Sarsfield, Patrick (DNB00)
SARSFIELD, PATRICK, titular Earl of Lucan (d. 1693), of an old Anglo-Irish family, was born at Lucan, near Dublin, and educated at a French military college. He was the second son of Patrick Sarsfield, by Anne, daughter of Rory O'More (fl. 1620–1652) [q. v.] His elder brother William married Mary, daughter of Charles II by Lucy Walters, and by his death (13 April 1675) Patrick came to possess an estate of 2,000l. a year. On his arrival in England, Sarsfield received a commission as captain in Colonel Dongan's regiment of foot on 9 Feb. 1678 (Charles Dalton, English Army Lists, i. 209). He was ever ready to resent any insult to his country, and challenged Lord Grey in September 1681 for some disparaging remarks about Irish witnesses in connection with Shaftesbury's or College's case. Sarsfield was arrested, but escaped. In December he was second to Lord Kinsale in a duel with Lord Newburgh. The seconds fought as well as the principals, and Sarsfield was badly wounded (Todhunter, p. 8). Sarsfield was made captain in Hamilton's dragoons on 20 June 1685, and lieutenant-colonel of Dover's horse on 18 Oct. following. On 22 May 1686 he was promoted colonel (Charles Dalton, ii. 7, 13, 58, 61, 75, 118). He assisted Tyrconnel in remodelling the Irish army. Sarsfield, says Avaux, ‘served in France as ensign in Hamilton's [Ber- wick says Monmouth's (cf. ib. i. 207)] regiment, and has since been lieutenant of the king's lifeguards in England, and is the only man who fought for him against the Prince of Orange.’ The last allusion is to Sedgemoor, where Sarsfield was unhorsed and severely shaken while charging at the head of his men (Macaulay, chap. v.), to the skirmish at Wincanton in 1688 (ib. chap. ix.), and to another affair near Axminster (Clarke, ii. 222).
When James determined to bring Irish troops to England he sent Sarsfield to fetch them, and gave him the command. He followed James to France, and accompanied him to Ireland in March 1689, when he was made a privy councillor and colonel of horse. He sat for county Dublin in the parliament which met on 7 May, with Simon Luttrell [q. v.] for his colleague. Avaux and Tyrconnel pressed the king to make him a brigadier, but James resisted for some time, on the ground that Sarsfield had no head. The appointment was at last made, and Sarsfield was sent with a small force to protect Connaught, and to keep the Enniskilleners within bounds. In May and June he was at Manorhamilton with about two thousand men, mostly raised by himself and at his own expense, but he could only act on the defensive (Witherow, pp. 246, 248). After the battle of Newtown Butler and the relief of Londonderry on 30 July, he withdrew to Athlone with two or three regiments of foot and a few horse and dragoons (Clarke, ii. 372). Avaux now proposed to give Sarsfield command of the Irish regiments sent to France, but the suggestion was not carried out. At the end of October Sarsfield was strong enough to take Sligo. The garrison marched out on honourable terms, and ‘at their coming over the bridge Colonel Sarsfield stood with a purse of guineas, and proffered to every one that would serve King James to give him horse and arms, with five guineas advance; but they all made answer that they would never fight for the papishes (as they called them), except one, who next day, after he had got horse and arms and gold, brought all off with him’ (Story, Impartial Hist. p. 34; Avaux, p. 607). By Sarsfield's exertions Galway was made defensible, and all Connaught secured for the time.
During Schomberg's long inaction Sarsfield had no opportunity for distinction. On 10 April 1690 he was a commissioner for raising taxes in county Dublin (D'Alton, i. 33). In June 1690, after William's landing, he was detached with a strong force to watch Cavan and Westmeath, lest a dash should be made at Athlone, and he did not rejoin James before 4 July (Ranke, vi. 114). He was at the Boyne with his cavalry and the rank of major-general (D'Alton, i. 39). On 30 June 1690, the day before the passage of the river, Story, the historian, who was near King William, saw Sarsfield riding along the right bank with Berwick, Tyrconnel, Parker, and ‘some say Lauzun’ (Impartial Hist. p. 74). During the battle next day Sarsfield was so ill posted that he could do nothing with his cavalry (Clarke, ii. 397). He escorted James during his flight to Dublin, after the evacuation of which he defended the line of the Shannon from Athlone downwards.
