Talk:Cromwellian conquest of Ireland

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Debate over Cromwell's actions[edit]

I have given the material on this its own section and added some more information. I have also moved info on the Sack of Wexford to its own article. My concern is that the narrative structure of this article was in danger of getting lost in controversey over some details, or alternatively, that the article would get too large.

Editors should be aware that Tom Reilly's provocative thesis that no civilians died in the sacking of Drogheda and Wexford is not generally accepted by historians. This does not mean that it should be discounted, but this artilce should not only express his view. Reilly has done some very detailed research on these two actions but his undertanding of the civil war period as whole - at least expressed in the opening chapter of Cromwell - an honourable enemy - is rather weak.

Jdorney 13:34, 31 March 2006 (UTC)


OK - no civilians is implausible - but does Reilly say that? He argues that it cannot be shown that unarmed civilians died - which is different. it cannot be shown that Cromwell intended or ordered the deaths of civilians, indeed the evidence points to the contrary. Reilly appears to be the only historian who has actually dug deep into the evidence, and discounted a lot of it.

It isn't correct to imply here that civilians were massacred on Cromwell's orders.

"When Cromwell’s men took the town by storm, the majority of the garrison and some priests and civilians were massacred on Cromwell’s orders"

The edits were on the specifics of the 2 events so I don't see that Reilly's supposed weaknesses as general historian of the period, or his writing style come to that, are relevant.


"At best, Cromwell and his officers were guilty of indiscipline in failing to stop the sacking of the town. At worst, it has been suggested that Cromwell turned a blind eye to the massacre because he did not want to let the garrison of Wexford be evacuated to fight him again, but the army was out of his control when they broke into the town."

If, as Reilly, has it Cromwell was in his tent when the army, unexpectedly, broke into Wexford it is hard to see how he can be guilty of "indiscipline", in some ways you could argue that the rank and file and junior officers showed commendable intiative and that was one of the things that made them so effective in the first place. - as you say the army was out of control. As with Wellington's army at Badajoz there was no stopping them, that is a fact of war. Cromwell wanting the garrison massacred and not evacuated is pure speculation - there is no evidence at all that he would not have stuck to the terms of the surrender that he was negociating with Sinnott


PS I think the way you have handled my edits is fair overall - thanks. I would though put in a plea to have this extract from Cromwell's order in Dublin to be re-inserted, because it is clearly material

"I do hereby warn....all Officers, Soldiers and others under my command not to do any wrong or violence toward Country People or any perons whatsover, unless they be actually in arms or office with the they shall answer to the contrary at their utmost peril".

English Achilles 16:47, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

The above quotation is still there, it has just been moved to the "Historical Debate" section. Fair play to you for contributing, please continue to do so.

What Cromwell ordered at Drogheda was the masacre of the garrison and the Catholic priests. According to militaery custom at the time, this was a bit extreme, but not exceptional. It is true that he did not order the killing of civilians there, but as you say, it is just not plausible that none were killed in th sack. Doubtless many civilians were also killed at Badajoz in 1812, which was supposed to be a friendly city.

Re Wexford, the speculation is not mine, but James Scott Wheeler in his "Cromwell in Ireland". Wheeler suggests that Cromwell strung out the negotiations and tacitly approved of the assault on the town. Arguing that Cromwell is not responsible evades the issue a bit because as commander he had the responsability to control his troops. Sacking a town which was trying to surrender was a gross breach of military conventions, even in the 17th century. This shows grave indiscipline on the part of the New Model Army and its officers. Initiative as well perhaps, but certainly indiscipline. Wheeler (an American army officer if that makes a difference) argues that this was bad for the Army's own morale and efficiency.

To Cromwell's credit, he did fully respect surrender terms at Kilkenny and Clonmel, where his troops hd taken heavy casualties. However, this reflects as much on these town's ability to defend themselves as it does on Cromwell's generosity -i.e he would have faced heavy casualties in storming them.

Re Reilly, he is certainly not the only author to examine Drogheda and Wexford in detail - a list of others includes James Scott Wheeler, Ian Gentles, Antonia Fraser, Padraig Lenihan and there are more. By Reilly's own admission the garrison of Milmount fort inDrogheda surrendered on terms and were then killed - another gross violation of contemporary custom (there were no "laws" of war at the time) which were essentially that if a belligerent surrendered and this was accepted by another belligerent he who surrendered was entitled to protection. In siege warfare, if a fortified place fell to an assault, all bets were off, so to speak. If on the other hand, it was assaulted but not taken, it was in a position to negotiate good terms, e.g. Siege of Clonmel

Reilly has a view of Cromwell as democratic revolutionary and the royalists as reactionary bigots, which is fine, but is not accepted by almost any modern historians. This colours his perception of the war in Ireland, an essentially ethno-religious conflict where democratic ideology has little relevance. Where his apparent lack of understanding of the wars in general comes into it is his lack of understanding of the context in which the campaign of 1649-53 occurred.

