Westminster Hall, where Plunkett was tried
On the conclusion of his evidence, Dr. Plunket being interrogated, whether he wished to ask any questions, said:—
"He says, my lord, that ten years ago I had such a design in hand; and he knew the money was collected for these very ends, and that I had a design to bring in the French at Carlingford, and went about to all the ports in Ireland, and pitched upon that as the most convenient; and yet it is so inconvenient for the bringing in a foreign force, that anyone that knows anything of the maps of the world will easily conclude it otherwise. But I say, my lord, why did he not tell some justice of the peace that I was upon such a design, but let me live in Ireland for ten years after, and never speak of it till now? When he saw me all the time, and to the time of my taking prisoner, and never said one word: for I was a prisoner six months, only for my religion, not one word of treason spoken of against me for so many years; why did he not acquaint some justice of the peace of it before?"
Then the scene ensued to which we have already referred; the Chief Justice and Justice Dolbein suggested to the prisoner the answer which they knew would be most satisfactory to his hearers, that forsooth, he himself was at that time a papist, and MacMoyer continued:—
"I was a papist myself; the first that did discover it; friar Moyer and I did consult about it; I had him charged to do so, and I had set him to work; but he was ill-paid for having discovered it, you got him to be trepanned, that he hath gone in danger of his life for it."
Henry O'Neal's evidence was short, and principally directed against the saintly bishop of Clogher, Dr. Tyrrell; amongst other things, however, he swears, that he had never seen the primate in his life, which confirms Dr. Plunket's own assertion, that, as to the four laymen who appeared against him, he had never before seen them.
Neal O'Neale almost repeated the words of the preceding witness: and Owen Murphy, who was next produced, in fact gave no evidence at all.
Hugh Duffy, however, more than supplied all that was wanting in these witnesses' evidence. On being sworn, he said:—
"I have seen this Dr. Oliver Plunket raising several sums of money to carry on this plot; sometimes 10s. per annum, sometimes 20s. of all the priests in Ireland, of every priest according to his pension and parish. It was given to his agent in Rome for carrying on this business. I was chaplain to Dr. Duffy, who was infinitely beloved by this man. He was father confessor to the Queen of Spain. There was nothing that happened between them but I was by all the time."
Being asked what was their conversation about, he replied:—
"About the plot: how they could confirm the plot: and this man, Plunket, said he could prevail with the king of France, and the other with the king of Spain. This was in 1673, '74, and '75, at his own house, and at... [The name is omitted. It was the seminary opened by Dr. Plunket in 1671, and in which there were three Jesuits, with about 158 students, many of whom were sons of the Protestant gentry.] .He kept three or four Jesuits there, and a matter of a hundred priests. The discourse was always about the plot, how they could continue the matter between them; and so they did conclude afterwards to raise so much money upon several priests, all the priests in Ireland, sometimes 20s., sometimes 40s. He talked several times that he did not question but he should prevail with the king of France not to invade Spain; and I have seen his letter to Cardinal Bouillon to expostulate with him about the king of France, why he should wage war with the king of Spain, who was a Catholic, but rather should come and redeem Ireland out of its heretical jurisdiction."
Being asked as to the raising of money, he replied:—
"I have seen several precepts: I was curate to one Father Murphy, and while that man was with Dr. Oliver Plunket and the other Jesuits, 1 did officiate in his place, and he sent his letters to me to raise 40s. and 20s. a time, several times. It was to send to Dr. Creagh, who was at Rome."
Then in regard to the meetings, he adds that he was present at one "At Clones, in the county of Monaghan, on the occasion of the confirmation from the bishop, about 1671. It was there agreed that the gentlemen of Armagh, Monaghan, and Cavan should join together; and then they went into a private council to get a list of all the officers that were in the last rebellion, and those that lost their estates. I was in the same consult myself, and was as willing to proceed in the matter as any one in the world. They were withdrawn aside into a garden— some stood up, and some sat down; and Oliver Plunket stood in the middle of them all as a prelate, and every one kneeled down before him and kissed bis hand. Then they did consult, and gave special order to some of them to get a list of all the officers in the late rebellion, and that lost their estates, and that they should be more forward than others to proceed in that wicked design to destroy all the Protestants together."
