Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan

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The Rt Hon. The 1st Earl of Lucan
Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan.jpg
Portrait traditionally identified as Sarsfield, Franciscan Library, Killiney
Bornca. 1655 [1]
unknown; possibly Lucan, County Dublin
Died21 August 1693
Huy, France (now in modern Belgium)
Allegiance Kingdom of Ireland (c. 1678–88)
Jacobites (1688–91)
France (1691–93)
RankLieutenant General
Battles/wars Battle of Sedgemoor, Battle of the Boyne, Siege of Limerick, Battle of Steenkerque Battle of Landen
Spouse(s) Honora Burke
Children James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan

Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan (ca. 1655 – 21 August 1693), was an Irish Jacobite soldier. In 1689 he was briefly a Member of the Parliament of Ireland.

Earl of Lucan

Earl of Lucan is a title which has been created twice in the Peerage of Ireland for related families.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Jacobitism political ideology

Jacobitism was the name of the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland that aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The movement was named after Jacobus, the Latin form of James.


Sarsfield gained his first substantial military experience serving with an Anglo-Irish contingent attached to the French Royal Army. When James II came to the throne he was commissioned in the English Army, serving during the suppression of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685. During the Glorious Revolution of 1688 he remained loyal to James and led an English cavalry detachment at the Wincanton Skirmish, the only military engagement of the campaign.

French Royal Army (1652–1830)

The French Royal Army served the Bourbon kings beginning with Louis XIV and ending with Charles X with an interlude from 1792 until 1814, during the French Revolution and the reign of the Emperor Napoleon I. After a second, brief interlude when Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, the Royal Army was reinstated. Its service to the direct Bourbon line was finished when Charles X was overthrown in 1830 by the July Revolution.

The English Army existed while England was an independent state and was at war with other states, but it was not until the Interregnum and the New Model Army that England acquired a peacetime professional standing army. At the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II kept a small standing army, formed from elements of the Royalist army in exile and elements of the New Model Army, from which the most senior regular regiments of today's British Army can trace their antecedence. Likewise, Royal Marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664.

Glorious Revolution 17th Century British revolution

The Glorious Revolution, or Revolution of 1688 refers to the November 1688 deposition and subsequent replacement of James II and VII as ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland by his daughter Mary II and her Dutch husband William III of Orange. The outcome of events in all three kingdoms and Europe, the Revolution was quick and relatively bloodless, though establishing the new regime took much longer and led to significant casualties. The term was first used by John Hampden in late 1689.

In 1689 Sarsfield accompanied James to Ireland and served in the Jacobite Irish Army. He became one of the principal Jacobite leaders during the Williamite War in Ireland; James rewarded him by making him an Earl in the Peerage of Ireland. After the war's end he led the "Flight of the Wild Geese", which took thousands of Irish soldiers into exile in France where they continued to serve James.

Williamite War in Ireland Irish Theatre of the Nine Years War

The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691), was a conflict between Jacobite supporters of King James II and Williamite supporters of Prince William of Orange. It is also called the Jacobite War in Ireland or the Williamite–Jacobite War in Ireland.

The Peerage of Ireland consists of those titles of nobility created by the English monarchs in their capacity as lord or king of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The creation of such titles came to an end in the 19th century. The ranks of the Irish peerage are duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron. As of 2016, there were 135 titles in the Peerage of Ireland extant: two dukedoms, ten marquessates, 43 earldoms, 28 viscountcies, and 52 baronies. The Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland continues to exercise jurisdiction over the Peerage of Ireland, including those peers whose titles derive from places located in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Article 40.2 of the Irish Constitution forbids the state conferring titles of nobility and a citizen may not accept titles of nobility or honour except with the prior approval of the Government. As stated above, this issue does not arise in respect of the Peerage of Ireland, as no creations of titles in it have been made since the Constitution came into force.

Flight of the Wild Geese

The Flight of the Wild Geese was the departure of an Irish Jacobite army under the command of Patrick Sarsfield from Ireland to France, as agreed in the Treaty of Limerick on 3 October 1691, following the end of the Williamite War in Ireland. More broadly, the term Wild Geese is used in Irish history to refer to Irish soldiers who left to serve in continental European armies in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

When a planned French invasion of England had to be abandoned following a French naval defeat in 1692, Sarsfield served in Flanders and was killed at the Battle of Landen in 1693. After his death Sarsfield was widely commemorated in Ireland as a national hero, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Flanders Community and region of Belgium

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.

