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

Irish Despard Origins

On reading the diary of the senior Arthur Annesley, it became clear that he was a good family man taking an active interest in the welfare of his children. He visited them and they visited him. It is difficult to tell how many daughters he had since he calls his sons’ wives his daughters. His diary is full of references to the Church, Bible and other writings and he is much concerned over conduct, his and others’. He and his family were leading Protestants, as were the Thompsons. He had the largest library of that time with 30,000 volumes. A frequent visitor was Dr Owen who influenced many of the subsequent protestant plotters. Annesley was very attentive to business, both private and government, and was frequently in Council or Committee meetings (especially on Irish issues) or in attendance on King Charles II. His diary records that he was summoned to a Council meeting on 2.1.1672 where they were discussing ‘seizing men’s moneys’ (The Stop of the Exchequer – initiated on 2 January 1672 by Thomas Clifford, it halted payments on, and repayment of, government bonds and securities in order to fund King Charles’s imminent war with Holland – it ruined many families) which he spoke against as did most of the Council. He writes: ‘God amend these beginnings of Evil’.

Arthur was the elder son of Sir Francis Annesley, and he had been active for the Restoration, after which he was created Earl of Anglesey. Arthur was then Privy Councillor from 1661, Vice-Treasurer and Receiver-General for Ireland 1660-7, Treasurer of the Navy from 1667-8 and Lord Privy Seal from 1673-82. From 1672 he received an annuity from King Charles of £3,000 charged on the Excise.

His son James was active in parliament and joined the Protestant Bishops in their appeal to King James – so he had retained the family’s religious convictions. James’ son also James, took his seat in the Irish and English parliaments, marrying Catherine Darnley, King James’ illegitimate daughter (Tree 2).

Arthur’s son Charles Annesley was, I suspect, the Mr A of Cork smuggling fame, but I have nothing to support that. In 1693 Samuel Annesley and a Thomas Kendall were involved with the East India Company. Samuel then travelled to India where he made a fortune, but was probably murdered and the fortune stolen on his return journey, circa 1712.



  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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