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Sir Geoffrey Fenton and the office of secretary of state for Ireland, 1580–1608

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2016

Judith Barry*
Affiliation:
Department of History, Trinity College Dublin
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Extract

In May 1560 a new office was established in the Irish administration, the first to be introduced in almost twenty years. It was that strange creation, the office of secretary of state for Ireland. The chief inspiration behind its foundation was Thomas Radcliffe, earl of Sussex, and it is clear from his writings on the subject that he believed some special office of this kind was needed if the policy of reestablishing English government in Ireland was to be implemented successfully.

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Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd 2006

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References

1 Brady, Ciaran, The chief governors: the rise and fall of reform government in Tudor Ireland, 1536–1588 (Cambridge, 1994), pp 815Google Scholar; ‘The opinion of the earl of Sussex touching reformation of Ireland’, Sept. 1560 (Cal. Carew MSS, 1515–75, pp 300–04).

2 Elton, G.R., The Tudor revolution in government (Cambridge, 1923), pp 2430Google Scholar; Guy, J.A., ‘Privy council: revolution or evolution?’ in Coleman, Christopher and Starkey, David (eds), Revolution reassessed: revisions in the history of Tudor government and administration (Oxford, 1986), pp 5986Google Scholar; David Starkey, ‘After the revolution’, ibid., pp 199–208; Dale Hoak, ‘Mary I’s privy council’, ibid., pp 87–116.

3 ‘Instructions to the earl of Sussex on his being appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland’, 21 May 1560 (P.R.O., SP 63/2/19).

4 Chaloner to Cecil, 28 May 1563 (ibid., SP 63/8/51).

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8 Cal. S.P. Ire., 1509–73; ibid., 1574–85, passim; Irish privy council book, 1556–71 (H.M.C., Haliday), passim.

9 ‘Remembrance of John Chaloner’s suits’, 1564 (P.R.O., SP 63/10/55).

10 Records of cess collected by John Chaloner (N.A.I., MS 2532, f. 199 (28 Oct. 1564), ff 203, 204 (21 Nov. 1564), f. 237 (26 July 1566), ff 241, 242 (11 Aug. 1566), f. 206 (8 Sept. 1566), f. 308 (1 Mar. 1567), f. 309 (20 [?] 1568), f. 312 (1 June 1569), f. 317 (31 July 1569), f. 318 (11 Oct. 1569), ff 323, 328 (23 Nov. 1569), f. 324 (18 Nov. 1569), f. 237 (25 July 1570, 9 Sept. 1572, 11 June, 21 July 1573, 29 July 1574, 23, 26 Sept., 22, 27 Nov. 1575, 23 May, 7 June, 22 Aug. 1576)).

11 Records collected by John Chaloner, 22 Nov. 1575 (ibid., f. 339).

12 Chaloner to Burghley, 8 Sept. 1578 (P.R.O., SP 63/62/4).

13 ‘Instructions to the earl of Sussex’, 21 May 1560 (ibid., SP 63/2/19).

14 ‘A report of Secretary Chaloner against coyne and livery’, c. 1564 (B.L., Cott. MSS, Titus B XII, f. 179); Chancellor Gerrard to Walsingham, 8 Feb. 1577 (P.R.O., SP 63/57/16).

15 ‘Instructions’ to Lord Justice Drury, 31 Mar. 1579 (ibid., SP 63/66/17).

16 Geoffrey Fenton’s Historie of Guicciardin, ed. Gottfried, R.B. (Bloomington, Ind., 1940)Google Scholar.

17 Fenton to Burghley, 31 July 1580 (P.R.O., SP 63/74/59). In his first letter Fenton says he was recommended by Walsingham, but that his appointment was ‘chiefly upon the recommendation your Lord [Burghley] gave of me’.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Fenton to Burghley, 8 Aug. 1580 (ibid., SP 63/75/35).

21 Fenton to Walsingham, 11 Nov. 1580 (ibid., SP 63/78/25).

22 Fenton to earl of Leicester, 8 Sept. 1580 (ibid., SP 63/76/19).

23 Fenton’s ‘Remembrances’ to the privy council (ibid., SP 63/84/20).

24 Fenton to Walsingham, 7 Mar. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/81/10).

25 Fenton to Leicester, 13 Mar. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/81/26); Fenton to Walsingham, 11 Mar. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/81/19); Fenton to Leicester, 6 May 1581 (ibid., SP 63/83/3); Fenton to Walsingham, 11 Dec. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/87/44); Fenton to Walsingham, 14 Dec. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/87/51).

