Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Ambrose Bernard O'Higgins
Born in County Meath, Ireland, in 1720; died at Lima, 18 March, 1810. An uncle, a priest in Spain, placed him at school in Cadiz. From there he went to South America landing at Buenos Aires, and thence to Lima, where for a time he was a pedlar. Later, he became a contractor for opening new roads, and finally joined the Spanish army in the engineer corps. His talent and energy was soon recognized, and secured for him a series of rapid promotions with a patent of nobility as Count of Bellenar, and later, 26 May, 1788, as Marquis of Orsorno, with the Governor-Gereralship of Chile. The following eight years he spent in developing the resources of the country, his enlightened policy accomplishing much for Spanish interest. In 1796 he was appointed Viceroy of Peru, the highest rank in the Spanish colonial service, reaching Lima with that commission on June sixth of that year. His vice-royalty ended with his death.
His only son, born at Chillan, 20 August, 1776; died at Lima 14 October, 1842. At the age of fifteen his father sent him to a Catholic school in England. At his father's death he returned to Chile where he joined the revolutionists as a colonel of militia against the domination of Spain. His bravery brought him higher rank, and the battle of Chacabuco, 12 February, 1817, which broke the power of Spain in Chile, was mainly won by his gallant impetuosity. This victory led to the capture of the capitol and he was proclaimed by its citizens Dictator of Chile. He gave ample evidence of executive ability during an administration of six years, but a fickle populace deposed him from office in February, 1823, and drove him into exile in Peru. His ashes were brought back by the Chilian Government and interred with great pomp in 1869, and in 1872 his equestrian statue was inaugurated at Santiago amid national rejoicing. His son Demetrio, a wealthy and patriotic Chilian ranchero, died in 1869.
THOMAS F. MEEHAN