The Political Anatomy of Ireland (1899)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
by William Petty, edited by Charles Henry Hull
Title, Notes, Preface and Contents

The_Political_Anatomy_of_Ireland was first pubished in 1691, with Verbum Sapienti as a supplement. According to Petty's own bibliographic list it dates from 1670.[1] This edition is from the The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, edited by Charles Henry Hull, and published in 1899.

2231993The_Political_Anatomy_of_Ireland — Title, Notes, Preface and ContentsWilliam Petty


Political Anatomy




The Establishment for that Kingdom when the late Duke of Ormond was Lord Lieutenant. Taken from the Records.

To which is added

VERBUM SAPIENTI; or an Account of the Wealth and Expences of England and the Method of raising Taxes in the most Equal manner.
Shewing also, That the Nation can bear the charge of Four Millions per Annum, when the occasions of the Government require it.

By Sir William Petty, late Fellow of the Royal Society, and Surveyor-General of the Kingdom of Ireland

Printed for D. Brown, and W. Rogers, at the Bible without Temple-Bar, and at the Sun over-against St. Dunsans Church, Fleet-street. 1691.


The Political Anatomy of Ireland, together with the Political Arithmetick, are the products of Petty's second prolonged Irish residence, as the Down Survey of Ireland was the product of his first residence in that island. Petty went to Ireland in 1667 and seems to have remained there almost continuously until the summer of 1673. He was, however, in London in April 1671, and it is not improbable that at that time Sir Joseph Williamson gave the impulse to a renewal of his literary activity. The 17 January 1671, Edward Chamberlayne, compiler of The Present State of England, had written Williamson asking his criticism of the book, with a view to a new edition of it which the publisher, Martyn, desired. Williamson probably suggested the addition of some matter concerning Ireland, and Chamberlayne wrote again, 29 January, "To give a brief account of the present state of Ireland I shall, at your request, very willingly undertake." In an undated letter, endorsed by Williamson, "Apr. 1671," Chamberlayne wrote further, "I yesterday met with Sir William Petty whom I found very able to promote the Designe of giving an Account in Print of the State of Ireland as you desired. If you would please to speak or write to him and recommend me to him I will most gladly wayte upon him at his leisure[3]." The Calendar of State Papers, domestic series, for 1671 reveals no further mention of the project. The State Papers for 1672 were not calendared in August, 1895. In a necessarily hurried search I found no later letter by Chamberlayne but may have overlooked some memorandum of the matter in Williamson's microscopic notes. However that may be, Chamberlayne did not write a book on Ireland, and Petty did.

The British Museum possesses the best MS. of the Political Anatomy[4]. It is written in a neat hand, upon paper carefully ruled in red ink, and bears, in the text, occasional corrections in a different and blacker ink, made by Petty himself. The history of this MS. can be traced with a completeness that places its authenticity beyond question. It was given by Petty to Southwell, of whose scrupulous care for Petty's MSS. there is abundant evidence, and remained in the possession of the Southwell family until the sale of Lord De Clifford's papers in 1834[5]. At this sale it was purchased by Thomas Thorpe, and promptly appeared in one of his catalogues[6]. It passed into the hands of Dr Neligan of Dublin, who probably bought it of Thorpe. At the dispersal of Neligan's library[7] the MS. was acquired for the British Museum.

Inserted in this MS. is a letter from Sir Richard Cox, the historian of Ireland, to Southwell, endorsed "Bristol, 15 June, 1687. From Mr Cox On Sr Wm Petty's Anatomy of Ireland." The letter begins:

"Hond Sr.

My Curiosity was never feasted higher than with ye reading of the Political Anatomy of Ireland wherein the learned[8] Author at once discovers both his great abilityes & his great zeale to serve his[9] Country: Nor[10] will it in ye least detract from ye glory of his pformance, nor I believe disgust him that I communicate to you some difficultyes and remarques on that excellent discourse, wherein I humbly desire to be better informd." Cox then makes twentyfive detailed comments[11], referring to the MS. by folio, and concludes, "I thought to have transcribd and enlargd this paper, but it happens yt a client is just now come in, and therefore I hope you will excuse this scroll from

Worthy Sr

Yr most obliged humble servt

Richd Cox."

