An Impartial History Of The Wars Of Ireland

An impartial History Of The Wars In Ireland by George Warter Story (1664? -1721) is an eyewitness account of the Williamite War in Ireland covering the years 1690 and 1691. Story later wrote a sequel entitled Continuation, which describes the Treaty of Limerick, which brought the war officially to a close.

After the death of Oliver Cromwell, his son Richard briefly succeeded him as Lord Protector of the British Commonwealth in 1658. However by 1660, Charles II had returned from exile and the monarchy was restored following the invitation of Parliament. He relaxed many of the laws persecuting Catholics and dissenters and had a hostile relationship with parliament. In 1685 Charles II was succeeded by his Catholic brother James II to the alarm of Protestants who also feared his close relationship with his cousin Louis XIV of France and the restoration of an absolute monarchy. James II was deposed in 1688 and the Dutch Protestant William III of Orange became joint ruler with James’ Protestant daughter Mary II.

At the time Louis XIV was at war with a coalition of European powers led by William III of Orange. In exile James II took refuge in the France court before landing in Ireland in 1689 supported by troops supplied by the French king. He was welcomed in Dublin by Protestant Jacobites and Old English Catholics. The Gaelic Irish hoped to reverse their crushing defeat by Cromwell in 1653 which had resulted in the confiscation of the majority of their land. The Jacobites were in control of most of the country but suffered several defeats in Ulster as well as failing to capture Londonderry which held out after a long siege.

In August 1689, George Warter Story accompanied the army of Marshal Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg who landed in Co. Down before capturing Carrickfergus. Story was chaplain in Sir Thomas Gower’s regiment of foot. Schomberg was William III of Orange’s second in command but compared to the enemy his troops were numerically inferior and lacked discipline and experience. Dundalk became their winter quarters where they suffered heavily from a lack of food; disease and Catholic guerrilla attacks while never fighting a major battle.

Losing patience, William III of Orange himself landed at Belfast Lough with 300 ships and about a force of 36,000, which included English, German, Dutch, Danish, and French Huguenot troops. The Jacobites retreated to the Boyne where a decisive battle was fought on July 1, 1690.

Although about 2,000 were killed out of about 50,000 participants on both sides, the Jacobites retreated in disorder and Dublin was taken without a fight. William’s peace terms excluded Jacobite leaders and Catholic landowners from a pardon, which gave them little choice, but to fight on though defeat was now inevitable. James II himself sailed from Wexford to France abandoning his disgusted supporters who called him Seamus an Chaca. Many of the French troops were also withdrawn.

However the Jacobites successfully defended Limerick from the pursuing Williamites and drove them from Connaught. Meanwhile William of Orange return to England giving command to General Godert de Ginkell but Jacobites hopes were dashed after Athlone was taken and Ginkell made a new advance on Galway and Limerick. The French Jacobite commander Marquis de St. Ruth’s forces were defeated by the Williamites at Aughrim, Co. Galway where 7,000 on both sides were killed.

After a second siege of Limerick in 1691, Patrick Sarsfield surrender to the Williamites. Under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, the remaining Irish Jacobites, both Catholic and Protestants went into voluntary exile. Most would continue to fight for Louis XIV in subsequent wars. For the Gaelic Irish and Old English nobility and the Gaelic Irish the consequences were disastrous. A  Protestant Ascendancy would dominate the social, political and economic life of Ireland until the late 19th century. The Catholic Irish dispossessed of their lands and discriminated against by the Penal Laws would become a permanently impoverished peasant underclass.

Story defended Schomberg for his poor conduct of the war in Ulster and the disastrous decision to cross the Boyne River against the advice of William III of Orange that led to his death. Following the death of William III of Orange and Mary II, the throne passed to Queen Anne, the Protestant daughter of James II. When she died childless, the Elector of Hanover was invited to the throne over the heads of her more closely related Catholic relatives and succeeded her as George I in 1714. Louis XIV died in 1715 leaving France bankrupt after years of war.

Story was appointed Dean of Connor and Dean of Limerick in the wake of the Williamite War. He published his account of the conflict in 1693. In 1714, he preached in support of the Hanoverian succession hoping it would draw a line under the violence of the 17th century. However the Jacobite threat in Scotland led by Stuart pretenders to the British throne would continue until the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

George Warter, An Impartial History Of The Wars Of Ireland, London: Ric. Chiswell, 1693

See Ask About Ireland, June 26, 2011.

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