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



Irish Despard Origins

Ruvigny ran some intelligence agents whose reports were received by Monsieur de Cramahé, his Aide de Camp. The latter was a French Huguenot from La Rochelle whose son became a senior administrator in Quebec. The Finch manuscripts contain a series of reports from January to March 1693 that I am not going to produce in full. Essentially they provide an extensive and detailed report on French ports, shipping, armaments, troop strength, commanders, maps etc. I quote from an initial letter:

1693 Jan – Desarres to de Cramahé. ‘…….Cela peut vous sembler un depence et jen conviens avec vous, mais et vous et moy, Monsieur, voyons bien quelle ne peut en rien ballancer le risques d’un tel commerce, et parer a divers petit debources quil faut faire icy et dedela pou les intelligences et les lettres, mesme pour de certaines petites corvees quil faut necessairement faire pour voir les choses par soi mesme. Aussy, Monsieur, estimerois je ce que dis trop peu de chose sans que mon amy travaille plus pour l’honeur de la bonne cause que pour l’interest, et que ce que je propose de recompense est plus pour subvenir aux faus frais, etc, que pour grosser la bource. Il est assez genereux pour laisser a l’enquite de Milord a luy en donner advantage sy Milord est content de ses memoires, comme je flate quil le sera, car ce nest pas un home ordinaire don’t je me sers, mais un home distinguee par bien endroits. Je seray bien aise de scavoir par vous, Monsieur, aquoy Milord se sera determine avant son depart. Mon epouse vous fait ses compliments.’ (Plans for the Isle d’Oleron and the entrance to Rochefort attached). This was forwarded to Nottingham by Ruvigny: ‘Le Sieur Desarres, qui aura l’honneur de vous render ce billet, Mylord, est celuy don’t je vous ay parle despuis deus jours.’

Desarres’s contact in France was clearly ‘distinguished’ and well placed. In relation to his activity Desarres refers to the balance of risk for the gathering of intelligence. His wife was clearly familiar with Nottingham, since Desarres sends her regards to him. (I do not know who his wife was.) I have found no definite pointers to the name which could be a cipher name or from a number of different families with different spellings. However, the profile feels close to home and the Thompson connection also narrows the alternatives. (Desparres was one of the names used to indicate André de Foix, – eg in ‘Histoire Complète de Bordeaux’, Vol. 1 – as was Desparcoix.)

 
 

Comments

  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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