Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/MacDonnell, Randal (1609-1683)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MACDONNELL, RANDAL, Viscount Dunluce, second Earl and first Marquis of Antrim (1609–1683), eldest son of Sir Randal MacDonnell, viscount Dunluce and first earl of Antrim [q. v.], was born in 1609. He was 'bred the highland way,' and till he was seven or eight years old 'wore neither hat, cap, nor shoe, nor stocking.' At his birth he was assigned in wardship, in the event of his father's death, to James Hamilton, first earl of Abercorn, his father agreeing, under a penalty of 3,000l., that he should in due time marry the Lady Lucy Hamilton. But afterwards matching him to a daughter of the Duke of Lennox, he was in 1627 compelled to discharge his bond. Having spent some time travelling on the continent, Dunluce was on his return in 1634 introduced at court. There he became enamoured of Katherine Manners, widow of the Duke of Buckingham, and in April 1635 induced that lady, much to the king's disgust, to become his wife. At court he lived in magnificent style and contracted enormous debts (Hill, MacDonnells, App. p. xix).

On the outbreak of the rebellion in Scotland he, at his own urgent request, was authorised in June 1639 to raise forces to attack the Earl of Argyll in his own country. But he miscalculated his ability, and the design miscarried. After the pacification of Berwick he attended the king for a time at Oxford, but on 17 June 1640 he took his seat in the Irish House of Lords. In Dublin he resided in Lord Ely's house, which he appears to have leased till the outbreak of the rebellion in October 1641, when he removed to the residence of his brother-in-law, Lord Slane, at Slane's Castle in co. Meath. By taking this step he gave rise to a rumour that he sympathised with the rebels, and feeling it necessary to dissociate himself from Lord Slane, who had thrown in his lot with the catholic nobility and gentry of the pale, he removed to Maddenstown, near Kildare, the residence of the Earl of Castlehaven. He remained there till after the battle of Kilrush on 15 April 1642, when, taking advantage of a passage recently opened into the north by the capture of Newry, he sent his wife to England, and repaired to Dunluce, where he arrived on 28 April. At Money more, on his way northward, he had an interview with Sir Phelim O'Neill [q. v.], by whom he is improbably said to have been influenced in his political views.

Shortly after his arrival in the north he was able, by his influence with his kinsman Alaster MacColl MacDonnell [see Macdonald or Macdonnell, Alexander or Alaster], who commanded the army besieging Coleraine, to revictual that city. But he was shortly afterwards, in May 1642, treacherously taken prisoner in his own castle of Dunluce by Major-general Robert Monro [q. v.], and confined in Lord Chichester's house of Joymount in Carrickfergus, to gratify, it is said by Carte, Antrim's hereditary enemy, Argyll, but more probably because, being a Roman catholic, he was naturallv suspected to be also a rebel. About six months afterwards he succeeded by an ingenious stratagem (Baillie, Letters, i. 366) in effecting his escape into the northern parts of England, and proceeding to York, where the queen then was, he suggested the idea of raising a force to co-operate with the Marquis of Montrose in Scotland. But being shortly afterwards commanded to return to Ireland to assist in bringing about a cessation of hostilities, he was immediately on his landing near Newcastle, in co. Down,in May 1643, again taken prisoner by Monro and confined in Carrickfergus Castle. Certain letters relating to the cessation which were discovered on his person were sent by Monro to the privy council of Scotland and the commissioners for Irish affairs in England, with comments suggesting a terrible conspiracy against the peace of Scotland and the Scottish forces in Ireland, and by them were immediately published (see particularly A Declaration of the Commons assembled in Parliament concerning the Rise and Progress of the Grand Rebellion in Ireland, London, 25 July 1643). However, with the assistance of Captain George Gordon, who had quite recently married his sister Rose, he again, after about eight months' imprisonment, managed to escape (Spalding, Hist. of the Troubles in Scotland, p. 858) to Charlemont, where he was well received by Owen Roe O'Neill [q. v.], and thence to Kilkenny. But being desired by the supreme council of the confederates to take the oath of association and some command in their army, he for the present declined, hoping, apparently, to get himself chosen lieutenant-general of all the catholic forces in the kingdom ; and continuing his journey, arrived at Oxford on 16 Dec. 1643. Here he magnified his influence with the confederates, boasting of his ability to raise ten thousand men for service in England, with the object of increasing his importance in Ireland. But his offer to transport two thousand men to co-operate with Montrose in Scotland was gladly accepted by that nobleman. The king, who at first was doubtful as to the policy of the scheme, and also as to Antrim's ability to fulfil his promise, finally, and after having, at the earnest solicitation of the duchess, agreed to make him a marquis, consented to give it a trial.

