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The Londonderry Plantation: The City of London and the Colonisation of Ulster

James Stevens Curl

When Gaelic Chieftains, by then ennobled as peers, fled from Ireland in 1607, their lands were forfeited to the Crown, and the King, James VI and I, determined to fill the vacuum by means of encouraging colonists loyal to the Crown to settle in the escheated counties, one of which, Coleraine, nobody would touch because of questions of title and its strategic importance. The City of London was leant upon to carry out the task, and 55 Livery Companies were forced to take part in 12 groups. County Coleraine was extended with additions from Counties Antrim, Donegal, and Tyrone, and the new unit was called County Londonderry. A development corporation was established called The Honourable the Irish Society, its members drawn from the City of London, charged with building a new city and a new town, and overseeing the efforts of the Livery Companies to develop and populate their 12 Estates. Subsequent events had a profound influence on the history of these islands, not least the alienation of the City by the Crown, leading to the support for Parliament by the City and the loss of the King’s throne and head.

The lecture describes these momentous events in the context of national and international history.

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