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

Irish Despard Origins

In 1642 he helped to finance the buccaneering expedition of Captain William Jackson, whose forces captured the capital city of Jamaica, held its inhabitants to ransom, and retired only on receiving 7,000 pieces of eight and very large stores of victuals. Again, Thompson took a prominent part in fitting out the Penn and Venables expedition which captured Jamaica from the Spaniards in 1655. During the period of the Long Parliament he was a Commissioner of the Navy and Customs. Finally, a recent study shows that the Navigation Act of 1651 was sponsored by Maurice Thompson and a group of his relatives and friends who had interests in trade and the colonies’.

In 1673 Maurice’s son John was made a Baronet.  At the same time John was offered the post of Treasurer of the King’s Chamber, which according to Horace Walpole ‘he declined because of his aversion to those who directed the affairs of Government’ (was this because of the ‘Stop of the Exchequer’, or because of their Catholic religion or bias?). These rewards or appointments I suspect followed Thompson’s assistance with Treaty of Dover funding activity, which by then had proved itself.

Sir John Thompson, I have mentioned in connection with his visits to Holland subsequent to Monmouth’s failed rebellion. He was short, stocky and red-faced. His marriage in July 1668 to Arthur Annesley’s daughter Frances may have surprised many. However both families were ardent Protestants, and Annesley’s court connections and Thompson’s trading activities represented a constructive match. The fact of the mortgage held by Maurice on Arthur Annesley, may of course also have been a factor. On the death of his father in 1676 John was admitted to the East India Company, and he inherited the extensive properties in England, Ireland, the Americas and Caribbean. While Arthur Annesley was implicated in the Rye House Plot, it was also noted too in July 1683 by an alarmed Sir Adam Browne to his son: ‘…..Next there are in Ebbesham on pretence of drinking the waters at least 3 or 4 hundred good horses and most of them have pistols, so, if they are such as I suspect many to be, they have a brave opportunity to make a body before a militia troop can be half called together. If a party of horse were sent from London to examine what arms everyone has and how qualified to ride with them, I doubt not many could be found that would not pass muster. There is Sir John Thompson, who married Anglesey’s daughter, and Sir Robert Clayton, likewise Sir William Gulston’s house not searched, all dangerous’!



  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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