James The Second (1685-1688)

Patrick Weston Joyce

621. In 1685 James II. succeeded his brother as king of England. He was a Roman Catholic, and his accession gave great joy to the Catholics of Ireland, and corresponding alarm to the Protestants. He soon entered on the dangerous task of gradually restoring the Catholic religion in both countries. Colonel Talbot (619), a strict Catholic, of a disposition over-zealous and imprudent, was sent to Ireland as commander of the forces, and was created earl of Tirconnell. As a sort of set-off, the king appointed his own brother-in-law, lord Clarendon, who was a Protestant, lord lieutenant, in place of Ormond.

622. But Clarendon was a mere shadow; Tirconnell was the real ruler; and one of his first acts was to disarm the militia, who were all Protestants. He also appointed Catholic officers all through the army, as well as Roman Catholic judges on the bench; and many other important posts were filled up by Catholics. He made an attempt to have the Act of settlement (609) repealed; but failed.

623. At length in 1687 Tirconnell was appointed lord lieutenant. This created quite a panic among the Protestants, and terrific rumours ran rife of intended massacres; so that hundreds fled from their homes to England and elsewhere.

624. In the midst of all this excitement and alarm, and while Tirconnell openly persevered in his course, William prince of Orange landed in England in November 1688, with a fleet and an army, at the invitation of some of the leading Protestants. King James, at the first appearance of danger, fled to France (in December); and William took possession of the throne of England without opposition. But he had to fight for Ireland.