Statutes of Kilkenny

After several generations in Ireland, the “Old English” settlers who were sent to conquer and hold it on behalf of the English Crown began to be assimilated into Gaelic society. The Statutes of Kilkenny (1367) contained 35 acts intended to reinforce the division between the native Irish and the descendants of the original English colonists.

Whereas at the conquest of the land of Ireland, and for a long time after, the English of the said land used the English language, mode of riding and apparel, and were governed and ruled, both they and their subjects called Betaghes, according to the English law, in which time God and holy Church, and their franchises according to their condition were maintained and themselves lived in due subjection; but now many English of the said land, forsaking the English language, manners, mode of riding, laws and usages, live and govern themselves according to the manners, fashion, and language of the Irish enemies; and also have made divers marriages and alliances between themselves and the Irish enemies aforesaid; whereby the said land, and the liege people thereof, the English language, the allegiance due to our lord the king, and the English laws there, are put in subjection and decayed, and the Irish enemies exalted and raised up, contrary to reason; our lord the king considering the mischiefs aforesaid, in the consequence of the grievous complaints of the commons of his said land, called to his parliament held at Kilkenny, the Thursday next after the day of Cinders Ash Wednesday in the fortieth year of his reign, before his well- beloved son, Lionel Duke of Clarence, his lieutenant in his parts of Ireland, to the honour of God and His glorious Mother, and of holy Church, and for the good government of the said land, and quiet of the people, and for the better observation of the laws, and punishment of evils doers there, are ordained and established by our said lord the king,and his said lieutenant, and our lord the king’s counsel there, which the assent of the archbishops, bishops, abbots and priors (as to what appertains to them to assent to), the earls, barons, and others the commons of the said land, at the said parliament there being and assembled, the ordinances and articles under written, to be held and kept perpetually upon the pains contained therein.

I. First, it is ordained, agreed to, and established, that holy Church shall be free, and have all her franchises without injury, according to the franchises ordained and granted by our lord the king, or his progenitors, by any statute or ordinance made in England or in Ireland heretofore; and if any (which God forbid) do to the contrary, and be excommunicated […]

II. Also, it is ordained and established, that no alliance by marriage, gossipred, fostering of children, concubinage or by amour, nor in any other manner, be henceforth made between the English and Irish of one part, or of the other part; and that no Englishman, nor other person, being at peace, do give or sell to any Irishman, in time of peace or war, horses or armour, nor any manner of sustenance in time of war; and if any shall do to the contrary, and thereof be attainted, he shall have judgment of life and member, as a traitor to our lord the king.

III. Also, it is ordained and established, that every Englishman do use the English language, and be named by an English name, leaving off entirely the manner of naming used by the Irish; and that every Englishman use the English custom, fashion, mode of riding and apparel, according to his estate; and if any English, or Irish living amongst the English, use the Irish language amongst themselves, contrary to the ordinance, and thereof be attainted, his lands and tenements, if he have any, shall be seized into the hands of his immediate lord, until he shall come to one of the places of our lord the king, and find sufficient surety to adopt and use the English language, and then he shall have restitution of his said lands or tenements, his body shall be taken by any of the officers of our lord the king, and committed to the next jail, there to remain until he, or some other in his name, shall find sufficient surety in the manner aforesaid […]