Both Lauzun and Tyrconnel were for abandoning Limerick, but Sarsfield insisted on defending it, and in this he was supported by most of the Irish officers. Boisseleau was appointed governor; but it was chiefly owing to Sarsfield that the first siege failed. He was detached on the night of 10 Aug. with about eight hundred horse and dragoons (Berwick) to intercept the heavy siege guns and pontoons. Passing along the Clare side of the river, he forded it above Killaloe bridge, which was guarded, and reached the Silvermines Mountains in Tipperary, under cover of which he lurked during the following day. At night he surprised the siege train at one or other of two places called Ballyneety, between Limerick and Tipperary. He blew up the guns and stores, killed the escort, and regained Limerick, eluding the party under Sir John Lanier [q. v.] who had been sent by William to intercept him. ‘If I had failed in this,’ he said, ‘I should have been off to France.’ This exploit did not prevent Limerick from being besieged, but it delayed the operations till the weather broke, and thus in the end frustrated them. Burnet had heard (ii. 58) that Sarsfield's original idea was to seize William, who rode about carelessly, and that the attack on the siege-train was an afterthought. Berwick says Sarsfield was so puffed up (enflé) by this success that he fancied himself the greatest general in the world, and Henry Luttrell (1655?–1717) [q. v.], Sarsfield's evil genius, was always at hand to flatter, in the hope of rising by his means. Acting under Luttrell's advice, Sarsfield went to Berwick, and told him that the Irish officers had resolved to make him viceroy and to place Tyrconnel under arrest. Berwick said this was treason, that he would be their enemy if they persisted, and would warn James and Tyrconnel. In September, after Tyrconnel had left Ireland, Berwick and Sarsfield crossed the Shannon and attacked Birr, but were driven back by General Douglas with a superior force. Douglas failed, however, to destroy Banagher bridge, which was his chief object (Story, Continuation, p. 42; Macariæ Excidium, p. 386).
The siege of Limerick being raised, Tyrconnel went to France, leaving Berwick in supreme military command, but controlled by a council of war. Sarsfield was the last member named, and it was thought that he would not have been named at all but for the fear that every soldier would revolt to him if he showed resentment at the slight (ib. p. 72). The party opposed to Tyrconnel dreaded his influence with James and with the French king, and wished to have their own views represented at Versailles. Simon Luttrell, Brigadier Dorington, and Sarsfield accordingly went to Berwick on the part of what he calls ‘l'assemblée générale de la nation,’ and asked him to send agents in their confidence. He rebuked their presumption for holding meetings without his leave, but after a day's hesitation granted their request. As Avaux had foreseen, no one was willingly obeyed by the Irish but Sarsfield, who had good intelligence from all parts of Ireland. He was a bad administrator, and a contemporary writer very partial to him says he was so easy-going as to grant every request and sign every paper without inquiry (ib. p. 97). The confusion which reigned in the Irish quarters is well described by Macaulay (chap. xvii.)
Berwick was only twenty, but he tried to keep the peace, and he made Sarsfield governor of Galway and of Connaught generally. Tyrconnel returned to Ireland in January 1691, with Sarsfield's patent as Earl of Lucan, and found it prudent to court his friendship; but he became less attentive when St. Ruth arrived in May with a commission, putting him over Sarsfield's head, but not making him independent of the viceroy. The Irish officers resented Sarsfield's being passed over, and were half mutinous, but he did what he could to pacify them (Clarke, ii. 434). On 8 June Ginkel took the fort of Ballymore in Westmeath, which had been constructed by Sarsfield as an outpost to Athlone, and ten days later he came to the Shannon. Sarsfield played no part in the defence of Athlone, for he was disliked by both Tyrconnel and St. Ruth; while Maxwell, whom he had publicly denounced for his hostility to the Irish at the French court, was given an important post. Sarsfield had procured a general protest of the colonels against Tyrconnel's interference in military matters. According to Oldmixon (Hist. of William III), even when Ginkel's troops were entering the Shannon, St. Ruth ridiculed the idea of the town being taken before his eyes; but Sarsfield told him that he did not know what English valour could do, and advised him to bring up supports at once. St. Ruth answered with a jest, and hot words followed. After the fall of Athlone on 30 July, the Irish withdrew to Ballinasloe, where there was a council of war. Sarsfield, who was followed by most of the Irish officers, was strong against a pitched battle in which Ginkel's disciplined veterans would have so great an advantage. His idea was to throw his infantry into Limerick and Galway, and to defend those towns to the last. With the cavalry he proposed to cross the Shannon, and to harry Leinster and Munster in the Dutchman's rear. One account says he did not despair of surprising Dublin (Macariæ Excidium, p. 130). But St. Ruth felt that only a startling victory in the field could retrieve his own damaged reputation.
He accordingly gave battle at Aughrim on 12 July. Sarsfield commanded the reserve. ‘There had been great disputes,’ says the French military historian, ‘between him and St. Ruth about the taking of Athlone, and the divisions of the generals had divided the troops, which contributed much to the loss of the battle’ (De Quincy, ii. 462). The night before the action a colonel came into Lord Trimleston's tent, and said he would obey Lord Lucan independently of the king's authority, and if he ordered it would kill any man in the army (Clarke, ii. 460). Trimleston told St. Ruth, but the matter was hushed up. Next day St. Ruth's head was shot off just when it seemed probable that he might win; but Sarsfield, although second in command, was not informed of the fact. He had received no orders, and had not even been told his late general's plan. All he could do was to protect the retreat with his small but unbroken force, and he took the road to Limerick. Galway, which Sarsfield had so carefully fortified, surrendered on 24 July, and the Irish troops there also marched to Limerick. There Sarsfield was the soul of the defence both before and after the viceroy's death on 10 Aug., though D'Usson succeeded to the command.
