Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clotworthy, John

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CLOTWORTHY, Sir JOHN, first Lord Massereene (d. 1665), was the son of Sir Hugh Clotworthy, knt., sheriff of the county of Antrim, and descended from the Devonshire family of that name. He was one of the largest landowners in the county of Antrim (Aphorismical Discovery, i. 335), and appears as the representative of those who held under the charter of the London corporation in their dealings with Strafford (Strafford Papers, ii. 222). During Strafford's rule he more than once came into collision with the lord deputy. Lady Clotworthy was convened as a nonconformist (ib. ii. 278), and Clotworthy himself, for opposing one of Strafford's illegal proclamations, was severely reprimanded and threatened with arrest (Rushworth, Strafford's Trial, p. 419). On the call of the Long parliament Clotworthy was returned for the borough of Maldon, and became agent between the English and Irish malcontents (Carte, i. 217). Directly parliament assembled he attacked Strafford (Diurnal Occurrences, 7 Nov.), and he seconded Pym's proposal for a committee on Irish grievances. During the earl's trial Clotworthy was one of the managers for the third article, and one of the witnesses for the thirteenth (Rushworth). He was also active on religious questions, and is charged by the Irish catholics with instigating petitions in Ireland, 'which petitions contained matters destructive to the said catholiques, and were the more to be feared, by reason of the active power of the said Sir John Clotworthy in the Commons' House' (Bellings, ii. 233). He was also charged with having said ' that the conversion of the papists in Ireland was only to be effected by the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other ' (Nalson, ii. 636). The Irish plot to seize Dublin Castle was discovered through an attempt to induce Clotworthy's servant, Owen O Connolly, to join the conspiracy. 'Whereas you have of long time been a slave to that puritan,' said Macmahon to O'Connolly, 'I hope you shall have as good a man to wait on you;' but O'Connolly preferred to inform the lords justices. Immediately the rebellion broke out Clotworthy's regiment was armed and despatched to Ireland, probably under the command of his brother James; for Sir John Clotworthy appears to have remained in England (Caste, ii. 237; A True Relation of the Taking of Mountjoy, in the County of Tyrone, by Col. Clotworthy, 1642, reprinted by Gilbert). He appears in the list of adventurers for the recovery of Ireland as subscribing 1,000l., and was one of the persons appointed to execute the doubling ordinance (Carte, iv. 49). He was also an active member of the committee of both kingdoms, and took part in the prosecution of Laud. When Laud was executed Clotworthy annoyed him on the scaffold with impertinent questions, 'asking him what was the comfortablest saying for a dying man, and on what his assurance of salvation was founded' (Heylym, Life of Laud, p. 536). In October 1646 he was commissioned to negotiate with the Earl of Ormonde about the surrender of Dublin to the parliament, but returned unsuccessfully in the following February (Rushworth, vi. 418-44). In the following March and April he was one of the commissioners employed to pacify the English army, and was equally unsuccessful. Lilburne and others had already brought against Clotworthy the charge of embezzling the supplies raised for Ireland (Regal Tyranny discovered, p. 102), and the army now proceeded to accuse him, not only of embezzlement, but also of holding secret intelligence with Ormonde, and obstructing Lord Lisle's authority (A Particular Charge of Impeachment against the Eleven Members, 1647, Charges 12-14). Clotworthy and the other accused members published a joint reply, denying and refuting the charges of the army (A Full Vindication and Defence of the Accused Members, 1647). Nevertheless, he, with the rest, was obliged to withdraw from the House of Commons on 20 July, and when summoned, on the 30th, to take his seat again, he took flight to France, but was pursued, captured, and brought back. Finally, on 28 Jan. 1648, Clotworthy was disabled from sitting any longer in the house. During the second civil war, however, the presbyterian party took courage again, and referred his case to a committee (19 June 1648), with the result that he was received back to the house, and the election of another member in his place declared null and void (26 June, Journals of the House of Commons). Pride's Purge expelled Clotworthy again from the house, and it was followed by his arrest (12 Dec. 1648). The protest signed by Clotworthy, Waller, Massey, and Copley is given by Walker (History of Independency, ii. 40). He was, nevertheless, imprisoned until about November 1651 (Cal. State Papers, Dom.) Besides the general charge of stirring up war between the parliament and the army, the old charges of embezzlement were revived, and in 1651 he was further accused of being privy to Love's plot. After his release he took little part in public affairs. We hear of him, in April 1653, obtaining a license to transport Irishmen to foreign parts, and on 6 Aug. 1654 Cromwell appointed him one of the committee established to determine differences among the adventurers for Irish lands (Collection of Cromwell's Ordinances). Two years later Baillie wrote to Spang about Clotworthy's plan of founding a college in Antrim (Baillie, Letters, iii. 312).

On the Restoration Clotworthy once more took a leading part in public affairs. He was sent to England in March 1660 to represent the interests of the Irish adventurers and the soldiers settled in Ireland (for his instructions see Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. 99). In their interests he proposed an act to confirm all estates of soldiers and adventurers as they stood on 7 May 1659 (Carte, iv. 26), and while making very favourable terms for them, provided still better for himself (ib. p. 61). At the same time he vigorously defended the cause of the Irish presbyterians. 'Only Sir John Clotworthy, wrote Clarendon, 'dissembled not his old animosity against the bishops, the cross, and the surplice, and wished that all might be abolished; though he knew well that his vote would signify nothing towards it. And that spirit of his had been so long known, that it was now imputed to sincerity and plain dealing, and that he would not dissemble, and was the less ill thought of, because in all other respects he was of a generous and jovial nature, and complied in all designs which might advance the king's interest and service' (Life, ii. 380). This compliance was rewarded by the title of Viscount Massereene (21 Nov. 1660), which he enjoyed for five years, dying on 25 Sept. 1665.

[Archdall's Peerage of Ireland; Foster's Peerage; Carte's Life of Ormonde (edit. 1851); Gilbert's Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland; History of the Irish Catholic Confederation; Rushworth; Clarendon's History of the Rebellion; Walker's History of Independency; Cal. State Papers, Dom.]

C. H. F.