26 Fenton to Burghley, 20 Nov. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/86/72).

27 Fenton to Burghley, 12 Jan. 1582 (ibid., SP 63/88/14).

28 Fenton to Burghley, 5 Dec. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/87/4).

29 Brady, Ciaran, ‘The captains’ games: army and society in Elizabethan Ireland’ in Bartlett, Thomas and Jeffery, Keith (eds), A military history of Ireland (Cambridge, 1996), pp 13660Google Scholar.

30 Fenton to Burghley, 6 Nov. 1582 (P.R.O., SP 63/97/24).

31 Fenton to Walsingham, 16 Jan. 1583 (ibid., SP 63/99/27).

32 Fenton to Walsingham, 17 Apr. 1583 (ibid., SP 63/101/33).

33 Rawlinson, Richard (ed.), The history of that most eminent Sir John Perrot (London, 1727), pp 89102Google Scholar.

34 Ibid., pp 66–7, 79–82.

35 Wallop to Walsingham, 20 Jan. 1585 (P.R.O., SP 63/114/42).

36 Fenton to Burghley, 28 Dec. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/87/60).

37 MacCarthy-Morrogh, Michael, The Munster plantation: English migration to southern Ireland, 1583–1641 (Oxford, 1986), pp 1930Google Scholar.

38 Ibid., p. 32.

39 Fenton’s ‘Notes for the establishing and repeopling of Munster’, 1585 (P.R.O., SP 63/118/75).

40 MacCarthy-Morrogh, Munster plantation, ch. 3; Sheehan, A.J., ‘Official reaction to native land claims in the plantation of Munster’ in I.H.S., xxiii, no. 92 (Nov. 1983), p. 302Google Scholar.

41 Petition of Fenton to the privy council, 1583 (P.R.O., SP 63/106/68).

42 Articles to be by Secretary Fenton delivered in her Majesty’s name to the Lord Deputy of Ireland for his consideration’, n.d. ([Lodge, John (ed.)], Desiderata curiosa Hibernica … (2 vols, Dublin, 1772), i, 6372)Google Scholar.

43 Perrot to Burghley, 16 Apr. 1586 (P.R.O., SP 63/123/39).

44 Loftus to Burghley, 4 Aug. 1585, Loftus to Walsingham, 4 Aug. 1585, Thomas Jennyson to Walsingham, 16 Oct. 1584, Jennyson to Burghley, 8 Jan. 1585, Wallop to Walsingham, 19 Apr. 1585 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1574–85, pp 529, 526, 560).

45 E.C.S., The government of Ireland under Sir John Perrot, 1584–88 (London, 1626), p. 35Google Scholar.

46 Fenton to Walsingham, 7 Mar. 1585 (P.R.O., SP 63/115/21); Cunningham, Bernadette, ‘The composition of Connacht in the lordships of Clanricard and Thomond, 1577–1641’ in I.H.S., xxiv, no. 93 (May 1984), pp 114Google Scholar.

47 Perrot to Burghley, 16 Apr. 1586 (P.R.O., SP 63/123/39).

48 Fenton to Burghley, 16 Apr. 1586 (ibid., SP 63/123/36).

49 Fenton to Burghley, 25 Feb. 1587 (ibid., SP 63/128/55).

50 Wallop to Burghley, 15 Nov. 1586 (ibid., SP 63/126/82).

51 E.C.S., Government of Ireland, p. 75.

52 Fenton to Burghley, 14 Sept. 1586 (P.R.O., SP 63/126/11); Fenton to Burghley, 16 Sept. 1586 (ibid., SP 63/126/14); Fenton to Walsingham, 28 Sept. 1586 (ibid., SP 63/126/29).

53 Fenton to Burghley, 7 Dec. 1587 (ibid., SP 63/132/26); Fenton to Walsingham, 7 Dec. 1587 (ibid., SP 63/132/27); Fenton to Burghley, 14 Mar. 1587 (ibid., SP 63/128/94).

54 ‘Petition’ on behalf of Geoffrey Fenton to Walsingham, Mar. 1588 (ibid., SP 63/134/47).

55 Acts privy council, 1588–9, p. 76.

56 Morgan, Hiram, ‘The fall of Sir John Perrot’ in Guy, John (ed.), The reign of Elizabeth I: court and culture in the last decade (Cambridge, 1995), pp 10925CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

57 Acts privy council, 1590, pp 37–8, 44–5, 130–31; ibid., 1591, pp 84–5; Sheehan, A.J., ‘Official reaction to native land claims in the plantation of Munster’ in I.H.S., xxiii, no. 92 (Nov. 1983), pp 297317Google Scholar.

58 MacCarthy-Morrogh, Munster plantation, pp 97–106.

59 Fitzwilliam to Burghley, 30 Apr. 1590 (P.R.O., SP 63/151/93).

60 Lords chancellor, treasurer, admiral and chamberlain to lord deputy, 11 Aug. 1590 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1588–92, p. 360).

