Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gookin, Vincent (1616?-1659)

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GOOKIN, VINCENT (1616?–1659), surveyor-general of Ireland, eldest son of Sir Vincent Gookin [q. v.], appears shortly after the death of his father to have disposed of his Gloucestershire property to a Dr. Samuel Bave, and to have migrated to Ireland, where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 492). Although a firm believer in the ‘plantation policy’ as a means of reducing Ireland to ‘civility and good government,’ he was one of the few colonists who really seem to have had the interest of Ireland at heart. He is chiefly known to us as the author of the remarkable pamphlet, ‘The Great Case of Transplantation discussed; or certain Considerations, wherein the many great inconveniences in Transplanting the Natives of Ireland generally out of the three Provinces of Leinster, Ulster, and Munster into the Province of Connaught are shown, humbly tendered to every individual Member of Parliament by a Well-wisher to the good of the Commonwealth of England,’ 4to, London, for J. C., 1655. In this pamphlet Gookin endeavoured to prove that if not indeed impossible, it was certainly contrary to ‘religion, profit, and safety,’ to strictly enforce the orders and instructions for the removal of all the Irish natives into Connaught, based upon the act for the satisfaction of the adventurers of 26 Sept. 1653. This pamphlet is evidently very rare. It is not mentioned by Ware in his ‘Writers of Ireland.’ There is a copy (perhaps unique) in the Haliday collection in the Royal Irish Academy. Mr. J. P. Prendergast, who first called attention to it, gives a fairly complete abstract of it in his ‘Cromwellian Settlement.’ Though exceedingly temperate in its tone, it immediately elicited a sharp rejoinder from Colonel Richard Lawrence, a prominent member of the committee of transplantation. Gookin replied in ‘The Author and Case of Transplanting the Irish into Connaught vindicated from the unjust aspersions of Col. R. Lawrence,’ 4to, London, 1655. He had been charged with being a degenerate Englishman, and with having been corrupted by the Irish. He denies the charge indignantly, and says that he was elected by the English of Kinsale and Bandon to the last (Barebones) parliament, and his constituents had shown their regard for him by offering to pay his expenses to England. The controversy forms an episode in the great struggle, culminating in the appointment of Henry Cromwell as chief governor of Ireland in September 1655, for the substitution of a settled civil government in place of the rule of a clique of officers. For Henry Cromwell, even perhaps more than for Oliver, Gookin felt a profound admiration, and seems to have been the author of the ‘Ancient Protestants' Petition’ in defence of the former against the attacks of the military clique. There is an interesting account of the presentation of this petition to Cromwell, in a letter by Gookin to Henry Cromwell, in Lansdowne MS. No. 822, f. 26-7, dated 21 Oct. 1656. The gist of the petition, which, for prudential reasons, was not published, may be gathered from a subsequent letter by Gookin to the Protector on 22 Nov. 1656 (Thurloe, State Papers, v. 646-9). Gookin's views on this and other topics of historical importance are interesting and intelligent. Speaking in 1657 of the Decimating Bill at that time before parliament, he says: ‘In my opinion those that speak against the bill have much to say in point of moral justice and prudence; but that which makes me fear the passing of the bill is that thereby his highness ‘government will be more founded in force and more removed from that natural foundation which the people in parliament are desirous to give him’ (ib. vi. 20, 37). On 7 July 1656 he was appointed, along with Dr. Petty and Miles Symner, to apportion to the soldiers the lands allotted to them in payment of their arrears (Down Survey, p. 185). It appears from a letter to Henry Cromwell on 14 April 1657, petitioning for an abatement of rent on lands granted him in 1650 ‘for favour’ (Carte MSS. vol. xliv. f. 360), that he did not turn any of his offices to his own personal advantage (Lansdowne MS. No. 822, f. 30). He represented Kinsale and Bandon under the Commonwealth, except in 1659, when, for party purposes, he surrendered his seat to Dr. Petty, and successfully contested Cork and Youghal against Lord Broghill (ib. f. 23). He died the same year intestate, letters of administration being granted on 17 Jan. 1660 to his wife, Mary Salmon of Dublin, by whom he had two sons and a daughter (Salisbury, Family Memorials). As tolerant as he was enlightened, he was a man of strong religious convictions, and an ardent republican.

His younger brother, Captain Robert Gookin (d. 1667), of Courtmacsherry, served in Ireland during the civil war, taking a prominent part in the defection of the Munster forces in 1648, and being actively engaged in the surrender of Bandon in the following year. In 1652, in pursuance of an agreement with the commissioners of the parliament, he fortified the abbey of Ross Carberry, co. Cork, for which he afterwards claimed and received compensation. Under the Commonwealth he received considerable grants of forfeited land, which, in order to secure at the approach of the Restoration, he conveyed to Roger Boyle, earl of Orrery, taking a lease of them for one hundred years. He died in 1666-7 (ib.)

[Salisbury's Family Memorials; Notes and Queries; Prendergast's Cromwellian Settlement; Thurloe State Papers, vols. v. vi. ; Somers Tracts, vi. 250, 345; Addit. MS. 18986 f. 204, 22546 ff. 168, 172; Lansdowne MS. No. 822, ff. 23-30; Petty's Hist. of the Down Survey, ed. General Larcom for the Irish Arch. Society, 1851.]

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