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James I, Son of Mary Queen of Scots, was crowned king of England in 1603. Although a protestant, Irish catholics believed that his family background disposed him towards toleration of catholicism. Although personally inclined to freedom of worship, James I had to battle with his image as an interloping Scot in England. In an attempt to conform to expectations in his new kingdom, James I became persuaded of the need to pursue policies consistent with English interests. Consequently, James I disappointed Irish catholics when he sanctioned penal measures against them, although he managed to temper the more extreme inclinations his officials.


Copy of a portrait of James I on display in the Harbour Museum, Derry

James I is principally associated with plantations in Ireland, the most notable of which occurred in Ulster. Often considered an indolent monarch, James I approached the task of planting Ulster with ‘missionary’ zeal. His Scottish background resulted in large numbers of his fellow countrymen being granted lands in Ulster.

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