The Plantation of Ulster Towns

Why towns were important
King James believed that towns were an important part of the plantation. He planned to build 14 towns in Ulster. He set aside land in each county for towns.

What was their purpose?

Who lived in these towns?
Tradesmen of all sorts lived in these new towns. They were people who had skills, which the other planters needed: Country people came to the towns to sell their animals and crops and to buy the things the tradesmen had made.

Layout of the towns
Many of the large towns had the same layout. The drawing on page 2 shows what it was. Look at the illustration, while you read the description of plantation towns

The Diamond
In the centre was a big open area. It was sometimes square, sometimes triangular, as seen in the layout of Donegal town. This area was usually called the Diamond.

The important buildings were on the square. They were:

The streets were at right angles to the square. The tradesmen lived in these houses.


School and Church
Each town had a school and Protestant church.

A wall was built around the bigger towns. It was to keep the planters safe if the Irish attacked them.

This layout can still be seen today in towns such as Donegal, Clones, Derry, and Enniskillen.

    1.   Check the illustration and using the description above, find the following:
          Walls, Gates, Bulwarks, Cannons, the Diamond, Market House, Church, and School. Mark them A-H.

Derry was the biggest town in the Ulster plantation. It had been originally chosen by because, 'It had a very good harbour'.
King James hoped that it would become a great port, trading with London and other places. He planned it should have great high walls around it and 400 planter families living there.

Disappointed hopes
Some planters came to Ulster, but not as many, or, as quickly as King James had hoped for. So he sent officials over to investigate. Sources A-D are their reports. They provide us with some clues as to the progress of the Plantation.

Examine the evidence
Primary Evidence

A Derry 1619
In 1619 an engineer called Pynnar visited Derry. This is part of his report:
'The City of London-Derry is now surrounded about by a very strong wall..

... It is 24 feet high and six feet thick
… It is built of stone
… There are four gates, each 21 feet wide
… Two have drawbridges
… Two have portcullises
… There are nine bulwarks, large enough for cannon'.
However, the number of people living in the city disappointed Pynnar.
He said:"The whole number of houses within the city is 92 and 102 families. This is far too few to defend the walls."
1.  What part of the Pynnar's report would have pleased the king?
2.  How many families were expected to come? How many had arrived by 1619?
3.  Why would this have disappointed him?
4.  Defending the city was very important to the planters. Find four pieces of evidence in the report to prove this.

'Abbey of Coleraine'
Sir Thomas Phillips in his report to the king stated that the 'abbey of Coleraine' would be a good place to build a town because,
                                         'It was easy to defend and had fertile land around it'.
King James hoped it would have high stone walls, a large market, and 300 houses.

B Coleraine in 1618
In 1618 a report stated that…

From a report by English officials in Ireland in 1618

1.  List three aspects of the town of Strabane that were important to the king?
2.  According to the report above, how were these conditions fulfilled?
3.  In what way was the town undefended?
4.  Check the illustration on page 2 and find the bulwarks with cannons on them.
5.  Compare the account with the illustration and mark in each place mentioned.

C Strabane in 1622
In 1622 a report stated that…

From a report by English officials in Ireland in 1622

1.  Compare this report with Source B. What improvements have taken place?
2.  What is 'shot and pike'?
3.  In what way does the town still fall below what King James expected?
4.  In both source A and C, what are the families expected to do for their town?

C The Plantation in 1641
'The plantations have prospered well, to the great advantage of the Crown and the benefit of the people planted. By these plantations, several English towns, castles, houses of strength and churches have been built in many remote and desolate parts of Ireland; many societies of Protestants settled; and religion, civility, schools, manufacture and trade introduced …The great Irish lords, who for so many years infested this Kingdom, are either taken away or levelled with others'.

From a report by English officials in Ireland in 1641

1.  List four major changes that have taken place by 1641.
2.  Check your textbook for the reasons for the Plantation? How does this report suggest they have been achieved. Write a paragraph on the results of the plantation using the information here and your textbook.