1695, the creditors of Colonel John Browne to the Lord Deputy of Ireland

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1690s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, The protestant creditors of Colonel John Browne. SP 63/357 f. 150 (1695).

To his excellencie the Lord Deputy of Ireland and councill

The humble petition of the protestant creditors of Collonel John Browne. 

Most humbly sheweth 

That your petitioners haveing a great debt of att least 30000 pounds due to them from the said John Browne and his estate wasted and soe incumbered with other debts and mortgages that your petitioners would certainly loose their debts if provision were not made for them by the articles of Lymerick in satisfaction of their effects taken for the use of the Irish and their army. 

That after many debates and heareings before the right honourable Sir Charles Porter knight Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and the Lord Cunningsby then lords justices of this kingdome and councell and also before the right honourable the Earle of Rumney then Lord Sydney Lord Lieutenant of this kingdome and councell it was agreed and declared, that the persons comprehended within the articles of Lymerick and Galway or any other articles or capitulations made in this kingdome were to be charged and made lyable to the payment of the moneys payable to your petitioners by the said articles in reguard they have all had the petitioners effects which enabled them to make articles and accordingly then submitted to the payment thereof and have agreed thereto before this honourable board and to [illegible] the said charge that your petitioner should have one yeares vallue of the quitt rents of their respective estates two yeares in satisfaction thereof that in order to secure the same your excellencie and lordshipps have after due and full examination of all the said matters transmitted a bill into England to be layd before his majesty in council for the satisfaction of your petitioners that it was generally knowne to all the kingdome that the said bill and the matters therein contained were transacted publickly and that all persons that had any objections to make might be heard before your excellencie and lordshipps that some persons pretending themselves to be ajents for the Irish comprehended in the articles of Galway and others pretending themselves to be agents for all the articled men of Ireland petitioned his most sacred majesty in England against the said bill and amongst other their untrue sugestions had sett forth that Generall Ginkell now Earle of Athlone had given a writeing under his hand and seale beareing date the 10th of February 1691 certifyeing that the agents that acted for the Irish in the articles of Lymerick were only lyable to the payment of the said money to your petitioners and have annexed the certificate or a coppy thereof to their peticons a coppy of which said pretended certifycate is hereunto annexed, that your petitioners doe verily beleive that the said certifycate if any such be was had by surprize from his lordship for it is well known to the right honourable the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and the Lord Cunningsby then lords justices and partys to the said articles of Lymerick that the said clause in behalfe of your petitioners was solemnly debated inserted and read before the articles of Lymerick were signed

That your petitioners are many in number and have been kept long out of their money and the said agents for the Irish would now have a heare= =ing before his majestie in England contriveing the same on pur= pose to stop your petitioners bill whereas all the matters in the said bill contained were transacted in this kingdome that by the clause inserted in the articles of Lymerick in favour of your petitioners there is an act of Parliament agreed to be passed for secureing your petitioners distinct from the rest of the clauses in the said [illegible] articles

To the end that your petitioners may be noe further delayed consi =dering the miserable condition many of them are in and that the pretended Irish agents may if they please be heard before both or either of the honourable houses of Parliament in this kingdome against the said bill if any pretensions they have 

Your petitioners most humbly pray that your excellency and lordshipps will be pleased to recomend the whole matter and your service thereof to his most sacred majesty to prevent the ruine of your petitioners which delay will certainely bring

And your petitioners will pray etc

A true coppy Walmer [Deputy clerk conc priv?]

[Paratext:] Whereas in the articles of Lymerick there is a provisi=on made for a sume of money to be secured to Collonel John Browne and his creditors as by the said articles beareing date the third day of October last may appeare I doe declare that the said sume was to be secured on the estate of those mannagers of the Irish that were partys to the said articles of Lymerick only and not on any other person whatsoever wittnesse my hand and seale this 10th day of February 1691 Baron de Ginkell

Report by Kathy Westhead

In this petition, the creditors of Colonel John Browne claimed to have a debt outstanding of over £30,000 from Browne, whose estate was so indebted that they would certainly lose any chance of payment if provision was not made for them in the Articles of Limerick. After many hearings before Sir Charles Porter, Lord Chancellor of Ireland and the Lord Cunningsby, and the Earl of Rumney, then Lord Sydney Lord Lieutenant it was agreed that within the Articles of Limerick and Galway such debts would be payable, secured by one year’s rents. Some agents for the Irish petitioned against the bill, and among other issues, claimed that they were only liable for the payment to the petitioners according to a pretended certificate.