Jdorney 16:57, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree, Reilley is ONE author who is constantly cited as a defense of Oliver Cromwell. Having that absurdly large amount of opinion from Reilley in this post is like having Abraham Lincoln's page be filled with Di Lorenzo. Put more authors and historical light other than Reilley's opinion in here.
Furthermore, I find it amazing that Cromwell gets a pass on this article whereas the massacres of 1681 are called as such, massacres. Despite the fact that they were grossly over exaggerated. It's essentially saying catholic = bad, protestant = good. A gigantic bias if I've ever seen one.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 6:44, 2 July 2006
Look, if you have further information, or sources, then contribute them to he article. The work of several historians has been included in this article and the facts have been represented in the mot comprehensive way possible in the space provided. For more on the Drogheda and Wexford massacres go to the articles that deal specifically with them. Jdorney 08:45, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Reilley's opinion on Cromwell is exclusively presented in his defense. This is one author who taints the entire perception of Cromwell. I bring up Thomas Di Lorenzo and Abraham Lincoln as an example, again. Cromwell is simply given a free pass in this article and there is ONE author doing to the passing whereas many others disagree.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:13, 27 January 2007

That's not true. Firstly, the facts have been presented as best they can be assembled here. That's all we can do. Secondly, a lot of historians argue that Cromwells sacking of Wexford and Drogheda, while horrifying in their own right, were not unusual actions by the standards of the day. Reilly takes it a step further in that he argues that they were not considered atrocities at the time and that no civilians were killed. This is not widely accepted by other historians. Jdorney 10:21, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

if lots of historians argue that cromwell's sacking were not unusual, they should be cited too - so far the only citations saying this are from Reilly. also probably there needs to be reference to the widespread critique of Reilly. I will add this in soon.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:01, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

I find that any discussion of what the English did in Ireland is crippled by the weight of English history/story telling; namely, that the story has been told my those who committed genocide, and not ny the victims. For centuries, Oxford et al has been a lie factory about Irish (Celtic) history and culture. Many of the "facts" about Ireland are often forms of obfuscation, outright lies and merely ignoring. It is time for the Anglophiles to shut their gobs for a bit and the the Celts tell their own version of the story. Our university history departments have failed us. I guess it is up to the Common People to tell the real tale, and listen to the simpering historians complain about the quality of the sources and the shoddy writing. Yet, the tale will be told, and it is a tale of genocide, of the Irish, by the English. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tropicalgardener (talkcontribs) 15:28, 1 June 2016 (UTC)

I don't think this polemic is really about how to improve the article - and it's silly, to boot; there was plenty of discussion of Cromwell's effects from the Irish, which incidentally is not consistent with the idea that he massacred everyone in sight. Why you think the "Common People" are likely to be able to magically intuit accurate accounts of something that happened 350 years ago is beyond me; I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday. Pinkbeast (talk) 15:46, 8 June 2016 (UTC)


Is there a reason why one of the external links, Article Cromwellian conquest of Ireland from Military History magazine, is linking to the url that is? I cant see any reference to the Cromwellian conquest on this external url.

GD.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:47, 16 December 2006


Added that Cromwellians were Puritans, which worsened the anti-Catholic element of the war. 12:23, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

I removed the paragraph about the confederates being responsible for the cromwellian episode by failing to resist him. While this may be true, it doesn't really have any bearing on the debate over the actual conduct of the campaign.

I'm also not happy with the tone that has been inserted into the debate section. In reality, the majority of modern historians of the period see Cromwell's actions at Drogheda and Wexford as being horrific but not that unusual by the standards of the day. Reilly is unusual in that he claims that Cromwell never harmed any civilians at all in Ireland and that this was entirely a royalist inspired fiction. It is this claim that most other historians do not accept.

Re the references claiming the campaign was a genocide; first of all I feel they are highly cumbersome and make editing this section very difficult. In addition, many of them are asides from authors writing about other topics. Tim Pat Coogan, for example, has no specialist knowledge of the area and his comment seems to be an off-the-cuff remark. A few of the others are similiar and some of them contain basic and glaring errors of fact, for example, stating that, Cromwell's campaign was a respsone to an Irish rebellion of 1649 and that all the Irish had to live west of the Shannon. Both of these assertions are plain wrong. At most they show that Cromwell's campaign has lodged in the popular memory as a genocide. They don't tell us anything abotu the conduct of hte campaign itself.

Some of the other sources are better, for example describing the Cromwellian settlement as, 'close to ethnic cleansing' and appear to be supported by more facts. This I could accept.

