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

Irish Despard Origins

For Despards, a turning point may have come with the death of Philibert de Gramont in 1707; the sale of the remaining Foix-Gurcon wine producing properties in 1710 and 1713; the death of the last Foix-Gurcon in 1714; the ending of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713/14; the death of King Louis in 1715; and the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 realistically ended hopes/threats of a Stuart reinstatement for many. I suggest that for Despards (whatever name they were using before 1692), the special relationship with France and Gascony was much diminished. The need for intelligence was greatly reduced. With the peace, the profits to be made from regular and illicit trade were also much reduced. The perceived risks became too high for the next generation of Despards, and a staged exit from the Bantry activities was effected. The Despard Bantry property sales of 1717/31 probably reflect this position. Revenue from their now substantial other property holdings was to support them for the next 200 years. They had successfully established themselves as Despards in Ireland, and from that point they probably saw no good reason to revert to the Kendall name. I believe that direct English Kendall relations existed just until the end of the 1700’s.

The de Gramonts would have been among the very few people who knew the background to and history of the Despards. Was this knowledge passed by them down the line to Balzac or to Ferdinand de Grammont? If Balzac knew about this I have little doubt that for him, and those others with the knowledge of our history, this use of our d’Espard name imposed on the de Foix background would have been an amusing twist of history. I cannot see how else this could have happened.



  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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