Accordingly, having received instructions to persuade the confederates to send ten thousand men to England, or, if their terms for religious liberty were too high, to get two thousand men for Scotland (Clarendon State Papers, ii. 165), Antrim left Oxford about 21 Jan. 1644 'in company with Daniel O'Neill [q. v.], who, being agreeable to him, was thought the properest person to keep him steady in his resolution and prevent him falling into follies and extravagances in the management of the affair' (Carte, Ormonde, i. 479; cf. also Clarendon, Rebellion, ii. 798-812). He arrived at Kilkenny on 23 Feb., and at once appealed to the supreme council for their assistance in carrying out his scheme. In order to increase his influence he, with the verbal permission of the king, took the oath of association, was sworn a member of the council, and received a commission as lieutenant-general of all the catholic forces. But finding there was no prospect of realising his extravagant hopes in regard to the ten thousand men to be sent into England, he laid down his commission and busied himself in raising the soldiers intended for Scotland (Bellings in Desid. Curiosa Hibernica, ii. 249-51) ; and with the assistance of the Marquis of Ormonde was so far successful that about the end of June 1644 he sent over about sixteen hundred men fully equipped, under the command of Alaster MacColl MacDonnell, to the assistance of the Marquis of Montrose. Having done this, he shortly afterwards returned to Oxford, and in the beginning of 1645 was sent by the king with letters to the queen at St. Germains in France. From France he proceeded to Flanders, where, with Spanish assistance, he obtained two frigates and a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition, which he intended to use in transporting fresh supplies from Ireland into Scotland. He declined the company of the papal nuncio, Rinuccini, and coming to Falmouth, he offered his assistance to the Prince of Wales, who distributed his arms and ammunition among the troops and garrisons in Cornwall, and shortly afterwards made use of one of the frigates to escape to Jersey (Clarendon, Life, ii. 247).

After first visiting Cork, Antrim proceeded to Scotland, where he arrived in July 1646. Within ten days after his arrival he was expressly ordered by the king to lay down arms. But it was not until the command had been more than once repeated that he reluctantly, towards the close of the year, withdrew from Cantire, which he had hoped to recover by force from Argyll. Argyll had expelled the MacDonnells in 1607. On bis return to Ireland he occupied himself in making preparations to renew the struggle in Scotland at the earliest opportunity, and 'laboured,' according to his own account, to effect a peace between the Ormondists and extreme catholics on terms of obtaining religious equality for the latter. About the close of 1647 the confederates, having resolved to come to terms with the crown, appointed Antrim, Lord Muskerry, and Geoffrey Browne to proceed to France, in order to negotiate a peace, and if possible to persuade the Prince of Wales to take the government of Ireland on himself. But Antrim, who inclined to the nuncio's party, and was anxious, in the probable event of the prince's refusal, to obtain the lord-lieutenancy for himself, sailed from Waterford on 20 Feb. 1648, seven days before his colleagues. The appointment of the Marquis of Ormonde to the place he aspired to was a bitter disappointment to Antrim. He returned to Ireland in September, opposed the peace between the confederates and Ormonde, and heartily supported the scheme for a union between Owen O'Neill and the parliament. Early in 1649 he succeeded, by means of one Crilly, a priest, in opening up a correspondence with Cromwell, to whom he subsequently rendered some service at the siege of Ross and other places. Carte, in his 'Life of Ormonde' (ib. 101), has a very questionable story, for which he adduces no authority, that at the time when Inchiquin's forces revolted to the parliament, Antrim forged an agreement between that nobleman and Michael Jones, whereby the former engaged to betray the king's cause and army. Inchiquin, who vehemently denied the charge (Gilbert, Aphorismical Discovery, ii. 332-3), challenged Antrim, but he, declining to give the other the usual satisfaction, 'made a solemn acknowledgment of his crime before the lord-lieutenant and four of the commissioners of trust, confessing that the pretended instrument was a mere forgery and a contrivance between himself and Jones.' But it is more than likely (Macray, Cal. Clarendon Papers, ii. 68) that Inchiquin did meditate some such step as rumour attributed to him (cf. Letter from Lord Broghill to the Speaker, 19 Dec. 1649 in Several Proceedings, 4 Dec. to 11 Jan. 1649-60, where for 'Lord ' Mr. S. R. Gardiner suggests we ought to read 'Lord Inchiquin'). On the death of Owen O'Neill in November 1649 Antrim hoped to succeed him in the command of the northern army, with the intention probably of effecting a reconciliation with the parliament, but being disappointed in this4)y the election of the Bishop of Clogher, he entered into correspondence with Ireton, and his services being accepted, he was present at the siege of Carlow. In December 1650 he was allowed to return to England, with an order protecting him from his creditors, who were clamorous for his arrest (cf. Antrim to Henry Cromwell, 11 April 1657, in Lansdowne MS. 821, 14); and his estate in Antrim having been assigned in satisfaction of adventurers' claims, he received a pension from government of 500/., subsequently increased to 800l., together with certain lands, as an innocent papist, in co. Mayo.

