O'Brien, William (1638?-1692) (DNB00)

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O'BRIEN, WILLIAM, second Earl of Inchiquin (1638?-1692), born about 1638, was the son of Murrough O'Brien, sixth baron and first earl of Inchiquin [q.v.] Brought up in London at the House of Philip Percival, his father's friend, he was a companion to his guardian's son, afterwards Sir John Percival. On 7 April 1658 Henry Cromwell, protector in Ireland, informed Thurloe that Lord O'Brien, as Inchiquin's son was called in his father's lifetime, had come to him in Ireland without pass or permission. But most of his early life was spent with his father in foreign military service in France or Spain. In February 1659-60 he accompanied the earl on his way to Lisbon With a French force, destined to assist the Portuguese against Spain. Almost within sight of Lisbon, the vessel in which the earl and his son were sailing was attacked by an Algerine corsaire, under the Turkish flag. In the consequent encounter O'Brien lost an eye, and, together with the earl, he was carried into Algiers. The council of state in England made a demand on the dey of Algiers for their release. O'Brien at once returned to England, but his son remained as a hostage. Early in 1674 he was appointed captain-general of his majesty's forces in Africa, and governor and vice-admiral of the royal citadel of Tangier (ceded by the Portuguese as a part of the marriage portion of Catherine of Bragania). He held the post for six years. He was gazetted colonel of the Tangier (or queen's own) regiment of foot on 5 March 1674, and was sworn of his majesty's privy council. He succeeded to the title as second Earl of Inchiquin at his father's death on 9 Sept. 1674.

Lord Inchiquin welcomed the Prince of Orange in 1688, and in 1689 he and his eldest son, William (afterwards third earl), were attainted by the Irish parliament of King James II, and their estates sequestrated. Joined by his relatives of the Boyle family, he thereupon headed a large body of the protestants of Munster to oppose the progress of the catholics. He was, however, so ill sustained by the government in England that his troops were dispersed by the superior forces of Major-general Macarthy, and, along with his son, he was obliged to take refuge in England. He was present at the battle of the Boyne, accompanied King William III to Dublin, and subsequently appears to have passed some time in co. Cork with Captain Patrick Bellew (nephew to Mathew, first lord Bellew of Duleek), afterwards portreeve of Castle Martyr, co. Cork.

After the revolution in 1689-90 he was appointed governor of Jamaica. On his arrival an assembly was immediately summoned; its first act was to offer him a bill abrogating the laws passed in the late reign of tyranny and terror. He was overwhelmed with addresses and congratulations upon the victory of William III. But when discussions arose in the assembly respecting a bill for the defense of the island, he intemperately rejected the congratulatory address of the house to himself, and `threw it to them with some contempt.' When the war was declared by England against France, French cruisers committed continual depredations on the seaside plantations, and a large sum was raised by Inchiquin for the relief of the sufferers. Subsequently the runaway negroes grew troublesome; they came down from the woods, robbed the neighboring settlements, and committed atrocious cruelties. The anxieties of his position, increased by his own want of tact, ruined his health, and sixteen months after his arrival he died (in January 1691-2) at St. Jago de la Vega. He was buried there, in the parish church.

He married, first, Lady Margaret Boyle, third daughter of Roger, first earl of Orrery [q.v.], by his wife, Lady Margaret Howard, third daughter of Theophilus, second earl of Suffolk, and had by her three sons—William (his successor); Henry, who died an infant; and James, who died unmarried on his return from Jamaica; a daughter Margaret also died unmarried. His second wife was Elizabeth, youngest daughter and coheiress of George Brydges, lord Chandos, and relict of Edward, third lord Herbert of Cherbury [see under Herbert, Edward, first Lord Herbert of Cherbury]; but by her—who married, thirdly, Charles, lord Howard of Escrick, and died in February 1717—he had no issue.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659-60; Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, ii. 57; O'Donoghue's Historical Memoir of the O'Briens; Burke's Peerage, 1892; Heath's Chronicle, p. 440; Bridges's Annals of Jamnica, i. 800.]

W. W. W.