Henry Sidney

Henry Sidney

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Sir Henry Sidney Lord Deputy of Ireland
Lord Deputy of Ireland
The Lord Deputy was the King's representative and head of the Irish executive under English rule, during the Lordship of Ireland and later the Kingdom of Ireland...

 was the eldest son of Sir William Sidney
Sir William Sidney
Sir William Sidney was an English courtier under Henry VIII and Edward VI.-Life:He was eldest son of Nicholas Sidney, by Anne, sister of Sir William Brandon...

 of Penshurst, a prominent politician and courtier during the reigns of Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 and Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

, from both of whom he received extensive grants of land, including the manor of Penshurst
Penshurst
Penshurst is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, England. The parish is located on the northern slopes of the Weald, west of Tonbridge. Within the parish boundaries are the two villages of Penshurst and Fordcombe, with a combined population of some 1,479 persons. The...

 in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, which became the principal residence of the family.

Henry Sidney was brought up at court as the companion of Prince Edward, afterwards King Edward VI, and he continued to enjoy the favour of the Crown, particularly throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

.

Marriage and family


Sidney married Mary Dudley
Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney
Mary Sidney , Lady Sidney was an English lady-in-waiting at the court of Elizabeth I, and the mother of the courtier and poet Sir Philip Sidney...

, eldest daughter of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland
John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland
John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, KG was an English general, admiral, and politician, who led the government of the young King Edward VI from 1550 until 1553, and unsuccessfully tried to install Lady Jane Grey on the English throne after the King's death...

 in 1551. They would have three sons and four daughters. His eldest son was Sir Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

, and his second was Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester , second son of Sir Henry Sidney, was a statesman of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. He was also a patron of the arts and an interesting poet...

.

His daughter Mary Sidney
Mary Sidney
Mary Herbert , Countess of Pembroke , was one of the first English women to achieve a major reputation for her literary works, poetry, poetic translations and literary patronage.-Family:...

 married Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke KG was an English peer of the Elizabethan era.-Life:He was the son of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Anne Parr. His aunt was queen consort Catherine Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII. Herbert was responsible for the costly restoration of Cardiff Castle...

, and by reason of her literary achievements was one of the most celebrated women of her time.

First trip to Ireland


In 1556 he went to Ireland with the lord deputy, Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex
Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex
Thomas Radclyffe 3rd Earl of Sussex was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland during the Tudor period of English history, and a leading courtier during the reign of Elizabeth I.- Family:...

, who in the previous year had married his sister Frances Sidney
Frances Radclyffe, Countess of Sussex
Frances Radclyffe , Countess of Sussex was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I and the founder of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge....

; and from the first he had a large share in the administration of the country, especially in the military measures taken by his brother-in-law for bringing the native Irish chieftains into submission to the English Crown. In the course of the lord deputy's Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 expedition in 1557 Sidney devastated the island of Rathlin
Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island is an island off the coast of County Antrim, and is the northernmost point of Northern Ireland. Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland, with a rising population of now just over 100 people, and is the most northerly inhabited island off the Irish coast...

; and during the absence of Sussex in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in the following year, Sidney was charged with the sole responsibility for the government of Ireland, which he conducted with marked ability and success. A second absence of the lord deputy from Ireland, occasioned by the accession of Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, threw the chief control into Sidney's hands at the outbreak of trouble with Shane O'Neill
Shane O'Neill
Seán Ó Néill, anglicised Shane O'Neill , nicknamed 'Seán an díomais', was an Irish king of the O'Neill dynasty of Ulster in the mid 16th century. Shane O'Neill's career was marked by his ambition to be The Ó Néill Mór - Sovereign of the dominant Ó Néill Mór family of Tyrone... and thus head...

, and he displayed great skill in temporizing with the chieftain until Sussex reluctantly returned to his duties in August 1559. About the same time Sidney resigned his office of vice-treasurer of Ireland on his appointment as president of the council of the Marches in Wales, and for the next few years he resided chiefly at Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle is a large, partly ruined, non-inhabited castle which dominates the town of Ludlow in Shropshire, England. It stands on a high point overlooking the River Teme...

, with frequent visits to the court in London.

