is our free and unmolested meeting here this day; where, according to the several articles empowering us to sit here, I will briefly inform such as know not, and put in mind such as know already, their duty and business in this place.'

He then detailed the usual business at Quarter Sessions, The offences were as follows, They show very lax morality of the people. 'You are impartially to present all such as are guilty of -

'1. Profaning the Sabbath by keeping fairs or markets, by manual labour, by plays, haunting taverns and alehouses.
'2. Cursers and common swearers.
'3. Common turbulent drunkards.
'4. Common adulterers,
'5. Fornicators.
'6. Keepers of common gaming-houses, and common gamesters.
'7. Alehouse keepers that keep misorder in their houses.
'8. Plowing by the tail.
'9. Pulling the wool of living sheep.
'10. Burning of corn in the straw.
'11. Selling of wine, ale, or any other liquor, in any town franchised, by measure not sealed.
'12. Cosherers and idle wanderers.'

The learned chairman thus concludes:-

'I have now only one thing to mind you of, as a general caution to you in presentments, that, in those you make you set down, to a certainty of the person presented, with the time and place, with the manner of the fact; otherwise let the matter be what it will, for which you do present any man, the presentment may become void and of no effect, for defect in the manner of making it and setting it down will make it void.

'Now, gentlemen, proceed to your business; and let your skill and better judgment supply in your presentments, whatsoever defects you have discovered in the charge and in the deliverer of it, whom my brethren have desired to perform this task, though being the least able, and only a probationer in this place.'

The Restoration of the House of Stuart, in 1660, was The Re-expected to be a blessing to the Catholic people of Ireland. They had fought bravely for the father of Charles II., and incurred the heavy weight of Cromwell's anger; therefore they expected to have their estates restored, and rewards for past services in recompense for recent sorrows, To their surprise and indignation they found little assurance of these expectations being fulfilled. Determined enemies - Coote, created Earl of Mountrath and the Earl of Orrery were named Lord Justices; - with them was joined Sir Maurice Eustace, who was appointed Lord Chancellor, and many of the most violent adherents of the stern Protector were allowed to fill the highest offices, On the Restoration, a new Great Seal was engraved for Ireland. In England the Royalists were sufficient to assert their superiority, and the Cromwelhiaris, who got possession of the estates of the Cavaliers, had to restore them at once; it was otherwise in Ireland, The Lords Justices reported that the English troops were very numerous in Ireland, well-armed and masters of all the cities and strongholds, so that it would be dangerous to provoke them. In this state of affairs the first Parliament for the space of twenty years was summoned. They assembled at Chichester House on May 8, 1661. The building contained at that time a large chamber, which was the House of Lords, two committee-rooms for their use, a robing-room, a stairhead-room, a chamber wainscoted at the foot of the stairs. The Commons' assembly- room, two committee-rooms for the use of members of the' House of Commons, the Speaker's chambers, two rooms for the Serjeant-at-Arms, three rooms for clerks. A gatehouse next the street, with several rooms and a spacious garden, containing a large banqueting-house.

Although Sir Maurice Eustace was then Lord Chancellor, as he was at this time one of the Lords Justices, I find John Bramhall, the Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate as Primate of all Ireland, was appointed Speaker of the House of Lords by royal Commission. He accordingly sat on the woolsack, the Lords Justices, Sir Maurice Eustace, Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, and Charles Coote, Earl of Mountrath, having seats elevated above the other peers, and a canopy or cloth of state over their heads. Lord Baltinglas bore the Sword of State, Viscount Montgomery the Cap of Maintenance, and the Earl of Kildare the robe.

I find in this Parliament only one Roman Catholic member, and he, with an Anabaptist, were both returned for Tuam. This formed a subject of congratulation in the Speaker's (Sir Audley Mervyns) address to the Lords Justices: 'I may warrantably say, since Ireland was happy under an English Government, there was never so choice a collection of Protestant fruit that ever grew within the walls of the Commons House. Your Lordships have piped in your summons to this Parliament, and the Irish have danced. How many have voted for and signed to the returns of Protestant elections? So that we may hope for, as we pray, that Japheth may be persuaded to dwell in the tent of Shem.' [Gilbert's History of Dublin, vol. iii. p. 60.]

Sir William Temple, [Ancestor of the late Lord Palmerston.] Sir James Wane, [The learned antiquary.] Sir William Petty, [Ancestor of the Marquis of Lansdowne.] and D. Dudley Loftus, sat in this Parliament. [The Irish members were paid from an early date. In the writ of summons of Edward III., when James Botller was Justiciary of Ireland, the King enjoins that rationabilis expenses be paid. In the year 1613, the fees payable to Members were: Knights of the Shire, 13s. 4d. a-day; citizens, 10s.; and for burgesses, 6s. 8d. a-day. In November 1614, an attempt to reduce these sums was made. On this the House ordered that every Knight be allowed but 6s. 8d., every citizen 5s., and every burgess 3s. 4d., but when any special agreement was made, the sum so agreed on was to be paid.

