1699, James Plunckett seeks a pardon for a charge of high treason

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1690s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, James Plunckett of Castle Plunckett in the county of Roscommon. SP 63/360 f. 54 (1699).

To the Kings most excellent majesty

The humble petition of James Plunckett of Castle Plunckett in the county of Roscommon and kingdom of Ireland.

Humbly sheweth

That your petitioner being a captain in the Irish army before your majestys happy accession to the crowne, did imediately, on notice of your majestys first declaracion for reduction of Ireland, lay down his commission, and reti =red to his usuall place of aboad in the said county of Roscommon, where your petitioner lived ever since peaceably and quietly, allwayes demeaneing himselfe with all tendernesse and regard to his protestant neighbours, as appeares by the annexed certifacatt

That your petitioner upon the account of laying down his commission, and complying with your majestys said declaracion, has beene a great sufferer, by the Irish army and raparees, haveing lost a stock, and other personall estate, to the vallue of two thousand pounds.

That your petitioner hath a smale estate in the county of Roscommon, whereof he is but bare tennant for life, which he lost dureing the late rebellion, by an act of Parlament, passet by the late pretended Irish Parlament; but is now in possession thereof, by an act of Parlament made in England in the first yeare of your majestys raigne.

That your petitioner as soone as your majestys forces reached the place of his aboad, cheerefully submitted to your majestys government, took the oath of allegiance to your majesty and ever since, behaved himselfe [illegible] as he ought to doe, like a good and loyall subject

That your petitioner is not outlawed for treason or any other crime or offence, but that your petitioner is indicted for treason att the last assises held att Roscommon, for being in the Irish armie after your majestys accession to the crowne, and before he had notice of your majestys said declaracion though your petitioner submitted thereunto as soone as he had notice thereof.

That in regard your petitioner submitted to your majestys said declaracion, as soone as was possible for him to doe, and hath taken the oath of allegia= =nce to your majesty and ever since lived with as great duty and loyalty to your majestys person and government as any other of your majestys subjects and allsoe in regard your petitioner in further manifestation of his loyallty and constant affection to your majestys government, humbly offerrs his children to be educated in the protestant religion, and that two third parts of his smale estate be sett to protestants, and for that your petitioner not being outlawed, is capable to receave the benefit of your majestys mercy.

May it therefore please your most sacred majesty to grant unto your petitioner your majestys most gracious pardon for heigh treason, and all other offences concearning the late rebellion.

And your petitioner will ever pray

Report by Lesley Scott-Stapleton

In this petition, James Plunkett of Castle Plunkett in Roscommon Ireland had been a captain in the Irish Army under James II, but ‘retired’ to his estate ‘immediately on notice of your Majesty’s first declaration for reduction of Ireland’. He had lost stock and effects to the value of £2,000 ‘by the Irish army and raparees’. He was charged with high treason for being a member of the Irish Army at the time of the accession and was seeking a pardon.[1]

It has not proved possible to identify many records relating to this individual. There are several branches of the Plunkett family, and while geographically spread, identifying detail is sparse.

What is known of James Plunkett of Castleplunket (or Castleplunkett), County Roscommon, Eire, is that his father’s name was Patrick, who made a marriage settlement upon James on 12 June 1688. A certificate of good conduct dated 28 September 1693 mentions ‘a wife and many small children, the eldest not 6 years of age’. There is evidence to suggest that he died in 1737.

Both the Treasury Calendar and the Calendar of State Papers list for 8 April 1696 a Royal Warrant to the Lord Deputy of Ireland to grant William Viscount Mountjoy by way of custodian lands or estates of the several persons in the schedule, including James Plunkett of Co. Roscommon.[2]

Less than a fortnight later on 23 April, Plunkett was no longer identified as an outlaw, ‘James Plunkett (who was not indicted, but his father Patrick attainted)’, nonetheless the confiscation of land still took place.[3]

Plunkett’s case disappears from the record for two years, but then in October 1698, there is a further confirmation that he is not outlawed for treason and a testimonial that he has lived as an ‘honest, inoffensive gentleman and a good neighbour […] and lived peaceably in his own house’.[4]

The following year, this petition surfaces, all of the previous material is gone over again, but Plunkett’s issue is that he was a ‘tenant for life, and has no power to make leases for years, or life or lives, and, without he be enabled by Act of Parliament, cannot make leases longer than during his own life. But he says he is willing to be at charge of passing such Act’. Which tends to suggest that, despite the circumstances, he had the means to pay for this act.

There is a suggestion that Plunkett lived at least until his mid-70’s, since an Admon Bond (undertaking to correctly administer a will) is taken out for James Plunkett, Gent. of Roscommon in 1737.[5]

A final entry, (which may help with identifications) tentatively for his eldest son, is found in the records of the Prerogative Office. In 1769, there are consecutive entries for a James Plunkett, Castle Plunket, and Bridget Plunkett, commonly called Lady Dusany.[6] 


[1] ‘William III: March 1699’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William III, 1699-1700, ed. Edward Bateson (London, 1937), pp. 77-123. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/will-mary/1699-1700/pp77-123.

[2] Treasury Calendar: April 1696, 1-10′, in Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 11, 1696-1697, ed. William A Shaw (London, 1933), pp. 75-88. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-treasury-books/vol11/pp75-88; ‘William III: April 1696’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William III, 1696, ed. William John Hardy (London, 1913), pp. 113-157. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/will-mary/1696/pp113-157.

[3] ‘Warrants etc.: April 1697, 21-25’, in Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 12, 1697, ed. William A Shaw (London, 1933), pp. 120-138. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-treasury-books/vol12/pp120-138.

[4] William III: October 1698′, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William III, 1698, ed. Edward Bateson (London, 1933), pp. 397-410. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/will-mary/1698/pp397-410.

[5] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:WGC9-G7W2.

[6] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:WGC9-G7W2.

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’.