Being asked if he heard the prisoner speak on these matters, he replied:—" Yes, and he made a special mention there concerning our own faith and religion." He afterwards swore that he had received a precept from Dr. Plunket to know what men in his district were able to bear arms: that he had accompanied Dr. Plunket to Carlingford, and that there "He went round about the place where some of the custom ships come in; there was a great castle there near the sea, and he went to view the place, but could not get a boat. And there was great talk of Carlingford to be one of the best havens in Ireland; there was no great garrison at the place, and any ship might come to the gates of the town and surprise it, it being a little town; and he concluded thence that he could get the French army to land safely there."
He afterwards added:—
"I have been at Sir Nicholas Plunket's, where there fell some variance about something this man had done to Dr. Duffy. Says Bishop Duffy, I might have had you drawn and quartered if I were as ill a man as you; and I might have been primate of Ireland if I would have undertaken those things that you undertook. Upon that, says Sir Nicholas Plunket; what is that? Why, it was replied, it was to raise 60,000 men in Ireland at any time, whenever the French or the Spanish king should wage war with England. And this man did confess, before my face, to Dr. Duffy, that it was not only to exalt himself, but all the Romish clergy, and all the gentry that had lost their estates."
The concluding question, however, put to this wretched man by Dr. Plunket sufficiently explains all this virulence of his evidence against him:—" Mr- Duffy, one word with you: is not this out of malice to me for correcting some of the clergy?"
Edmund Murphy was next sworn; and the Attorney-General, on finding that he hesitated in his evidence, declared that in his private examination "he had given the fullest evidence to all instances and particulars of high treason, much fuller than Duffy." But all exhortations to him to proceed in his evidence were in vain. At first he begged the Chief Justice to "respite the trial till next term:" he then declared that he forgot the evidence he had given on former occasions; and, when interrogated in detail, belied the various particulars which he had before sworn to, till, at length, the Lord Chief Justice exclaimed, "it is evident the Catholics have been tampering with him;" and at the desire of the counsel for the crown, in order to strike terror into the other witnesses, who might, perhaps, in like manner, be desirous of listening to the dictates of conscience, he commanded him to be at once committed to Newgate.
John Maclane then gave his evidence. He said:—
"I was a parish priest in Ireland, in the county of Monaghan, and Dr. Oliver Plunket raised several sums of money in Ireland, and especially in the diocese where I am. I raised some of it, and paid him 40s. at one time, and 30s. at another time; in 1674 I paid him 40s.; in 1675 I paid him 50s., and it was about July, and it was for the better advancement of the French coming in. The money was to be kept for arms and ammunition for the Roman Catholics in Ireland. I received an order, and there was a public order throughout Ireland, or we would not pay it; nay, several would not pay it, and they were to be suspended." Dr."Plunket here asked him :—" Can you show any of the orders under my hand?" to which he replied :—" Yes, I can show them, but only they are afar off. I did not expect to have them asked for."
He then swore that when he was at vicar Brady's house, "Bishop Tyrrell came there with forty horsemen well mounted and armed; he came into the house about ten in the morning, and stayed till about eleven at night; I was very much among them, and as willing to be of the plot as themselves. Then Bishop Tyrrell said he had orders from Dr. Oliver Plunket and others, to partake of the plot to bring in the French, and subvert the government in Ireland, and to destroy the Protestant religion and Protestants."
"In France I landed at Brest, and going through Brittany, I met with Bishop Tyrrell and Dr. Creagh, who was my lord Oliver Plunket's agent, and Duke John, of Great Brittany, came unto them, (As Maclane did not belong to the diocese of the primate, it was manifest that he could not have received any such mandate from Dr. Plunket; to account, however, for this, the witness added this novel theory) :—" You being lord primate, you could suspend bishops and inferior clergy together." for he heard of these two bishops being lately come out of Some, sent for them, and I being a priest of Tyrrell's diocese, I went along with them, and they were well accepted, and he showed Dr. Oliver Plunket's conditions with the king of France, which was this: to get Dublin and Londonderry, and all the sea ports into their own hands, to levy war, and destroy the Protestant religion; and that they should have him to protect them during his lifetime."
