Disposition of Elizabeth Price, 26 June 1643

Sources and commentary by Dr Joan Redmond
Sources Workshop, Cromwell Association Schools Conference 2018

Elizabeth Price was a Protestant woman who came to live in Ireland as part of the Ulster Plantation, and was caught up in the 1641 Irish Rebellion. Here she describes (some of) her experiences:

Elizabeth the wiffe of Captaine Rise Price late of the parrish and Countie of Armaghe sworne and examjned deposeth and sayth … which said Rebells and others of their partakers and Confederates alsoe robbed all the Protestants in the Countrie thereabouts & Committed divers bloudie barbarous & divellish Cruelties vpon and against the persons of a multitude of Protestants thereabouts: And amongst other their Cruelties: They tooke & seised on her this deponent, and five of her Children: & above threescore more protestants at that tyme in the Church of Armagh and having stript them all of their clothes, cast them all into Prison; About a fortnight after the Rebells (especially the said Sir Phelim) proposed & offered to send some of them into England & to give them saffe conduct and free passes for that purposse: which offer being imbraced…

fol. 101v

… But as to this deponents five children and about 40 more yong & poore prisoners those were sent away with passes from the said Sir Phelim together with about threescore & fifteene more protestants more from other places within the parrishes of Armagh & Loghgall: whoe were all promissed to be saffly convoyed & sent out to their frendes in England: Their Comander or Conductor for that purposse appointed being as hee quickly after proved to bee a most bloudy & cursed Rebell by name Captain Manus ô Cane & his souldjers: which said [b] Capt Manus ô Cane & his souldjers haveing brought or rather driven like sheepe or beasts to a Markett; those poore prisoners being about one hundred and fifteene to the bridge of Portadowne: The said Captain and Rebells then and there forced & threw all those prisoners (and amongst the rest the deponents five children by name Adam John Ann Mary and Joane Price off the bridge into the water and then and there instantly & most barbarously drowned the most of them: And those that could swym and come to the shore they either knockt them in the heads & soe after drowned them, or els shott them to death in the water…

fol. 102r

…And as for this deponent and many others that were stayd behinde divers tortures were vsed vnto them to make them to confesse their hidden monies & meanes, & many murthered (after [2] they had Confessed all their meanes left)…

fol. 102v

…And they hearing of divers apparitions & visions that were ordinarily seene neere the port a downe bridg since the drowning of her children And the rest of the Protestants there: and [c] they being confidently tould that the said Owin ô Neile & his troops were resolued to bee at Portadowne bridg to informe themselues concerning those apparitions shee this deponent and her child & those other parties her companions & child att the same tyme came to Portadowne bridge aforesaid which was about Candlemas last & there then and there mett the said Owin Roe ô Neile & his troope: And being all together at the waterside there, nere the said bridge about twylight in the evening then and there vpon a sudden there appeared vnto them a vision or spiritt assumeing the shape of a woman waste highe vpright in the water naked with elevated…

fol. 103r

…and closed handes, her haire disheivelled very white, her eyes seeming to twinckle in her head, and her skinn as white as snowe which spiritt or vision seeming to stand straight vpright in the water divulged and often repeated the word Revenge Revenge Revenge &c Whereat this deponent and the rest being putt into a strange amazement and fright, walked a little from the place, And then presently the said Owne Roe ô Neille sent a Romish preist and a friere to speake vnto it Wherevpon they asked questions both in English and Latin, but it answererd them nothing; Within a few daies after the said Owen Roe ô Neille sent his drummer to the English Army for a protestant minister, Whoe comeing vnto him, and being by him desired of to inquire of that vision, or spiritt what it would haue, the same minister went one evening to the vsuall place on the waterside, Where at the like time of the Evening the same or like spiritt or vision appeared in the like posture and shape as formerly it had done: And the same minister saying In the name of the father, the sonne and the holy ghost what wouldest thou have, or for what standest thou there: It answered Revenge, Revenge, very many times iterating the word Revenge, thereat the same minister went to prayer privately and after they all departed, and left the same vision or spiritt standing and crying out as before, But after that night of six weekes together it neither appeared nor cried any more But after th at night , of six weekes together , it neither appear ed nor cried any more , that either this deponent or any of the rest (that came thither vpon purpose severall times) could heare or observe yet after six weekes ended it appeared againe and cried as before Soe as the Irish that formerly were frighted away with it, and which were comen againe to dwell in the English howses thereabouts In hope it would neuer appeare nor crye more, were then soe againe affrighted that they ran quite away and forsooke the place the lyke, or the same spiritt or vision since that time appearing and crying out Revenge all and euery night vntill this deponent and her child and late fellow prisoners came away with their convoy to Dundalk.

The Deposition of Elizabeth Price 1643

A Deposition is a sworn legal document. Elizabeth’s, though unusually detailed, is one of several hundred sworn following the Irish Rebellion. Most were concerned with the loss of property.

    Source deals with:

  • British dimension of Civil Wars. How was Irish Rebellion linked to developments in England in 1641?
  • Womens’ voices – how might female testimony differ from mens? In what circumstances do women appear in historical record?
  • A real incident? Or an ‘atrocity story’ made up later?
  • Involves particularly gruesome massacre – typical or unusual? Did Elizabeth Price actually witness it or was her account based on rumour/hearsay?
  • How was she sure of the identity of the Irish commander responsible?
  • Language: How are the Irish described in the source? How might this reflect existing (pre-Rebellion) or shape later attitudes?
  • Ghostly apparition: does its inclusion destroy the credibility of the source as a whole?
  • What is the purpose of the inclusion of the story of the apparition?
  • How far does this suggest that even among Protestants folk beliefs in magic etc remained strong?