[Sir] William Parsons

1570?-1650 [1st Baronet]; son of James Parsons of Leicestershire; came to Ireland c.1570, acting as asst. to Sir Geoffrey Fenton; appt. Surveyor General, 1602; with first responsibility for the dissolved monastaries of Tyrconnell, 1603; surveyed tyhe plantations in Ulster, Wexford, Longford and Leitrim (resp. from 1610, 1618, 1619, and 1620); heavily involved in extraction ,of land from Catholic holders by abuse of law; acquired public reputation for personal gain; clashed with Viceroy Villiers over rights of native landowners; involved in an intrigue with Lord Wentworth, Viceroy, culminating in the planation of Wicklow, 1640 in which he gained much land; visited London to rectify his position with the crown and knighted by Buckingham - subsequently impeached for his sale of offices - June 1620; condemned by Plantation Commission estab. by James I, but continued to urge the rapacious policy;

accused of stimulating the rebellion of 1641 to achieve a new crop of confiscations, delaying the King’s concessions to Catholic owners; served as a material witness in prosecution and sentencing of Wentworth; appt. Lord Justice of Ireland, 31 Ded. 1640, with Sir John Borlase (then infirm); proclaimed a state of rebellion, Oct. 1641; continued to withhold support from lawful Catholic landowners; opposed by Ormonde; arrested by royalists, Aug. 1643; released and travelled to London at defeat of Charles I in England; appt. commissioner raising funds for the reconquest of Ireland, 1648; d. 1650 and bur. Church of St. Margaret, Westminster; succeeded by his grandson Richard who became Baron Oxmanstown and Earl of Rosse. ODNB

[ Note: The entry on Parsons by Terry Clavin in Dictionary of Irish Biography (RIA 2009) [online] is a virtual history of the plantation of Ireland and the 1641 Rebellion. ]


‘We must change their course of government, clothing, customs, manner of holding land, language and habit of life […] it will otherwise be impossible to set up in them obedience.’ (Quoted in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, Jonathan Cape, 1995; no ref.)

[ top ]