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

Irish Despard Origins

The failure of Monmouth’s rebellion, his execution and the defeat of the Scots in 1685, ended hope of an internal solution to the succession. As a result a number of the Rebellion’s survivors arrived in the Netherlands seeking sanctuary. These included Sir John Thompson (with, it is said, a large quantity of jewels). He was a Whig member of parliament who had in 1668 married Frances, daughter of Arthur Annesley, and had been identified as a potential dissident in July 1683. In Holland he had a number of meetings with supporters of Monmouth, including Francis Charlton (who may be related to the John Charlton who shared the London property revenues with Thomas Kendall – see Richard III Article). There was a hard core of exiles who were dedicated and hardened opponents of James II, Catholicism, and what they regarded as an arbitrary and illegal political regime in England. Thompson’s wife was receiving intelligence on all Court matters from a friend in the Princess of Orange’s household. By November 1686 Thompson was back in England, but this group must have contributed considerably to William of Orange’s having a receptive mind to the subsequent invitation in 1688 to come to England and replace James. (Sir John Thompson, I propose in my Treaty of Dover Article, was a coordinator of the routing of King Louis XIV’s funds to King Charles in 1670.)

A great number of these names we will meet again. In all the books and papers that I have seen, there has been no indication of either a Kendall or a Despard name involved in these plots. It is possible that any involvement was too peripheral to warrant their mention. Do I believe that they were involved? The Diaries certainly indicate that we were subsequently loyal citizens with a good record of fighting for King and country. Plotting an uprising in the belief of popular support against a dictatorship or absolutism would in my view be acceptable. But I have found no evidence of their involvement. However, implication through association is definitely possible, since the names of many of the participants are ‘close to home’.

Early property records to be found in Dublin are scarce – probably burnt or destroyed in the Troubles. What is clear is that Despards after 1700 built up a sizeable estate of good farming land, and with numerous houses to the west and to the south of Mountrath in the Queen’s County.



  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.

Add comment

3 + 7 =

Please note that your comment will be reviewed and may be edited before being published.