This fascinating exploration of one of the author’s Tudor ancestors takes us into many unexpected corners of national history, starting from John Perrot’s origins as a by-blow of Henry Vlll and including his service as Lord President of Munster in the 1570s, followed by a further period as Elizabeth’s Lord Deputy for the whole of Ireland in the 1580s. If only he had received political backing to put his well- documented plans for greater equality, improved general education (including founding a university in Dublin) and a new transport infrastructure into action, how different history could have been.
But this is not family history as hagiography. Perrot’s flaws play their own part in a complex life and in explaining why it had so large a share of ups and downs both personal and political. Margaret Eleanor Hill’s unravelling of these strands is impressively clear and ever more engrossing as the story develops. She makes a strong case for him as a man whose thinking, particularly with regard to religion and to the ‘settlement’ of Ireland, was way ahead of his time. With such a history of progressive thinking behind them, it feels unsurprising that Quakerism took root in some members of the family as early as the 1660s.
This is an intriguing and enlightening read.