Battle of Landen

The Battle of Landen or Neerwinden was fought in present-day Belgium on 29 July 1693 during the Nine Years' War. A French army under Marshal Luxembourg assaulted positions held by William III's Allied army three times before driving them from the field. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and the French were unable to follow up their victory, allowing William to escape.

Early life

Sarsfield was the second son of Patrick Sarsfield (d. aft. 1693) of Lucan Manor, County Dublin, and Tully Castle, County Kildare. The Sarsfield or Saresfield family were long-established landowners of Anglo-Norman descent. Their progenitor Thomas Sarsfield was standard-bearer to Henry II; in 1230 Thomas' son Richard was Henry III's captain-general. [2] Richard's grandson, Henry Sarsfield, came to Ireland, initially to Cork before obtaining land at Kilmallock, County Limerick, through marriage. [2] Patrick's great-great grandfather Sir William Sarsfield (d.1616) was Mayor of Dublin, and was knighted in 1566 by Lord Deputy Sidney.

Patrick Sarsfield was an Irish landowner and soldier of the seventeenth century noted for his role in the Irish Confederate Wars. He is best known as the father of Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, and is sometimes referred to as Patrick Sarsfield senior because of this.

Lucan Manor was a historic Irish residence in Lucan, County Dublin. A manor house, it is remembered particularly for its association with the Sarsfield family.

County Dublin Place in Ireland

County Dublin is one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland. Prior to 1994 it was also an administrative county covering the whole county outside of Dublin City Council. In 1994, as part of a reorganisation of local government within Dublin the boundaries of Dublin City were redrawn, Dublin County Council was abolished and three new administrative county councils were established: Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.

Patrick's father had become involved in the 1641 rebellion and had subsequently been a member of the Ormondist moderate faction of the Irish Confederation; Charles II later supported him in regaining the property he had lost as a result. [3]

The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup d'état by Irish Catholic gentry, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for Catholics. The coup failed and the rebellion developed into an ethnic conflict between the Gaelic Irish and old English Catholics on one side, and both ethnically English Protestants and Scottish/Presbyterian planters on the other. This began a conflict known as the Irish Confederate Wars.

Confederate Ireland Irish historical period

Confederate Ireland or the Union of the Irish was the period of Irish self-government between 1642 and 1649, during the Eleven Years' War. During this time, two-thirds of Ireland was governed by the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the Confederation of Kilkenny because it was based in Kilkenny. It was formed by Irish Catholic nobles, clergy and military leaders after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The Confederation had what were effectively a parliament, an executive, and a military. It pledged allegiance to Charles I.

Charles II of England 17th-century King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death.

While the Sarsfields were generally connected to other families of the Pale, Sarsfield's mother Anne was the daughter of Roger O'Moore, a landowner of ancient Gaelic noble lineage and one of the main instigators of the 1641 rebellion. Sarsfield's mixed heritage was much emphasised by 19th century historians seeking to emphasise his status as a national hero, although the nationalist historian O'Callaghan concluded that Sarsfield was "no better than a puffed Palesman" compared to figures such as Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill. [4]

From 1673 to 1676, Sarsfield served under Marshall Turenne, considered the best general of his time Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne by Circle of Philippe de Champaigne.jpg
From 1673 to 1676, Sarsfield served under Marshall Turenne, considered the best general of his time

There are few records of Sarsfield's life prior to his military career: we do not know where or when he was born and nothing is known of his early life or education. [5] Some older biographies state that he was educated at a French military college; there is no evidence to support this although he saw some military service in France as a young man. [6]

In the 1670 Treaty of Dover, Charles II agreed to support a French attack on the Dutch Republic and supply 6,000 troops for the French army. [7] When the Franco-Dutch War began in 1672, Sarsfield was commissioned into this Brigade, commanded by the Duke of Monmouth. [8] The alliance with Catholic France was extremely unpopular and many doubted the Brigade's reliability against the Protestant Dutch. As a result, it served in the Rhineland campaigns of Marshall Turenne, considered the best general of his time; it was eventually disbanded in 1676. [9]

