Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 52.djvu/225

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Sidney
Sidney
215

vinced by what he saw of the necessity of having a resident governor both in Munster and Connaught. Leaving Limerick on 27 Feb. for Galway, he took stringent measures for the prevention in the future of the mutual spoils of the Earl of Thomond and Teige Mac Murrough O'Brien. After executing divers malefactors, he annexed Thomond to Connaught under the name of county Clare, at the same time dividing the province itself into the four shires of Sligo, Mayo, Galway, and Roscommon. Galway itself he found much decayed owing to the ‘horible spoyle’ of the Earl of Clanricarde's two sons, whom he committed to the custody of the marshal, and, having spent three weeks there, he departed for Athlone. Passing through Athenry, which he found a heap of ashes, he took measures to rebuild it by levying a tax on the surrounding district, making the Earl of Clanricarde responsible for the execution of his orders. At Athlone he was gratified by good reports of the state of affairs in the new county of Longford. He returned to Dublin on 13 April. Shortly afterwards he, very unwisely as it proved, allowed Clanricarde's sons to return home. The news that they had revolted reached him on 23 June as he was on his way into Munster. Altering his course without a moment's delay, he took the rebels completely by surprise, and, though the two principal offenders escaped, he made sure of their father. Captains Le Strange and Collier, with fifty horse and one hundred foot, were left at Loughrea to keep the peace as well as might be pending the appointment of Nicholas Malby [q. v.] as president of Connaught. Sidney pushed on to Limerick, intending, after placing Sir William Drury [q. v.] in the presidency of Munster, to revisit Carrickfergus before Michaelmas. In this, however, he was disappointed. The Burkes, aided by a body of Scots mercenaries, proved too much for Le Strange and Collier, and Sidney was again in September obliged to take the field against them. But after driving them across the Moy, and beginning a bridge across the Suck, he left the enterprise to Malby and returned to Dublin on 13 Oct.

Meanwhile, in his efforts to raise a permanent revenue, he had fallen foul of the gentry of the Pale on the matter of cess, which, according to his own interpretation, was ‘nothinge ells but a prerogatyve of the prince and an agreement and consent, by the nobilitie and counsell, to impose vpon the countrie a certeine proporcion of victuall of all kindes, to be delyvered and issued at a reasonable rate.’ His endeavour to commute the cess levied on the Pale for an annual sum of 2,000l. brought matters to a crisis, and the principal gentry, headed by Lords Delvin [see Nugent, Sir Christopher, fourteenth Baron Delvin], Howth, and Trimleston, having taken up the position that cess in itself was unconstitutional, the question was referred for decision to the privy council. In England the complainants' agents or ‘commonwealth men,’ as they called themselves, met with scant consideration, being promptly clapped in the Fleet for impugning the queen's prerogative, while Sidney pursued a similar course in regard to the principals in Ireland. Elizabeth was annoyed at the question having been raised; but it was more than Sidney's proud spirit could brook to be told that he was ever ‘a costly servant, and had alienated her Highness her good subjects' hearts.’ He retorted that, had it not been for the breaking out of that ‘base varlet Rory Oge O'More’ [q. v.], he ‘would have left the sword and gone over without leave.’ As it was, he found a warm defender at court in his son Philip, though perhaps a more judicious one in his wife. During the summer of 1577, while the quarrel was still at its height, he scoured the country after the new disturber of the public peace. Rory Oge by a lucky chance managed to entrap the deputy's nephew, Harry Harrington, whom he refused to release except on ‘such conditions as I would not,’ said Sidney, ‘have enlarged Philip my son.’ A heavy price was put on the rebel's head, but it was not till the last day of June 1578 that he was run to death by Sidney's ‘sworn brother,’ Barnaby Fitzpatrick, baron of Upper Ossory [q. v.] Meanwhile, though deeply wounded by what he considered the queen's ingratitude, Sidney kept an anxious eye on every part of the kingdom. Visiting Newry in August, he was gratified by Turlough's loyal demeanour, ‘as many hours as I could get him sober,’ and about Christmas time, being apprehensive that the Earl of Desmond was meditating rebellion, he sent for him and his countess to repair to Kilkenny, where finally, ‘though with much ado,’ he effected ‘a sound pacification of all quarrels’ between him and Drury, president of Munster. Christmas over, he held a sessions there, and, though greatly thwarted by ‘the Ormondists,’ he caused many residents in that county to be indicted in an orderly fashion and executed for abetting and aiding Rory Oge.

But his failure to govern as economically as Elizabeth had expected, though he protested against the construction placed by her on the 20,000l. agreement, deprived him of the little favour he still retained at court, and in January 1578 Walsingham privately bade him put his affairs in order, as it was