Taaffe, Theobald (DNB00)

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TAAFFE, THEOBALD, second Viscount Taaffe and first Earl of Carlingford (d. 1677), was the grandson of Sir William Taaffe [q. v.], and son of John, first viscount Taaffe, by his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Theobald Dillon, first viscount Dillon. He was member of parliament for co. Sligo in 1639, succeeded to the peerage in 1642, and took a prominent part in Irish politics. He was one of the Irish colonels who in 1641 raised troops for service in Spain, but the Irish parliament ordered their disbandment. He joined the catholic confederation, and was assigned the command of its forces in Connaught in 1644, and in Munster in 1647; but his fidelity was suspected by some of the confederates, apparently on account of his intimacy with Ormonde. He helped to negotiate the so-called ‘cessation’ (of hostilities), and in 1645 enforced its observance by the capture of several towns in Roscommon. In 1647 he was defeated by Lord Inchiquin in Munster. In 1651 he was sent by Ormonde to Brussels, by way of Jersey and Paris, to negotiate with Charles III, duke of Lorraine, for assistance to the Irish loyalists. ‘A bold and forward undertaker,’ as Carte styles him, he suggested to the duke the marriage of his illegitimate daughter by Beatrice de Cusance, countess Cantecroix, to the Duke of York. Queen Henrietta Maria took offence at this unauthorised overture. He obtained an advance of 5,000l. from the Duke of Lorraine for the purchase of arms and ammunition, which were despatched to Galway at the end of 1651. Taaffe seems, however, to have distrusted the duke’s professions of disinterested sympathy for the Irish catholics, apparently sharing the suspicion that he was aiming at sovereignty in Ireland, or at obtaining from the Vatican a divorce from his cousin Nicole, the late duke’s daughter. He advised the duke to send an envoy to Ireland, and he himself went to Paris in June 1652 to report on the negotiations. There he found Ormonde, who made his peace with the queen, and on returning to Brussels in August he declined to join in the treaty concluded with the duke by his colleagues Plunket and Brown (Carte, Life of Ormonde, ii. 144). On the pacification of Ireland Taaffe was excluded from the amnesty and his estates were sequestrated. At the Restoration he was reinstated, and on 17 June 1661 was created Earl of Carlingford in the Irish peerage. In 1665 he was sent by Charles II to the Emperor Leopold and the prince-bishop of Munster to solicit co-operation against Holland. He expended 5,000l. on this mission, and had some difficulty in getting full repayment (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1666–7; cf. art, Temple, Sir William). This was his last public appointment, and he died on 31 Dec. 1677.

Carlingford married, first, Mary, daughter of Sir Nicholas White of Leixlip, co. Kildare; and, secondly, Anne, daughter of Sir William Pershall; fifteen years after his death she married Lord Dunsany. By his first wife he left three sons and a daughter: Nicholas, second earl, who served in the Spanish army, was a privy councillor, was sent on a mission to Vienna, 1688, and fell at the Boyne in 1691; Francis [q. v.]; and John, who was killed at the siege of Derry in 1689, and whose son, Theobald, fourth and last earl, served in the Austrian army, and died without issue in 1738, when the earldom became extinct. Carlingford’s letters to the Earl of Essex are among the Stowe MSS. at the British Museum.

Theobald’s brother Lucas played a subordinate rôle in the catholic confederation, was commandant of Ross, which he surrendered to Cromwell on 19 Oct. 1649, served in Italy and Spain till the Restoration, returned to Ireland, and died at Ballymote. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Stephenson of Dummolin, but his only son, Christopher, predeceased him. Charles Rudolph Joseph Francis Clement Taaffe (1823–1873), count of the Holy Roman Empire and general in the Austrian army, the descendant of another brother, William, proved his claim before the committee of privileges of the House of Lords on 17 Aug. 1860 to be tenth Viscount Taaffe.

[Mem. of Family of Taaffe, privately printed, Vienna, 1856; Lodge’s Irish Peerage, ed, Archdall, iv. 294; Cal. State Papers, Ireland; Carte’s Life of Ormonde, and Hist. of Great Britain; Evelyn’s Memoirs; Bellings’s Hist. Irish Confederation; Gilbert’s Contemp. Hist. of Affairs in Ireland; Spectator, 16 Dec. 1893; Carlyle’s Cromwell; Gardiner’s Hist. of the Great Civil War; Gardiner’s Hist. of the Commonwealth and Protectorate; Ormonde MSS. in Hist. MSS. Comm. 14th Rep. App. pt. vii.; Times, 30 Nov. 1895.]

J. G. A.