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

Irish Despard Origins

The first John Despard (Tree 1) seems to have been the reason that the Diaries mention Glengariff. Glengariff is a harbour village just to the north of the town of Bantry. It is probable that the partnership he had with Richard White was more than a farming and trading partnership. They clearly had leases on the land ‘of Valentia’ (Annesley) that they controlled, since these were subsequently sold for value. In the National Archives of Ireland I found a deed of grant of part of the Bantry property in 1717 by William D of Kilaghy (probably the nephew of John) and on 28.5.1731 Richard D of Cranagh sold the ‘Manor, Town and lands of Bantry’ to Richard White junior. In August 1731 he bought the Manor of Villiers (11,000 acres) with William Carden and Walter Stephens.

In the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ (Nr 149 (1831) p207) relating to a subsequent Annesley family dispute that referred to the Whites (eventually Earls of Bantry) there is the following comment: ‘At the period in question, the land formed the subject of the lawsuit, consisting of the fertile island of Whiddy near Bantry, and a vast tract of mountains round the bay, and was farmed by two persons named White and Despard, who had emigrated from the Queen’s County. At Whiddy, however, they realised good fortunes, ostensibly by agriculture, but much increased, as was reported, by illicit trade, for which this remote and almost inaccessible district at that time afforded great facilities. Despard, satisfied with his acquisitions, sold his share of the farm to White and returned to Queen’s County.’

The story indicated by the foregoing is that the Despards were in partnership with the Whites and (and probably Hugh Hutchinson) and that at some point they had acquired good title to a substantial parcel of land effectively controlling the south and east side of Bantry Bay with Whiddy Island and probably Glengariff. It is likely that all this land was held by lease from the Annesley family. I could see no references to grants or title deeds from the Annesley family at that time, but these must have been granted for value, or possibly for a share of the trading partnership.

In 1666 King Charles granted to Arthur Annesley, Earl of Anglesey, a considerable acreage in Ireland (in addition to that which he already owned), producing rents of up to £4,000 pa. This included 4,412 acres at Bantry and Beare. (I am not sure if the 800 acre Whiddy Island was part of this grant or a separate one.)



  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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