Edited by William Byron Forbush This is a book that will never die — one of the great English classics. . . . Reprinted here in its most complete form, it brings to life the days when “a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid,” “climbed the steep ascent of heaven, ‘mid peril, toil, and pain.” “After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.”
Fox’s Book of Martyrs is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
The rise and progress of the Protestant religion in Ireland and the persecution that followed
In the county of Mayo about sixty Protestants, fifteen of whom were ministers, were, upon covenant, to be safely conducted to Galway, by one Edmund Burke and his soldiers; but that inhuman monster by the way drew his sword, as an intimation of his design to the rest, who immediately followed his example, and murdered the whole, some of whom they stabbed, others were run through the body with pikes, and several were drowned.
In Queen’s County great numbers of Protestants were put to the most shocking deaths. Fifty or sixty were placed together in one house, which being set on fire, they all perished in the flames. Many were stripped naked, and being fastened to horses by ropes placed round their middles, were dragged through bogs until they expired. Some were hung by the feet to tenterhooks driven into poles; and in that wretched posture left until they perished. Others were fastened to the trunk of a tree, with a branch at top. Over this branch hung one arm, which principally supported the weight of the body; and one of the legs was turned up, and fastened to the trunk, while the other hung straight. In this dreadful and uneasy posture did they remain as long as life would permit, pleasing spectacles to their bloodthirsty persecutors.
At Clownes seventeen men were buried alive; and an Englishman, his wife, five children, and a servant maid, were all hanged together, and afterward thrown into a ditch. They hung many by the arms to branches of trees, with a weight to their feet; and others by the middle, in which posture they left them until they expired. Several were hanged on windmills, and before they were half dead, the barbarians cut them in pieces with their swords. Others, both men, women, and children, they cut and hacked in various parts of their bodies, and left them wallowing in their blood to perish where they fell. One poor woman they hanged on a gibbet, with her child, an infant about a twelve-month old, the latter of whom was hanged by the neck with the hair of its mother’s head, and in that manner finished its short but miserable existence.
In the county of Tyrone no less than three hundred Protestants were drowned in one day; and many others were hanged, burned, and otherwise put to death. Dr. Maxwell, rector of Tyrone, lived at this time near Armagh, and suffered greatly from these merciless savages. This person, in his examination, taken upon oath before the king’s commissioners, declared that the Irish papists owned to him, that they, at several times, had destroyed, in one place, 12,000 Protestants, whom they inhumanly slaughtered at Glynwood, in their flight from the county of Armagh.
As the river Bann was not fordable, and the bridge broken down, the Irish forced thither at different times, a great number of unarmed, defenceless Protestants, and with pikes and swords violently thrust about one thousand into the river, where they miserably perished.
Nor did the cathedral of Armagh escape the fury of those barbarians, it being maliciously set on fire by their leaders, and burnt to the ground. And to extirpate, if possible, the very race of those unhappy Protestants, who lived in or near Armagh, the Irish first burnt all their houses, and then gathered together many hundreds of those innocent people, young and old, on pretence of allowing them a guard and safe conduct to Colerain, when they treacherously fell on them by the way, and inhumanly murdered them.
The like horrid barbarities with those we have particularized, were practiced on the wretched Protestants in almost all parts of the kingdom; and, when an estimate was afterward made of the number who were sacrificed to gratify diabolical souls of the papists, it amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand. But it now remains that we proceed to the particulars that followed.
These desperate wretches, flushed and grown insolent with success, (though by methods attended with such excessive barbarities as perhaps not to be equalled) soon got possession of the castle of Newry, where the king’s stores and ammunition were lodged; and, with as little difficulty, made themselves masters of Dundalk. They afterward took the town of Ardee, where they murdered all the Protestants, and then proceeded to Drogheda. The garrison of Drogheda was in no condition to sustain a siege, notwithstanding which, as often as the Irish renewed their attacks they were vigorously repulsed by a very unequal number of the king’s forces, and a few faithful Protestant citizens under Sir Henry Tichborne, the governor, assisted by the Lord Viscount Moore. The siege of Drogheda began on the thirtieth of November, 1641, and held until the fourth of March, 1642, when Sir Phelim O’Neal, and the Irish miscreants under him were forced to retire.
