Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Touchet, James (1617?-1684)

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TOUCHET, JAMES, Baron Audley of Hely or Heleigh, third Earl of Castlehaven (1617?–1684), the eldest son and heir of Mervyn, lord Audley, second earl of Castlehaven, by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Benedict Barnham, alderman of London, was born about 1617. His father (1592?–1631), a man of the most profligate life, who married for his second wife Lady Anne, daughter of Ferdinando Stanley, fifth earl of Derby [q. v.], and widow of Grey Brydges, fifth baron Chandos [q. v.], was executed for unnatural offences, after a trial by his peers, on 14 May 1631 ({{sc|Cobbett}, State Trials, iii. 401–26; The Arraignment and Conviction of Mervin Touchet, Earl of Castlehaven, with rough portrait as frontispiece, London, 1642; accounts of arraignment and trial, letters before his death, confession of faith, and dying speech and execution in Harl. MSS. 2194 ff. 26–30, 738 f. 25, 791 f. 34, 2067 f. 5, 6865 f. 17, 7043 f. 31). He was the only son and heir of George Touchet, baron Audley (1550?–1617), sometime governor of Utrecht, who was wounded at the siege of Kinsale on 24 Dec. 1601, was an undertaker in the plantation of Ulster, was summoned by writ to the Irish House of Lords on 11 March 1613–14, was created a peer of Ireland as Baron Audley of Orier, co. Armagh, and Earl of Castlehaven, co. Cork, on 6 Sept. 1616, and died in March 1617 (Hill, Plantation of Ulster, pp. 134, 335; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18, p. 449).

When a mere boy of thirteen or fourteen, James, earl of Castlehaven, was married to Elizabeth Brydges (daughter of his father's second wife, Anne, by her first husband, Grey Brydges, fifth baron Chandos of Sudeley). When scarcely twelve years of age, the girl had been forced by her stepfather into criminal intercourse with her mother's paramour, one Skipwith. She died in 1679, and was buried on 16 March at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Utterly neglected as to his education, and disgusted at the scenes of bestiality he was compelled to witness, but preserving his natural sense of decency intact, ‘he appealed for protection from the earl, his natural father, to the father of his country, the king's majesty,’ and was instrumental in bringing his father to justice (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1629–31 p. 371, 1631–3 p. 20). His conduct, though a severe strain on his filial duty, was regarded with approval, and on 3 June 1633 he was created Baron Audley of Hely, with remainder ‘to his heirs for ever,’ and with the place and precedency of George, his grandfather; but in the meanwhile most of his father's estates in England had passed into the possession of Lord Cottington and others. In so far as the creation was virtually a restoration to an ancient dignity it lay outside the power of the crown alone to make it, but the necessary confirmation was obtained by act of parliament in 1678. As for the Irish peerage, it was held to be protected by the statute de donis, preserving all entailed honours against forfeiture for felony (cf. Cokayne, Peerage, and legal authorities quoted).

Feeling attracted to a soldier's life, Castlehaven obtained permission to visit the theatre of war on the continent, and was at Rome in 1638 when, in consequence of the prospect of war between England and Scotland, he was commanded to return home. Setting out immediately, he reached England early in the following year (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638–9 p. 629, 1639 p. 273). He attended Charles I to Berwick, but after the first pacification he returned to the continent and witnessed the capitulation of Arras by Owen Roe O'Neill [q. v.] to the French. Repairing to England to put his affairs there in order, he afterwards proceeded for the same purpose to Ireland, and was on the point of leaving the latter country when the rebellion broke out on 23 Oct. 1641. Hastening to Dublin, he offered his services to the government; but the lords justices, Sir William Parsons [q. v.] and Sir John Borlase [q. v.], suspecting his motives as a Roman catholic, declined his offer, as likewise they did his request to be permitted to repair to England, requiring him, on the contrary, to retire to his house at Maddenstown in co. Kildare, and if need were ‘to make fair weather’ with the rebels. Obeying their commands, he at once proceeded thither, and was instrumental in relieving the distressed English in those parts. But his hesitating conduct in not joining the Earl of Ormonde at the battle of Kilrush on 15 April 1642 and his undertaking to mediate between the lords of the Pale and the government affording plausible grounds for doubting his loyalty, he was, towards the latter end of May, indicted of high treason at Dublin. ‘Amazed at this sad and unexpected news,’ he posted to Dublin, presented himself before the council, and after some debate was committed to the custody of one of the sheriffs of the city. Several months passed away, and, learning that it was intended to remove him into stricter confinement in the castle, he resolved, ‘with God's help, not tamely to die butchered,’ and, having managed to elude the vigilance of his keeper, he escaped on 27 Sept. into the Wicklow mountains. His intention was ‘to gain a passage by Wexford into France, and from thence into England;’ but coming to Kilkenny, the headquarters of the confederate catholics, he was persuaded to accept a command in the army, and was appointed general of horse under Sir Thomas Preston (afterwards Viscount Tara) [q. v.] Such is his own account in the ‘Memoirs’ and ‘Remonstrance’ (Desid. Cur. Hib. ii. 119, 135); but it was believed among the northern Irish that his escape was a contrivance on the part of the Earl of Ormonde ‘to work an understanding’ between him and his kindred in rebellion, Castlehaven being related to him through the marriage of his sister with Edmund Roe Butler (Contemp. Hist. i. 40).