The Commons afterwards returned to the former rates, until 1665, when it was reported that inconveniences had arisen in collecting the wages of Members, and that no warrants should issue for any wages due from September 27, 1662. This practice was found to be so much abused by the perpetration of frauds and improper appropriation of the funds - Lords and gentry who had private Bills before the House, or who had other personal occasions to attend Parliament, though not Members, often obtained payment as though they were, which caused the payment of Members to be altogether abolished shortly after the time of the Restoration.]

One of the first Acts of the reign of Charles II. was that Act of Set-for the Settlement of Ireland, Three classes were to be provided for, Firstly, the Irish Catholics, who had been dispossessed of their lands. Secondly, Cromwell's soldiers, who had been allotted Irish lands in lieu of arrears of pay. Thirdly, officers who had served the King before 1649, and whose arrears were unpaid. It provided that the soldiers and adventurers should be settled on the lands possessed by them, and their properties secured to them and their heirs, The officers, termed the '49 men, were to receive houses, estates and securities in corporate towns, and in addition, a large sum of money, although many of them had fought against King Charles I. The claims of the Irish Catholics were postponed until those in possession of their estates were fully repaid their advances, or money due for arrears of pay.

While the Act of Settlement was in progress through the Parliament of England, the Government was greatly embarrassed by conflicting claims. The Duke of Ormond, writing in 1662 to Lord Chancellor Eustace, states this very clearly: 'You will receive from other hands, who are more at leisure than I am an account how, where, and for what reason, the Bill is at a stand for near a fortnight. I confess I am not able to see through the end of a settlement. For if the adventurers and soldiers must be satisfied to the extent of what they suppose intended for them by the Declaration, and if all that accepted, and constantly adhered, to the peace of 1648 must be restored, as the same Declaration seems also to intend, and was partly declared to be intended at the last debate, there must be new discoveries made of a new Ireland, for the old will not serve to satisfy these engagements. It remains then to determine which party must suffer in default of means to satisfy all; or whether both must be proportionably losers.'

The course taken by the Lords Justices, the Earls of Mountrath and Orrery, was to bribe all who would support the cause of the adventurers and soldiers. They raised privately about 30,000l., and employed as agents to further their views Dr. Boyle, the right Reverend Bishop of Cork, afterwards Lord Chancellor of Ireland for twenty years, Lord Kingston, and Mr. Pigot, Master of the Wards. These agents spared no pains to urge on the English Members that the adventurers and soldiers were in possession, with power and strength to hold the lands, and had the title of the Acts of 17 and 18 Charles I., also the King's Breda Declaration, on the faith of which they advanced the King's Restoration. On the other hand, the Irish acted so imprudently that they alienated the Duke of Ormond, who was disposed to befriend them, and whose knowledge of Ireland during the recent troubles would have given great weight to his suggestions. In another letter to the Lord Chancellor, the Duke says: 'We are in the heat of our debates upon the great Bill, and I fear the liberty allowed the Irish to speak for themselves will turn to their prejudice, by the unskilful use they make of it in justifying themselves, instructing the King and his Council in what is good for them, and recriminating of others.' [Carte's Ormond, vol. ii. P. 233.]

One of the most active, and, if his own statement could be credited, influential, agents for the Irish was Colonel Richard Talbot, youngest son of Sir William Talbot, a lawyer [Ibid. p. 233.] and a man of good parts, who by his prudence and management had acquired a large estate, which he left to his eldest son, Sir Robert Talbot. When the King declared 'he would have the English interest established in Ireland,' the unfortunate Irish Catholics knew they were to be the sufferers, and, imagining the Duke of Ormond had not befriended them as he ought, were extremely angry. Colonel Talbot expostulated roughly with the Duke, and told him his mind in such strong language, that his Grace felt it looked like a challenge, and waiting on the King, desired 'to know if it was his Majesty's pleasure that at this ,time of day he should put off his doublet to fight duels with Dick Talbot.' The King feeling the Talbot slight put on the Duke was undeserved, had Colonel Talbot committed to the Tower, whence he was released upon making an. apology. [Ibid. 236.] We may suppose this imprisonment made a deep impression on the ambitious Talbot, and when he was subsequently of equal rank with the Duke of Ormond, he was urgent in obtaining the repeal of the obnoxious Act of Settlement.

In order to strengthen the King and the English Parliament in supporting the cause of the adventurers and soldiers against the Irish Catholic proprietary, the agents of the English party spread a report of an intended Irish rebellion, founded upon meetings of the Irish Catholics for the performance of religious ceremonies at a jubilee. The Lord Chancellor was well persuaded of the injustice, and the mischief which was likely to flow from this misrepresentation. He saw through the design of those who spread the report, and resolved to counteract it as far as he could. He directed the Judges in their Circuits to cause the matter to be enquired into by the grand juries of the several counties through which they passed. The reports of the Judges - the findings of the juries, were decisive of the falsehood of this report. There was general tranquillity - calm everywhere; no preparations for a rising, or any reason to apprehend one, Yet the Lords Justices or at least Lords Orrery and Mountrath, stated that it would be destructive to the English interest to admit the Irish to settle and trade in corporate towns, or to allow Roman Catholic lawyers to practise in their profession, both which had been allowed by his Majesty's letters, The Earl of Mountrath also seconded a motion in the Irish House of Peers, moved by Lord Conway, 'That the Irish Catholic Peers should be removed out of the House, and some course taken by the Lords Justices to exclude them from sitting.' This motion was strongly resisted by the Lord Chancellor, and rejected with indignation.' Meantime the Act of Settlement was the law of the land, and the Catholics discovered that their claims were postponed until those adventurers and soldiers, whom the power of Cromwell had placed in their ancestral estates, should be compensated.

