Malby, Nicholas (DNB00)
|←Malard, Michael||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 35
MALBY, Sir NICHOLAS (1530?–1584), president of Connaught, descended from an old Yorkshire family of that name, was born probably about 1530. In 1556 his name appears in a list of persons willing to take part in the plantation of Leix in Ireland (State Papers, Ireland, Mary, i. 21). On 6 Aug. 1562 he was found guilty of coining, and, with three of his associates, was condemned to death (Machyn, Diary, p. 290). He was, however, reprieved on consenting to serve under Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick, in France (State Papers, Dom. Eliz. xxiv. 41). His letters show him to have been a man of education and intelligence, and in April 1563 he is described as Warwick's secretary (Cal. State Papers, For. viii. 294). He served with credit during the war, and in 1565 was sent to Spain, where he was commended for his judicious conduct by Phayre, the English minister at Madrid (ib. ix. 520). On his return to England he was sent to Ireland, and was shortly afterwards appointed sergeant-major of the army by Sir Henry Sidney (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 1191). After the death of Shane O'Neill in 1567 he was stationed at Carrickfergus in order to assist Captain Piers in keeping the Scots of the Glynns in check (ib. No. 1196). He was reproved by the lords justices for distraining Sir Brian MacPhelim O'Neill's and other Irishmen's cattle for cess, but his conduct was justified by Sir Henry Sidney (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xxii. 28, 37). His position was a difficult one, and he complained that he had to feed his men at the cost of his carcass (ib. xxiii. 37, 39), but he displayed considerable tact in his management of Sorley Boy MacDonnell [q. v.] , and Sidney, on visiting the north in October 1568, found the charge committed to him in very good state (ib. xxvi. 12). In July 1569 he was sent to the assistance of Sir Peter Carew [q. v.] against the Butlers (Hooker, Life of Sir P. Carew, ed. Maclean, p. 92), and in a skirmish near Carlow he was severely hurt by a fall from his horse. He was warmly commended for his bravery and military skill by Sir W. Fitzwilliam and Sir Edward Fitton, and on 22 March 1571 he obtained a grant of the office of collector of the customs of Strangford, Ardglass, and Dundrum (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 1772).
In the spring of 1571 he visited England. He strongly advocated colonising the north of Ireland with Englishmen as the best means of preventing the growth of a Scottish power in those parts (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xxiii. 37), and on 5 Oct. 1571 he obtained a grant of MacCartan's country, corresponding to the modern barony of Kinelarty in county Down, on condition that he planted it with civil and loyal subjects before 28 March 1579. On his way back to Ireland in February 1572 he captured a Spanish ship in the Channel (ib. xxxv. 22, 23). On 10 April he received a commission to execute martial law in MacCartan's country, but the indiscretion of Thomas Smith in publishing his scheme for the plantation of the Ardes and Upper Clandeboye, by putting the Irish on their guard, placed insuperable obstacles in the way of realising his plan. He succeeded in reducing Sir Brian O'Neill to temporary submission in October 1572, and in the following month captured that chieftain's youngest daughter; but, notwithstanding his utmost exertions in conjunction with Smith, and at a later period with Walter Devereux, earl of Essex [q. v.] , he failed to establish himself permanently in the country assigned to him (ib. xxxviii. 26, 38, xxxix. 45, xlii. 58, xlviii. 57, i.). His efforts were, however, warmly appreciated by Essex, and though, as Waterhouse said, a man of few words and an ill courtier, but of great reputation among soldiers (ib. xlix. 1), he was chosen by him to report to the privy council on the situation of affairs in the north in December 1574 (ib. xlviii. 66). He returned to Ireland on 5 May 1575 with special instructions for the Earl of Essex, and with an order for his own admission to the privy council (Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 4–7). He had made a good impression on Leicester and Walsingham, who recommended him to the queen for the government of Connaught, but several months elapsed before their recommendation took effect (Collins, Sidney Papers, i. 70). During the summer of that year he took part in Essex's expedition against Sorley Boy, and may possibly have assisted at the massacre of the MacDonnells on the island of Rathlin (Devereux, Lives of the Earls of Essex, i. 108–17).
