Thomas Blenerhasset ( - 1624):
Thomas Blenerhasset was an enthusiastic proponent of the Ulster Plantation in the 1600s, and himself was a leading active figure in that policy.
Thomas Blenerhasset was the son of a Norfolk squire; he studied at Cambridge, possibly in Trinity College, before serving in the army as Captain of Guernsey Castle, and in Ireland, where he was one of the undertakers of the Ulster Plantation. Blenerhasset's contribution as a writer included 12 poems in different metres intended as a continuation of the then-popular Mirrovr for Mafistrates (“Mirror for Magistrates”) a compendium of legends and old historical tales in verse form. There are extant manuscripts of his translation of Ovid’s De Remedio Amoris and a panegyric for Queen Elizabeth.
In 1610 he produced A Direction for the Plantation of Ulster, which recommended ejecting the native Irish. He became an “undertaker” thus in 1611 was awarded 1500 acres at Clankelly, County Fermanagh; later he and his brother Edward shared another 1000 acres in Fermanagh and petitioned for yet more in Fermangh and County Sligo, He died at his residence, Castle Hasset, County Fermanagh, (later Crevenish Castle), by which time he owned the barony of Lerg and two “proportions” on which were built the towns of Ederney and Kesh.
Blenerhasset was one of leading amongst the “undertakers” of the Plantation, but also could well be described as a propagandist. A flavour of this was his pamphlet with its poetic prose and its anthropomorphic imagery, Ireland as England’s sister, Ulster as a daughter:
Fayre England, thy flourishing sister, brave Hibernia; (with most respective termes) commendeth unto thy due consideration, her youngest daughter, depopulated Ulster
Ulster is portrayed as in a sad state:
Dispoyled, she presents her-selfe ... in a ragged sad sabled robe...there remayneth nothing but ruynes and desolation, with a very little show of any humanitie; of her selfe she aboundeth with many the best blessings of God.
Whereas England could avail of Ulster’s obvious attractions:
Fayre England, she hath more people than she can well sustaine: goodly Ulster for want of people unmanured, her pleasant fields and riche groundes, they remain if not desolate, worse.
He is not to be confused with Thomas Blennerhasset of Kerry.
|Died:||11 March 1624|
Jonathan Bardon: A History of Ulster (Belfast, Blackstaff Press, 1992, p127); Anna Suranyi: The genius of the English nation: travel writing and national identity in early modern England (University of Delaware Press, 2008); Dictionary of Irish Biography; www.spenserians.cath.vt.edu
© 2023 Ulster History Circle