Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland has recently released dozens of maps showing all of the land that Oliver Cromwell stole during the 1670s. One of the maps shows the Cromwellian Plantation of 1670 and its real owners, who had the land before Cromwell took over. Cromwell, who came from England, stole the land and sold it to landlords who could pay for it. A majority of that land is still owned by the landlords’ ancestors today.
Trinity College’s researchers decided to research documents pertaining to this seizure of the lands. This type of research is actually the first of its kind worldwide, and it has yielded some stunning results.
One of the historians at Trinity College, Prof. Michael O Siochru, said that this is the first time he and his students were able to break down the research into parish, barony, and county. If their research is to result in distributing the land back to their rightful owners, then they had to map it out correctly and effectively.
When Cromwell took over, he had a most accurate documentation of his land surveys. Prof. O Siochru said that this was fairly accurate for the time. On the original report, Cromwell had written the word “Down” which actually indicated that there were chains put down on the ground in order to measure every single inch of land in Ireland. He measured the smallest parish to the largest of the thirty-two.
The survey the students worked off of had maps of a very detailed view of the entire country. Those maps are very beautiful as they were well-drawn and accurate. They not only have historical significance, they also have artistic significance as well.
The maps and results have been loaded onto Google so people can see who owned what land before Cromwell took over. The students and Prof. O Siochru hope that people can view their family’s land. The maps were even categorized into which Catholic families owned the land to which land the Protestant ascendancy owned.
While many people do not know exactly where their ancestors lived and what they did, these maps will help those families to be able to see where their ancestors came from as far back as the 17th Century.
It’s a wonder these students were even able to conduct this research. The actual Down Survey was destroyed in a fire in the first Custom House in 1711. But thankfully there were copies made at the time to be used out in the field to make sure the landlords were using the correct land. Surprisingly, there are over 2,000 maps all throughout the countries of Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Paris, and Rome.
Cromwell came to Ireland in 1649 when he was the head of the English army. He was given the job of suppressing the Royalists who wanted to restore the English monarchy. The monarch at the time was Charles I and he was beheaded in 1649 after losing the civil war to the forces of Parliament.
Many people were still loyal to the king and his son, and they wanted the son to be dubbed Charles II. Many of these loyalists happened to be in Ireland, so this is where Cromwell was given the duty to suppress them. The Irish supported the idea of monarchy because they hoped that if Charles II was king he would grant the Irish their freedom to worship as Roman Catholics.
Cromwell arrived in Dublin on August 15, 1649. He managed to gain the crowd’s trust when he promised to carry out the great work against the blood-thirsty Irish. He managed to take over several cities, with or without their permission. Some of the battles ended up a bloody mess.
One of Cromwell’s Physician-Generals said that he estimated over 500,000 Irish people died. The people died by the sword, plague, famine, hardship, and even banishment. This all happened within 10 years, from 1641 to 1652. To put it in other terms, the population of Ireland in 1641 was over one million and by 1652, over 600,000 people died.
Cromwell was only in Ireland for nine months, leaving on May 26, 1650, but he caused much destruction within those months. He killed, exiled, persecuted, and instituted indentured slavery while in control over the country. He even performed a form of ethnic cleansing after the people refused to convert to his religion.