On his return to London, Sarsfield was caught up in the anti-Catholic hysteria of the Popish Plot, and lost his commission. [8] He remained in London during the early 1680s, leading a reputedly "dissolute" life [10] and often short of money; he was involved in two abductions of heiresses and was lucky to escape prosecution. [11] When Charles's Catholic brother James became king in 1685, Sarsfield was restored to favour and helped suppress the Monmouth Rebellion; he was unhorsed and "wounded in several places" at the decisive Battle of Sedgemoor. [12] This reinvigorated his military career, especially since James was keen to promote Catholics and by 1688, he reached the rank of colonel. [10]

Glorious Revolution and Williamite War in Ireland

In 1688 Sarsfield's older brother died, leaving him heir to the family properties. The same year James was deposed by his nephew and son-in-law William of Orange in the Glorious Revolution; Sarsfield was present at the Wincanton Skirmish, one of the few military clashes during William's invasion of England. Sarsfield was among those army officers who stayed loyal to James and joined him in exile in France.

William's attempts to extend his control over the Kingdom of Ireland, whose establishment was largely Jacobite, were to lead to the Williamite War in Ireland. Supported by France, James landed in Ireland in March 1689, accompanied by French officers and a group of Jacobite supporters including Sarsfield, who was now promoted to brigadier. [10] As a member for Dublin, Sarsfield sat during the 1689 Parliament called by James, and led cavalry units in the Jacobites' 1689 campaign in Ulster and Connacht. His reputation with their French allies grew, and in October the French ambassador asked James whether Sarsfield could be considered as a commander for a brigade of Irish troops to be sent into French service. He noted that Sarsfield "is not a man of noble birth [...] but he is a gentleman who has distinguished himself by his ability and whose reputation in this kingdom is greater than that of any man I know [...] He is brave but above all he has a sense of honour and integrity in all that he does". [13]

The Battle of the Boyne in 1690. William III at the Battle of the Boyne.jpg
The Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Sarsfield's role at the Battle of the Boyne was relatively peripheral, but the departure of James for France after the Jacobite defeat led to a growth in Sarsfield's political prominence during the later part of the war. [10] Sarsfield became the central figure of a group of Jacobite officers opposing James's Lord Deputy, Tyrconnell, who proposed seeking a favourable peace settlement with William. [10] The so-called "War Party" also included the Luttrell brothers, Nicholas Purcell and the English Catholic William Dorrington, a former colleague of Sarsfield's under Monmouth. [14] Sarsfield gained further prominence when he led an attack on the Williamite artillery train at Ballyneety in August 1690; the action was widely credited with forcing William to abandon the Siege of Limerick and cemented his military reputation. [10]

With Tyrconnell absent in France and the successful defence of Limerick raising Irish hopes, the "War Party" gained control of the Jacobite command. In December 1690 Sarsfield had several leaders of the opposing "Peace Party" arrested and appealed directly to Louis XIV, asking for further French support and requesting that Tyrconnell was dismissed. [15] Tyrconnell hurriedly returned from France in January 1691 and created Sarsfield as Earl of Lucan, an attempt to placate an "increasingly influential and troublesome figure". [16]

Tyrconnell and Sarsfield were however to remain at odds until the former's death, shortly after the decisive Jacobite defeat at Aughrim in July 1691. Sarsfield's role at Aughrim is unclear: one account of the battle claimed that he had quarrelled with the French general the Marquis de St Ruth and was stationed at the rear with the cavalry reserve. [17]

The remnants of the Jacobite army regrouped under his command at Limerick, but by October Sarsfield was forced to negotiate articles of surrender. [16] The decision has been criticised for a number of reasons: Sarsfield had repeatedly undermined Tyrconnell for advocating the same thing, while it appears that the Williamite army was in a weaker position than he judged. [8] The Treaty of Limerick provided for many of the remaining Jacobite troops to leave the country and enter French service; about 19,000 officers and men, including Sarsfield, chose to leave. [18] His handling of the civil articles was less successful; ambiguous drafting facilitated some of the Parliament of Ireland's subsequent extension of the Penal Laws against Catholics, although it is likely that Sarsfield viewed the treaty as a temporary measure until the war could be resumed. [8]

French service

On arrival in France, James appointed Sarsfield commander of the second troop of Irish Horse Guards. Following the abandonment of Louis XIV's planned 1692 invasion of England and the disbanding of James's army, he became a French marechal de camp. [8] He fought at Steenkerque in August 1692 against an Anglo-Dutch force, earning a commendation from his commander Luxembourg.

