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

Irish Despard Origins

William Playfair in ‘British Family Antiquity’ (1809) tells us that a Sir Thomas White was from Hertfordshire, had been Lord Mayor of London in 1655, was a founder of St John’s College Oxford, and had a son Richard who resided at Bantry and married Miss Hamilton. Another source indicates that there was a Simon White of Knock, Co. Limerick, who was Sheriff of Limerick in 1684 and Mayor in 1696 (and the twenty-ninth White to be Mayor there), and who therefore survived the transition. His fourth son it is said was Richard White, Despard’s partner in the Cork ventures. Playfair may have been incorrect since I could not find a White Lord Mayor of London at that time, although there were White Lord Mayors in 1553 and 1563.

Richard White was clearly a sporting fellow, and catching the eye of Margaret Hamilton he eloped with her! Her family were much disconcerted. At that time there seem to have been two Margaret Hamiltons. The first was sister to Elizabeth Hamilton, Philibert de Gramont’s wife, and she had married Matthew Ford in 1688. Elizabeth and Margaret’s brother Anthony Hamilton records that their youngest brother Col. John Hamilton had a daughter Margaret who married Richard White of Whiddy Island (Tree 3). In King James’ army were Lt. General Richard Hamilton (captured at the Boyne and eventually exchanged, becoming ex-King James’ Gentleman of the Bedchamber in 1696), Major General Anthony Hamilton (who wrote ‘Memoirs of the Comte de Gramont’ – Philibert de Gramont) who left Ireland with King James, and the youngest brother Colonel John. The latter was ranked a Brigadier at the Battle of Aughrim on 12th July 1691, where he was mortally wounded, dying in Dublin a few days later.

I suspect that Margaret, Richard White’s wife was born circa 1670. John Hamilton’s death at Aughrim was in July 1691. Did White marry her before this or after? Did Despard effect the introduction? White’s marriage to Philibert de Gramont’s niece ensured that the Hamiltons and de Gramont knew of the Despards as Despards, even if they did not know them before. If Balzac was correct with his association of d’Espard with de Foix, then the de Gramonts were kin. If they knew of them as Kendalls before, how was the name change and the move to Ireland explained? Did it need to be explained to them?



  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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