He accompanied Sir Henry Sidney into Connaught in September 1576, and having been knighted by him on 7 Oct. (cf. Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 149, where 1578 is evidently a mistake for 1576), was appointed colonel, or military governor, of that province (Collins, Sidney Papers, i. 129). As soon as he had established himself firmly in his government, Malby proceeded against John and Ulick Burke, sons of the Earl of Clanricarde. It was the dead of winter, but for twenty-one days he harried their countries with fire and sword, sparing neither young nor old (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lvii. 40). The vigour he displayed, and the success that attended his efforts, drew from Sidney, who was at first doubtful of his qualifications for the post, unstinted praise (Collins, Sidney Papers, i. 151, 166). His strict observance of military discipline and his impartial administration of justice gained for him the respect of the soldiers and natives alike (Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, ii. 339). On 19 May 1577 he was placed on the commission for ecclesiastical causes (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 3047). In October, after arranging a feud between O'Conor Don and MacDonough, he, at O'Conor Sligo's request, attacked the castle of Bundrowes, and having captured it from O'Donnell, restored it to O'Conor Sligo. But not having much confidence in the loyalty of the latter, he appointed Richard MacSwine sheriff of the county of Sligo. He had hardly turned his back when O'Donnell invaded the county, slew the sheriff, and besieged Bundrowes, compelling him to retrace his steps. He drove O'Donnell out of the county, but was unable to overtake him (Annals of Loch Cé, ii. 415–19). At Sligo, on his way back to Roscommon, he came to terms with Brian O'Rourke, but the arrangement did not last long, owing to O'Rourke's refusal to expel certain coiners he maintained. In April 1578 Malby invaded his country, captured his chief castle, and put the entire garrison to the sword (Collins, Sidney Papers, i. 249). In connection with this episode, and considering his own antecedents, it is curious to find Malby about this time interceding with Walsingham for his friend Thomas Bavand of Liverpool, suspected of coining (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lix. 48).
In the autumn of 1578 he repaired to England, returning to Ireland in May 1579, with the higher title of president of Connaught (Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 154). After the failure of Essex's colonisation project, his grant of MacCartan's country had been, by Sidney's advice, revoked (Collins, Sidney Papers, i. 76); but in consideration of his recent services, and the losses he had formerly sustained, he, on 12 April 1579, received a grant of the manor and lordship of Roscommon, together with an annual rent of 200l. out of the composition paid by the O'Farrells, and certain lands in Longford (Morrin, Cal. Pat. Rolls, ii. 17). During his absence in England his officers and soldiers behaved badly, but Connaught remained tranquil (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxvi. 67, 68). So firmly established, indeed, was the peace of the province, that on the outbreak of James Fitzmaurice's rebellion in July, Malby, with six hundred well-furnished troops, marched to Limerick to co-operate with the lord justice, Sir William Drury [q. v.] . Owing to Drury's illness the task of suppressing the rebellion devolved mainly upon him. He displayed commendable zeal in prosecuting the rebels, and on 3 Oct. he defeated Sir John and Sir James of Desmond at Monasteranenagh in county Limerick (ib. lxviii. 45, lxix. 17, 52). He strongly suspected the Earl of Desmond of disloyalty, and after several ineffectual efforts (ib. lxix. 52, i–ix.) to secure his co-operation, treated him as a rebel; while Desmond, without much reason, complained that Malby's severity was a chief cause of his rebellion (ib. lxix. 70, lxxvii. 52).
On the arrival of the Earl of Ormonde in November with a commission to command the army in Munster, Malby returned to his charge in Connaught. He belonged to the Leicester faction, and for this and other more personal reasons bore no goodwill to Ormonde, whom he subsequently charged with misrepresenting his services in Munster, and with abetting disorder in Connaught. With the exception of Richard Burke, called Richard of the Iron, or Iron Dick, none of the Connaught chiefs had shown any active sympathy with the Munster rebels. In February 1580 Malby invaded his country and drove him to seek safety among the islands in Clew Bay. After suffering the most terrible privations, Richard of the Iron submitted to the garrison at Burrishoole (ib. lxxii. 39). During the siege of Carrigfoyle, Malby assisted the operations of the lord justice, Sir William Pelham [q. v.] , with supplies from Connaught (Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 238). In August O'Rourke, animated by the expectation of foreign assistance, rebelled and dismantled the castle of Leitrim. Malby immediately took the field against him, repaired and garrisoned the castle, and routed the rebels (ib. ii. 297). Then, hastening to Dublin to the assistance of the lord deputy, Arthur, lord Grey of Wilton [q. v.], against Baltinglas and Fiagh MacHugh O'Byrne [q. v.] , he witnessed the disastrous defeat of the English forces at Glenmalure (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxv. 79, 82). But the news that O'Rourke was again in arms compelled him, in spite of ill-health, to return at once to Connaught (ib. lxxvi. 15; Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 310). To those who complained that he used the sword too sharply in his government he replied that if the queen did not use it more sharply she would lose both sword and realm (ib. ii. 314). O'Rourke fled at his approach (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxvii. 54), but a new danger instantly presented itself in the rebellion of John and Ulick Burke, who, at the instigation of the catholic bishop of Kilmacduagh, had proclaimed a religious war, and were making wild efforts to relieve the Spaniards at Smerwick (ib. lxxviii. 41).
