GRACE O’MALLEY MEETS QUEEN ELIZABETH. My father used to tell us at the dinner table that Grace O’Malley had come to England to meet Queen Elizabeth. I am afraid that I always was inclined to think that this was part of Grace O’Malley’s legend. It seems too good to be true—if you made a movie, you would have to invent a climactic scene where the two queens confront each other.

It’s not a legend. Chambers reprints documents from the Elizabethan archives which prove the meeting. As a lawyer, I was particularly impressed by a set of 18 interrogatories propounded by Lord Burghley to Grace O”Malley and her responses. The interrogatories primarily seek facts relating to a claim under English property law. (Grace was seeking the grant of what English law would have awarded a widow.)

Grace’s answer to Interrogatory 11, however, did refer to her years of clashes with English officials. She described how in 1586 she had been “apprehended and tied in a rope” by English soldiers and brought to a English official “who caused a new gallows to be made for her last funeral….” (Grace was freed “upon the hostage and pledge” of her son-in-law, who was known as “the Devil’s Hook”.)

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