This long petition arose because of disagreements following the end of the Williamite-Jacobite War in Ireland (1688-1691). During 1691, the cities of Galway and Limerick, in the west of Ireland, were held by the Catholic supporters of James II, who had been deposed in 1689. They were besieged by the forces of the Protestant William III. The siege of Galway was led by General Godart de Ginkell and the peace treaty, the Articles of Galway, was signed on 21 July 1691.[1]

General Ginkell then marched on Limerick, where after a month-long siege, the Articles of Limerick were signed on 3 October 1691, ending the war, and establishing William as King of Ireland.[2] Colonel John Browne was one of the signatories on the behalf of the Irish inhabitants of the city and county of Limerick, and the counties of Clare, Kerry, Cork, Sligo, and Mayo.

Article 13 deals individually with the Catholic Colonel John Browne and his Protestant creditors, and a useful summary is given in a book by Eoin Kinsella.[3] The debts pre-dated the war, and Browne had put aside assets towards repaying them. These assets were taken by Lords Tyrconnel and Lucan for use by the Irish army. As the Jacobites were defeated, Browne could not be repaid, so could not settle his own debts. The Article partially transferred the debts to the estates of other Irish Catholics (who were understandably reluctant to pay) – arguments and counterarguments continued for some time, and this petition is one such.

This petition was addressed to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, who in 1695 was Sir Henry, Lord Capel of Tewkesbury. Other signatories of the Articles of Limerick who are named in this petition are Sir Charles Porter, Lord Cunningsby/Coningsby and General George Ginkell (as Baron de Ginkell).

Colonel John Browne

John Browne was born in 1631 in Westport, County Mayo to John Browne, 1st Baronet Browne of the Neale and his wife Mary (née Browne, daughter of Sir Dominick Browne – I have been unable to determine whether these Brownes were related).[4] John Browne married Maud Bourke – this may have been a second marriage – and there were five children who survived to teenage or adulthood.[5]

John Browne gained the rank of Colonel in the Irish army of James II. The Irish Act of Settlement of 1662 restored to the Catholics much of the land that had been confiscated by the English Act of Settlement in 1652 after Cromwell’s victory in Ireland.[6] After training at the Inns of Court in London, Browne was called to the bar in Ireland in 1669. By 1685, using his skills as a lawyer, and the provisions of the 1662 Act, Browne had built on his acquisitions of the Bourke estates through his marriage to Maud and became a major landowner with more than 155,000 acres in Mayo, Galway and other parts of the west of Ireland.[7] The family seat was Westport House.

The deposition of James II ended the resurgence of the Catholics in Ireland, and Williamite forces landed at Bangor Bay in 1689. Amongst his properties, Browne owned substantial ironworks, which were an important source of supply for tools and weapons for the Jacobite army. Because of this contribution to the war effort and his legal skills, Browne was part of the group that negotiated the Jacobite surrender in 1691.

Despite Browne’s success in Article 13 in off-loading a large part of his £30,000 debt to other landowners, disputes about the treaty continued though the 1690s and before his death in 1711, large parts of the estate had been sold. From 1698, John tended to rely on his eldest son Peter to manage this process.

Peter Browne was born in about 1670 and may have been from a previous marriage of John Browne. Peter’s son, another John Browne (c.1709 – 1776), converted to Protestantism.[8] He was able to rebuild the family fortunes, became the 1st Earl of Altamont and in 1730 started construction of the more famous Westport House, which still stands today.[9]

Sir Henry, Lord Capel of Tewkesbury

Henry Capel was born in 1638 in Little Hadham, Hertfordshire to Sir Arthur Capel, 1st Baron Capel of Hadham, and Elizabeth, née Morrison. Sir Arthur (1603-1649) was one of the leaders of the Royalist forces during the Civil Wars.[10] He was captured after the siege of Colchester in 1648, escaped from the Tower of London and was beheaded in 1649 after being recaptured.