In 1851 this letter, if General Larcom be not mistaken[12], was separated from the MS. to which it refers and inserted in another. It was reunited to the MS., however, before the sale of Dr Neligan's library.

Another MS., of which no further trace has been found, was once in the possession of Sir Peter Pett and by him was offered to Sir Joseph Williamson[13]. The offer would argue Pett's ignorance of Williamson's probable connection with the book.

The Political Anatomy was first published in 1691. A second edition appeared in 1719, and the book was reprinted in 1769 and in 1861[14]. The present reprint follows the first edition. The more significant divergences of the printed text from the Southwell MS. ('S') and all Petty's alterations of that MS. are indicated in the foot notes. On the relation of S. to the edition of 1691 see note 3 on page 131.

[Dedication of the First Edition, 1691.]

To His Grace the

Duke of Ormond[15].

My Lord,

THE Celebrated Author of the following Treatise, had not only the Honour to be known to Your Grace's Grandfather, the late illustrious Duke of ORMOND, but was likewise held by him in that just Esteem, which he never fail'd of expressing towards Men of || Learning and Ingenuity[16]. This was a sufficient Encouragement to me (having the Manuscript-Copy delivered into my Hands by a Worthy and Intimate Friend[17] of the Authors, to dispose of it to the Press for the publick Benefit) to Address it to Your Grace's Patronage. You are so true a Successor to all the generous Virtues of your Ancestry, that I cannot doubt of Your Favourable Reception of this posthumous Work. Your Generosity, that takes all occasions of exerting itself towards the Living, cannot fail in do-||ing Justice to the Memory of the Dead. More especially to such Persons as in their Life took care to oblige Posterity. The usefulness of the ensuing Discourse at this time, when there is so fair a prospect of a new Settlement in IRELAND, were sufficient to recommend it to Your Grace's Protection. Your Grace's Interest in the Re-establishment of that Kingdom (tho it be considerable) yet is much less than your Share in the glorious Enterprise towards its Recovery. ||

You had the Honour of accompanying His Majesty in an Adventure that shall shine in the Annals of Fame, as long as the Boyne shall maintain its Course. But a single Gallantry appeared not sufficient to the Heir of Ormond and of Ossery. You have since accompanied your Royall Master to other Shores, to be partaker with him in new Scenes of Action, Undertakings of no less Consequence and Importance than the Deliverance of Europe. This will afford sufficient matter for Panegyrick, and oblige the Mu-||ses to place you in the same high Rank of Renoun with your Noble and Heroick Predecessors. In the mean time be pleased to permit this useful Treatise to wait on you to the Camps, and bring you the hearty wishes of all good Men here, for Your happy Expedition, and Your safe Return, which is desired by none with more particular Zeal, than by

Your Grace's

Most Devoted Servant,

N. Tate[18].||

[Dedication of the Second Edition, 1719.]

To the Right Honourable


Lord PARKER[19],

Baron of Macclesfield in the County


Lord High Chancellor


My Lord,

THE following Treatise of Sir William Petty's having already met with a favourable Reception from the Publick, even when it was im-||perfect in some of its parts: I beg leave to offer it now to your Lordship, with some Additions[20], necessary for the better understanding of it.

As the whole Design of this Treatise tends to the enriching of a Kingdom, by advancing its Trade and Publick Credit, I am naturally led to put it under the Patronage of a Minister of State, whose Love for his Nation's Welfare and Glory is so generally known to all the World; and more especially, my Lord, this Work, being founded upon Mathematical Truth, claims a Right to the Protection of your Lordship, || who is so great a Master in that Science.