Castlehaven served with Preston at the capture of Burros Castle on 30 Dec., and of Birr on 19 Jan. following (1643), and, being entrusted with the execution of the articles of capitulation of the latter, he conveyed the garrison safely to Athy. He commanded the horse at the battle of Ross on 18 March, where the confederates were defeated by the Marquis of Ormonde, and when Preston, having rallied his forces, sat down before Ballynekill, he intercepted and routed a strong detachment sent to raise the siege under Colonel Crawford near Athy on 13 April. His main business was to cover Kilkenny, but, in consequence of the progress Inchiquin [see O'Brien, Murrough first Earl of Inchiquin] was making in Munster, he was sent with what forces he could collect into that province. On 4 June he overtook Sir C. Vavasour near Castle Lyons, and defeated him with heavy loss, killing some six hundred men on the spot, taking Sir Charles himself and several of his officers prisoners, and capturing all his cannon and baggage, with little or no injury to himself. Returning to Kilkenny, he was afterwards employed in reducing the outstanding fortresses in co. Kildare between the Barrow and the Liffey, when his further progress was stopped by the conclusion of the cessation, in promoting which he had taken an active part, on 15 Sept. He was very useful in providing shipping at Wexford to transport the Irish soldiers furnished by Ormonde for the king's service into England (Carte, Ormonde, i. 469), and, the Scottish forces under Major-general Robert Monro [q. v.] in Ulster refusing to be bound by the cessation, he was appointed to the command of six thousand foot and six hundred horse to be sent to the aid of Owen Roe O'Neill in the following year (1644). But before he could proceed thither he was ordered to suppress a local insurrection in co. Mayo. This done, he effected a junction with O'Neill at Portlester, and towards the end of July both armies marched towards Tanderagee. But Monro avoided giving battle, and Castlehaven, after lying intrenched near Charlemont for two months, and exhausting his provisions, retired, ‘taking a great round’ to Ballyhaise in co. Cavan, much to the dissatisfaction of the northern Irish, who charged him with cowardice (Contemp. Affairs, i. 84–8; Journal of Owen O'Neill in Desid. Cur. Hib. ii. 500–2). Having seen his army into winter quarters, and coming to Kilkenny, he found the supreme council in a state of consternation owing to the defection of Lord Inchiquin and the surrender of Duncannon fort by Sir Laurence (afterwards Lord) Esmonde [q. v.] He served as a volunteer under Preston at the siege of Duncannon, and was present at its rendition on 18 March 1645. But the truce with Inchiquin drawing near its expiration, he was sent with five thousand foot and one thousand horse into Munster, and speedily reduced all the castles in the baronies of Imokilly and Barrimore, and, having wasted the country up to the walls of Cork, he sat down before Youghal, ‘thinking to distress the place’ into a surrender; but the town being relieved he marched off, and, having ‘trifled out the remains of the campaign in destroying the harvest,’ put his army into winter quarters and returned to Kilkenny towards the latter end of November. He was one of the signatories to the contract with Giovanni Battista Rinuccini [q. v.] on 19 Feb. 1646 not to conclude a peace till provision had been made for the full exercise of the catholic religion (Gilbert, Confederation, vi. 419); but, after the publication of the peace between the confederates and Ormonde on 30 July, he was deputed by the latter to proceed to Waterford for the purpose of persuading the nuncio's acceptance of it. Failing in this, he threw himself unreservedly on Ormonde's side, and when the latter, in consequence of O'Neill's determination to support the nuncio with his army, was compelled to fall back on Dublin, he accompanied him thither, bearing the sword of state before him on his entrance into the city on 13 Sept. Afterwards, when the question arose whether terms should be made with the parliament or with the supreme council, he gave his opinion in favour of the former—‘For giving up to the parliament, when the king should have England he would have Ireland with it; but to the nuncio and his party it might prove far other ways, and the two kingdoms remain separate.’

