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

Irish Despard Origins

The immense relief that England must have felt at this victory is reflected in the action of the Earl of Rochester (Laurence Hyde who had married Henrietta Boyle, daughter of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork), the Earl of Portland, Henry Sidney and Henri Ruvigny, who all immediately travelled to Portsmouth to congratulate Admiral Russell. They also distributed £30,000 to the fleet. Then two councils of war were held there. (Did this include plans relating to Bantry and intelligence gathering?) Portland was Hans Willem Bentinck, William’s closest adviser on continental military matters, and he had arranged the logistics for William’s 1688 invasion of England. He also maintained an effective intelligence network. The assembled group were decision makers. (‘Henri de Ruvigny’ by David C. A. Agnew (1864)) Francis Annesley was at Portsmouth and wrote
to Rawdon from there, 22-24 May.

This maritime victory at La Hogue did not eliminate the concern over a further invasion attempt. In order to give an understanding of the atmosphere of concern over an attempt via Ireland in 1692-3, I have extracted the following from ‘Revolutionary Ireland and its settlement’ by Robert H. Murray (1911):

‘It is easy for those who prophesy after the event to make light of the dangers which were to be apprehended from Louis by the English and Irish Governments. They remembered Patrick Sarsfield’s boast at Limerick, that in a short time he would return to Ireland at the head of the exiles, and they turned their minds to the problems of defence. The chief topics in Lord Nottingham’s letters (1692) are the expected invasion from France.

William received secret information that the French were planning a descent upon Cork and Kinsale, and he advised the sending of vessels to Brest to gain intelligence of the preparations the French were making.

Warrants were immediately issued for spending six thousand pounds upon the absolutely necessary fortifications of Cork and Kinsale. Sidney (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1692-3 and Master-General of the Ordinance, 1693-1702) was so anxious that he proposed visiting in person the fortified towns along the sea-coast.



  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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