It was a little rough, as there was quite a swell on, and
From no quarter was the slightest opposition offered to the restoration of Catholic worship, and consequently there was no need to have recourse to persecution. There was no persecution of the Protestants of Ireland by fire or torture during this reign. "In truth, the Reformation, not having been sown in Ireland, there was no occasion to water it by the blood of martyrs; insomuch that several English families, friends to the Reformation, withdrew into Ireland as into a secure asylum; where they enjoyed their opinions and worship in privacy without notice or molestation." Yet in spite of this tolerant attitude of both the officials and people of Ireland an absurd story, first mentioned in a pamphlet printed in 1681, is still to be found in many books dealing with Mary's reign. According to this story the queen appointed a body of commissioners to undertake a wholesale persecution in Ireland, and she entrusted this document to one of the commissioners, a certain Dr. Cole. On his way to Ireland the latter tarried at Chester, where he was waited upon by the mayor, to whom he confided the object of his mission. The landlady of the inn, having overheard the conversation, succeeded in stealing the commission and replacing it by a pack of cards. Dr. Cole reached Dublin and hastened to meet the Lord Deputy and council. "After he had made a speech relating upon what account he came over, he presents the box unto the Lord Deputy, who causing it to be opened, that the secretary might read the commission, there was nothing but a pack of cards with the knave of clubs uppermost." Dr. Cole assured them that "he had a commission, but knew not how it was gone." Then the Lord Deputy made answer, "Let us have another commission and we will shuffle the cards in the meanwhile." The messenger returned promptly to England, "and coming to the court, obtained another commission, but staying for a wind at the waterside, news came unto him that the queen was dead. And thus God preserved the Protestants of Ireland." This ridiculous fabrication was first referred to in a pamphlet written by that well-known forger, Robert Ware, in 1681, and was reprinted in his "Life" of Archbishop Browne (1705). Its acceptance by later writers, in spite of its obvious silliness, and unsupported as it is by the official documents of the period, or by any contemporary authority, can be explained only by their religious prejudices.
But though Mary restored the Mass and re-asserted the jurisdiction of the Pope, her political policy in Ireland differed little from that of her father or her brother. She was as determined as had been Henry VIII. to bring the country under English law, and to increase thereby the resources of the Treasury. It is true that she allowed the young Garrett Fitzgerald, who had found a refuge in Rome, to return to the country, that she restored to him his estates and honoured him with a seat at the privy council. Brian O'Connor of Offaly was also released from prison and allowed to revisit his territories. During the time St. Leger held office he followed the old policy of strengthening English influence by conciliation rather than by force. But the Earl of Sussex was of a different mind. He marshalled his forces and made raids into the Irish districts, for the princes and inhabitants of which he entertained the most supreme contempt. It was during the reign of Mary that the plan of the English Plantations was first put into force by the removal of the native Irish from large portions of Leix and Offaly to make room for English settlers. And yet, in spite of the warlike expeditions of Sussex, the country went from bad to worse, so that Primate Dowdall could write to the privy council in England (1557) that "this poor realm was never in my remembrance in worse case than it is now, except the time only that O'Neill and O'Donnell invaded the English Pale and burned a great piece of it. The North is as far out of frame as it was before, for the Scots beareth as great rule as they do wish, not only in such lands as they did lately usurp, but also in Clandeboy. The O'Moores and O'Connors have destroyed and burned Leix and Offaly saving certain forts."
