Anglo-French Relations The Cloak of Secrecy A personal voyage of detection

Irish Despard Origins

Irish Despard Origins

In my article ‘Fact or Fiction’ I examined the use by Balzac of our family name Despard or d’Espard. His family of d’Espards were in fact Nègrepelisse who had taken the name and titles of the old family of d’Espard through marriage. My examination of his clues led me to conclude that his original d’Espards were in fact de Foix whose name had been de Grailly before they also changed their name to de Foix. The real family of Nègrepelisse linked directly to the de Foix family through a marriage that resulted in them assuming the name and arms of the de Foix family to become de Foix-Carmain de Nègrepelisse. (Paul de Foix, the French Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth’s court, was in fact one of these.) I also noted that the de Gramont family had changed their name from d’Aure to de Gramont, and that they had a direct link to both the de Nègrepelisse and the de Foix (Tree 3). I found no evidence of the use of the Despard name prior to 1692; and after that date it seems to have been used exclusively by those related to our family. I could only guess at why Balzac, writing in the mid-1800’s, chose to use the name d’Espard and not simply use de Foix – he was a good historian and he had a good sense of humour, hence I suspect that he had some knowledge that made this an amusing play on history.

In my article ‘King Richard the Third’s Secretary of state’ I conclude that Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal, left a son in England both as security for his good conduct following his capture at the Battle of Northampton in 1460, and to start an English family line following England’s loss of Gascony seven years before. The de Foix family had extensive wine producing estates in Gascony and they had special privileges in Bordeaux.



  1. Please don’t publish my name or email. I have not read everything here, so perhaps I missed this information, but the reason that the Despards in Ireland are traced only to the date you mention is that the family, as Huguenots had fled to Ireland from France after The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

    1. Thank you for that. However – from 1572 until 1692 there are no records showing the use of the Despard or d’Espard names in either Ireland or England. There are no records of the use of that name in France before that date. Balzac, writing in circa 1840 used that name in a coded fashion which I analyse in my article.

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