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David Brown

The Sea Adventure formed part of the English Parliament’s response to the Irish rebellion, and involved raising an amphibious force to challenge the Catholic rebels in areas far from the reach of the Dublin government. David Brown’s chapter reconstructs the events of the summer of 1642 as the Sea Adventurers’ fleet pillaged the south and west coasts. He reveals the importance of existing mercantile networks, especially in Munster, and the way in which ‘piratical’ colonial practices could easily be transferred to the Irish coast, with destabilising consequences, not least for loyal Catholics such as the earl of Clanricarde.

in Ireland in crisis
Abstract only
Ireland and Barbados, 1620–1660
David Brown

The Irish presence in England’s early Caribbean colonies has startlingly modern echoes. A healthy trade in provisions and servants had developed between Munster and Virginia during the 1620s. As the quantity and value of Virginia tobacco increased dramatically, the Government of Charles I, in 1630, sought to increase its tax revenue and decreed that all Virginia tobacco must be imported through London. To circumvent this tax, a group of colonial projectors and planters, resident in County Cork and centred around Richard Boyle, the first Earl of Cork, joined forces with a group of London-based tobacco merchants and established small plantations on the Leeward Islands, which they peopled with Irish servants. The partners’ intention was to cultivate tobacco on the islands and to import it through Cork, thus avoiding the Virginia tax. Although the tax loophole was removed a few years later, it had the effect of developing a number of successful colonies managed by English merchants but using Irish finance and labour. The habit of merchants moving their production to the lowest-tax jurisdiction has, it seems, a long history.

in Ireland, slavery and the Caribbean