Lord deputy



In 1565 Sidney was appointed lord deputy of Ireland in place of Sir Nicholas Arnold, who had succeeded the earl of Sussex in the previous year. He found the country in a more impoverished and more turbulent condition than when he left it, the chief disturbing factor being Shane O'Neill
Shane O'Neill
Seán Ó Néill, anglicised Shane O'Neill , nicknamed 'Seán an díomais', was an Irish king of the O'Neill dynasty of Ulster in the mid 16th century. Shane O'Neill's career was marked by his ambition to be The Ó Néill Mór - Sovereign of the dominant Ó Néill Mór family of Tyrone... and thus head...

 in Ulster. With difficulty he persuaded Elizabeth to sanction vigorous measures against O'Neill; and although the latter successfully avoided a decisive encounter, Sidney restored O'Neill's rival Calvagh O'Donnell
Calvagh O'Donnell
Calbhach Ó Domhnaill, anglicized Calvagh O'Donnell , eldest son of Manus O'Donnell, was an Irish King of Tyrconnell of the mid-16th century. He was Rí and Chief of the O'Donnell dynasty based in Tyrconnell in western Ulster...

 to his rights, and established an English garrison at Derry which maintained some degree of order.

In 1567 Shane was murdered by the MacDonnells of Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

, and Sidney was then free to turn his attention to the south, where with vigour and determination he arranged the quarrel between Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond
Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond
Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond was an Irish nobleman and leader of the Desmond Rebellions of 1579.-Life:...

 and Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, and laid his hand heavily on other disturbers of the peace; then, returning to Ulster, he compelled Turlough Luineach O'Neill
Turlough Luineach O'Neill
Toirdhealbhach Luineach Mac Néill Chonnalaigh Ó Néill , the earl of the Clan-Connell, was inaugurated as the King of Tyrone, upon Shane O’Neill’s death...

, Shane's successor in the clan chieftainship, to make submission, and placed garrisons at Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

 and Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus , known locally and colloquially as "Carrick", is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located on the north shore of Belfast Lough, from Belfast. The town had a population of 27,201 at the 2001 Census and takes its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th century king...

 to overawe Tyrone
Tyrone
The name Tyrone can refer to:*County Tyrone, a county in Northern Ireland, roughly corresponding to the ancient kingdom of Tír Eogain*An Earl of Tyrone*A small steam train which runs between Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland-Places:...

 and the Glynns.

Desmond Rebellions


In the autumn of 1567 Sidney returned to England, and was absent from Ireland for the next ten months. On his return he urged upon Cecil the necessity for measures to improve the economic condition of Ireland, to open up the country by the construction of roads and bridges, to replace the Ulster tribal institutions by a system of freehold land tenure, and to repress the ceaseless disorder prevalent in every part of the island. In 1569, he oversaw the opening of parliament, the first to be held for ten years.

In pursuance of this policy Sidney proposed the appointment of a military governor ("Lord President") in the provinces of Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 and Connaught
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

. This provoked the first of the Desmond Rebellions
Desmond Rebellions
The Desmond Rebellions occurred in 1569-1573 and 1579-1583 in the Irish province of Munster.They were rebellions by the Earl of Desmond – head of the FitzGerald dynasty in Munster – and his followers, the Geraldines and their allies against the threat of the extension of Elizabethan English...

 led by James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald
James FitzMaurice FitzGerald
James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald was a member of the 16th century ruling Geraldine dynasty in the province of Munster in Ireland. He rebelled against the crown authority of Queen Elizabeth I of England in response to the onset of the Tudor conquest of Ireland and was deemed an archtraitor...

 of the Geraldine family, which had been put down with great severity by 1573. Sidney dealt severely with the unruly Butlers in Ormond and Kilkenny, who had risen out in defiance of the government in reaction to the opportunistic claims to certain of their lands by Sir Peter Carew
Peter Carew
Sir Peter Carew was an English adventurer, who served during the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England and took part in the Tudor conquest of Ireland.He is to be distinguished from another Sir Peter Carew Sir Peter Carew (1514? – 27 November 1575) was an English adventurer, who served during the...

, a rather rough gentleman from Devon who pursued his entitlement with the blessing of the Dublin administration. At Kilkenny
Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a city and is the county town of the eponymous County Kilkenny in Ireland. It is situated on both banks of the River Nore in the province of Leinster, in the south-east of Ireland...

 large numbers of Sir Edmund Butler's followers were hanged, and three brothers of Thomas Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde
Thomas Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde
Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde and 3rd Earl of Ossory, Viscount Thurles , was an Irish peer and the son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond and Lady Joan Fitzgerald daughter and heiress-general of James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond...

,
were attainted by an act of the Irish parliament
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

 in 1570.