He quitted Ireland apparently before the parliamentary commissioners arrived, and, repairing to France, was present at the battle of Landrecies, fighting in Prince Rupert's troop, commanded by Captain Somerset Fox. Afterwards going to St. Germain, he remained there in attendance on the queen and Prince of Wales till the latter end of September 1648, when he returned with the Marquis of Ormonde to Ireland. A peace having been concluded with the confederates in January 1649, he was appointed general of the horse, and, with five thousand foot and one thousand horse, employed in reducing the fortresses holding out for O'Neill in Queen's County. But his half-starved soldiers deserted in shoals, and after the capture of Athy on 21 May he complained that the fifteen hundred foot that remained with him were only kept alive by stealing cows. Worn out with fatigue and dissatisfied at the preference shown by some of the general assembly for Lord Taaffe, his competitor for the generalship of the horse, he obtained permission to retire to Kilkenny, where he was instrumental in suppressing a revolt of the friars. But the difficulties connected with his command being shortly afterwards removed, he joined the army under Ormonde at Rathmines, and shared his defeat by Jones on 2 Aug. He signed the order for the defence of Drogheda, and, having been entrusted by Ormonde with a special command over the forces destined for the relief of the southern towns, he succeeded on 6 Oct. in throwing fifteen hundred men into Wexford, thereby enabling Synnot to break off his correspondence with Cromwell. A few days later he forced Ireton to raise the siege of Duncannon; but, being appointed governor of Waterford, with one thousand men to reinforce the garrison, he was refused admittance by the citizens, and ‘after several days' dispute marched away.’ During the winter he amused himself in his favourite pastime, fox-hunting. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Leinster forces by Ormonde, whom the exigencies of the situation drove to Limerick early in the following year for the purpose of raising reinforcements ‘to attend Cromwell's motions,’ and in March 1650 Castlehaven took the field with some four thousand men. Finding himself too weak to assume the offensive, he contented himself with watching Hewson's movements, and indeed managed to wrest Athy out of his hands. But after the surrender of Kilkenny to Cromwell on 28 March 1650, he withdrew to the borders of King's County, and in June made an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Tecroghan, which ‘was by the confession of all parties, even of the enemy, allowed to be the gallantest action that had been performed since the beginning of the war’ (Carte, Ormonde, ii. 117). Afterwards finding it impossible to keep an army together, he granted commissions for horse and foot to all that applied for them, whereby, although managing to keep up an appearance of war, he gave to it the character of a freebooting campaign, which caused as much harm to his own party as to the enemy. Meanwhile, the lord-lieutenant, having been foiled in his efforts to recruit his army through the obstinacy of the citizens of Limerick refusing to receive a garrison, and seeing no hope of effecting a compromise with the extreme Irish, had come to the determination to quit the kingdom. Castlehaven did his utmost to combat his resolution, urging him to ‘make friendship with the bishops and the nation.’ But his overtures were treated with disdain; ‘the bishops and the nation’ were bent on managing their affairs in their own way, and so, having appointed Clanricarde his lord-deputy and Castlehaven commander-in-chief in the province of Munster and county of Clare, Ormonde sailed from Galway Bay for France in December. The approach of Ireton, however, causing the citizens of Limerick somewhat to relax their opposition, they admitted Castlehaven himself ‘with the matter of one troupe of horse’ (Contemporary Affairs, ii. 113). The concession enabled him to transport two thousand men into Kerry and clear that county almost entirely of the enemy (Gilbert, Confederation, vii. 364). Returning for Christmas to Portumna, he early in the following year (1651) crossed the Shannon into co. Tipperary; but the object of the expedition was frustrated by the plundering propensities of his officers, and, being compelled to retreat before Ireton and Broghill, he recrossed the Shannon at Athlone. Failing to prevent Ireton sitting down before Limerick, the capitulation of that city on 27 Oct., followed by the loss of co. Clare, forced him and Clanricarde into Iar Connaught. But, the situation growing daily more desperate, he was on 10 April despatched by Clanricarde to France for the purpose of soliciting aid to enable the latter to maintain ‘a mountain war.’