Jdorney 15:41, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

This deserves a NPOV marker. "One historian" really means "One historian In the Republic of Ireland not one historian in the World. Likewise "most historians" really means "most Irish historians". There are no citations at all now for this "genocide" business. Paul S (talk) 16:17, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

The Rump[edit]

Since the conquest is generally called (including history texts) the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and not "The Rump's Conquest of Ireland", doing a search and replace on Cromwell and replacing it with "the Rump" is hardly reasonable. It would also make WP the only place (at least that I know of) to present it in that way. The role of the parliament should be expanded upon, no argument there, but this wasn't the way to do it. Hughsheehy 13:36, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, it wasn't a search and replace so much as looking for instances where it was reasonable to replace Cromwell with the Rump given the context. I know it's known as the Cromwellian conquest, and given the wide usage the name of the article should probably stay, but the article should try to distinguish between things done by Cromwell specifically and things done by other commanders, or by the English regime in generally (remembering that he wasn't protector until December 1653). I certainyl didn't remove and replace all references by any means. Here's my rationale for each substitution (I suppose I should have put this here proactively, apologies for that).

  • Introduction - change 1. Here I think it's fair to make clear it was an English conquest by the Rump which had 3 different commanders, and that it was not just Cromwell's conquest. It was an invasion by the English government and the Rump at this point was the executive who ordered it.
  • Introduction - change 2. The second sentence in the intro I changed was that mentioning Cromwell's forces - I changed this to the Rump's force. Perhaps you have a point on this one - they're Cromwell's forces in the sense that he was commander-in-chief of the New Model overall (although not commander in Ireland past June 1650), but equally it's not unreasonable to describe them as the Rump's forces. In changing it I was trying to bring out the sense that it wasn't just Cromwell leading the forces throughout the campaign.
  • Introduction - change 3. The third sentence I changed was that saying "he passed a very harsh series of penal laws against Roman Catholics and confiscated almost all of their land". Cromwell didn't pass the Act of Settlement. The Rump did.
  • Fall of Galway. I changed it from "Cromwellian conquest" to "the Rump's conquest". Again this was to underline that it was a wider Parliamentarian conquest. But I can see how the original mirrored the article's title.
  • Section on the Cromwellian settlement. Original text was "Cromwell imposed an extremely harsh settlement on the Irish Catholic population". Again in the context of the 1652 Act this is inaccurate phraseology. I can see though that once you're into late 1653 onwards, as Protector Cromwell held ultimate responsibility for actions taken from that point - although there would need to be some discussion of Fleetwood and Henry Cromwell's roles as Lords Deputy.

I won't revert at this point because it's probably better for us to discuss and hopefully reach an agreement. Any thoughts? You're right though that the role of the Rump more generally - and correction of the tendency sometimes to assume anything in high politics done in England between 1649-53 was done by Cromwell - would be helpful, and I can have a go at doing this for the article if that would be useful. Thanks, Greycap 14:05, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Clearly the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland title is just propaganda to mislead people. This article suggests the Parliamentarian army arrived with Cromwell and then he stayed for several years, in reality he was just one of a long line of Parliamentary commander and was only in Ireland for months. Also he didn't assume political power in England until the war was long over and so how he is associated with political acts of the Rump is nonsense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:17, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Propaganda? Even the Commonwealth went away over 350 years ago. I doubt they do much propaganda.
As I understand the discussion above, the title is as it is because that is how history texts refer to the campaign. I imagine they refer to it that way because, well, let us imagine the great big bar across the middle of your diagram labelled "conquest of Ireland actually accomplished", and notice how it coincides with Cromwell's presence in the country. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:26, 12 September 2013 (UTC)


Not all ethnic cleansing is genocide see Bosnian Genocide#European Court of Human Rights. Some ethnic clearing may be accompanied by genocide, but a claim by an historian that Cromwell initiated ethnic cleansing can not be taken that that historian is stating that what happened was in Ireland genocide. Further papers published on this issue before the International Court Justice ruling in the Bosnian Genocide Case can not carry as much weight as those published since February 2007 because the legal definition of Genocide has been clarified by that case. -- Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 13:48, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Are you kidding? Out of a population of 1.5 million Irish in the 1650's, Cromwells forces killed 500,000 Irish people and then sold another 300,000 into slavery in the Caribbean and the American South. Thats a reduction of the population of Ireland by more than 50% in about a decade. If thats not genocide then the word has no meaning.
So many British today still want to adore Cromwell and some will even create the most twisted arguments to minimize his monstrous destruction of the Irish people. (talk) 19:05, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Ok this part:

'Even if the Confederates had not allied themselves with the Royalists, it is likely that the English Parliament would have eventually tried to reconquer Ireland. They had sent Parliamentary forces to Ireland throughout the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (most of them under Michael Jones in 1647). They viewed Ireland as part of the territory governed by right by the Kingdom of England and only temporarily out of its control since the Irish Rebellion of 1641.'

