Page images
PDF
EPUB

commissioners for the city and the lord of the privy council, whereby the towns and liberties of Derry and Coleraine, with the “ salmon and eel fisheries of the rivers Bann and Foyle, and all other kind of fishing in the river Foyle, so far as the river floweth, and in the Bann to Lough Neagh, should be in perpetuity to the city;" that the liberties of Londonderry should extend three miles every way; with numerous other privileges and conditions, included in twenty-seven articles of agreement. In 1613, the Society of the New Plantation of Ulster was incorporated ; and from this date, Derry has been the property of the city of London.

At the period of the plantation, the city was enclosed, re-built, and strengthened, and liberal grants made for the foundation of useful institutions. A free school was founded in the year 1617, by Mr. Springham, and handsomely endowed ; and the society have also founded free schools at Coleraine and Moneymore. In the reign of Charles the First, by the underhand conduct of Sir Thomas Philips, and the great political designs of Stafford, the whole county of Londonderry was sequestrated, and the city seized into the king's hands. But this decree of the star chamber was afterwards resolved in parliament to have been unlawful and unjust.

During the civil wars, the city of London made ample provision for the defence of Derry. The twelve chief companies sent two pieces of ordnance

each, with provision, clothing, and accoutrements; and, by such precautionary measures, preserved the place from the fury of the rebels. Oliver Cromwell viewed the plantation and proprietorship by the city of London as an important advantage, and restored the society to the full possession of their original estates, a step confirmed, in 1662, by King Charles the Second.

In the wars of William and James, Derry, from the number of its Protestant inhabitants, was looked on with suspicion by one party, and partiality by the other. Hither the Protestants of the north retreated as to a sanctuary ; and the improvident precaution of Lord Tyrconnel, in withdrawing Mountjoy's regiment from the place, produced the unhappy effect of augmenting the breach between the contending parties. The lord deputy had directed that Lord Antrim's regiment, consisting wholly of Roman Catholics,

tall, and terrible of aspect,” should immediately take up their quarters here, and overawe the Protestants of the north ; but dilatoriness in the execution of his measures, and the advance of the ferocious looking body being communicated to the citizens, by Philips, of Newtown Limavady, the gates were closed against the advanced guard that had arrived within three hundred yards of the walls.

To the spirit and decision of nine young men, who, with an intuitive perception of the tyrannous government, that was about to control their destinies, seized

men

the keys, raised the drawbridge, and secured the ferrygate, the citizens were indebted for their preservation. These youthful patriots appointed Phillips governor of the place, conjured the citizens to join them in arms, and threatened to fire

upon the king's troops, if they approached nearer to the walls, or continued to invest the city.

The spirited conduct of the citizens placed them in a situation that enabled them to dictate terms, and they decided, that henceforth only two companies, and those of a religion agreeable to themselves, with a commander, Mountjoy, in whom they relied, should be received within the walls : conditions, of necessity, accepted by Tyrconnel. Meanwhile King James and his adherents pressed their designs with vigour and success, and, after the second retirement of Mountjoy from Londonderry, the Protestants had no place of refuge, in all the north, but the walls of Derry. Hither they had fled precipitately, and placed themselves under the protection of its governor, Lundy, a man whose memory is despised for baseness and treachery, if it has escaped from the imputation of cowardice. Upon the arrival of James in Ireland, from France, the reduction of Derry was resolved upon, as a matter of the deepest consequence to final results, and the king determined, at first, to conduct the siege in person, Lundy expressed the most zealous attachment to the interests of the inhabitants, and appeared to have caught up a spark of their

patriotism; but, upon the approach of the enemy, he hid himself within the walls, whither he had fled with so much confusion that he actually shut the gates against some of his own party, who sought the same asylum.

While the duplicity or timidity of Lundy deprived them of the assistance of some English troops, whom he dismissed as an unavailable aid, Murray, a brave and popular officer, insisted upon entering the gates, and seconding the efforts of the Protestants. During the expostulations of this gallant captain with the dastardly governor, the citizens ran to the walls, pointed their cannon, and fired on the advanced guard, of King James. The siege being thus commenced, Lundy concealed himself in his own house, and resigned the governorship to the afterwards famous George Walker and his coadjutor, Major Baker.

Every thing was now gravely and deliberately put into a defensive attitude, the meaner spirited were suffered to withdraw from the scene of danger, and amongst them Lundy escaped, in disguise, and beneath the encumbrance of a heavy burden. After a somewhat eloquent detail of the great difficulties and dangers that environed them, Walker concludes his justification as follows: “ The resolution and courage of our people, the necessity we were under, the great confidence amongst us on God Almighty, that he would take care of us, and preserve us, made us overlook all these difficulties.”

Eleven days King James continued his assaults with repeated mortifications, and withdrew from the camp with peevishness, observing, that an English army would have brought him the town piecemeal in half that time. The protraction of the siege gave birth to enemies not previously thought of, famine and disease; these had just begun to aid the besieger, when a fleet hove in sight, with troops and provisions, to assist the reformed cause in Ireland. The enemy, taking advantage of the apparent inactivity of the commander, threw a boom across the Foyle and interrupted the navigation. Henceforth all signals of the townsmen were coldly received by Kirk, the commander of the expedition, a man of so much apathy, such coldness, and almost inhumanity, that he considered little of individual misery and destruction, provided he advanced the great cause generally to which his duty attached him, and signifying to the beseiged “ that they should be good husbands of their provisions," he sailed away for Lough Swilly, intending to forward supplies to the stout Enniskilleners.

The situation of the besieged, from this period, became truly deplorable, but the resolution and bravery of its garrison proved equal to those of the most devoted men that we read of, in the history of any

« PreviousContinue »