The good Effect which the Advice of my learned Author has had in the Improvement of Ireland in a few Years, may in some measure determine how much any Nation may be advanced in Riches and Reputation by following some such like Rules as are laid down by the same Person at the End of the Book, under the Title of Verbum Sapienti: What is treated of in that part relates altogether to the Interest of England, and therefore I am fully assured it cannot be unacceptable to your Lordship, whose Genius leads you to the || maintaining of its established Religion, Laws, and Liberties, and with them everything that can contribute to the Honour of the King, and Ease of the Subject.

I am,

May it please your Lordship,

Your Lordship's,

Most obliged, and most

Obedient, Humble Servant.


Author's Preface.

SIR Francis Bacon, in his Advancement of Learning, hath made a judicious Parallel in many particulars, between the Body Natural, and Body Politick, and between the Arts of preserving both in Health and Strength: And it is as reasonable, that as Anatomy is the best foundation of one, so also of the other and that to practice upon the Politick, without knowing the Symmetry, Fabrick, and Proportion of it, is as casual as the practice of Old-women and Empyricks.

Now, because Anatomy is not only necessary in Physicians, but laudable in every Philosophical person whatsoever; I therefore, who profess no Politicks[21], have, for my curiosity, at large attempted the first Essay of Political Anatomy.

Furthermore, as Students in Medicine, practice their inquiries upon cheap and common Animals, and such whose actions they are best || acquainted with, and where there is the least confusion and perplexure of Parts; I have chosen Ireland as such a Political Animal, who is scarce Twenty years old[22]; where the Intrigue of State is not very complicate, and with which I have been conversant from an Embrion; and in which, if I have done amiss, the fault may be easily mended by another.

'Tis true, that curious Dissections cannot be made without variety of proper Instruments; whereas I have had only a commin Knife and a Clout, instead of the many more helps which such a Work requires: However, my rude approaches being enough to find whereabout the Liver and Spleen, and Lungs lye, tho' not to discern the Lymphatick Vessels, the Plexus, Choroidus[23], the Volvuli of vessels within the Testicles[24]; yet not knowing, that even what I have here readily done, was much considered, or indeed thought useful by others, I have ventur'd to begin a new Work, which, when Corrected and Enlarged by better Hands and Helps, I believe will tend to the Peace and Plenty of my Country; besides which, I have no other end.||


THE Reader is desired to take notice, That by Letterees[26], are meant persons restored to Land by virtue of the Letters of King Charles the Second; and by Nominees, such persons are intended, as were restored to their Lands by being named in the Act of Settlement; and Papists per Proviso, were such as had Provisoes in that Act for their Lands: And by the 49 Officers, are meant such Commission-Officers under the King, who served in Ireland before the year of our Lord, 1649.

The following Treatise of Sir William Petty's Political Anatomy of Ireland, is Printed after a Copy Transcribed from the Original, writ by the Author's own hand[27]; and all the Blanks, as here Printed, were in that Original: And which, tho' it may be suppos'd he could easily have fill'd up, yet was it not held proper for any other to attempt, or to add to any thing done by so great a Master.

This his work of The Political Anatomy of Ireland ends in page 113.||

P. 114. begins the famous Report from the Council of Trade in Ireland, which was not only Drawn, but wholly Composed by Sir William Petty; and with which that Council concurred unanimously.

P. 132. followeth the Copy of the Commission of the late Duke of Ormond to be Lord Lieutenant; and an Account of the Establishment of the Civil and Military List in his time; faithfully and carefully taken out of Authentick Records: And to the Nature of which, the continued Title of The Political Anatomy of Ireland, on those Pages, agrees well enough.[28]

The Volume concludes with Sir William Petty's Verbum Sapienti, which relates wholly to England, and shews how Taxes may be equally laid, and how the Nation may well bear the Tax of Four Millions per Annum.

The Reader is now left with his most Critical attentive Judgment, to enjoy the benefit of the great Political knowledg that Sir William Petty hath taught the Age; and for which (as one of the greatest Ornaments of it) he deserveth perpetual celebrations. Know Reader in a word, That

Nulla ferent talem sæcla futura virum.||

The CONTENTS of the Political Anatomy of IRELAND[29].