Throws the above sentence on its head. This statement tries to imply that Cromwell had a vendetta against the Irish. If the Confederats had NOT allied with CHarles II them it is LIKELY none of 'this' would have occurred'.

The sad fact is it took Viking (Norman and Viking), Welsh (Tudor) and Engliah/Scottish actions against Ireland to create the conecpt of Ireland as a Unified whole. This standing, a nation born of conflict will never be satisfied. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:38, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

private and public tories[edit]

Talk:Rapparee#private and public tories --PBS (talk) 09:38, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

War crimes[edit]

I have removed:

"These policies in Ireland have led some historians to consider that Cromwell was guilty of war crimes during his Irish campaign."

The source "War Crimes" is not a reliable one and what are the war crimes that were committed? --PBS (talk) 07:42, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

  • I have reinstated my edit which was removed by the above user. The article should have a section dealing with the subject of "War Crimes", and with detailed references too. PurpleA (talk) 20:00, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Do you have an expert's opinion that a war crime was committed and if so what was the war crime (Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali)? --PBS (talk) 20:13, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

The restraint in England against killing prisoners was not a legal one, it was based on expediency and mutual restraint for fear of reprisals by the other side (see Declaration of Lex Talionis), and to help put this in context see Ordinance of no quarter to the Irish.

There is an article in the Irish Independent "Massacres at Drogheda and Wexford were 'war crimes" that states that Dr. Micheal O Siochru, author of God's Executioner a new study of Cromwell's military campaign in Ireland has made this claim. But I would suggest that you have a look at the book, because even in the news paper article they are making two contentious conclusions, the killings of civilians was a crime when a garrison had not surrendered a fortification, and that the concept of command responsibility for war crimes existed in the C17th. So if you want to but you must include in the text the attribution of the expert like Dr. Micheal O Siochru who is making the allegation. --PBS (talk) 20:35, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

The text I wrote leaves the question of War Crimes "open", it refers to what some historians write. There is pleanty of scope for a whole paragraph on the subject, and on what is being written on that subject. PurpleA (talk) 20:56, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
"These policies" needs a source that "these policies" were war crimes, "some historians" are weasel words. It is controversial and needs a reliable source and attribution in the text of the article. At the moment is is not clear which policies are alleged to be war crimes or who is making the allegations. --PBS (talk) 21:08, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
User:Purple Arrow you wrote in the history "I think the slaughter and murder of children was always a crime, by Irish standards anyway,- undo" Do you have a source that confirms that the killing of enemy Catholic women and children was a crime in the opinion of contemporary European Protestants (or that the killing of Protestants by Catholics was a crime in the opinion of most Catholics at that time)? The sentence does not make that accusation, it make the accusation that "These policies in Ireland", and the sentences in the rest of the paragraph does not say that the killing of women and children was policy, further once Cromwell left Ireland, who says what happened was his policy, who claims that the men left in Ireland still reported to him? (They may have done -- I don't know -- but he did not take overall power until 1653). --PBS (talk) 08:14, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
This goes beyond Catholic v Protestant, and those old religious arguments I find quite tiresome. Should it be left to the crime-doer to cast final judgement on his/her own deeds? Does 'opinion' make one right? PurpleA (talk) 14:47, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
It matters about the Protestant Catholic split because in Western Christendom before the reformation the summary killing of priests would have been a crime under all realms, but after the reformation the this was no longer the case. For example from the time of Elizabeth through to the end of the C17th Jesuits were less than welcome in England. Do you have any reliable sources that claim the policies followed by the English forces in Ireland were war crimes? Do you have any sources that claim that Cromwell was responsible for those policies. --PBS (talk) 19:21, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
Without the unprovoked 1641 rebellion there would have been no Cromwellian conquest. Both involved lots of crimes. You can't get all queenie about Cromwell's bad behaviour and forget about, or try to justify, 1641. (talk) 14:47, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
"unprovoked 1641 rebellion" is one point of view, but many would consider the plantations more than enough of a provocation. -- PBS (talk) 23:12, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
The war crimes theme really needs a specialist on the 1600s who is not British nor Irish, to avoid NPOV. And consider this: in 1649 The Cromwellians were rebels if you supported Charles II of England; the Irish were rebels if you supported Cromwell. Killing rebels was not a war crime in those days. (talk) 20:26, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


By all accounts Cromwell also laid siege to Gowran in Kilkenny, although neither this article nor Oliver Cromwell has a mention of it. It makes me wonder how many other places did the psychopathic bastard go to that aren't being mentioned. (talk) 06:21, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Islandmagee massacre?[edit]

