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

Irish Despard Origins

Following Jean’s return to France the new King Louis XI granted to the city and its burgesses in March 1461 all the rights that had existed before the French conquest. England was the main trading partner for wines produced in the region and trade had been at a virtual standstill until this point. The son that was left in England, I conclude, was called John Kendall. He prospered and became Secretary of State to King Richard the Third, but died with him at the Battle of Bosworth. Kendall left at least one son and I trace this line onwards.

In my article ‘George Kendall’ I propose that he and his brothers represented a continuity of that Kendall line. He was a spy for Robert Cecil in France and Holland and was on the first Jamestown expedition. His brother was involved with administering the affairs of the families of Cecil, Russell, Sackville and probably Ambrose Dudley. Catherine Dudley was married to Henry Hastings who had the wardship of Henry Kendall in 1567. The Dudley family clearly considered their connection to the de Grailly important, incorporated their English arms, and entertained the de Foix hostages when they were in London. Members of the de Foix family were before that time and after called de Candalle in France, and also in certain English State Papers.

What started for me as a light-hearted exploration into pre 1700 Despards, turned into an investigation of why our family records had such limited information on our activity before that date. The first main conclusion that I reached was that before 1692 we had a different name and that this was Kendall. I found no records anywhere of the use of the Despard name prior to that date. There were certainly no Count Despards as indicated by the Diaries; however there were many de Foix and de Grailly Counts, so it is possible that family legend was correct on this point. It seems that the name Despard was taken by us for reasons that are not wholly clear. The second main conclusion that I reached was that, while we may have had trading and other connections with Ireland prior to 1692, we actually arrived to live there in 1692. For a new name and background to work in conjunction with the move to Ireland, the family members that moved would have had to stick to the story. In addition certain friends and sponsors would also have had to have guarded and supported this story. No easy task.



  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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