Sarsfield was fatally wounded at the Battle of Landen in 1693, dying at Huy three days later. Despite several searches no grave or burial record has been found, though a plaque at St Martin's church, Huy, has been set up in commemoration. His reputed last words, "Oh that this had been shed for Ireland!", are like much else about his biography apocryphal. [19]


In 1689 Sarsfield married Honora Burke, daughter of William Burke, 7th Earl of Clanricarde. They had one son, James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan (1693-1719), named in honour of the Jacobite Prince of Wales. [8] While some older biographies claim that they also had a daughter, Catalina Sarsfield, she appears to have in fact been from another branch of the family.


James's illegimate son Berwick, who served with Sarsfield and married his widow, recorded that he was "a man of huge stature, without sense, very good natured and very brave", [20] but there are few contemporary records of him and those that exist are "disconcertingly incomplete" external sources. [5] The absence of any journal or memoir and small number of surviving letters makes it impossible to determine his precise political views; almost nothing is known of his family life and none of the several extant portraits of him can be authenticated. [8]

Sarsfield as Irish patriot: 1881 statue in Limerick. Sarsfield Memorial 1.JPG
Sarsfield as Irish patriot: 1881 statue in Limerick.

In the absence of documentation, Sarsfield was adopted by later writers as a figure on whom the "heroic ideal of an Irish soldier" [21] could be projected; the symbolism of his success at Ballyneety was particularly emphasised, although one later study has suggested that it was of questionable military value and raised the strong possibility that Sarsfield's men indiscriminately slaughtered the camp followers. [21] [22] Criticism has also been levelled at his handling of the Treaty of Limerick as well as his role in creating divisions in the Jacobite camp. [8] His own commanding officers often found him rash and easily manipulated, although he had an undoubted talent for raising morale and seems to have been very popular with the rank and file. [8]

The mythologising of Sarsfield had to some extent begun during his lifetime. The poet Dáibhí Ó Bruadair composed a panegyric describing him as virtuous, heroic, popular and a great leader, while admitting that he had never actually met Sarsfield and was unsure if he ever would. [23] During the 19th century Sarsfield continued to be celebrated in more general terms as a national hero, while by the early 20th century he was often depicted as a staunch Catholic as well as a defender of his country. [24] Sarsfield's image as a brave, honourable and virtuous patriot was widely deployed in answer to the Unionist propaganda that Irish Catholics, and by extension nationalists, were incapable of self-government. [25] When the Irish Folklore Commission began collecting folklore across the country in the 1930s, they found many oral narratives about Sarsfield, particularly across Limerick and Tipperary and at Lucan: Sarsfield is associated with stories of buried gold, with Robin Hood-like generosity to the poor, with tales of having his horse shod backward to escape from pursuers, and with apparitions of dogs or white horses. [26]

Sarsfield is well commemorated in County Limerick. A figure of Patrick Sarsfield is on the coat of arms of County Limerick. One of the three main road bridges in Limerick is named Sarsfield Bridge; it adjoins Sarsfield Street. Sarsfield Barracks is the army barracks of Limerick. An 1881 bronze statue of Patrick Sarsfield by the sculptor John Lawlor in the grounds of St John's cathedral. [27] Part of the route Sarsfield took for his attack on the Williamite siege train is marked out today as Sarsfield's Ride, and is a popular walking and cycling route through County Tipperary, County Clare and County Limerick. Sarsfield Rock, which overlooks the site of the attack, is marked by a plaque.

Elsewhere in Ireland, a number of GAA clubs bear the name of Sarsfield. A fine portrait of Sarsfield by John Riley (1646–91) hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland. [28]

The town of Sarsfield in eastern Ontario was named in honour of Patrick Sarsfield in 1874. [29]

Part of the California Army National Guard, Bravo Company, 184th Infantry Regiment out of Dublin, California was called the Sarsfield Grenadier Guards at a time when the unit comprised soldiers of Irish birth or descent. [30]

Related Research Articles

Treaty of Limerick

The Treaty of Limerick ended the Williamite War in Ireland between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange and concluded the Siege of Limerick. The treaty really consisted of two treaties, both of which were signed on 3 October 1691. Reputedly they were signed on the Treaty Stone, an irregular block of limestone which once served as a mounting block for horses. This stone is now displayed on a pedestal in Limerick, put there to prevent souvenir hunters from taking pieces of it. Because of the treaty, Limerick is sometimes known as the Treaty City.