A Google book search of Islandmagee massacre returns lots of sources about whether the massacre happened or did not happen. I suggest rather than the IP address reverting each other that there is a debate here about how to include the debate in a NPOV way. -- PBS (talk) 10:25, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Technically not as sold as slaves but as indentured labourers[edit]

I am changing "slaves" to "indentured labourers" see Talk:Irish Confederate Wars#Technically not as sold as a slaves but as indentured labourers for an explanation and sources.-- PBS (talk) 22:33, 17 October 2011 (UTC)slaveery

This section is also complete nonsense, most indentured Irish "laborers" (slaves) of that time could never get out of the system. Not only that, the practice quickly turned to Irish chatel slavery, which was more profitable. Eventually the Irish were bought and sold like cattle and intentionally "interbred" with African slaves to create "mullato" children. Not that mixed race childbearing is wrong, but the practice of intentionally "breeding" those under your ownership is even more evidence of chatel (total) slavery.

Contrary to the apologists and rationalizers here, Irish slavery was brutal and usually total-- not just some little "indenturement" detour in someones life. (talk) 19:21, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Sources? Jdorney (talk) 22:25, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

here's a good summary. ill return with more stuff shortly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

The first two sentences in the article to which you have linked support the use of "indentured labourer" in this article:

Whilst doing research for the ‘Caribbean through a lens‘ user participation project, a chance phone call from a community group in Birmingham led to the uncovering of a remarkable hidden history of Irish servants or indentured labour being employed on English owned plantations in the Caribbean. At The National Archives, we have unique documentation that demonstrates the sale of indentured labour before, during and after the English Civil War of the 17th century.

(my highlighting) See Talk:Irish Confederate Wars#Technically not as sold as a slaves but as indentured labourers for a more detailed explanation and sources. -- PBS (talk) 21:05, 15 November 2014 (UTC)
Anyone else agree with Hughey's latest persistent edit? Pinkbeast (talk) 19:16, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
The definition of indenture is as contract, these people agreed to nothing. There must be an agreement on both sides to claim indenture, therefore no indenture is implied in this case Hughey (talk) 19:24, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I asked if anyone _else_ agreed. I already know you intend to revert all comers. Pinkbeast (talk) 19:33, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
@Hughey An indenture like any other contract can be sold on to another party unless there is a specific clause in the contract that forbids it. As to how a person become indentured in the 17th century was not as simple as "an agreement on both sides" for example criminals and prisoners of war could be indentured by the authorities, the concepts behind the treatment of POWs was nothing like those that gradually developed in the next century initially based on Lex Talionis. So for example at the end of the Battle of Worcester, the selling of 6,000 Scottish POWs into servitude was considered more lenient than simply killing them. In the same way those who were not killed at the end of the Siege of Drogheda were also sold into servitude, the English could have not just decimated those in the towers but have knocked them all on the head. "When they submitted, their officers were knocked on the head; and every tenth man of the soldiers killed; and the rest shipped for the Barbadoes. The soldiers in the other Tower were all spared, as to their lives only; and shipped likewise for the Barbadoes."(Letter to William Lenthall (1649) by Oliver Cromwell) -- PBS (talk) 00:28, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
I think on this one (as opposed to the Drogheda edits) Hughey may have a point. The Wp article on indentured labourers makes clear that this was a contract voluntarily entered into to pay off debt incurred in making the journey to the Americas. Whereas the Irish and Scottish pows of the Parliament in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms clearly did not have a choice. This was more like penal servitude, an analogy might be the convicts sent to Australia in the 19th century. So penal labourer (per the latest edits) might be closer to the mark here.
However, I do have a problem with the figure of 50,000 Irish sold into servitude (however we want to term it). The figures I've see are between 12 and 20,00. I'll get refs later to make an edit on that.Jdorney (talk) 23:19, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Penal is not the correct word for it because it implies that they were criminals instead of POWs etc (and they were not going to penal colonies). However that is really besides the point, most historians describe them as indentured servants some describe them as slaves, few describe them as "penal labourers". That the Wikipeida article on "indentured servant" is not accurate, not even in its very first sentence because indenturing was wide spread in England during this period, both for what we would not call an apprenticeship and for other reasons. It was not unusual for a guardian/parent to agree a contract for a children with a master for various reasons, in which case the child was bound to the contract even though the child had not entered into the contract themselves. Exactly what the terms and conditions were for those men from the towers in Drogheda shipped to Barbados (but presumably the cash for their sale went back to to the exchequer to help finance the war), would be interesting to see, and would help explain the issue. There is a fair amount of detail in:
  • Watts, David (1990), "Indentured white servants", The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture and Environmental Change Since 1492 (illustrated, reprint ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 199–201, ISBN 9780521386517 
On page 201 Watts writes "[cane-field burning] … became increasingly common... in legislation enacted ion 14 April 1655, and servant who deliberately set alight to cane land … and to become a servant for the owner of the burnt land for a further seven years." this implies that the contracts were of limited length.
The number in Ireland sold into servitude includes more than just POWs, the sources seem to give widely differing ranges on how many, Watts says 12,000 to Barbados between 1649 and 1655, but most of those were Scottish. The 50,000 is a commonly quoted number particularly in less reliable sources, but as Watts indicates, detailed records were kept so it should be possible to find an authoritative sources with quite precise records for the number of Irish shipped to the New World.
-- PBS (talk) 18:52, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
Suggesting that the article on indentured servant is incorrect should it not fit the bill for use here is telling me that it shouldn't be used here. This may be something quite novel and requiring a different terminology. All terms suggested (slavery, indentured servant, penal labourer ) may be incorrect. Penal transportation quite specifically lists the POW's from Scotland and Ireland Hughey (talk) 20:13, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
The article Penal transportation does not cite any sources for that claim. Any Wikipedia article is an unreliable source. What is needed is evidence from reliable sources for what is common usage -- like the Watts book quoted above. -- PBS (talk) 23:24, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── From my talk page:

