Simington: The Civil Survey 1654-56, County of Dublin

Pdf Simington, Robert C. The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-56 Vol VII, County of Dublin, Dublin: The Stationery Office, 1945
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The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656, Vol VII, County of Dublin edited by Robert C. Simington (1885-1976) of the Quit Rent Office was published in 1945. The mid 17th century survey consists of returns of the extent and value of lands forfeited by Catholic and Royalist rebels in County Dublin following their defeat during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. 

After the Norman invasion of 1169, the city of Dublin, a settlement first established by the Vikings in the 9th century, became the centre of English power in Ireland. The area surrounding the walled medieval city became known as the Pale. By the 14th century the effects of pestilence, war and intermarriage between Norman and Gaelic Irish families meant that English power across Ireland was largely theoretical and in reality was confined to this small area.

Matters were made worse by the Protestant Reformation when the Gaelic Irish and Old English descendents of the Normans refused to renounce their Catholicism. For centuries the city of Dublin and the inhabitants of the Pale were forced to pay tribute to the Gaelic Irish clans especially the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles. Catholic Old English inhabitants however loyal they might have been to the Anglican monarchy were not deemed trustworthy due to their religion.

At the end of the 16th century during the reign of Elizabeth I, the English were determined that Dublin would become a Protestant city and to subdue the Gaelic Irish and the Catholic Old English across the island. Trinity College was established in 1592 and both St. Patrick’s and Christchurch cathedrals became Protestant. After the defeat of the Earls of Tyrconnell and Tyrone at the Battle of Kinsale 1603, James I encouraged British Protestants to settle in Ulster.

In 1641 a Catholic rebellion led to the massacre of thousands of Ulster Protestants. Between 1641 and 1649, two-thirds of Ireland was ruled by the Catholic Confederacy made up of Gaelic and Old English Catholics based in Kilkenny. Thousands of Protestants took refuge in Dublin while Catholics were expelled.

Dublin was besieged twice by Catholic forces in 1646 and 1649 but were defeated at the Battle of Rathmines by Parliamentarians. In 1649 fresh from victory in the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army landed in Ireland and by 1653 has crushed Catholic, Royalist and Covenanter opposition in Ireland. Across the country hundreds of thousands died as a result of massacre, hunger and disease. The population of Dublin alone fell dramatically due to an outbreak of plague in 1649. 

Under the Acts of Settlement 1652, Irish Catholic lands in the neighbourhood of Dublin were confiscated and given to Protestants of whom many were Cromwell’s soldiers. Catholics were banned from dwelling within Dublin city limits but this was not strictly enforced. The Civil Survey 1654-56 describes how Catholic property was transferred into Protestant ownership.

By 1660 Cromwell had died and the English monarchy was restored along with many of the rights and lands of persecuted Catholics. In the late 17th century the deposed Catholic King James II was supported by the Irish Parliament in Dublin but fled after his forces were defeated by King William III at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Despite this brief interlude, Dublin city and County would become dominated by the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy. During the Georgian period of the 18th century, Dublin would experience great prosperity.

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