Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/182

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

St. Leger was left to defend his province with a single troop of horse, and with such irregular auxiliaries as his loyal neighbours could furnish (cf. Lismore Papers, iv. 216–227; Carte, Letters 34–9). Lord Cork co-operated with him; but their relations were not always quite cordial, though the common danger brought them together [see Boyle, Richard, first Earl of Cork]. St. Leger wrote to Ormonde that ‘in these days Magna Charta must not be wholly insisted upon.’ The great point, he held, was to leave no weapon in the hands of men ‘Romishly affected.’ On the other hand he begged for three thousand stand of arms; ‘for I can find protestants to wear and fight with them which I had rather have than all those that come out of England.’ Yet there were some who thought him too favourable to the Irish (Lismore Papers, iv. 189). For a month there was no rising in Munster; but Leinster was on fire, and the unresisted flames spread gradually southwards.

St. Leger's first expedition was into Tipperary towards the end of November, his brother-in-law, William Kingsmill, having been plundered by the Irish near Silvermines. Many were hanged, and some of these had probably nothing to do with the robbery (Hickson, ii. 241). About the same time loose bands began to infest the eastern end of county Waterford, and St. Leger made a bold raid over the mountains in the neighbourhood of Carrick-on-Suir. According to a contemporary account, he ‘within a few days destroyed about six hundred of the rebels without the loss of one man;’ but the gallows did more than the sword, and his force was too small to impose permanent peace. While praising the lord president, Cork described him as ‘utterly destitute of men, money, and munition’ (Orrery Letters, p. 3; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 346). At the beginning of December St. Leger was at Clonmel, and found the Tipperary gentlemen ‘standing at gaze and suffering the rascals to rob and pillage all the English about them’ (Lismore Papers, iv. 228). The Boyles had soon enough to do to defend their own castles and the town of Youghal, of which St. Leger appointed Lord Dungarvan governor (Youghal Council Book, p. 217). Unable to keep the field with his handful of men, St. Leger returned to Doneraile on 23 Dec. On 30 Jan. 1641–2 he reported that the enemy were at Cashel, ten thousand strong and partly well armed, and that their horse was equal both in quantity and quality to any that he had been able to get together (Lismore Papers, iv. 262). Two troops had been added to his original one. Early in February he vainly endeavoured, with the help of Lords Barrymore, Broghill, and Dungarvan, to stop Mountgarret's army near Killmallock. ‘Our foot,’ he wrote to Cork, ‘be of so inconsiderable and wretched composure and condition of men as that I dare not adventure anything upon them. All that we have to rely upon are our horse’ (ib.). Negotiations were futile, though Broghill [see Boyle, Richard, second Earl of Cork], who was a good judge, admired the way in which ‘the lord president answered like a cunning fox, not having force to do it with the sword’ (Smith, Cork, ii. 117). Before the end of February St. Leger had to fall back upon Cork, leaving the open country to the enemy.

From the middle of February 1641–2 until his death St. Leger's quarters were at Cork, but he took the field whenever he could. To keep his men together at all he had to make a forced loan of 4,000l. from Sir Robert Tynte, who had refused to lend on the public faith (True and Happy News). In March Sir Charles Vavasour landed at Youghal with one thousand men, and St. Leger joined him there. Dungarvan was taken, but in the president's absence Muskerry, in whom he had trusted, threw off the mask and threatened Cork with four thousand men [see under MacCarthy Donogh, fourth Earl of Clancarty]. St. Leger marched from Dungarvan in two days, and got into the city in spite of the Irish, who besieged it until they were dispersed by Inchiquin's sally on 23 April (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 346; Confederation and War, i. 76). Writing a few days later to congratulate Ormonde on his victory at Kilrush, St. Leger complained of neglect. He had received no money for twelve months, and the Dublin government would not even give him a few small field-pieces which were not wanted anywhere else. ‘If they have not wholly deserted me, and bestowed the government on my Lord of Cork, persuade them to disburthen themselves of so much artillery as they cannot themselves employ’ (Carte, Letter 78). Further reinforcements arriving, St. Leger took the field again; but his illness increased, and he died at or near Cork on 2 July, leaving the government to Inchiquin, whom he had made vice-president some time before, and whose appointment had been confirmed under the great seal.

St. Leger, says Carte, ‘was a brave, gallant, and honest man, but somewhat too rough and fiery in his temper; and he did not give greater terror to the rebels by his activity in pursuing, his intrepidity in at-