I note your revert from slavery to indentured labour in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland article. Wp:brd should not be used for a revert, let alone for WP:WEASEL. It was slavery. Ref: The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery, a chapter entitled “Irish as slaves in the Caribbean”; The Making of Barbados: “... sold as slaves or indentured servants to British planters. The lived in slave conditions and had no control over the number of years they had to serve”; Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl (not as scholarly) “The majority of indentured Irish brought to Barbados between 1630 and 1660 received no contract, but were sold upon the open market.” there are plenty of other sources. I suggest that you revert your revert. Regards Lugnad (talk) 09:24, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

-- PBS (talk) 10:03, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

Those deported were deported as indentured labour not as slaves (from an UNESCO source):

African slaves were present from the earliest days, but it is probable that the first plantation were worked with mainly European convict and indentured rather than African slave labour. The English Civil War and the Cromwellian defeat of Scots and Irish ensured a steady supply of prisoners in the early 1650s,


Despite the use of the term 'slavery' (both then and now) in relation to Europeans working in the early plantations, no European was ever sentence to a lifetime of labour in the Americas, much less were his or her offspring born to slavery. But felons, political prisoners and prisoners of war — unlike most indentured servants — could not choose the colony to which they were sent or the conditions under which they would labour.

— Galenson (1997)
  • Higman, B. W. (1997). Knight, Franklin W., ed. General History of the Caribbean: The slave societies of the Caribbean. 3 (illustrated ed.). UNESCO. pp. 107,108. ISBN 9780333656051. 

The confusion in the sources probably comes about because the type of servitude technically described as "indentured labour" is loosely described as slavery in some sources. Probably because "slavery" is more punchy than "indentured labour" (rather like "crimes against humanity" begin described as "genocide" when technically they do not fit the legal definition of genocide). Here is a 1913 source citing earlier sources but drawing the distinction.

As regards Ireland, the selling of prisoners into slavery was not restricted to the case of the survivors of Drogheda (Carlyle's Cromwell, as cited, ii, 53; ed. Lomas, i, 469). It is proved that Cromwell's agents captured not only youths, but girls, for export to the West Indies (Prendergast, The Cromwellian Settlement, 2nd ed. p. 89); and that the slavery there was of the cruellest sort (Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, ii, 109), though it has to be kept in view that it was not perpetual; the victim being strictly an "indentured labourer," only for a certain number of years at the mercy of his owner (Gardiner, Commonwealth and Protectorate, small ed. iii, i, 309-10, note ; iv, 111-13). Of course the limitation of the term made the servitude all the more severe (Lomas's note cited) ...

— Robertson (1913)

As this more modern source makes clear "indentured labour" was not a walk in the park:

They [indentured workers] were treated in every way like slaves and could, for instance, be bought and sold among different planters. Unused to the climate, they were less robust than blacks (three of them were considered worth one African) and were often treated worse. The owner, after all, had his slaves for life, but he had only a few years in which to get as much work as possible out of a European labourer. If the indentured workers were not criminals, they were often prisoners of war, and for a century and a half the islands were to receive a continuous supply of men who had supported doomed enterprises.

— Metzgen&Graham (2007)
  • Metzgen, Humphrey; Graham, John (2007). Caribbean wars untold: a salute to the British West Indies (illustrated ed.). University of West Indies Press. pp. 24,25. ISBN 9766402035. 