On the death of Queen Mary in November 1558, her sister Elizabeth succeeded to the English throne. Although she had concealed carefully her Protestant sympathies, and had even professed her sincere attachment to the old religion during the reign of her predecessor, most people believed that important changes were pending. As soon as news of her proclamation reached Ireland early in December, the small knot of officials, who had fallen into disgrace during the reign of the late queen, hastened to offer their congratulations and to put forward their claims for preferment. Sir John Alen, formerly Lord Chancellor and Chief Commissioner for the dissolution of the monasteries, wrote to Cecil to express his joy at the latter's promotion, enclosed "a token," and reminded him of what he (Alen) had suffered during the previous five years. Sir John Bagenall, ex-governor of Leix and Offaly, recalled the fact that he had lost heavily, and had been obliged to escape to France for resisting papal supremacy. He petitioned for a free farm worth ￡50 a year. Bishop Staples, in a letter to Cecil, took pains to point out that he had been deprived of his See on account of his marriage, and had incurred the personal enmity of Cardinal Pole because he presumed to pray "for his old master's (Henry VIII.) soul." For some time, however, no change was made, and Catholic worship continued even in Dublin as in the days of Queen Mary. The Lord Deputy Sussex went to England in December 1559, and entrusted the sword of state to the Archbishop of Dublin and Sir Henry Sidney, both of whom took the oath of office before the high altar in Christ's Church after Mass had been celebrated in their presence.
But the strong anti-Catholic policy of the new government soon made itself felt in England, and though the ministers were more guarded as far as Ireland was concerned, it was felt that something should be done there to lessen the influence of Rome. In the instructions issued to the Lord Deputy (July 1559) he was told that "the Deputy and Council shall set the service of Almighty God before their eyes, and the said Deputy and all others of that council, who be native born subjects of this realm of England, do use the rites and ceremonies which are by law appointed, at least in their own houses." In the draft instructions as first prepared a further clause was added "that others native of that country be not otherwise moved to use the same than with their own contentment they shall be disposed, neither therein doth her Majesty mean to judge otherwise of them than well, and yet for the better example and edification of prayer in the Church, it shall be well done, if the said councillors being of that country born, shall at times convenient cause either in their own houses or in the churches the litany in the English tongue to be used with the reading of the epistle and gospel in the same tongue and the ten commandments." Although Cecil struck out this clause with his own hand, it helps to show that the government feared to push things to extremes in Ireland.
On the return of the Earl of Sussex he paid the usual official visit in state to Christ's Church, where apparently the English Litany (probably that prescribed by Henry VIII.) was sung after the Mass. In connexion with this celebration a story was put in circulation by Robert Ware in 1683 that the clergy, dissatisfied with the change in liturgy, determined to have recourse to a disgraceful imposture to prevent further innovations. On the following Sunday when the Archbishop and Deputy assisted at Mass, one of their number having inserted a sponge soaked in blood into the head of the celebrated statue of the Redeemer, blood began to trickle over the face of the image. Suddenly during the service a cry was raised by the trickster and his associates, "Behold Our Saviour's image sweats blood." Several of the common people wondering at it, fell down with their beads in their hands, and prayed to the image, while Leigh who was guilty of the deception kept crying out all the time, "How can He choose but sweat blood whilst heresy is now come into the Church?" Amidst scenes of the greatest excitement the archbishop caused an examination to be made; the trick was discovered; Leigh and his accomplices were punished by being made "to stand upon a table with their legs and hands tied for three Sundays, with the crime written upon paper and pinned to their breasts"; and to complete the story, a recent writer adds, "the Protestants were triumphant, the Roman party confounded, and Curwen's orders to have the statue broken up were obeyed without demur." Needless to say there is no foundation for such a tale. It first saw the light in that collection of gross inventions, /The Hunting of the Romish Fox/, published by Robert Ware in 1683, and is unsupported by any contemporary witnesses. It was not known to Sir Robert Ware, from whose papers the author pretended to borrow it; it was not known to Sir Dudley Loftus who devoted himself to the study of Irish history, and who, as nephew of Elizabeth's Archbishop of Dublin, would have had exceptional opportunities of learning the facts, nor was it known to Archbishop Parker, to whom, according to Ware, a full account was forwarded immediately. The author of it was employed to stir up feeling in England and Ireland so as to prevent the accession of James II., and as a cover for his forgeries he pretended to be using the manuscripts of his father.