Sidney left Ireland in 1571, aggrieved by the slight appreciation of his statesmanship shown by the queen; but he returned in September, 1575 with increased powers and renewed tokens of royal approval, to find matters in a worse state than before, especially in Antrim, where the MacQuillans of the Route and Sorley Boy MacDonnell
Sorley Boy MacDonnell
Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill , Scoto-Irish prince or flaith and chief, was the son of Alexander MacDonnell, lord of Islay and Kintyre , and Catherine, daughter of the Lord of Ardnamurchan...

 were the chief fomenters of disorder. Having to some extent pacified this northern territory, Sidney repaired to the south, where he was equally successful in making his authority respected. He left his mark on the administrative areas of the island by perfecting certain shire divisions on the English model.

At an earlier period he had already in the north combined the districts of the Ardes and Clandeboye
Clandeboye
Clandeboye is in modern times an area of Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. It is named after the Clandeboye family, a branch of the O'Neill dynasty. They settled in the 1330s after the death of the Earl of Ulster in what is now south Antrim and north Down, giving their name to the territory...

 to form the county of Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus , known locally and colloquially as "Carrick", is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located on the north shore of Belfast Lough, from Belfast. The town had a population of 27,201 at the 2001 Census and takes its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th century king...

, and had converted the country of the O'Farrells into the County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

. He then carried out a similar policy in Connaught, where the ancient Irish district of Thomond
Thomond
Thomond The region of Ireland associated with the name Thomond is County Clare, County Limerick and north County Tipperary; effectively most of north Munster. The name is used by a variety of establishments and organisations located in , or associated with the region...

 became County Clare
County Clare
-History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...

, and the counties of Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

, Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

, Sligo and Roscommon
County Roscommon
County Roscommon is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...

 were also delimited.

Sidney also suppressed a rebellion headed by the earl of Clanricarde
Clanricarde
Clanricarde was a term meaning both a territory and a title in Ireland between the 13th and early 20th centuries.-Territory:The territory, in what is now County Galway, Ireland, stretched from the barony of County Clare in the north-west along the borders of County Mayo, to the River Shannon in the...

 and his sons in 1576, and hunted Rory O'More to his death two years later. Meantime Sidney's annual levy (the cess), which was designed to fund a central government militia, had caused discontent among the gentry of the Pale
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

, who carried their grievances to queen Elizabeth. Greatly to Sidney's chagrin the queen censured his extravagance, and notwithstanding his distinguished services to the Crown he was recalled in September 1578, and was coldly received by Elizabeth.

Later years


From his position on the Privy Council at London, Sidney used his influence in the bloody suppression of the Second Desmond Rebellion
Second Desmond Rebellion
The Second Desmond rebellion was the more widespread and bloody of the two Desmond Rebellions launched by the FitzGerald dynasty of Desmond in Munster, Ireland, against English rule in Ireland...

, which led to great loss of life in Munster in the period 1579-83 , and ultimately to the plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 of the province with settler and planter families.

He lived chiefly at Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle is a large, partly ruined, non-inhabited castle which dominates the town of Ludlow in Shropshire, England. It stands on a high point overlooking the River Teme...

 for the remainder of his life, performing his duties as president of the Welsh Marches.

Sources

  • Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iii. (6 vols., London, 1807).
  • Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin, edited by J. T. Gilbert, vols. i. and ii. (Dublin, 1889).
  • J. T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865).
  • J. A. Froude, History of England 12 vols. (London, 1856–1870).
  • Richard Bagwell
    Richard Bagwell
    Richard Bagwell was a noted historian of the Stuart and Tudor periods in Ireland, and a political commentator with strong Unionist convictions.He was the eldest son of John Bagwell, M.P. for Clonmel from 1857 to 1874...

    , Ireland under the Tudors, 3 vols. (London, 1885–1890).
  • John O'Donovan (ed.) Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters (1851).
  • Calendar of State Papers: Carew MSS 6 vols (London, 1867–1873).
  • Calendar of State Papers: Ireland (London)
  • Colm Lennon Sixteenth Century Ireland — The Incomplete Conquest (Dublin, 1995) ISBN 0-312-12462-7.
  • Nicholas P. Canny The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland: A Pattern Established, 1565–76 (London, 1976) ISBN 0-85527-034-9.
  • N. P. Canny Making Ireland British, 1580–1650 (Oxford University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-19-820091-9.
  • Steven G. Ellis Tudor Ireland (London, 1985) ISBN 0-582-49341-2.
  • Cyril Falls Elizabeth's Irish Wars (1950; reprint London, 1996) ISBN 0-09-477220-7.
  • Gerard A. H. McCoy Irish Battles (Belfast, 1989) ISBN 0-86281-212-7.
  • Thomas Rymer: Foedera (2.ed., London, 1726–35), vol.XV, p. 746-8 et pass.