La Touche, William George Digges (DNB00)

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LA TOUCHE, WILLIAM GEORGE DIGGES (1746–1803), resident at Bassorah, eldest son of James Digges La Touche by his second wife, Matilda, daughter of William Thwaites, was born 28 Aug. 1746. David Digues La Touche (1671–1745), the founder of the Irish branch of the La Touche family, born near Blois in France, fled to an uncle in Amsterdam on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. He entered Caillemotte's Huguenot regiment, came to England with the Prince of Orange, served at the battle of the Boyne, and remained in Dublin after his regiment was disbanded, first as a maker of poplins and later as a banker. He died while at service in Dublin Castle, 17 Oct. 1745, and left by his first wife, Martha Judith Biard, two sons, David Digues and James Digges La Touche.

The latter's son, William George Digges La Touche, entered St. Paul's School, London, 30 Aug. 1757, and proceeded to Bassorah in 1764 with Moore, the British resident, to whose position he succeeded. He assisted travellers and gained the goodwill of the natives. When Zobier was captured by the Persians in 1775, he ransomed the inhabitants at his own expense, and so saved them from slavery. During the siege of Bassorah in 1775 La Touche gave the principal citizens, with their wives and families, shelter in the English factory. Two interesting letters addressed to Sir Robert Ainslie by La Touche from Bassorah in 1782 are preserved among the Marquis of Lansdowne's manuscripts (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 254). La Touche returned about 1784, and married Grace, daughter of John Puget, a London banker. He now became a partner in La Touche's bank in Dublin, and by his London connections and his well-known honesty largely increased its business. He built the family mansion in St. Stephen's Green, and purchased the country house of Sans Souci, near Dublin. He died in Dublin 7 Nov. 1803, and left four sons. The eldest son, James Digges La Touche (1788–1827), entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a fellow-commoner on 2 Oct. 1803, graduated B.A., taking a gold medal in 1808, managed the bank, and was a great supporter of Sunday schools. He died in 1827, and left issue by his wife, Isabella, daughter of Sir James Lawrence Cotton, bart., of Rockforest.

The families of La Touche residing at Marlay and Bellevue respectively both descend from David Digges La Touche, the elder son of the immigrant. With the La Touches of Bellevue Alexander Knox [q.v.] used to live.

[Urwick's Biographical Sketches of James Digges La Touche; Gardiner's Reg. of St. Paul's School; Taylor's Travels from England to India by way of Aleppo; Burke's Landed Gentry; Lecky's Hist. of England, iv. 482, vi. 568; notes supplied by G. P. Moriarty, esq.]