[I.][30] OF the Lands of Ireland, with the present distribution and Values of the same. Page 1 [135]
[II.] Of the People, Houses and Smokes; their Number, Differences and Values, 7 [141]
[III.] Of the Church and Benefices, 16 [148]
[IV.] Concerning the late Rebellion and its effects, 17 [149]
[V.] Of the future Settlement of Ireland, Prevention of Rebellions, and its Union with England, 25 [154]
[VI.] Of the Government of Ireland, Apparent and Internal, 36 [162]
[VII.] Of the Militia and Defence of Ireland, 42 [166]
[VIII.] Of the Coelum, Solum, & Fruges; or the Air, Soil and Product of Ireland, 48 [170]
[IX.] Of the Rate which the Lands in Ireland do bear to each other, with the History of the several Valuations of the same, 58 [176]
[X.] Of the Money of Ireland, and the Causes of its Decrease, with the Remedy for the same, 68 [183]||
[XI.] Of the Trade of Ireland, and its Impediments; the Commodities, and aptitude for Traffick, and incidently of the Cloaths and Dyet of the People: Of Sumptuary Laws, Absentees, &c. 75 [188]
[XII.] Of the Religion, Language, Manners, and Interest of the present Inhabitants of Ireland; as also of the Present and Ancient Divisions and Names of the Lands, 93 [198]
[XIII.] Some Miscellany Remarques and Intimations concerning Ireland, and the several matters aforementioned[31], 103 [204]
A Report from the Council of Trade in Ireland, to the Lord Lieutenant and Council, &c. 114 [213]
[XIV.] Considerations relating to the Improvement of Ireland, 115 [214]
[XV.] Inferences from the Premises, 120 [217]
Propositions to His Majesty concerning the Government of Ireland, 146 [227]
[32][The List for Civil Affairs, &c. 157
The Establishment and List, containing all the Payments to be made for Military Affairs, &c. 181
Officers Provincial, 184
Constables, 186
Sundry Ministers belonging to the Ordnance, viz. in Lemster, 188
Connaught, 189
Munster, 190
Ulster, 191
Temporary Payments, 196
A Catalogue of the Peers, 199
A List of the Arch-Bishopricks and Bishopricks, 200
Barons, 201
A List of those Places that return Parliament-Men, &c. 202][33]

Licensed, May the 11th. 1691.