61 Acts privy council, 1590, p. 420; ibid., 1591, p. 426; ibid., 1592, p. 55; Rowghane to Burghley, 3 Sept. 1590 (Cal. S.P. dom., 1581–90, p. 687); Sir Geoffrey Fenton, William Danyel and James Dalton to Lord Chancellor Hatton and Lord Burghley, 9 Sept. 1590 (ibid., p. 688); Fenton to Burghley, 9 Sept. 1590 (ibid.); Fenton to Burghley, 22 Nov. 1590 (ibid., p. 699); Perrot to privy council, 5 Dec. 1590 (ibid., pp 701–2).

62 Perrot to privy council, 5 Dec. 1590 (Cal. S.P. dom., 1581–90, pp 701–2).

63 Acts privy council, 1592, p. 371.

64 D. M. Palliser, The age of Elizabeth: England under the later Tudors, 1547–1603, ch. 5; Williams, Penry, The Tudor regime (Oxford, 1979), pp 7079Google Scholar.

65 Quinn, D.B., ‘The Munster plantation: problems and opportunities’ in Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., lxxi (1966), pp 2930Google Scholar.

66 Morgan, Hiram, Tyrone’s rebellion: the outbreak of the Nine Years War in Tudor Ireland (Woodbridge, 1993), p. 59Google Scholar.

67 Brady, ‘Captains’ games’.

68 CaptainLee, Thomas, ‘A brief declaration of the government of Ireland … 1594’ (Desid. cur. Hib., i, 86151)Google Scholar.

69 Legge to Burghley, 5 Apr. 1593 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1592–6, pp 87–8).

70 Certificate issued by Sir Geoffrey Fenton, June 1590 (P.R.O., SP 63/153/33).

71 Fenton to Walsingham, 16 Apr. 1581 (ibid., SP 63/82/30).

72 Fitzwilliam, Chancellor Loftus and Fenton to privy council, 31 Dec. 1588 (ibid., SP 63/139/25).

73 White to Burghley, 18 Nov. 1589 (ibid., SP 63/148/13).

74 White to Burghley, 29 Jan. 1590 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1588–92, p. 302).

75 Acts privy council, 1590, p. 239.

76 Fenton’s ‘Notes to be considered touching the earl of Tyrone’, May/June 1590 (P.R.O., SP 63/152/41 i).

77 Fenton’s ‘Memorial for Irish causes’, 3 June 1592 (ibid., SP 63/165/5).

78 Ranger, T.O., ‘Richard Boyle and the making of an Irish fortune, 1588–1614’ in I.H.S., x, no. 39 (Mar. 1957), pp 257–61Google Scholar.

79 Quoted in Carty, James, ‘The early life and times of Richard Boyle’ (M.A. thesis, University College Dublin, 1928), p. 7Google Scholar.

80 Fenton to Burghley, 17 June 1594 (P.R.O., SP 63/175/10); Fenton to Burghley, 20 June 1594 (ibid., SP 63/175/12 i).

81 Ranger, ‘Boyle & making of an Irish fortune’, p. 270.

82 Fenton to Burghley, 17 June 1594 (P.R.O., SP 63/175/10).

83 Carty ‘Early life of Richard Boyle’, pp 50–52.

84 Note delivered by Patrick Crosby to Sir Henry Wallop and Sir Robert Gardiner, 10 Jan. 1596, implicating Sir Geoffrey Fenton in obtaining concealed lands of great value at low rates (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1592–6, p. 447).

85 Jeffrey Story to Cecil, 21 Sept. 1597 (H.M.C., Salisbury, vii, 393).

86 Note delivered by Patrick Crosby, 10 Jan. 1596 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1592–96, p. 447).

87 P. E. J. Hammer, ‘Patronage at court, faction and the earl of Essex’ in Guy (ed.), Reign of Elizabeth I, pp 421–54.

88 Fenton to Burghley, 20 June 1594 (P.R.O., SP 63/175/12 i).

89 Morgan, Tyrone’s rebellion, p. 169.

90 Fenton to Burghley, 30 Sept. 1596 (P.R.O., SP 63/193/49).

91 Fenton to Burghley, 25 Nov. 1596 (ibid., SP 63/195/37).

92 Morgan, Tyrone’s rebellion, pp 183—4.

93 SirNaunton, Robert, Fragmenta regalia; or, Observations on the late Queen Elizabeth her times and her favourites (3rd ed., London, 1653; repr., London, 1870), p. 136Google Scholar.