-- PBS (talk) 10:36, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

The info-box concluded with “~50,000 deported into slavery”. You changed it to “~50,000 deported as indentured labourers" <ref name=ocallaghan85>{{harvnb|O'Callaghan|2000|p=85}} . Yet there is no mention of “indentured labourers” on page 85 of that book. Perhaps you misread “perpetual servitude”? Page 86 continues with “The Irish white slaves cost about £4 10s, a head”. I suggest that you reconsider your edit. Lugnad (talk) 14:53, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

The recent edit was not a "change" it was a revert, and there are two sources cited at the end of that line one of them, Higman (published by UNESCO in 1997) is quoted above. -- PBS (talk) 19:53, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Prof Higman does say “no European was ever sentenced to a lifetime of labour” and “Europeans were unable to contemplate chattel slavery and slave trade-like shipping conditions for Europeans” and “white slavery represented an abomination to which Europeans would not subject their fellow-Europeans”. His view is in contradiction with that of other authorities. As Higman is an historian of some standing, his opinion should be reflected here on wikipedia, but so should the other (imo majority) opinion. It is tempting to dispute Higman's view by focusing on specifics, such as the same ships, carrying similar numbers of “slaves” were used. But that is not what wikipedia is for. It is nice when editors can cooperate, achieve consensus, and improve articles. That is not always the case, nor is it -imo- in this instance. I won't revert your revert. But don't interpret my silence on this issue as agreement. Farewell Lugnad (talk) 15:37, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
There are other authorities quoted on this page who make this distinction. It is well known that life could be just as hard or harder for indentured labours as it was for slaves.
--Not just in the 17th century but also a couple of centuries later: In the years after the Irish Potato Famine and the start of the American Civil War, there was a glut of Irish itinerant workers in the United States. They were so desperate for work they could be hired for a pittance, so Irish labours were employed in the Southern States, to do work considered too dangerous for slaves. A slave was a capital investment to the slave owner, and a casual Irish day labourer did not have to be paid if he did not complete his shift for whatever reason including maiming and death. See:
  • Goad, Jim (1998). The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies Hicks and White Trash Becames America's Scapegoats (reprint ed.). Simon and Schuster. p. 68. ISBN 9780684838649. 
If you have reliable sources that discuss the difference between indentured labours and slaves and state that the Irish deported during the 1650s were legally slaves then by all means let us discuss them here. -- PBS (talk) 16:38, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

user:Xy4567 you made a revert edit at 17:47, 2 April 2015 (diff) with the comment "revert to last correct version", the sources you supplied are less reliable than the ones you deleted what makes you think it is the correct version? -- PBS (talk) 18:02, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

user:Xy4567 Please read:

This is a quote from the paper:

It is a feature of those who advance the “white slavery” narrative, that they take particular care not to define chattel slavery before conflating it with indentured servitude or forced labour. The Atlantic slave trade was establishing itself as a legitimate enterprise in the European psyche as early as the 15th century. The terms “negro”, “black” and “slave” were becoming synonyms in increasingly white supremacist minds. (Hogan p. 11)

Another quote:


Sean O’Callaghan’s To Hell or Barbados (2000) and Don Jordan and Michael Walsh’s White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America (2007) have done much to embolden the “Irish slave” narrative. Both publications are to be commended for highlighting relatively neglected aspects of British colonial history. They shine a light on the often cruel treatment that indentured servants and forced labourers experienced. However, their strained attempts to conflate white indentured servitude or forced labour with black chattel slavery is a fundamentally wrongheaded exercise that leaves a bitter taste. What’s more, their suggestion that chattel slaves were treated better than indentured servants crosses a line into white supremacism. Thorough critiques of both publications are long overdue, but the commentary that follows will be brief and to the point. (Hogan p. 15)

There are then several pages about Sean O’Callaghan’s books the criticism of “White Cargo” (2007) starts on page 19.

As for “White Cargo” (2007), the authors Jordan and Walsh uncritically conclude that one should refer to indentured servants as slaves because Daniel Defoe said so. Damningly, they don’t bother to inform the reader, in a coherent manner, what the differences are between chattel slavery and indentured servitude or forced labour. They attempt to justify the subtitle of their book (“Britain's White Slaves” ), when they claim that “slavery is defined not by the time but by the experience of the subject.” This is sophistry and a curious attempt to redefine slavery as a subjective “feeling”. ...

Yet the authors of “White Cargo” are fully aware of these fundamental differences. A closer review reveals that these differences are buried in an erratic fashion throughout the book. It must be confusing for any reader to follow what is going on, when after one hundred pages of conflation, the authors redraw their definitions by explaining that “one of the fundamental differences drawn between white indentured servitude and black slavery [is that black slavery means forever].” (Hogan p. 19)

He goes on

“White Cargo” had the potential to be an important work on the history of labour and exploitation of the poor, but the unfortunate decision to conflate the plight of its subjects with chattel slavery has critically damaged the book’s import.

