1688, Captain Thomas Symonds requests an introduction to the Chief Governor of Ireland or a pension

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1680s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, Captain Thomas Symondes. SP 31/4 f. 36 (1688).

The humble peticion of Captain Thomas Symondes

Peticion of Captain Thomas Symondes.

Sheweth that he hath performed many eminent and acceptable services for the crowne.

That he hath made it his business for severall yeares to prove his majesties title to concealed landes in Ireland, detayned from the 49 officers.

Prayes his majesty to referr him to the cheife governour there, with his majesties letter in his behalfe, or otherwise to grant him a pention

[Paratext:] Received 15th May 1688.

18 May 88 referred to Lord Deputy

Report by Howard Greenwood

In his petition Captain Thomas Symonds (or Symondes) claimed he had performed many services for the Crown, including seeking to prove the King’s title to land in Ireland ‘detained from the 49 officers’. He asked that the King provide a reference on his behalf to the Chief Governor of Ireland or a pension.

In a second petition, submitted at the same time, Captain Symonds elaborated on his services to the Crown. He had served the King’s father and brother during ‘the late Rebellion’, raising a troop of horse and a foot company at his own expense. He had recruited men, horse and arms and was named in the list of ‘true, loyal and indigent officers’. He asked again that the King provide a reference on his behalf to the Chief Governor of Ireland ‘for satisfaction out of the lands belonging to the security of the 49 officers’ or a pension.[1]

The petition arrived in May 1688, essentially asking for a pension. In the following month they were referred to Ireland.

However, on 12 June 1688, Ireland referred the matter back to the King:

The Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to the Earl of Tyrconnell, Lord Deputy of Ireland. We having received from his Majesty the enclosed petition of Capt. Thomas Symonds do think fit to transmit the same to your Excellency and desire your Excellency to consider the contents thereof and to give us your opinion what is fit for his Majesty to do therein’.[2] [S.P. 63/351, fols. 324–5]

The dates on the petitions mean that the matter was submitted to James II. This may have been the kiss of death to this actually achieving anything in the long term. The regime-change six-months later (when William and Mary were installed as monarchs) could have posed a problem.

This was a request for a pension because of the support that Symonds had given to Charles I and Charles II. Having considered James II’s removal as a problem, it is still true that Charles I and Charles II were grandfather and uncle respectively to both William and Mary (the couple were cousins), so all was not lost. However, if Symonds was a Catholic then he probably didn’t prosper in Ireland in the years after 1689.

There is a reference to a ‘Captain Thomas Symonds, of Claynes, in this county (Worcestershire), nephew to Mr William S. of Worcester’.[3] The Victoria County History for Worcestershire links Claynes with the Parish of Warndon.[4] Could Symonds be an English Catholic who found Ireland more convenient than England after the English Civil War? Not impossible, but perhaps not likely either.

The mention of the ‘49 officers’ is more interesting. This was the name given to Protestant Royalist Officers who served in Ireland prior to 1649 (when Cromwell landed in Ireland) and remained opposed to the Parliamentary forces.[5] They had been recognised for their loyalty (and the hardship they had suffered) at the time of the Restoration (1660) and provision was made for their recompense through the securing of ‘undisposed’ land in Ireland. The rent or sale of the land would provide income to support the officers. Symonds’ petition was asking for access to the funds that had been set aside for that group. However, Symonds, while defining himself as true, loyal and poor, stops short of claiming he was a ’49 officer.  A list of ’49 officers published in the nineteenth century names two Symonds, but their forenames are John and Robert.[6]

A further shadow over this petition is the question of quite how much money set aside for the ’49 officers would still have been available in 1688. This is some twenty-five years after the initial settlement in 1663. As has been explained the likely sums involved were being pared back right from the start and the costs of the administration of the fund continued to diminish its value.[7]


[1] ‘James II – volume 3: May 1688’, in E Kim Timings (ed.), Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James II, 1687-9 (1972), pp. 194-205, British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas2/1687-9/pp194-205.

[2] ‘James II – volume 3: June 1688’, in E Kim Timings (ed.), Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James II, 1687-9 (1972), pp. 206-226. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas2/1687-9/pp206-226.

[3] C. E. Long (ed.), Richard Symonds’s Diary of the Marches of the Royal Army (1997), p. 12.

[4] ‘Parishes: Warndon’, in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3 (1913), pp. 552-554, British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol3/pp552-554.

[5] K. McKenny, ‘Charles II’s Irish Cavaliers: The 1649 Officers and the Restoration Land Settlement’, Irish Historical Studies, 28:112, pp. 409-25 (1993), p. 410.

[6] J. O’Hart, Irish Landed Gentry When Cromwell Came to Ireland, 2nd edn (1887), p. 407.

[7] McKenny, ‘Charles II’s Irish Cavaliers’.

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of James II, William III and Mary II, 1685-1699’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.