Battle of Aughrim 1691 battle in Ireland

The Battle of Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite War in Ireland. It was fought between the largely Irish Jacobite army loyal to James II and the forces of William III on 12 July 1691, near the village of Aughrim, County Galway.

Siege of Athlone

Athlone was besieged twice during the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–91). The town is situated in the centre of Ireland on the River Shannon and commanded the bridge crossing the river into the Jacobite-held province of Connacht. For this reason, it was of key strategic importance.

Siege of Limerick (1690)

Limerick, a city in western Ireland, was besieged twice in the Williamite War in Ireland, 1689-1691. On the first of these occasions, in August to September 1690, its Jacobite defenders retreated to the city after their defeat at the Battle of the Boyne. The Williamites, under William III, tried to take Limerick by storm, but were driven off and had to retire into their winter quarters.

Siege of Limerick (1691) siege

The Siege of Limerick in western Ireland was a second siege of the town during the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–91). The city, held by Jacobite forces was able to beat off a Williamite assault in 1690. However, after a second siege in August – October 1691, it surrendered on favourable terms.

Nicholas Purcell, 13th Baron of Loughmoe was the son of James Purcell of Loughmoe and the maternal nephew of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde.

Henry Luttrell was an Irish soldier known for his service in the Jacobite cause. A career soldier, Luttrell served James II in England until his overthrow in 1688. In Ireland he continued to fight for James, reaching the rank of General in the Irish Army.

John Barrett was a colonel and head of the barony of the Cork Barrett family.

Oliver O'Gara was an Irish politician and soldier of the 17th and 18th centuries who was closely identified with the Jacobite cause.

Mark Talbot or Marcus Talbot (c.1649-1702) was an Irish soldier and politician.

Sir William Sarsfield was an Irish landowner, public official and soldier of the sixteenth century.

Lady Honora Burke (1674–1698), styled at different times as Honora Sarsfield, Countess of Lucan and Honora FitzJames, Duchess of Berwick, was an Irish aristocrat of the late seventeenth century.

Dominick Sarsfield, 4th Viscount Sarsfield was an Irish aristocrat and supporter of the Jacobite cause during the Williamite War in Ireland.

James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan (1693-1719) was a French-born Jacobite of Irish descent.

William Dorrington was an English army officer. Contemporary sources often spell his surname as "Dorington", or "Dodington".

Dominic Sheldon, often written as Dominick Sheldon, was an English soldier. A leading Jacobite he served in James II's Irish Army during the Williamite War between 1689 and 1691. He was a noted cavalry commander, present at the Battle of the Boyne and Battle of Aughrim. Later after going into exile, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the French Army. He was also remained a prominent courtier at the Jacobite court in exile at Saint Germain.

Thomas Maxwell (Jacobite) Scottish military officer (d. 1693

Thomas Maxwell was a Scottish professional soldier.


  1. Wauchope 1992, p. 7.
  2. 1 2 Lenihan 1866, p. 279.
  3. Wauchope 1992, pp. 9-10.
  4. Gibney 2011, p. 67.
  5. 1 2 Gibney 2011, p. 66.
  6. Wauchope 1992, p. 8.
  7. Lynn 1996, pp. 109-110.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Irwin, DIB.
  9. Childs 2014, p. 16.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Gibney 2011, p. 68.
  11. Wauchope 1992, pp. 24-26.
  12. Wauchope 1992, p. 32.
  13. Wauchope 1992, p. 93.
  14. Bradshaw 2016, p. 221.
  15. Hayton 2004, p. 27.
  16. 1 2 Gibney 2011, p. 69.
  17. Hayes-McCoy 1942, p. 18.
  18. Manning 2006, p. 397.
  19. Gibney 2011, p. 70.
  20. Connolly 2008, p. 186.
  21. 1 2 Gibney 2011, p. 78.
  22. Irwin, 1995 & pp109-111.
  23. Gibney 2011, p. 71.
  24. Gibney 2011, p. 72-73.
  25. Gibney 2011, p. 74.
  26. Gibney 2011, pp. 75-76.
  27. "Dictionary of Irish Architects – lawlor, john *". Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  28. "Ballyneety". 8 February 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  29. [ permanent dead link ]
  30. "California State Milita and National Guard Unit Histories Sarsfield Grenadier Guards". The California State Military Museum. Retrieved 24 November 2011. (Originally publisher March 1939 issue of California Guardsman)


Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Lucan
Succeeded by
James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan