Chapter 17: Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641 (6/9)

Many others were put to deaths of the most horrid nature, and such as could have been invented only by demons instead of men. Some of them were laid with the center of their backs on the axle-tree of a carriage, with their legs resting on the ground on one side, and their arms and head on the other. In this position, one of the savages scourged the wretched object on the thighs, legs, etc., while another set on furious dogs, who tore to pieces the arms and upper parts of the body; and in this dreadful manner were they deprived of their existence. Great numbers were fastened to horses’ tails, and the beasts being set on full gallop by their riders, the wretched victims were dragged along until they expired. Others were hung on lofty gibbets, and a fire being kindled under them, they finished their lives, partly by hanging, and partly by suffocation.

Nor did the more tender sex escape the least particle of cruelty that could be projected by their merciless and furious persecutors. Many women, of all ages, were put to deaths of the most cruel nature. Some, in particular, were fastened with their backs to strong posts, and being stripped to their waists, the inhuman monsters cut off their right breasts with shears, which, of course, put them to the most excruciating torments; and in this position they were left, until, from the loss of blood, they expired.

Such was the savage ferocity of these barbarians, that even unborn infants were dragged from the womb to become victims to their rage. Many unhappy mothers were hung naked in the branches of trees, and their bodies being cut open, the innocent offsprings were taken from them, and thrown to dogs and swine. And to increase the horrid scene, they would oblige the husband to be a spectator before suffering himself.

At the town of Issenskeath they hanged above a hundred Scottish Protestants, showing them no more mercy than they did to the English. M’Guire, going to the castle of that town, desired to speak with the governor, when being admitted, he immediately burnt the records of the county, which were kept there. He then demanded 1000 pounds of the governor, which, having received, he immediately compelled him to hear Mass. and to swear that he would continue to do so. And to complete his horrid barbarities, he ordered the wife and children of the governor to be hanged before his face; besides massacring at least one hundred of the inhabitants. Upwards of one thousand men, women, and children, were driven, in different companies, to Portadown bridge, which was broken in the middle, and there compelled to throw themselves into the water, and such as attempted to reach the shore were knocked on the head.

In the same part of the country, at least four thousand persons were drowned in different places. The inhuman papists, after first stripping them, drove them like beasts to the spot fixed on for their destruction; and if any, through fatigue, or natural infirmities, were slack in their pace, they pricked them with their swords and pikes; and to strike terror on the multitude, they murdered some by the way. Many of these poor wretches, when thrown into the water, endeavored to save themselves by swimming to the shore but their merciless persecutors prevented their endeavors taking effect, by shooting them in the water.

In one place one hundred and forty English, after being driven for many miles stark naked, and in the most severe weather, were all murdered on the same spot, some being hanged, others burnt, some shot, and many of them buried alive; and so cruel were their tormentors that they would not suffer them to pray before they robbed them of their miserable existence.

Other companies they took under pretense of safe conduct, who, from that consideration, proceeded cheerfully on their journey; but when the treacherous papists had got them to a convenient spot, they butchered them all in the most cruel manner.

One hundred and fifteen men, women, and children, were conducted, by order of Sir Phelim O’Neal, to Portadown bridge, where they were all forced into the river, and drowned. One woman, named Campbell, finding no probability of escaping, suddenly clasped one of the chief of the papists in her arms, and held him so fast that they were both drowned together.

In Killyman they massacred forty-eight families, among whom twenty-two were burnt together in one house. The rest were either hanged, shot, or drowned.

In Kilmore, the inhabitants, which consisted of about two hundred families, all fell victims to their rage. Some of them sat in the stocks until they confessed where their money was; after which they put them to death. The whole county was one common scene of butchery, and many thousands perished, in a short time, by sword, famine, fire, water, and others the most cruel deaths, that rage and malice could invent.

These bloody villains showed so much favor to some as to dispatch them immediately; but they would by no means suffer them to pray. Others they imprisoned in filthy dungeons, putting heavy bolts on their legs, and keeping them there until they were starved to death.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 17

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