Henry inherited the manor of Tewkesbury Barton from his paternal grandmother and became the MP for Tewkesbury in 1660.[11] He received the title of Knight of the Order of the Bath at the coronation of Charles II in 1661 and seems to have played a relatively minor role in politics initially though he later became disturbed by the rise of Popery.

Capel was a member of the Irish Privy Council from 1672-1684 and ennobled to Baron Capel of Tewkesbury in 1692. A year afterwards, he became Lord Justice of Ireland and instigated an unsuccessful attempt to impeach Sir Charles Porter, for favouring the cause of the Catholics. Capel held the office of Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1695 until his death in 1696.[12]

Sir Charles Porter

Charles Porter was born in Norfolk in 1631, a son of Edmund Porter, rector of Heveningham and prebendary of Norfolk and Mary née Chibborne.[13] In 1648, he fled to the Netherlands to escape capture for rioting, trained there as a soldier and ran an unsuccessful eating-house.[14]

After he returned to England, he trained as a lawyer, and was called to the bar in 1663. His contemporary, the biographer Richard North, comments that Porter’s ‘character for fidelity, loyalty, and facetious conversation were without exception’.[15] He had the good fortune to be loved by everybody. However, he was also noted to be over-fond of wine and women, and to be frequently in debt.

Porter became an MP in 1685, for the rotten borough of Tregony in Cornwall, served on a dozen committees, and in the following year was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland.[16] He was recalled in January 1687, because of conflicts over the extent to which Roman Catholics should be admitted to office and fell out of favour with James II.

He returned to practice law in London but continued spending more that he earned. He was an active supporter of William of Orange as early as December 1688 and was rewarded by being re-appointed as Lord Chancellor of Ireland. After the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, he was further appointed as one of the Lords Justices, along with Sir Thomas Coningsby, both signatories of the Articles of Limerick.[17]

Sir Thomas Coningsby

Thomas Coningsby was born in about 1656, the son of Humphrey Coningsby and Lettice, néeLoftus. The Coninsgby family had an estate called Hampton Court in Herefordshire, and Lettice’s father was Sir Arthur Loftus of Rathfarnham, Ireland.[18]

Coningsby married twice: The first marriage was in February 1675 to Barbara Gorges. His father-in-law, Ferdinando Gorges, a merchant from Barbados, had not long before moved to Eye in Herefordshire, and gained control of part of the indebted Coningsby estate, to Thomas’ resentment.  Thomas and Barbara were married by license.[19] Thomas’s maternal aunt was also aunt-by-marriage to Barbara, being the wife of Ferdinando’s brother.[20]

After his divorce from Barbara in 1697, Thomas was married again the following year to his second cousin, Lady Frances Jones, daughter of Richard Jones, Earl of Ranelagh.[21]

Coningsby followed the family tradition of both his father and grandfather, by entering Parliament, in 1679, as MP for his local borough of Leominster, and was re-elected in several succeeding parliaments until 1716.

He was a staunch supporter of the Williamite cause, accompanied William to Ireland and was with the king when he was wounded at the Battle of the Boyne. He served as a Lord Justice in Ireland from 1690-92. He was accused by his political opponent of using this and other positions to enhance his own wealth, including by embezzlement, appropriating estates, and illicit trade, but received a royal pardon in 1694 for any such offences in Ireland. After returning to Herefordshire he continued to be involved in political/legal disputes for most of the rest of his life. He died at Hampton in 1729.

General George/Godart de Ginkell

George/Godart de Ginkell was born in Holland in 1620 and succeeded to numerous titles there on the death of his father in 1623.[22] He took up a military career, and proved his ability as a commander, so accompanied William when Dutch troops were brought over to England in 1688.

After commanding a regiment of cavalry at the battle of the Boyne, he became commander-in-chief of the king’s forces in Ireland. He had notable victories at Athlone and Aughrim before the sieges of Galway and Limerick mentioned above.

