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

Irish Despard Origins

I was only able to come up with the suggestions – that Kendalls in England were prevented from directly trading with France, following the ban on trading, and hence trading with a new name from Ireland mitigated the risks; and/or that they had some concern with regard to action that might be taken against them by King William. This might seem logical to the de Gramonts and other contacts, if they had been involved in the Treaty of Dover funding. (If Balzac’s connections are correct, then an additional consideration would result from the fact that the de Foix were thrice related to the Stuarts through the Bourbons. I am not sure therefore how overt support for King William would have been regarded at this point, and this might have been another reason supporting the need for a ‘cover story’.)

More than this, it is probable that Philibert de Gramont helped in creating the name and legend. If the Treaty of Dover funding connection is correct Philibert will have worked profitably with Despards before – whatever their earlier name. In 1692 Philibert was Richard White’s Uncle. Philibert de Gramont’s sister died on 31.7.1688. As a result he inherited properties including the Baronnie des Angles in Bigorre/Bearn, and next to this was the Baronnie d’Esparros. As mentioned earlier, this had been the property of André de Foix – referred to in state papers as ‘Desparcoix’ and ‘Desparres’. Philibert was active in 1692-3 filing documents relating to his inherited properties before the Chambre des Finances de Navarre. It is likely that this will have exposed him to elements of local history. I grant that it could just be co-incidence that the first proven use of the Despard name was in 1692. However, it was also in 1692-3 that he and his nephew the Duc de Gramont were involved with the corsairs.

In that same period we have the following: In October 1691 the Treaty of Limerick ended hostilities in Ireland; April-May 1692 the planned invasion of England by King James; on 24.8.1692 Lambert Despard’s daughter died in America; on 2.12.1692 we have the first two Despards registered at Trinity College Dublin; in January to March 1693 we have the Desarres intelligence reports to Ruvigny; on 24.5.1693 there were the leases on 1,000 acres granted by St. Leger Gilbert to Despards in Queen’s County – prior to that the properties were ‘of Annesley and Coote’. I repeat that I have found no earlier records of the use of the Despard name, but that does not necessarily mean that it was not used.



  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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