ORIGINAL ILLUMINATED CHARTER OF CHARLES II
WITH DETAILS OF PROPERTY GRANTS IN CORK CITY
Co. Cork: A magnificent original charter of Charles II dated 19 August in the 19th year of his reign (1667), listing many properties in the city of Cork with the names of forfeiting proprietors and new tenants.
The purpose of the charter was to satisfy the demands for compensation of the “Forty-Nine Officers” – those officers who had served in the royalist army during the wars in Ireland prior to 5 June 1649, remaining loyal to the King thereafter and who had not therefore been granted lands by the Cromwellian government. It lists property in Cork City which had been held by Irish Catholics in 1641 and consequently forfeited under Cromwell, and which is now granted to the officers who had petitioned. They are represented by their trustees Captain Hercules Langford and Robert Fitzgerald Esq., and there is also a separate grant of land in counties Antrim and Armagh to Captain Langford.
The charter consists of three membranes of vellum, measuring respectively approx 78 x 77, 78 x 59 and 75 x 34 cm (30 ¾ x 30 ½, 30 ¾ x 23 ¼ and 29 ¾ x 13 ½ inches). It is in fine condition but lacks its seal. The text (approx 6500 words) is in English. The head of the first sheet is exuberantly illuminated, the first six words being gilded with a silver background. The initial letter “C” of Charles is contained within a separate scrollwork panel in the left hand corner and surrounds a portrait of the King. To the right are the royal arms, with the lion and unicorn supporters also shown separately, together with national emblems such as the rose, thistle and fleur-de-lis (for England, Scotland and France), and a butterfly and dragonfly.
The survival of the charter is miraculous: it was discovered by chance during a waste-paper campaign in the city, and rescued. The lengthy text (misdated to 1666) was transcribed and published in 1964 in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, together with a brief introduction, tabular summary, and map.
This document is of major importance in tracing the development of Cork in the early modern period, especially as the Civil Survey for Cork city and county (apart from the barony of Muskerry) has not survived. It compares interestingly with a valuation of Cork City carried out in 1663-64 and published in vol. VI of the Civil Survey, edited by R.C. Simington.
As a m/ss, w.a.f.
*A highly important survival. (1)