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

Irish Despard Origins

From Crook-haven I passed along the side of Dunmanns Bay to Bantry, 14 miles; in this bay there is also many little harbours and coves, with (fish) palaces (factories) as is formerly mentioned. This bay is deep almost to the bottom, and at Bantry I spoke with Mr. Constantine, who is Officer and Guager there; and from this place, and Whiddy Island over against it, wool has been often exported, as I was credibly informed, and I am with submission, of opinion, that another officer besides Mr. Constantine, ought to be imployed on this coast, and whose district, or riding, ought to be from Dunmanns Bay to Glengariff, which is a very pretty harbour at the bottom of Bantry Bay. From Bantry I went to Glengariff, where there is a new iron-work erecting, but as there is from there to Bear-haven no sheep ground, and it is surrounded by almost unpassable mountains, so I do not apprehend on that side of the bay any clandestine trade as to wool…’ (Manuscripts of the House of Lords: 1704-6 p216)

Firstly, this account verifies a virtually uncontrolled coastline. Secondly, his brief was clearly concerned with wool export and there is no mention of smuggled imports which is surprising. And last but not least, I suspect that Mr. D was John Despard and that Mr. A was an Annesley, probably Charles married to Margaret Eyre.

So the Despard base seems to have been Queen’s County, enhanced by the massive farming, fishing and smuggling activity in the south-west. In addition as the Diaries state, they may also have been partners with White in developing the iron-works at Glengariff, and that interest must also have been disposed of at some point, although I have found no record of this. In addition, at Cranagh in Queen’s County Despards operated iron-works, and the product was floated down the River Nore. I am not sure when or how Cranagh was acquired, but it may have been the 1702 grant or subsequent to 1709.

Intriguingly I discovered another Despard in looking at iron manufacture. ‘The Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society’ (1804) reports that ‘the first (blast) furnace for smelting iron-ore known in the county of Plymouth (New England/Massachusetts, USA) was erected in the year 1702 by Lambert Despard (a founder), and the family of Barkers, his associates, at the mouth of Mattakeest pond in the town of Pembroke, but the wood in the vicinity being exhausted, the works were long since abandoned’.



  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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