In the meantime ten thousand troops were sent from Scotland to the remaining Protestants in Ireland, which being properly divided in the most capital parts of the kingdom, happily exclipsed the power of the Irish savages; and the Protestants for a time lived in tranquillity.
In the reign of King James II they were again interrupted, for in a parliament held at Dublin in the year 1689, great numbers of the Protestant nobility, clergy, and gentry of Ireland, were attainted of high treason. The government of the kingdom was, at that time, invested in the earl of Tyrconnel, a bigoted papist, and an inveterate enemy to the Protestants. By his orders they were again persecuted in various parts of the kingdom. The revenues of the city of Dublin were seized, and most of the churches converted into prisons. And had it not been for the resolution and uncommon bravery of the garrisons in the city of Londonderry, and the town of Inniskillin, there had not one place remained for refuge to the distressed Protestants in the whole kingdom; but all must have been given up to King James, and to the furious popish party that governed him.
The remarkable siege of Londonderry was opened on the eighteenth of April, 1689, by twenty thousand papists, the flower of the Irish army. The city was not properly circumstanced to sustain a siege, the defenders consisting of a body of raw undisciplined Protestants, who had fled thither for shelter, and half a regiment of Lord Mountjoy’s disciplined soldiers, with the principal part of the inhabitants, making it all only seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men.
The besieged hoped, at first, that their stores of corn and other necessaries, would be sufficient; but by the continuance of the siege their wants increased; and these became at last so heavy that for a considerable time before the siege was raised a pint of coarse barley, a small quantity of greens, a few spoonfuls of starch, with a very moderate proportion of horse flesh, were reckoned a week’s provision for a soldier. And they were, at length, reduced to such extremities that they ate dogs, cats, and mice.
Their miseries increasing with the siege, many, through mere hunger and want, pined and languished away, or fell dead in the streets. And it is remarkable, that when their long-expected succors arrived from England, they were upon the point of being reduced to this alternative, either to preserve their existence by eating each other, or attempting to fight their way through the Irish, which must have infallibly produced their destruction.
These succors were most happily brought by the ship Mountjoy of Derry, and the Phoenix of Colerain, at which time they had only nine lean horses left with a pint of meal to each man. By hunger, and the fatigues of war, their seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men were reduced to four thousand three hundred, one fourth part of whom were rendered unserviceable.
As the calamities of the besieged were great, so likewise were the terrors and sufferings of their Protestant friends and relations; all of whom (even women and children) were forcibly driven from the country thirty miles round, and inhumanly reduced to the sad necessity of continuing some days and nights without food or covering, before the walls of the town; and were thus exposed to the continual fire both of the Irish army from without and the shot of their friends from within.
But the succors from England happily arriving put an end to their affliction; and the siege was raised on the thirty-first of July, having been continued upwards of three months.
The day before the siege of Londonderry was raised the Inniskillers engaged a body of six thousand Irish Roman Catholics, at Newton, Butler, or Crown-Castle, of whom near five thousand were slain. This, with the defeat at Londonderry, dispirited the papists, and they gave up all farther attempts to persecute the Protestants.
The year following, viz. 1690, the Irish took up arms in favor of the abdicated prince, King James II but they were totally defeated by his successor King William the Third. That monarch, before he left the country, reduced them to a state of subjection, in which they have ever since continued.
But notwithstanding all this, the Protestant interest at present stands upon a much stronger basis than it did a century ago. The Irish, who formerly led an unsettled and roving life, in the woods, bogs, and mountains, and lived on the depredation of their neighbors, they who, in the morning seized the prey, and at night divided the spoil, have, for many years past, become quiet and civilized. They taste the sweets of English society, and the advantages of civil government. They trade in our cities, and are employed in our manufactories. They are received also into English families; and treated with great humanity by the Protestants.
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