Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lundy, Robert

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LUNDY, ROBERT (fl. 1689), governor of Londonderry, after service in Tangier and elsewhere became a lieutenant-colonel in the regiment of William Stuart, viscount Mountjoy [q. v.] He accompanied his regiment in December 1688 to Londonderry, whither it was sent in the interests of James II by the viceroy, Tyrconnel. Mountjoy soon left Londonderry, and Lundy was entrusted with the command of the small protestant garrison, being readily accepted by the citizens as their ‘governor.’ The sentiment of Lundy's soldiers, as well as of the citizens, very quickly declared itself against James, and early in 1689 Lundy gave in his own adhesion to William III, and signed a declaration by which he bound himself to stand by the new government on pain of being considered a coward and a traitor. A commission from William and Mary thereupon confirmed him in his office. Early in February supplies were sent to him, with full powers, 1,000l. for special service money, and some instructions. In the following month his forces were reinforced by the 9th and 17th foot, under Colonels Thomas Cunningham and Solomon Richards respectively, and the newcomers were placed under his orders (Appendix to Mackenzie's Narrative). A siege at the hands of James II's army was soon imminent. But Lundy's attitude, according to Walker's account, was from the first equivocal. He did everything in his power to damp the enthusiasm of the inhabitants, and even entered into treasonable correspondence with the enemy. On 16 April he headed his protestant army in an encounter near Strabane with troops under Richard Hamilton [q. v.] Lundy's force was routed, and he set the example of precipitate flight into Londonderry. On the next day he held a council of war, from which the more spirited advisers were carefully excluded, pointed out the small means available for defence, and recommended immediate surrender, at the same time advising Cunningham and Richards (who were subsequently ‘broke for cowardice’) to return to England with their reinforcements (see the epic of the siege, ‘Londeriados,’ in Douglas's Derriana). He then gave orders that there should be no firing, and sent assurance to the enemy of an easy surrender. But Lundy had not reckoned with the spirited sentiment of the citizens of the town. On the 18th George Walker [q. v.] and Major Henry Baker called the people to arms, and stirred them to undertake their historic defence. Lundy's authority they summarily brought to an end, and he was personally in imminent peril from the populace; but at nightfall of the same day the politic connivance of Walker and his colleagues suffered him ‘to disguise himself, and, in a sally for the relief of Culmore, to pass in a boat with a load of match on his back, from whence he got to the shipping’ (Walker, p. 20). He took refuge (says tradition) in a cave at Strabane, escaped to Scotland, where he was secured, was sent to England and consigned for a short period to the Tower. When he was examined before the House of Commons, his conduct was found very ‘faulty,’ and he was terrified by a threat (never executed) that he should be sent back to Londonderry to stand his trial (June 1689); he was excepted from William's act of indemnity in 1690, but nothing further seems known of him. Though commonly supposed to have been a concealed Jacobite and guilty of deliberate treachery, the fact that he did not join James II's Irish army after his escape favours Macaulay's conjecture that his conduct is to be attributed ‘to faintheartedness and poverty of spirit rather than to zeal for any public cause.’ ‘The part of the wall,’ says the same writer, ‘from which he let himself down is still pointed out … and his effigy is still annually hung and burned by the protestants of the north of Ireland, with marks of abhorrence similar to those which in England are appropriated to Guy Fawkes’ (Macaulay, 1883, i. 749). The ceremony now takes place in front of the Walker memorial.

[George Walker's True Account of the Siege of Londonderry, 1689; J. Mackenzie's Narrative of the Siege … to rectifie the Mistakes of Mr. Walker's Account, 1690; Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain, 1790; Hempton's Siege and History of Londonderry, 1861; Graham's History of the Siege, and Ireland Preserved; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Narration, i. 526, 532, 542, 595, ii. 14, 50; Harris's Life and Reign of William III, 1749, p. 205; Macaulay's History of England, popular edition, i. 727, 734, 746–9; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography.]

T. S.