Even after the capture of Smerwick the situation was sufficiently alarming to cause Grey to send reinforcements to Malby (ib. lxxviii. 59), but by the end of January 1581 the latter announced that he had been so far successful against the rebels that 'they dare not look abroad, but, like wild wolves, keep the woods and the mountains.' O'Rourke, as usual, took advantage of the situation, and invaded Roscommon, but Malby sent Captain Brabazon against him, and O'Rourke at once sued for peace (Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 320). Towards the end of February a body of six hundred Scots invaded the province to co-operate with the Burkes, but Malby had timely notice of their arrival, and before the latter could join them he attacked them, and after killing a number of them drove them across the Moy. At Strade Abbey, in county Mayo, he decided a controversy between Richard of the Iron Burke and Richard MacOliver, allowing the title of MacWilliam to the former, and making the latter sheriff of the county of Mayo (see Malby's graphic description of his journey in State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxxi. 42, i.; and also in Cotton MSS. Titus B. xiii. ff. 320–5).
Important as were his services, it was grievous, Grey complained, to see good Sir Nicholas Malby so thanklessly used (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxxii. 48). He was anxious to lay his case before the queen personally, and in May he agreed to a short peace with the Burkes (ib. lxxxviii. 10), but on the outbreak of hostilities between Turlough Luineach O'Neill and Sir Hugh O'Donnell in July, he was ordered to the assistance of the latter. He marched as far as Lifford, and having destroyed the town, effected a junction with the lord deputy (ib. lxxxv. 47; Annals of Loch Cé, ii. 441). Towards the close of November he went to England to report on the general situation of affairs in Ireland. But, so far as he was personally concerned, his visit was not successful. His enemies charged him with violent, tyrannical, and corrupt conduct in his administration, and Elizabeth showed a disposition to listen to the charge. He returned to Ireland on 21 May 1582, and was warmly welcomed by his brother officers. During his absence, Connaught, except for some slight disturbance created by MacWilliam, had remained tranquil. Early in July, however, Con O'Donnell, at the instigation of Turlough Luineach, invaded Sligo. Malby complained that the order forbidding him to raise men by cessing them on the country rendered him powerless to meet this danger. But O'Conor Sligo behaved well, and at Malby's approach O'Donnell decamped in such haste that some of his men were drowned in crossing the Erne (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xciv. 15, 20, 32).
After this nothing occurred during his lifetime to disturb the peace of his government. The fear of Malby, wrote Barnaby Gooche to Burghley in March 1583, keeps all in good order; his 'common dalliance' is 'veni, vidi, vici' (ib. c. 14). But he was deeply wounded by Elizabeth's neglect. His disgrace and his debts, he declared, would kill him. His constitution, naturally robust, had been undermined by rough service, and on 4 March 1584 he died at Athlone (ib. cviii. 6). 'There came not to Erin in his own time, nor often before, a better gentleman of the Foreigners than he, and he placed all Connaught under bondage … and executed many works, especially in the courts of the towns of Athlone and Roscommon' (Annals of Loch Cé, ii. 459). 'He was a man learned in the languages and tongues of the islands of the west of Europe, a brave and victorious man in battles' (Annals of the Four Masters, s.a. 1584). His official letters, remarkable for their vigorous and graphic style, fully confirm this reputation.
Malby married Thomasine, daughter of Robert Lamb of Leeds, whose wife was a Castell of the Castells of East Hatley in Cambridgeshire (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xci. 59). By her he had a son, Henry, who succeeded him, and married Elizabeth, granddaughter of Sir Francis Jobson, lieutenant of the Tower, and was killed apparently in November 1602, while serving in Connaught; and a daughter, Ursula, who was married to Anthony Brabazon (Irish pedigrees, Harl. MS. 1425, f. 157). Lady Malby subsequently married one George Rawe.
[Stevenson's Cal. State Papers, For. vols. vii–ix.; Hamilton's Cal. State Papers, Ireland, vols. i–ii.; Cal. Carew MSS. vols. i–ii.; Collins's Sidney Papers; O'Donovan's Annals of the Four Masters; Hennessy's Annals of Loch Cé; Morrin's Cal. of Patent Rolls, Eliz.; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; W. G. Wood-Martin's Hist. of Sligo; C. O. O'Conor's O'Conors of Connaught.]