Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/176

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ford, Dublin, Meath, and Louth. The inquisitions taken by them are most valuable as presenting a vivid picture of the state of affairs prevailing in the debatable lands at the eve of the reconquest of the island. (With the exception of those for Dublin, Meath, and Louth, which appear unfortunately to have been lost, they have been edited by Messrs. Graves and Hare in the ‘Annuary’ of the Kilkenny Archæological Society for 1856.) The rapidity and discretion with which the commissioners accomplished their work extorted general admiration. ‘Trewlye,’ wrote Agard to Cromwell, ‘they have takyn great paynz, and in ther bussyness here do usse them verrey dyscretelye, and, in espechiall, Mr. Sentleger, whom, by reason of his dyscreschion and indyffrensye towardes everye man, is hylye commendyd here; and ryght well he is worthie’ (ib. ii. 532). As for St. Leger himself, while postponing fuller discussion till his return to England, he significantly remarked that in his opinion Ireland was much easier to be won than to be retained, ‘for onelesse it be peopled with others than be there alredy, and also certen fortresses there buylded and warded, if it be gotten the one daye, it is loste the next’ (ib. ii. 534).

He returned to England at the end of March or beginning of April 1538, and apparently in June was appointed one of the gentlemen of the king's privy chamber. He was knighted early in 1539, and was one of the jury that tried and condemned Sir Nicholas Carew [q. v.] on 14 Feb. In October that year he went to Brussels in order to procure a safe-conduct through Flanders from the queen of Hungary for Anne of Cleves, whom he escorted to England (Cal. State Papers, Henry VIII, xiv. pt. i. 114, pt. ii. 126), and on his return was made sheriff of Kent and a commissioner for the establishment of the church of Canterbury, with a view to its conversion into a cathedral. On 7 July 1540 he was constituted lord deputy of Ireland with a salary of 666l. 13s. 4d., and in the same year obtained an act of parliament disgavelling his estates in Kent (Robinson's Gavelkind, p. 299).

St. Leger's appointment as lord deputy marks the beginning of a new epoch in the history of Ireland. Hitherto Henry VIII had been content to follow more or less closely in the footsteps of his predecessors; but the rebellion of the Geraldines, while convincing him of the futility of trying to govern through the heads of the great Irish families, furnished him with the pretext and opportunity for adopting an entirely new system of government. The results of the inquiry instituted in 1537 supplied him with the general outlines of his new policy, which may be briefly summed up as aiming at the recognition of his own temporal and spiritual supremacy, the gradual conquest of the island by a judicious admixture of force and conciliation, and the substitution of the English system of land tenure for that of the old tribal system. For the nonce the plan of importing colonists, as hinted at by St. Leger, was to remain in abeyance; but in selecting St. Leger to carry his new policy into effect, Henry could have found no better qualified instrument.

Leaving court on 19 July, St. Leger reached Dublin on 5 Aug. The country on the whole was fairly quiet, except for the Kavanaghs to the south of the Pale. Five days after his arrival St. Leger made an inroad into their country, ‘burnyng and destroying the same.’ The Kavanaghs, bending before the sudden storm, submitted, and their chieftain agreed to renounce the objectionable title of MacMurrough, and St. Leger, wishing to show them and the Irish generally that it was rather their obedience than their property that the king desired, restored them to their lands on condition of holding them by knight's service and keeping the peace in future. By such ‘gentle handling’ he hoped to overcome their ‘fickle and inconstant natures’ and give to their submission a lasting basis. Thence he proceeded into Leix, where he took hostages from the O'Mores and their confederates, and entered into a treaty with Owen O'Conor, chief of Irry, the main object of which was to keep the O'Conors of Offaly in subjection. The only immediate danger to be feared was on the side of the O'Tooles, and, on the expiration of their truce, St. Leger determined to proceed against them. They were accordingly shortly afterwards required to quit their mountain fastnesses and settle elsewhere, ‘where they should have no occasion to do your subjectes so moche harme.’ On their refusal, St. Leger invaded their country, whereupon Turlough O'Toole demanded a parley, in consequence of which he repaired to England with an interpreter and a letter of recommendation from St. Leger to Norfolk. His petition and that of his brother, Art Oge, to be allowed to hold their lands on conditions similar to those enjoyed by the Kavanaghs was supported by St. Leger and granted by Henry. Christmas was spent at Carlow Castle settling the Kavanaghs and O'Mores, and on new year's day St. Leger set out for Munster. At Cashel he was met by James FitzJohn Fitzgerald, fourteenth