The chief Justice interrogated him:—
"What do you know of his being primate?"
"He was made primate by the election of the king of France, and upon his election he made those conditions with the king of France, to raise men to join with the French, to destroy the Protestant religion."
The last leading witness was friar Mover. He declared:—
"I knew the prisoner, my lord, to be made primate of Ireland, engaging that he should propagate the Romish faith in Ireland, and to restore it to the Catholic government; and I know the time by relation that I came-to Rome, within two months after his being made primate of Ireland, upon the same conditions that have been related to you; and I was brought into the convent of St. Francis in Rome, by one Father , and this father was very intimate with Cardinal Spinola; and when he used to go abroad, he used to carry me along with him as a companion, and then I found several of the Romish Cardinals say, that the kingdom of Ireland should come under the Catholic government by the way and means of the Lord Primate Plunket."
He then produced a copy of a letter of Dr. Plunket, which he "Translated five years ago, and here are the contents following; if you please, they may be read ; I will do my best to read them in English, the original were in Latin, and some phrases in Italian.
And when I was surprised with Mr. Murphy last year, and taken suddenly, all my papers were taken" away before I could return back again, by the soldiers and the tories. I only kept a copy of this letter I had in English, as near as I could, and if I did not diminish anything by the translation, upon the oath I have taken, I have not put anything in it but what the contents of the letter were."
The letter is then said to have been read, but is not given; we can,however,gather its contents from the subsequent examination; that it was addressed to the Secretary of Propaganda; that it destined a sum for the agent in Rome, and Moyer, by the addition of a zero, changed that sum from £50 to £500. Dr. Plunket here declared that the sum destined for the agent in Rome was £50; and added:—
"There is never a nation where the Roman Catholic religion is professed, but hath an agent for their spiritual affairs at Rome, and this was for the spiritual affairs of the clergy of Ireland. I deny nothing; that is a truth; every nation hath an agent, and that agent must be maintained; and the reason is this, because we have many colleges beyond sea, and so there is no country of Roman Catholics but hath an agent at Rome."
Mover then swore to the various other heads; the planning of the invasion of Ireland by the French, the collecting of money for that purpose, the exploring the country, &c, and that these matters had been committed to him as a secret by the primate himself. Being asked in what year this took place, he replied:—
"In 1676, and I being willing that this wicked action should be hindered, sent to the next justice to discharge myself of it, which justice was as favourable to the business as my lord himself was."
Before the conclusion of this witness's evidence, Dr. Plunket produced two letters of the friar. The first was addressed to "my reverend father Anthony, Guardian of Armagh," and was dated 1st July, 1678. It thus commenced:—
"Very Rev. Father Guardian,—Your paternal letter and citation homeward I did instantly peruse. As for my lord Oliver Plunket, I wrote a letter to him the day before I saw your reverence last, that he might cause my fame, which is as dear to me as my life, to be recalled, or I should cause his name to be fixed at every public place, which, by the Almighty, I will do, nature and all reason compelling me to do it."
No more of this letter is given in the state trials, but we learn the remainder of it from the subsequent words of Dr. Plunket:—
"My lord, I say this: he says he came to my house when he came over, and I imparted this secret to him; yet you see I had denounced him through my whole diocese, and he there calls me by all those names of Elymas, Simon Magus, and Barjesus; and it is impossible, if I had communicated to him such a secret, that I would deal so with him."
The second letter was dated the 23rd of April, 1678, and was addressed, in like manner, to the father Guardian:—
"I was somewhat comforted by your letter. But now I hope your reverence hath considered what wrong I have sustained by my curious adversaries' calumnies, only for standing, as I have a soul to save, for your rights and privileges, as also for endeavouring to save my native country's ruin and destruction."
As to the remainder, it is said that the witness "read on:" but the letter is not given, and we can only gather from the subsequent discourse, that he stated in it that Dr. Plunket " had fallen into disgrace in Rome." The object of Dr. Plunket in producing these letters was to show the malignity and animosity which this apostate friar bore against him, on account of his having checked his reckless career.
Taken from - MEMOIRS OF THE MOST REV. OLIVER PLUNKET, WHO SUFFERED DEATH FOR THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE YEAR 1681.