True the King had promised while in exile that their just rights should be respected, and Ormond had expressly renewed this promise for the King before he left for Breda; nay more, Charles told his Parliament, on his Restoration, that 'he expected they would have a care of his honour and of the promise he had made.' These most solemn engagements were so regularly violated when Irish affairs were concerned, that nothing else could have been expected. [Illustrated History of Ireland, p. 521.] In order to allay any rising fears on the part of the anti-Irish settlers that they would be disturbed in their recently acquired estates, the Duke of Ormond, in a letter to the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, dated March 9, 1662, informs him, 'that the support and security of the true Protestant English interest was the earnest desire of his Majesty, and the assiduous endeavour of his servants would clearly appear, when it should be considered, how the Council and Parliament were composed; and withal if it be remembered of whom the army consisted; who were in judicature in the King's Courts; who were appointed by his Majesty for executing the Act of Settlement; and who were in magistracy in the towns and counties; in which trusts is founded the security, interest, amid preference of a people.' [Com. Jour. Vol. ii. p. 299.]

Although a Court of Claims sat in Dublin to try the claims of those Irish who were ejected during the Commonwealth, and the framer of the Act took care few claimants could be benefited thereby, yet the Puritan faction was Puritan alarmed. They devised a plan for seizing the castle and raising a rebellion. Some members of the House of Commons, several officers of the army, and Puritan ministers combined under the leadership of a man named Blood. The castle was to have been seized on May 21, 1663. The Duke of Ormond, then Lord Lieutenant, had information in time to prevent the execution of the plot. A number of the conspirators were seized, of whom four were hanged. This put an end to the conspiracy, which was of a nature likely to have been very formidable. Disbanded soldiers of the Cromwellian army intended to place Ludlow at their head. The King and House of Lords were to be abolished, and instead of Bishops, a 'sober and painful ministry' were to preside over matters of religion. Seven members of Parliament were among the conspirators; they were ignominiously expelled, and the prisons of Dublin were crowded with traitors.

Ormond was recalled to England to assist in preparing a new Act. This was called the 'Act of Explanations.' It provided that Protestants should be guaranteed possession of their estates, and that only such Catholics as were declared 'innocent' should be entitled to claim any lands.

Owing to this proviso, three thousand persons were excluded from any chance of recovering their estates, which they beheld, with bitterness and sorrow, transferred to soldiers and adventurers who had been their foes in the war when they fought for the King. While these men were left to starvation and beggary, the Acts of Settlement and Explanation rankled in their hearts; and we can hardly feel much surprise, bearing this chapter of Irish history in our memory, how within a few years, these Irish Catholic gentlemen struggled to obtain the repeal of those measures which, in their eyes, were but legalised injustice.

Sir Maurice Eustace continued Chancellor until failing health obliged him to relinquish the Great Seal to Archbishop Boyle, who was appointed his successor,

The Ex-Lord Chancellor took great delight in his country seat of Harristown, and by his taste for the picturesque, so aided the natural beauties of the locality, that Harristown was regarded the handsomest seat in that part of Ireland. The house was spacious and commodious, supplied with convenient and well-placed offices. A lofty terrace commanded a lovely prospect in which wood and water combined to delight the eye and please the mind. On a transparent lake the stately swan and smaller aquatic fowls floated, while a miniature ship, perfectly rigged, sufficiently large for a pleasure yacht, attracted attention from its complete proportions. The neighbouring woods were well stocked with game, and the grounds laid out with exquisite taste and kept neat and trim. Stately avenues, bowers impervious to the sun, broad alleys of noble trees met the eye in every direction, while fruit and flower gardens displayed the skill of the florist and horticulturist.

Sir Maurice Eustace died in 1665, having by will, made that year, bequeathed his chief estates in Kildare, Dublin, and Wicklow, together with the Abbey of Cong, in the county of Mayo, and its appurtenances, severally to his nephews, Sir John and Sir Maurice Eustace, in tail male. He also devised to the Provost and Board of Trinity College, Dublin, a rent charge of 20l. per annum, chargeable on the great house built by him in Dame Street, [King James, Irish Army List by D'Alton, p. 720. Probably where Eustace Street now stands.] for the maintenance of an Hebrew lecturer.

With a desire to rest among his kindred, he directed his remains to be interred in the old family vault at Castlemartin, However, for what motive does not appear, this request was not complied with, for he was buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral. [Ibid. p. 720.] While Sir Maurice Eustace was a Chancellor there was a fair share of business in the Court, and his great talents as a lawyer enabled him to dispose of the business satisfactorily to the suitors and the profession.

Back to Top

These pages Ronald Eustice, 2007