Dispossessed families were forced to leave their homes and native areas during the plantation period. They had to consider the options open to them.
- They might try to lease land or to work for the new owners. This was usually forbidden in theory but often possible in practice.
- Some withdrew to poor land on mountain or bog and started off all over again.
- Sometimes it was possible to make a deal with the new English or Scottish landlords.
- One could also conform to the new religion in order to retain property.
- Many men went abroad to join Continental armies and some women accompanied them.
- Often women were left behind to seek legal redress for property lost in confiscation.
- Many women had to cope alone with survival and caring duties in addition.
- During the Cromwellian land settlement, native proprietors were transplanted to Connacht where they got land in compensation. Often the men went there first, leaving wives behind to reap the crops and lead the household group of family, servants, cattle, sheep and other stock later on.
|Women from gentry families could be responsible for quite a large entourage. Dame Katherine Morris of Latheragh, Co. Tipperary, had a proposed household group of 35 followers as well as stock which included 10 cows, 16 garrans [horses], 19 goats and 2 swine. Mary O'Dowd, 'Women and war in Ireland' in Margaret MacCurtain & Mary O'Dowd (eds.), Women in early modern Ireland, Dublin, 1991, p.106.
In order to speed up the land settlement, the legal status of women in Ireland was changed when widows of Catholic landholders and wives of men who had gone abroad to enlist for Spain were treated as proprietors in their own right contrary to common law. These women, together with single women who held land in their own right were also transplanted and they joined men at the queues in Athlone and Loughrea to find out where they were being sent in Connacht. There were unavoidable delays and many were threatened with eviction by those who had been granted their lands back home and were in a hurry to take possession.
- What were the main options for dispossessed families?
- How were women affected by being dispossessed?
- A woman in 1655 writes to her husband who has gone ahead to Connacht to arrange for the family to be transplanted there.
- Role play a conversation between members of a dispossessed family considering what options they should take during the Cromwellian land settlement.