Sunday, June 07, 2009

The first Ulster-Scots MPs / Royal Charters

With all of the outrage about MPs expenses, I wondered who the first Ulster-Scots MPs were. As usual, the Hamilton Manuscripts and Montgomery Manuscripts are as good a place to start as any;

Borough of Newtown (ards): April 1613
• George Conyngham Esq, Loughriscoll (Loughries?)
• James Cathcart Esq, Ballenyane

Borough of Bangor : April 1613
• Sir Edward Brabazon, Thomas-court, Dublin
(he was James Hamilton's father in law)
• John Dalway Esq, Brayde-Island, Antrim

Interesting that Montgomery was happy to see local men go to Parliament, presumably men who had come over from Scotland with him to become Ulster-Scots, and who knew the experiences of the new Scottish colony in Newtownards. However, Hamilton's Bangor was represented by men who seem to have been political choices - men who did not live in Bangor, who were well advanced on the social ladder, and who would have had long-standing political relationships in pre-Settlement/Plantation Ulster.

As part of the overall modernisation of Ulster at the time, 19 towns were given Royal Charters by King James I between 1610 - 13. Belfast's Charter is on display in the City Hall. The full list of places and dates were:

Cavan 15 Nov 1610
Dungannon 27 Nov 1612
Lifford 27 Feb 1613
Newry 27 Feb 1613
Donegal 27 Feb 1613
Lifford 27 Feb 1613
Killyleagh 10 Mar 1613
Bangor 18 Mar 1613
Strabane 18 Mar 1613
Ballyshannon 23 Mar 1613
Enniskillen 25 Mar 1613
Coleraine, 25 Mar 1613
Newtownards 25 Mar 1613
Armagh 26 Mar 1613
Monaghan 26 Mar 1613
Limavady 30 Mar 1613
Augher 15 April 1613
Belfast, 27 April 1613
Charlemont 29 Apr 1613

Presumably they all had the right to appoint/elect MPS to represent them in the Irish Parliament. With the 400th Anniversaries of these Charters just a few years away, there's probably a commemorative project in this.