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POLEY, Sir John (d.1638?). [A defence by Sir John Poley of his conduct during the wars in Ireland under the Earl of Essex and Lord Mountjoy, written 30 years afterwards with the design of clearing himself from the charge of having acted treacherously towards Lord Mountjoy, and to obtain from Charles I. some support for himself and his children]. ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT, PARTLY AUTOGRAPH, in two hands. Folio (290 x 192mm), 26 leaves, including three blanks (paginated 40+8pp), and TWO WATERCOLOUR DRAWINGS, one double-page, showing the battle formations at the engagement with Tyrone at Blackwater. Early 19th-century red straight-grained morocco tooled in blind, t.e.g. Provenance: Henry Poley of Badley in Com. Suff., 1703 (armorial bookplate on end-paper).

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POLEY, Sir John (d.1638?). [A defence by Sir John Poley of his conduct during the wars in Ireland under the Earl of Essex and Lord Mountjoy, written 30 years afterwards with the design of clearing himself from the charge of having acted treacherously towards Lord Mountjoy, and to obtain from Charles I. some support for himself and his children]. ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT, PARTLY AUTOGRAPH, in two hands. Folio (290 x 192mm), 26 leaves, including three blanks (paginated 40+8pp), and TWO WATERCOLOUR DRAWINGS, one double-page, showing the battle formations at the engagement with Tyrone at Blackwater. Early 19th-century red straight-grained morocco tooled in blind, t.e.g. Provenance: Henry Poley of Badley in Com. Suff., 1703 (armorial bookplate on end-paper).

AN IMPORTANT DOCUMENT FOR THE HISTORY OF TYRONE'S REBELLION IN IRELAND. The book is divided into 7 sections, entitled: (1) "A Breviate or sume of my following Discours for which I suffer"; (2) "The first of my Lord of Essex arrivell in Ireland hee punished Captains who weere at the overthrow at Blackwater", explaining how in 1598 he was cashiered, for being in charge of troops, when the English army retreated at the battle with Tyrone; however subsequently taken on again and knighted by Essex for his services. Under this head he describes the schemes of Christopher Blount and other supporters of Essex, against Mountjoy, his own dissembling compliance with their views in order to help and serve Mountjoy, at the request of the Earl of Essex. (3) His Confession, "Sir John Poley provided to give answer to the Lord Mountjoy either by word or wrightinge if so it had pleased his Lordship to have done him that Right and honour to have examined him himselfe". Followed by an imaginary cross-examination of Poley by Mountjoy. (4) "Questions collected out of the former Discours to exsammyne by, If so please the kinge or any other for him for Tryall of truth". (5) "The Discours of Poleys Imployment by my Lo: of Essex commaunde: and his Lordships first Journey in Ireland". (6) Copies of letters relating to Poley and payments due to him, from Mountjoy to the Lord High Treasurer Buckhurst, three letters from Poley to Mountjoy; Sir Robert Gardiner's letter to Mountjoy, a letter from Mountjoy to Poley and a letter to Essex from the Chancery at Dublin (16 October 1598). (7) "A trew discours sett donne by Sir Jo: Poley the same night they made there Retreat to Ardmaugh after the defeat of the vanguards". Also inserted is a sheet (original?) of 'Reasons to induce us to the contracts mayd with Tirone ar Armaugh after wee were defeted', also two watercolours of battle formations at Blackwater.

A most plaintive appeal to Charles I. 'Intendinge this followinge Discours (concealed thirty yeres) should never have comne to light till my Death: But the too great neglecte of me: and my greate charge of children: with my poore meanes to educate them: inforceth mee to unfould my selfe: Desiringe god and Kinge Charles their helpes to Right mee: and support mee ... But if any Lorde of Irelande: can give a Better: a trewer: or so good an accoumpte of their deservinges Lett me suffer death ... Excepte god and kinge Charles helpe Poore John Poley.'
Nothing seems to be known about Sir John Poley, who appears to be a different person from his contemporary namesake Sir John Poley of Wrangey, the son of William Poley of Boxted, who was knighted at the same time for his services fighting the Spaniards in Flanders, died without issue and is buried at Boxted. Cf. Lord Arthur Hervey Boxsted Hall: Family of Poley (Suffolk Institute of Archaeology 1859). Although the author of the present manuscript signs himself Poley, he is in fact mentioned a number of times in the Calendar of State Papers relating to Ireland, between 1598 and 1600 under the name of Pooley. His cashiering and discharge on 27 March 1598 and his being granted a knighthood by the Earl of Essex before 12 July 1599 are noted there; also that he was one of three signatories of a 'Declaration touching the defeat at Armagh'.
This manuscript is described in H.M.C. Third Report (Manuscripts of the Marquis of Bute) p.203, and from there noted by F.M. Jones in Mountjoy, the last Elizabethan Deputy (1958) p.87 and note 5 p.212; otherwise it seems to have remained unknown.
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