Irish Linen, Hemp and Rebellion

Another new acquisition post in place of the Wednesday portrait, this time highlighting two items recently purchased for our Williams & Potter Memorial Collection on Irish Culture.

First, the Precedents and Abstracts from the Journals of the Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufactures of Ireland…, published in Dublin in 1784.

It offers a view of the organization overseeing linen and hemp production in London from 1711 to 1783, as they grappled with issues like workhouse conditions.

Second, The Petition of Sir Philomy Oneale Knight, Generall of the Rebels in Ireland… (London: Printed by T.F. for John Thomas, [1642]).

Felim O’Neill helped lead one of the 17th-century Irish rebellions and was eventually captured by Cromwell’s forces and executed. An unsympathetic 19th-century historian related a story designed to show O’Neill’s pretensions in the worst light:

It was reported that … the English captured sir Phelim O’Neill’s private trunk, and that they found in it a crown with which the ambitious chieftain had already caused himself privately to be installed prince of Ulster.*

But Felim’s hopes for glory were crushed in large part by the arrival of another O’Neill, Owen, who was chosen leader of the northern armies in place of Felim.

One of the most notable and notorious aspects of Felim O’Neill’s role in the uprising was the level of brutality it entailed.. The “Petition” is a brief pamphlet intended to clear O’Neill’ and his army of charges–printed in “divers false Papers and Pamphlets” — that they were guilty of “dismembering, dis-joynting, ripping up Women with Child, and sleying of Infants….”

Small, cheap, poorly-printed pamphlets like this one (and the title page image above offers plenty of examples of sloppiness) flew back and forth during the 17th-century.This one appears not to have even been a legitimate statement from O’Neill, but rather “a hoax,” according to entry for O’Neill in the Dictionary of National Biography.

The only other copies in US libraries appear to be located at the Huntington Library and Yale’s Beinecke library. In addition to this account, the Williams & Potter Collection includes a number of other 17th-century pamphlets relating to issues in Ireland.


* Thomas Wright, The History of Ireland (London: Tallis, [c. 1854]), p. 708.

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One thought on “Irish Linen, Hemp and Rebellion

  1. Pingback: Irish Linen, Hemp and Rebellion | Notes For Bibliophiles | The Hemp Network News

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