The Marquis of Antrim: A Stuart Turn-Kilt?

Hated by many, mistrusted by all: a fair verdict on Randal MacDonnell the man who wheeled and dealed across Scotland and Ireland in the troubled era of Civil War and Commonwealth? Jane Ohlmeyer puts the man in his geographical and cultural context and re-evaluates his career and motives.

Arrogant, condescending, crafty, calculating, childish, fickle, reedy, haughty, headstrong, indiscreet, impatient, importuning, interfering, loudmouthed, manipulative, myopic, perfidious, pretentious, self-centred, uncooperative and whining: these are merely a selection of the adjectives used by his contemporaries and by later historians to describe the personality of Randal MacDonnell, 2nd Earl and 1st Marquis of Antrim.

The criticisms started at the top. Two of Ireland's lords lieutenant, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, and James Butler, Duke of Ormond, were his most vocal and malevolent critics. The former, who disliked Antrim's character and religion and questioned his competence and loyalty, denigrated and ridiculed Antrim at every opportunity. Many members of both the Protestant and Catholic Irish communities also shared Strafford's contempt for Antrim.

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