For so far the Catholic religion was the only one recognised by law in Ireland, and consequently when Elizabeth instructed the Deputy to see that her English born subjects in Ireland should use the English service in their private houses, she took care to promise that none of them should be impeached or molested for carrying out her commands. But her Deputy was instructed to summon a Parliament in Ireland "to make such statutes as were lately made in England /mutatis mutandis/." The Parliament met in Dublin on the 11th of January 1560. According to the returns seventy-six members representing several counties and boroughs were elected. Dublin, Meath, Westmeath, Louth, Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, and Tipperary were the only counties represented, each of them having returned two members. Of the boroughs represented seventeen were situated in Leinster, eight in Munster, two, Athenry and Galway, in Connaught, and one only, namely, Carrickfergus, was situated in Ulster. Twenty-three temporal peers were summoned to take their seats, all of whom belonged to Anglo-Irish families except O'Brien of Thomond and MacGillapatrick of Upper Ossory. According to the record preserved in the Rolls' Office, three archbishops and seventeen bishops took their seats, the only absentees being Clogher, Derry, Raphoe, Kilmore, Dromore, Clonmacnoise, Achonry, Kilmacduagh, Kilfenora, and Mayo. Armagh was vacant, Primate Dowdall having died in August 1558, and his successor not having been appointed by Rome till February 1560. But for many reasons it is impossible to believe that the twenty bishops mentioned in this list were present at the Dublin Parliament. At best it is only a rather inaccurate account of those who were summoned to take their seats, as is shown by the fact that for seven of the Sees no names of the bishops are returned; and that Down and Connor are represented as having sent two bishops although both Sees were united for more than a century. If it be borne in mind that according to the returns in the State Paper Office four archbishops and nineteen bishops are represented as having attended the Parliament of 1541, although, in his official report to the king, the Deputy stated expressly that only two archbishops and twelve bishops were present; and also that gross errors have been detected in the lists of spiritual peers supposed to have been in attendance at the Parliaments of 1569 and 1585, it will be obvious to any unprejudiced mind that the return for the Parliament of 1560 cannot be accepted as accurate.
No reliable account of the proceedings of the Parliament of 1560 has as yet been discovered. It met on the 11th January, was adjourned on the following day till the 1st of February, when it was dissolved. It is more probable, however, that it lasted till the 12th February. According to the Loftus manuscripts the Parliament was dissolved "by reason of [its] aversion to the Protestant religion, and their ecclesiastical government." "At the very beginning of this Parliament," according to another distinguished authority, "Her Majesty's well wishers found that most of the nobility and Commons were divided in opinion about the ecclesiastical government, which caused the Earl of Sussex to dissolve them, and to go over to England to consult Her Majesty about the affairs of this kingdom." This latter statement is confirmed by the fact that the Earl of Sussex certainly left Ireland in February 1560. And yet, according to the accounts that have come down to us, it was this assembly that gave Protestantism its first legal sanction in Ireland. It abolished papal supremacy, restored to the queen the full exercise of spiritual jurisdiction as enjoyed by Henry VIII. and Edward VI., enjoined on all persons holding ecclesiastical or secular offices the oath of royal supremacy under pain of deprivation, imposed the penalty of forfeiture of all goods for the first offence on those who spoke in favour of the Pope, the punishment laid down for /praemunire/ in case of a second such offence, and death for the third offence, and enjoined the use of the Book of Common Prayer in all the churches of the kingdom. Any clergyman who refused to follow the prescribed form of worship was liable to forfeit one year's revenue and to be sent to prison for the first offence, to total deprivation and imprisonment at will for the second, and for the third to perpetual imprisonment. The laity were obliged to attend the service under threat of excommunication and of a fine of twelve pence to be levied off their goods and chattels by the church-wardens. The First Fruits were restored to the crown, and the formality of canonical election of bishops was abolished. For the future in case of a vacancy the right of appointment was vested directly in the sovereign.
In view of the fact that the cities and counties from which the members were returned resisted stubbornly the introduction of the English service, that most of the lay peers clung tenaciously to the Mass, some of them, like the Earl of Kildare, being charged with this crime a few months after the dissolution of Parliament, and that the bishops with one or two exceptions, opposed the change, the wonder is how such measures could have received the sanction of Parliament. According to a well-supported tradition they reached the statute book only by fraud, having been rushed through on a holiday, on which most of the members thought that no session would be held. Later on, when objection was taken to such a method, the Deputy, it is said, silenced the resisters by assuring them that they were mere formalities which must remain a dead letter.