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

Irish Despard Origins

The birth of Charles Edward Stuart was the trigger for the parliamentary group’s invitation on the 10th July 1688 to William and Mary. This invitation was penned by Henry Sidney (brother of the executed Algernon) and signed by six others including Edward Russell and the Earls of Danby and Devonshire. Together they became ‘The Immortal Seven’. Preparations were then immediately set in motion by William who landed in England in November 1688.

On 9 December King James’s wife, Mary of Modena, and her son departed for France. With London on full alert and the fleet active, this was no easy enterprise. Antoine de Caumont, Comte de Lauzun, who had come to England for this purpose, with Riva, took the Queen and two nurses by carriage from Westminster to Horseferry to a waiting boat. This boat took them across the river Thames in pitch darkness. On the other side a coach was waiting and Riva went to hurry its progress to the party. An inquisitive innkeeper almost identified the party, but Riva distracted him by tumbling them both into the mud. On the road they met several patrols seeking Papists but they succeeded in passing through to Gravesend, where a yacht was waiting to take them to Calais and safety. James tried to follow them, but he was taken and held at Faversham, although he was eventually allowed to depart to France.

James now focused on Ireland. In order to draw King William and his forces into Ireland and away from the war in Holland, King Louis and his Minister of the Navy, the Marquis de Seignelay (whose uncle was Colbert de Croissy who had negotiated the Secret Treaty of Dover, and whose father had been Minister of Finance at that time), provided James with a fleet and support in the form of 6,000 troops under Antoine de Caumont, Comte de Lauzun, but at a price. The ‘Secret History of Whitehall’ (D.Jones 1697) records (27.10.1689) James’s commitment to provide the same number of troops to Louis from Ireland after the campaign, and that all Protestants in Ireland that would not convert, had to sell their land to Louis at a fixed price. Following James II’s arrival in Kinsale, Ireland, in March 1689, his Irish Parliament outlawed a long list of Williamite supporters. (Despards were not on this list nor on later lists of supporters of King James.)



  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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