When it became evident that the further defence of Limerick could only cause needless misery, Sarsfield sought an interview with Ruvigny, and a cessation of arms was agreed to on 24 Sept. ‘During the treaty,’ says Burnet (ii. 81), ‘a saying of Sarsfield's deserves to be remembered, for it was much talked of all Europe over. He asked some of the English officers if they had not come to a better opinion of the Irish by their behaviour during this war; and whereas they said it was much the same that it had always been, Sarsfield answered: “As low as we now are, change kings with us, and we will fight it over again with you.”’ Sarsfield signed the civil articles of Limerick as Earl of Lucan, and the title was allowed during the negotiations, though not by lawyers afterwards. It was mainly through his exertions that so large a proportion of the Irish troops, about twelve thousand, preferred the service of France to that of England, and he himself forfeited his estate by so doing. As became the captain of a lost ship, which he had done his best to save, he did not leave Ireland until he had seen the last detachment on board. He sailed from Cork on 22 Dec. with eleven or twelve vessels, and about 2,600 persons, including some women and children. Some blame perhaps attaches to Sarsfield for not taking more of the women, as promised. Macaulay has described the dreadful scene at the embarkation (chap. xvii.). Ginkel provided as much shipping as Sarsfield required, and a certified copy of the release given by him is extant (Story, Continuation, p. 292; Jacobite Narrative, p. 312). The squadron reached Brest in safety, and James gave his second troop of lifeguards to Sarsfield, the first being Berwick's.
To Sarsfield were entrusted the Irish troops, more than half of the whole force, intended for the invasion of England in May 1692. Marshal Bellefonds, who commanded in chief, praised him as one who sought no personal aggrandisement (Ranke, v. 46). But the battle of La Hague (19 May) [see Russell, Edward, Earl of Orford] put an end to the scheme of invasion. Sarsfield's remaining services were to France, and he was made a maréchal de camp. He distinguished himself at Steenkirk on 3 Aug., and Luxembourg mentioned him in despatches as a very able officer, whose deeds were worthy of his Irish reputation. His affectionate care for the wounded was no less remarkable than his valour. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Landen on 19 Aug. 1693, in the attack on the village of Neerwinden, and died at Huy two or three days later. Berwick describes him as ‘un homme d'une taille prodigieuse, sans esprit, de très-bon naturel, et très brave.’ Avaux says he was ‘un gentilhomme distingué par son mérite, qui a plus de crédit dans ce royaume qu'aucun homme que je connaisse; il a de la valeur, mais surtout de l'honneur, et la probité à toute épreuve.’ He was idolised by all classes of Irishmen, and Macaulay has shown that his reputation in England was very high. Sarsfield was a handsome man. A portrait, believed to be original, was long preserved at St. Isidore's, Rome, but was brought to Ireland in 1870, and is now in the Franciscan convent, Dublin. It represents Sarsfield in full armour, with a flowing wig and lace cravat. Another portrait has been reproduced by Sir J. T. Gilbert as a frontispiece to the ‘Jacobite Narrative.’ A portrait by Charles Le Brun, dated on the frame 1680, belonged in 1867 to Lord Talbot de Malahide (cf. Cat. Second Loan Exhib. No. 19).
Sarsfield married Lady Honora De Burgh, daughter of the seventh earl of Clanricarde. By her he had one son, James, who inherited his title, and who was knight of the Golden Fleece and captain of the bodyguard to Philip V. He went to Ireland in 1715, in hope of a Jacobite rising, and died without issue at St. Omer in May 1719. There was also one daughter, who married Theodore de Neuhof, the phantom king of Corsica. Sarsfield's widow married the Duke of Berwick in 1695, and died in 1698, having had one son by him, who became Duke of Leria in Spain. Sarsfield's mother was living at St. Germains in 1694.[O'Kelly's Macariæ Excidium, ed. O'Callaghan; Jacobite Narrative of the War in Ireland, ed. Gilbert; Story's Impartial Hist. and Continuation; King's State of the Protestants under James II; Négociations de M. le Comte d'Avaux en Irlande; Mémoires du Maréchal de Berwick; Mackay's Memoirs; De Quincy's Histoire Militaire du Règne de Louis le Grand; Burnet's Hist. of his own Time; Clarke's Life of James II; Berwick's Rawdon Papers; O'Callaghan's Hist. of the Irish Brigades; D'Alton's King James's Irish Army List; Macaulay's Hist. of England; Witherow's Derry and Enniskillen, 3rd edit.; information kindly given by the Rev. T. A. O'Reilly, O.S.F. A worthless book by D. P. Conyngham, entitled Sarsfield, or the last great Struggle for Ireland, appeared at Boston (Mass.) in 1871. A Life of Sarsfield by John Todhunter was published in London in 1895.]