  1. "1670. Anatomica Politica Hiberniæ."
  2. [The Southwell MS. (see p. 123) bears title "The Political Anatomy of Ireland, 1672." The more elaborate titles of the first and second editions (see Bibliography, 24) were probably composed by the editors in 1691 and 1719. The Verbum Sapienti has been placed before the Anatomy (pp. 99-120), in conformity to the general chronological scheme of arrangement.]
  3. State Papers Dom. Car. II, vol. 287, no. 77, 138, vol. 289, no. 120.
  4. Addl. MS. 21,127.
  5. A Catalogue of MSS., State Papers and Autograph Letters received by Sir R. Southwell, the Property of Lord De Clifford, deceased. Sold by Christie, February 11, 1834, no. 599.
  6. State Papers: Catalogus lib, MSS. bibl. Southwellianæ (1834), no. 711, p. 409.
  7. A Catalogue of valuable Books and interesting MSS., the property of a well known Collector. Sold by Sotheby 17 August, 1855, no. 305.
  8. 'Learned' is substituted for 'ingenious' erased.
  9. 'To serve his' substituted for 'for ye good of his' erased.
  10. 'Nor' substituted for 'And tho' erased.
  11. The comments are reproduced as foot notes to appropriate passages.
  12. Petty, Hist. of the Down Survey, p. v, 334.
  13. Pett to Williamson, 4 Dec, 1678, State Papers Ireland, Car. ii., 338.
  14. Bibliography, 24.
  15. James Butler, second Duke of Ormond, grandson of the first Duke and son of that Thomas, Earl of Ossory, whose death Petty so much lamented (7th Rept. Hist, MSS. Comm., 742) was born in Dublin Castle, 29 April, 1665. He served at the head of the Life-guards in King William's army, was present at the battle of the Boyne, and accompanied his royal master to the Hague in January, 1691. His career after his return to England did not altogether justify the high expectations which his friends had formed of him. Died 1745.
  16. On Ormond's appreciation of Petty see note, p. 8.
  17. Probably by Sir Robert Southwell, see note 3, p. 131.
  18. Nahum Tate was born at Dublin in 1652. At the age of twenty he proceeded to the degree of bachelor of arts at the university in his native city and soon after removed to London, where he continued to reside until his death in 1715. In 1692 he succeeded Shadwell as poet laureate.
  19. Thomas Parker was born, it is said, 23 July, 1666. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1685, but did not take a degree, and, having been a student of the Inner Temple, was called to the Bar 24 May, 1691. In 1705 he sat for Derby as a Whig. In 1710 he became Lord Chief Justice of England, and the following year declined the Lord Chancellorship, to which he was finally appointed 12 May 1718. In 1716 he was created Baron Macclesfield, and in 1721 he was raised to an earldom. In 1725 he was impeached of corruption and found guilty by the unanimous voice of the peers present. He died 28 April, 1732. His mathematical interest exhibited itself chiefly in the patronage of mathematicians, but his own attainments were unquestionably sufficient for the comprehension of Political Arithmetick.
  20. No addition of importance was made to Petty's part of the book, but the editor suppressed several passages of the first edition and altered others. Such of his changes as give rise to readings substantially different from those of the first edition, here reprinted, are incorporated in the foot notes; but mere differences of orthography are ignored. The largest addition made in the second edition was "A List of the Lords spiritual and temporal of Ireland," and "A List of the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the Parliament of Ireland," 1715. These lists are omitted from the present edition.
  21. 1719 omits 'who profess no Politicks.'
  22. Since the Act for the Settling of Ireland, 12 August, 1652, Scobell, ii. 197.
  23. S, 'Choroides.'
  24. 1719, 'finer parts.'
  25. The Advertisement is not in S, and only the first paragraph of it is in the ed. of 1719.
  26. The term 'letterees' is sometimes confined to those Irish who obtained the King's letters of restitution in the early months after his Restoration and were put out again by the Act of Settlement. Such Irish as were restored at the King's first return, by letters patent of which 'mero-motu' was a phrase were called 'mero-motu men'. Their patents, if obtained before the Declaration of Settlement, 30 Nov., 1660, were confirmed by the Act of Settlement; if obtained after that date, they were voidable. Russell and Prendergast, The Carte MSS. in the Bodleian Library, 193.
  27. It is probable that Southwell brought about the printing of the Political Anatomy in 1691, and it is not impossible that the book was then printed from his MS. ('S'). S is, beyond question, 'a copy transcribed from the original writ by the author's own hand." Moreover the footings of columns of figures in S are reproduced at two points in the 1691 edition (see note 3, p. 143, and note 4, p. 145) where no editor acting independently of S would have thought to insert them, while, on the other hand, the differences between S and that edition may be sufficiently accounted for as the slips of a not over-careful printer. S, however, is still very clean. If from this circumstance we infer that it never lay upon a printer's case, we shall be forced to assume an original holograph, now lost, from which one copy, S, was made for Southwell, and another copy, likewise lost, was made for the printer. Even upon this supposition the Southwell MS. must be held to be of authority, since it bears Petty's autograph corrections.
  28. The matter described in this paragraph, none of it by Petty, is omitted from the present edition, the corresponding portion of the Contents being printed in brackets. See note 1, p. 134.
  29. In S the Contents precede the Preface.
  30. The Roman numerals in brackets indicate the chapter numbers supplied by the editor of the second edition, who also shortened the titles of many of the chapters.
  31. End of the Contents in S, which does not contain the Verbum Sapienti.
  32. This and the following items are omitted from this edition.
  33. Here follows, in the first and second editions, the Contents of Verbum Sapienti as already printed at p. 101.