Jordan and Walsh’s book was inevitably mined by agents of far less repute in an renewed effort to spread this dangerous conflation. (Hogan p. 20)

Hogan mentions specifically two websites where this "information" have had many hits:

  1. John Martin, “The Irish Slave Trade - The Forgotten “White” Slaves - the Slaves that Time Forgot”, Global Research, Published: 14th April 2008, URL:
  2. Irish Central “Irish are ‘the forgotten white slaves’ claims expert”, 25th July 2014 URL: http://

You linked to the first of these sites. On page 21

The disquieting aspect of this is that every single line of John Martin’s article [point 1. directly above] is either untrue, misleading or objectionable. The strange website which hosts the article,, maintains that its mission is to cut through all the “media disinformation” and to publish “unspoken truths”. (Hogan page 21)

Hogan goes on to point out reasons for thinking that is not a reliable source. If his allegation are true then it is not a Wikipedia reliable sources. On the same page in the next paragraph he continues:

Pertinently, a renowned historian of the Irish diaspora, Donald Harman Akenson, has identified the danger in presenting African chattel slavery and white indentured servitude as overlapping constructs. He argues that as “white indentured servitude was so very different from black slavery as to be from another galaxy of human experience” the use of terms such as “white proto-slavery” or phrases like “Black men in white skins” leads to confusion rather than explanation. (Hogan page 21)

There is a lot more on this vein including mention of a famous speech by Daniel O’Connell in which he mentions Cromwell "sent 80,000 Irishmen to work as slaves, every one of whom perished in the short space of twelve years beneath the ungenial sun of the Indies", but the source for this Hogan says was probably John Lynch’s 17th century Latin text Cambrensus Eversus (1662) via an intermediate publication, and that John Lynch was a Royalist and a Catholic with an axe to grind. According to Hogan "Vagabonds and petty criminals were handed four to six year indentures as servants and the soldiers on ten-year stints. The only ones who received life sentences were murderers and other very serious felons. Save the felons, everyone was freed at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660".

Personally I think that Hogan over eggs his pudding and that his understanding of what people will do for work, when the alternative is starvation, means that his analysis of what work poor Irishmen in the US--after the Irish famine and before the Civil War--were willing to do, means that there is a distortion in his argument over the risk rewards and freely entered into contract, but I do not think that it undermines his other points. -- PBS (talk) 14:12, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

That what happened at Drogheda was not unusually severe by the standards of 17th-century[edit]

However, it has been argued (for example by Tom Reilly in Cromwell, an Honourable Enemy, Dingle 1999) that what happened at Drogheda was not unusually severe by the standards of 17th-century siege warfare.

The above sentence has been deleted five times by Hughey. Why?

For comparison see Sack of Magdeburg (20 May 1631) during the during the Thirty Years' War. -- PBS (talk) 21:15, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

I removed it the first time because the entry had just one dodgy reference. By dodgy, I mean that Tom Reilly is the only source, with his two books (that which makes it a circular reference of sorts). Tom has been accused of hero worship in reviews. He is classified as an amateur historian (of which we all are, so please don't think that I mention it here to denegrate him).

The next four removals were because it was reverted 5 times... Hughey (talk) 18:59, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Because, as far as I can see, any sentence which does not suggest Cromwell is the Antichrist is unacceptable. Pinkbeast (talk) 03:13, 16 November 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that Cromwell is the Antichrist Hughey (talk) 18:59, 24 November 2014 (UTC)
I am hoping for a reply from Hughey to stop the edit war and start the jaw jaw. Pinkbeast your comment does not help us have a collegiate discussion please strike it. -- PBS (talk) 10:56, 16 November 2014 (UTC)


The Thirty Years' War was particularly atrocious. It is said that the Croatians, after taking possession of Germersheim, massacred all of its inhabitants — civilians and soldiers, men and women, old men and children. Even if we do not accept this statement as the literal truth, there is nevertheless reason to believe that it is correct in a general way. It appears that some 30,000 people lost their lives in the sacking of Magdeburg.

From Dumas and, Samuel; Vedel-Petersen, K. O. (1923). Losses of Life Caused by War. p. 116.  -- PBS (talk) 12:29, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

And implying that the Thirty years' war didn't horrify contemporaries in its savagery requires a perspective that completely ignores the people on the continent who fought and lived in it. All for the sake of exonerating a man who actually drew up plans for near complete irish genocide (the plantations were supposed to cover three provinces in their entirety) (talk) 14:17, 27 January 2015 (UTC).