As a catholic, Antrim, at the Restoration, stood outside the Act of Oblivion, and on going to court to petition for the restoration of his estate, he was, through the representations of his enemies, notably of Sir John Clotworthy, who had acquired considerable part of it in the barony of Dunluce, committed to the Tower, and was only liberated after several months' imprisonment, on Lords Moore, Dillon, and Taaffe entering into recognisances in 20,000l. that he would appear within six weeks before the lords justices in Ireland, to whom his case was remitted. After more than fourteen months' attendance in Dublin he was at last dismissed and allowed to return to England. With the assistance of the queen-mother, a letter was in December 16o3 obtained directing a bill to be prepared for his restoration, but the council in Ireland were unanimous that such a bill ought not in his case to be transmitted. Antrim thereupon petitioned the king, and his petition being referred to a committee of the council, an order in his favour was after some delay obtained. Notwithstanding the opposition of Ormonde, who owed him a grudge for his conduct in 1647-8, the order of the council, together with a letter from the king in his favour, was transmitted to the commissioners of claims, and on 20 Aug. 1663 he was awarded a decree of innocence (printed in Hill, MacDonnells, App. p. xi). This decision caused considerable consternation among the adventurers, who spared no efforts to discredit Antrim in the king's eyes (see Murder will out, or the Kings Letter justifying the Marquess of Antrim, &c), and upon their petition a fresh trial was ordered. In order to prevent this, Antrim, who felt his weakness on certain technical points, threw himself on the king's mercy, whereupon the king was pleased to pardon him, and provision was made in the Act of Explanation for his restoration to his estates and for cancelling the decree of the court of claims.

On his return to Ireland, Antrim found his castle of Dunluce so dilapidated that he built a new residence for himself at Ballymagarry House, not far from the castle. He was a great lover of field-sports, and the remainder of his life is traditionally said to have been devoted to hunting and hawking. He took no further interest in politics, and died at Ballymagarry on 3 Feb. 1683, when, after lying in state for some time, he was buried in the family vault at Bunnamairge. He was a tall, clean-limbed handsome man, with red hair. For the settlement of his youthful debts he assigned in his will the baronies of Carey and Kilconway and the Long Liberties of Coleraine.

Antrim's first wife, the Duchess-dowager of Buckingham, died in November 1649, at Waterford, where she was buried, though a monument was erected to her in Westminster Abbey. He married, secondly, about 1653, Rose, daughter of Sir Henry O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, co. Antrim, the only sane member of a family of five. She survived him, dying on 27 April 1695, and was buried in St. Nicholas's Church, Carrickfergus. Antrim had no issue by either of his wives, and was succeeded in the earldom by his younger brother,

Alexander MacDonnell, third Earl of Antrim, who died about 1696. On the death Of his father in 1636 he spent the three following years travelling on the continent. He returned to Ireland shortly before the outbreak of the rebellion, and sided more determinedly than did his brother with the Irish. In 1642 he obtained a regiment from the confederates, but during the war he seems to have played a pacific part, inclining rather to Ormonde than to the extreme catholic party. In 1651 he served under Ever Mac Mahon, the warlike bishop of Clogher, and was taken prisoner at Tecroghan by Sir Theophilus Jones [q. v.] He forfeited the estate he inherited from his father in the barony of Glenarm, co. Antrim, receiving 3,500 acres in Connaught as an innocent papist. From 1656 to 1665 he appears to have resided in England, where he had influential friends. He represented Wigan in Lancashire at intervals from 1660 to 1683, and was restored by the Act of Explanation to his estate in Glenarm. On the death of his brother in 1683 he succeeded to the earldom of Antrim. During the rebellion in 1689 he marched with his regiment to the relief of Londonderry, but the citizens, mistaking him for an enemy, shut the gates in his face, for which he suffered forfeiture as an adherent of James II. He recovered his estate by the Articles of Limerick, but before his outlawry was reversed (Thesis of the Earl of Antrim's Case, October 1696), he died at Thistlewater, near London, about 1696, and was buried at Holywell in Wales.

He married, first, Elizabeth Annesley, daughter of the Earl of Anglesey, who died childless in 1669; secondly, Helena, daughter of Sir John Bourk of Derrymaclachtney in co. Galway, by whom he had a son, Randal, fourth earl of Antrim, and a daughter married to Henry Wells, esq., of Bambridge in the county of Southampton. He also had an illegitimate son, Daniel MacDonnell, for whom he provided liberally in his will.

[Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, vol. i.; Hill's MacDonnells of Antrim; Carte's Life of the Duke of Ormonde; Clarendon's Rebellion and State Papers; Macray's Cal. of Clarendon State Papers; Gilbert's History of the Irish Confederation and Aphorismical Discovery (Irish Archaeological Society); Reid's Hist, of the Presbyterian Church; Cox's Hibernia Anglicana; Strafford's Letters; Thurloe's State Papers; Whitelocke's Memorials; Hill's Montgomery MSS.; M'Skimin's Hist. of Carrickfergus; Ludlow's Memoirs; Gardiner's Hist. of England, and Great Civil War.]

R. D.