94 Fenton to Burghley, 21 Sept. 1595 (P.R.O., SP 63/183/44); Fenton to Burghley, 6 Feb. 1596 (ibid., SP 63/186/44); Norris and Fenton to Burghley, 15 June 1596 (ibid., SP 63/190/25); Norris and Fenton to Burghley, 20 June 1596 (ibid., SP 63/190/29).

95 Fenton to Burghley, 16 Feb. 1597 (P.R.O., SP 63/197/97).

96 Fenton to Cecil, 25 Jan. 1597 (ibid., SP 63/197/49).

97 Fenton to Burghley, 16 Feb. 1597 (ibid., SP 63/197/97).

98 Henry, L.W., ‘The earl of Essex as strategist and military organiser, 1596–7’ in E.H.R., lxviii (1953), pp 363–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fenton to Cecil, 26 Jan. 1597 (P.R.O., SP 63/197/52).

99 Wallop and Gardiner to Burghley, 10 Jan. 1596 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1592–6, p. 447).

100 Ranger, ‘Boyle & making of an Irish fortune’, pp 278–80.

101 Fenton to Burghley, 8 Mar. 1598 (P.R.O., SP 63/202, pt 1/79).

102 Cecil to Norris, 3 Dec. 1598 (Cal. S.P. Ire., 1598–9, pp 391–2).

103 Moryson, Fynes, An itinerary … (3 pts, London, 1617), pt 2, p. 221Google Scholar; Sir John Harrington’s journal (Nugae antiquae … (2 vols, London, 1804), i, 24041)Google Scholar.

104 Fenton to Cecil, 30 June 1599 (P.R.O., SP 63/205/93); Fenton to Cecil, 25 July 1599 (ibid., SP 63/205/118).

105 Dymmok, John, A treatise of Ireland, transcribed by J. C. Halliwell from the original (B.M. Harl. MS 1291), ed. Butler, Richard (Dublin, 1842), p. 50Google Scholar.

106 Elizabeth I to Fenton, 5 Nov. 1599 (P.R.O., SP 63/206/9).

107 Moryson, Itinerary, pt 2, p. 289.

108 Fenton to Cecil, 14 Feb. 1599 (P.R.O., SP 63/203/49).

109 Fenton to Cecil, 8 Mar. 1601 (ibid., SP 63/208, pt 1/69).

110 Fenton to Cecil, 20 Apr. 1598 (ibid., SP 63/202, pt 2/16); Fenton to Burghley, 23 Apr. 1598 (ibid., SP 63/202, pt 2/20).

111 Fenton to Cecil, 25 June 1598 (ibid., SP 63/202, pt 2/83).

112 Fenton to Cecil, 15 Feb. 1599 (ibid., SP 63/203/48).

113 Fenton to Cecil, 20 Jan. 1601 (ibid., SP 63/208, pt 3/11)

114 Fenton to Cecil, 12 Oct. 1601 (ibid., SP 63/209/146).

115 Fenton to Cecil, 3 Sept 1601 (ibid., SP 63/209/54); Fenton to Cecil, 5 Sept. 1601 (ibid., SP 63/209/61); Fenton to Cecil, 11 Sept. 1601 (ibid., SP 63/209/68).

116 Fenton to Cecil, 13 Aug. 1602 (ibid., SP 63/209/26).

117 Fenton to Cecil, 19 Nov. 1603 (ibid., SP 63/215/165).

118 Fenton to Cecil, 19 Apr. 1603 (ibid., SP 63/215/35).

119 Moryson, Itinerary, pt 3, p. 310.

120 Fenton to Cecil, 19 Apr. 1603 (P.R.O., SP 63/215/35); Fenton to Cecil, 14 Aug. 1603 (ibid., SP 63/215/88); Fenton to Cecil, 12 Feb. 1604 (ibid., SP 63/216/31); Fenton to Cecil, June 1604 (H.M.C., Salisbury, xvi, 121); McCavitt, John, Sir Arthur Chichester: lord deputy of Ireland, 1605–1616 (Belfast, 1998), pp 113–14Google Scholar. McCavitt argues that Chichester’s deep distrust of the recusant community developed during this period.

121 Fenton to Salisbury, 9 Sept. 1607 (P.R.O., SP 63/222/130).

122 Quoted in Quinn, ‘Munster plantation’, p. 36.

123 McCavitt, Chichester, pp 306–10.

124 Fenton to Salisbury, 23 Sept. 1607 (P.R.O., SP 63/222/141); Fenton to Salisbury, 23 Apr. 1608 (ibid., SP 63/223/85).

125 John Guy, Introduction: ‘The 1590s: The second reign of Elizabeth I’ in idem (ed.), Reign of Elizabeth I, pp 1–19.

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