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

Irish Despard Origins

And by the nearer relation he has to my Lady (Rachel Russell), who is his cousin-german, and the particular friendship which father and son have with Mr William Russell, he is to be introduced into a great commerce with the mal-contented members of Parliament, and insinuate what they shall think fit to cross your measures at court, if they shall prove disagreeable to them here; whilst Monsieur Barillon goes on in his smooth, civil way.’

Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 Ruvigny came to London. He then was a Major General under William of Orange and fought for him in Ireland, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. In 1692 he was made Baron Portarlington and Viscount Galway (Earl in 1697), and was granted 36,000 acres in Ireland. On 27.1.1692 he was appointed Lieutenant General of all forces in Ireland, to operate independently of Henry Sidney. Given his father’s involvement in 1674-6 of the French funding of Charles II and his close ministers, and Ruvigny’s own subsequent mission to Charles in 1678, one has to assume that both father and son knew at least some of the details relating to the routing of the French funding of Charles via the merchants. We must not forget that Henri de Ruvigny also knew Philibert de Gramont, who was probably involved in this on the French side. It was probably Sir John Thompson who organised the routing of the funds during his visit to France in 1670.

In Nottingham’s letter to Jurieu in April 1692 it was a John Thompson who was the Bordeaux merchant on whom the bill of exchange for expenses was drawn. Was this Anne Thompson’s 1670 contact there? Her letter was to Viscount Conway and his brother-in-law was Nottingham, and according to her letter it was Nottingham that received wine from her relation in Bordeaux. One has to assume that this was the John Thompson who was the merchant/paymaster for Nottingham’s spies. (If she was William Despard’s sister then this would link to John Despard’s trading activity with Bordeaux, and substantially increase the probability that Desarres was Despard. Given Sir John Thompson’s marriage to Arthur Annesley’s daughter, it would also provide some logic to the Annesley Queen’s County and Bantry property grants to Despards.)



  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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