He was rewarded for his services, being created Baron of Athlone and Baron of Aughrim, and granted the forfeited estate of the Earl of Limerick, more than 26,000 acres and several houses in Dublin – though the latter reward was later reversed by Parliament.

Ginkell returned to the continent, commanding William’s cavalry in Flanders in 1692 and distinguishing himself in other conflicts. He died in Utrecht in 1720, leaving two sons.[23]


[1] ‘The Sieges of Galway’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sieges_of_Galway; S. J. Connolly, The Oxford Companion to Irish history, 2002 https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199234837.001.0001/acref-9780199234837-e-760.

[2] The Treaty of Limerick: https://celt.ucc.ie//published/E703001-010/text001.html; Sieges of Limerick: http://preachan.tripod.com/sieges1.html.

[3] E. Kinsella, Catholic Survival in Protestant Ireland, 1660–1711, (2018): Colonel John Browne, Landownership, and the Articles of Limerick.

[4] Col John Browne: https://www.geni.com/people/Col-John-Browne-of-County-Mayo/6000000006450601354.

[5] Col John Browne: http://thepeerage.com/p4174.htm#i41739.

[6] The Act of Settlement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Settlement_1662.

[7] Browne’s estates: http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=388.

[8] Westport House: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westport_House.

[9] Westport House: https://www.destinationwestport.com/about-westport/history-heritage/westport-house.

[10] ‘Arthur Capell’: http://thepeerage.com/p2439.htm#i24383.

[11] CAPEL, Hon Henry (1638-96) of Kew, Surr. History of Parliament, The House of Commons 1660-1690 ed by B D Herring 1983   http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/capel-hon-henry-1638-96.

[12] Henry Capel: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Dictionary_of_National_Biography,_1885-1900/Capel,_Henry.

[13] McGrath, C. I. “Porter, Sir Charles (1631–1696), politician and lord chancellor of Ireland.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-22560.

[14] PORTER, ANNA MARIA (1780–1832): https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Dictionary_of_National_Biography_volume_46.djvu/176.

[15] ‘Roger North’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_North_(biographer).

[16] ‘Tregony’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tregony_(UK_Parliament_constituency); PORTER Charles (1631-96) of Essex Buildings, Middle Temple. History of Parliament, The House of Commons 1660-1690 ed by B D Herring 1983     https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/porter-charles-1631-96.

[17] LIVES OF THE LORD CHANCELLORS OF IRELAND. Burke, Oliver J. Dublin University Magazine, 1833-1877; Dublin Vol. 77, Iss. 459,  (Mar 1871): 311-321 via https://search.proquest.com/docview/6624047?fromopenview=true&pq-origsite=gscholar.

[18] Courtney, William Prideaux:  Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 12 , in https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Dictionary_of_National_Biography,_1885-1900/Coningsby,_Thomas_(1656%3F-1729).

[19] Marriage Licences, 1558–1690, Harl. Soc. xxiii. 237, quoted in DNB, Courtney.

[20] P. Rogers, The Life and Times of Thomas, Lord Coningsby: The Whig Hangman and his Victims (2011): https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DoZmCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq.

[21] CONINGSBY, Thomas (1657-1729) of Albemarle Street, Westminster and Hampton Court Herefs, History of Parliament, The House of Commons 1660-1690 ed by D Hayton, E Cruickshanks, S Handley 2002 : http://www.histparl.ac.uk/volume/1690-1715/member/coningsby-thomas-1657-1729.

[22] J. Burke, A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, Volume 1 (1833): https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lWpSAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=General+George+Ginkell&source=bl&ots=HoAUQutUkZ&sig=ACfU3U1XAGKFv-mEQYVYAXKjDoFe1s7fbQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjX2fvGqIHoAhUQZMAKHfePCScQ6AEwB3oECAwQAQ#v=onepage&q=General%20George%20Ginkell&f=false.

[23] The Gentleman’s and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer, 1741-1794: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G_wRAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=General+George+Ginkell&source=bl&ots=HQJtKoq_z9&sig=ACfU3U0NWasgoLBaSPcX94JEMDtQ7NQrzQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjX2fvGqIHoAhUQZMAKHfePCScQ6AEwBXoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=General%20George%20Ginkell&f=false.

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’.