Reaching Brest after a sharp encounter with an English vessel in the Channel, he posted to St. Germain, but, failing to obtain the supplies required, he was granted permission to enter the service of the Prince of Condé in the war of the Fronde. Being appointed to the command of a regiment of horse, he was present at the fight in the Faubourg St.-Antoine on 2 July, and, quitting Paris with Condé, he was taken prisoner by Turenne at Comercy. Owing to the intervention of the Duke of York he was shortly afterwards exchanged, and being placed at the head of the Irish regiments in the Spanish service with the rank of maréchal-de-camp or major-general, he was present at the siege of Rocroy (1653), of Arras (1654), the relief of Valenciennes and the capture of Condé (1656), the siege of St. Guislain and the relief of Cambrai (1657), and the battle of the Dunes on 14 June 1658. The peace of the Pyrenees putting an end to the war in the following year (7 Nov. 1659), and Charles II being shortly afterwards restored, he returned to England. But the confiscation of his property by the Commonwealth rendering it impossible to support his dignity, he obtained a grant in September 1660 of all wastes and encroached lands to be discovered by him in the counties of Surrey, Berks, Stafford, Devon, and Cornwall (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 289), and either then or subsequently received a pension out of the Irish establishment (Dartmouth MSS. i. 121). On the outbreak of the war with Holland (1665–7) he served as a volunteer in several naval actions, and in June 1667 landed at Ostend with 2,400 recruits for the old English regiment of which he was appointed colonel. His men were used to strengthen the garrisons at Nieuport, Lille, Courtrai, Oudenarde, and other places; but, the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (2 May 1668) putting ‘an end to our trouble, for it cannot be called a war,’ he shortly afterwards returned to England. Peace being concluded between Holland and England in 1674, he again repaired abroad, and was present at the battle of Senef on 11 Aug. He commanded the Spanish foot in 1676, and served in the trenches at Maastricht, ‘by much the bloodiest siege that I ever saw.’ The following year he was at the siege of Charleroi, and on 14 Aug. 1678 at the battle before Mons; but returning to England after the peace of Nimeguen, he published in 1680 his ‘Memoirs,’ ‘from the year 1642 to the year 1651.’

The book, a small octavo volume with a dedication to Charles II, is, on the whole, what it claims to be, a trustworthy account of the war in Ireland from a catholic-royalist standpoint. But, being written from memory, it is not wholly free from accidental inaccuracies, while the very biassed view taken of the conduct of the lords justices Parsons and Borlase at the beginning of the rebellion, and of the peace of 1643, renders a circumspect use of it necessary. Appearing as it did during the heat of the ‘popish plot,’ ‘a very unseasonable time,’ remarks Carte (Ormonde, ii. 521), ‘for reviving or canvasing such a subject,’ it was attacked by Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey [q. v.], at that time lord privy seal, in ‘A Letter from a Person of Honour in the Country,’ London, 1681. At Charles II's request Ormonde replied to Annesley in ‘A Letter … in answer to the … Earl of Anglesey … His Observations and Reflections upon the Earl of Castlehaven's Memoirs,’ 12 Nov. 1681. Anglesey retorted in another ‘Letter,’ 7 Dec. 1681, whereupon Ormonde appealed to the privy council on 17 June 1682 to appoint a committee to examine Anglesey's ‘Letter.’ The matter ended, as it was probably intended it should do, in the dismissal of Anglesey and the transfer of the privy seal to Lord Halifax (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 213). The charges preferred by Anglesey were repeated in ‘Brief Reflections on the Earl of Castlehaven's Memoirs,’ by E[dmund] B[orlase], London, 1682. In the spring of 1683 it was rumoured that Castlehaven, Lansdowne, and other noblemen intended ‘to go as volunteers to the holy war in Hungary’ (ib. 7th Rep. p. 363). But he seems to have occupied himself preparing a fresh edition of his ‘Memoirs,’ published in 1685, bringing the narrative down to the peace of Nimeguen. An edition, with an anonymous preface by Charles O'Conor (1720–1791) [q. v.], was published at Waterford in 1753, and another at Dublin in 1815.

Castlehaven died at Kilcash, co. Tipperary, his sister Butler's house, on 11 Oct. 1684, and was succeeded by his youngest brother Mervyn (the second son, George, a Benedictine monk, being expressly passed over in the act of 1678). Of his three sisters, Frances became the wife of Richard Butler of Kilcash, brother of the Duke of Ormonde; Dorothy, the wife of Edmund Butler, son and heir of Lord Mountgarret; and Lucy, the wife of Gerald Fitzmaurice, son of Lord Kerry.

[Collins's Peerage, vi. 554–5; G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerage, s.v. ‘Audley’ and ‘Castlehaven;’ Castlehaven's Memoirs; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Contemporary Hist. of Affairs in Ireland (Irish Archæol. Soc.); Gilbert's Hist. of the Confederation; Carte's Life of Ormonde; Rinuccini's Embassy in Ireland, transl. Hutton; Meehan's Confederation of Kilkenny; Ludlow's Memoirs, ed. Firth; Clanricarde's Memoirs; Clarendon's Rebellion; Gardiner's Civil War and Commonwealth; Murphy's Cromwell in Ireland; Evelyn's Diary, 1682 (25 Oct.), 1683 (17 Jan.); Addit. MSS. 15856 f. 72 b, 18982 f. 169, 22548 f. 96, 34345 (letters to Sir R. Southwell, 1672–4), 33589 ff. 112, 114 (to Earl of Ormonde, 1673); Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. pp. 31, 52, 54, 55, 5th Rep. pp. 42, 192, 333, 357, 7th Rep. pp. 236, 354, 372, 405, 448, 8th Rep. p. 140; Russell and Prendergast's Report on the Carte MSS. in 32nd Rep. of Deputy-Keeper of Public Records.]

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