In 1609 the
Earl of Salisbury, Lord High Treasurer to King James I, put forward
a proposal based on Chichester's plan to establish a Protestant
colony in the annexed lands of the O'Neills in Tyrone and O'Dohertys
in Inishowen. The king agreed and invited the merchants of the
various London Companies to undertake the Plantation of Derry.
members of the principal London Guilds were dispatched by the
Common Council of the City of London to assess the situation in
Derry and report back. 'Men of estates and plenty' showed little
enthusiasm for the north-west region of Ireland at that time,
due mainly to their interest in more profitable (and safer) colonial
ventures such as the Virginia Plantation in the Americas. To overcome
this reluctance the Privy Council secretly advised Chichester
to reveal only the beneficial aspects of the area to the four
Guild representatives. This 'trick' proved successful and the
deputation returned with a favourable report.
Privy Council and the City drew up Articles of Agreement
in January 1610 concerning the proposed Plantation. One of
these Articles stated: 'the houses, with the fortifications,
should be built and perfected by the 1 November 1611'. In
that year Lord Carew made a comprehensive survey of the Ulster
Plantation and, it is believed, a plan entitled 'The Platt
of the Derrie 1611' was commissioned by him. Curiously, it
projects the city walled on three sides only (there is no
wall on the riverside) and covers a much larger area than
the walled city built a few years later. However, delays,
caused mainly by the unwillingness of the local inhabitants
to surrender their land to the Planters, meant that virtually
no building was carried out by the appointed date. Captain
Vaughan eventually negoiated satisfactory compensation terms
by August 1611 but in the end Lord Carew’s planned
Walls were never built.
Carew’s plan of Derry, 1601.
29 March 1613 a company was formally incorporated by Royal
officially carry out the Plantation. It was called 'The Society
of the Governor and Assistants of London of the New Plantation
in Ulsterwithin the Realm of Ireland'. It is betterknown today
as 'The Honourable The Irish Society'. The Royal Charter (which
replaced the original one of 1604) also renamed the city Londonderry
because of the new connection with London. It was the Irish
Society which administered the building of Derry's Walls over
the following several years.
August 1613 Mathias Springham and George Smithes were sent to
Derry by the Irish Society to draw up plans for the construction
of the walls. They found widespread evidence ofcorruption amongst
the city officials, includingnonpayment ofworkers and overcharging
on building contracts. Such corruption had set back previous Plantation
sorted out these problems, Springham and Smithes consulted with
several experienced army captains stationed in the city and eventually
drew up a well-researched plan for walled fortifications in Derry.
The defensive siting of the Walls was constrained to some extent
by the future commercial needs of the city but the plan was approved
by the Common Council of London in October 1613. Unfortunately
no record exists of this plan so it is not possible to see how
much it differed, if at all, from the completed construction. As
a result of all this dedicated endeavour by Springham and Smithes,
work finally began on the Derry Walls in May 1614.