Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/MacCarthy, Donough
MACCARTHY or MACCARTY, DONOUGH, fourth Earl of Clancarthy (1668–1734), only son of Callaghan MacCarthy. was born at Blarney in 1668. His father was second son of Donogh MacCarthy, the first earl (1594-1665). This Donogh, a son of Cormac Oge MacCarthy, first viscount Muskerry (d. 1640), who had obtained large grants of land in the neighbourhood of Cork from Elizabeth and James I, by his first wife, Margaret, daughter of Donogh O'Brien, fourth earl of Thomond [q. v.], succeeded his father in the viscountcy on 20 Feb. 1640 (Smith, History of Cork, i. 201 n.) He was general of the Irish forces of Munster for Charles I, and was ‘very active in the rebellion.’ He forfeited all his estates in 1641, though most of these were restored on the Restoration, was among the last to lay down his arms in the final conflict, being defeated by Ludlow in Kerry in 1652, and obliged to surrender his last stronghold, Ross Castle, on 27 June; and was subsequently tried for his life on the charge of having been the cause of the murder of several Englishmen near Cork (Ludlow, Memoirs, 1698, p. 440 sq.) He was acquitted, and withdrew to the continent with a considerable number of retainers. By patent dated from Brussels, 27 Nov. 1658, he was created Earl of Clancarty. He died in London on 5 Aug. 1665. He had by his wife, Eleanor, sister of James, first duke of Ormonde, three sons: Charles, Callaghan, and Justin [q. v.] The eldest, a favourite of the Duke of York, entered the navy, was killed at the victory of Solebay (2 June), some two months previous to his father's death, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1665 (Chester, Westm. Abbey Regist.; cf. Pepys, Diary, ii. 407; for his widow, Lady Muskerry, see Hamilton, Grammont, ed. Vizetelly, i. 159 sq.) The earldom devolved on his infant son, Charles, but he died early in 1666, and was succeeded by his uncle, Callaghan. The latter was on the point of taking priest's orders in France, but on the extinction of his elder brother's line he emerged from the convent, turned protestant, and married Elizabeth (d. 1698), daughter of George Fitzgerald, sixteenth earl of Kildare, by whom he had four daughters and a son, Donogh, the subject of this memoir.
Donogh's mother was left his guardian on his father's death on 21 Nov. 1676, and, being a strong protestant, she entrusted his education to Dr. Fell, dean of Christ Church. Unfortunately for the young earl and his family, his uncle, Justin Maccarthy, viscount Mountcashel [q. v.], managed to decoy him from Oxford by means of a letter which he got Charles II to write to Dr. Fell (Burnet, Own Time, 1823, ii. 446). Fell was only too compliant. Clancarty was brought to London, under the pretext of being shown the ‘diversions of the town at Christmas time,’ and in 1684, when he was barely sixteen years old, his uncle, without the knowledge of his mother and her friends, procured his marriage with Elizabeth, second daughter of Robert Spencer, second earl of Sunderland. The ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey on 31 Dec., and the young earl immediately afterwards set out for Ireland. There in less than a year he changed his religion, and on the accession of James II was given a troop of horse. Under his uncle's influence he warmly espoused James's cause, joined Mountcashel in his summary operations against Bandon, and with his troop perpetrated not a few outrages upon the disaffected of the district. He is said to have hung up one man by his hair, while in the case of a poor butcher at Mallow who had offended him, he caused his men to toss him in a blanket, an operation which they performed with fatal results to their victim. The butcher's family subsequently charged the earl with the murder, and were granted a tract of land out of his forfeited estate (ib. i. 167 n.; ‘Fleming Papers,’ Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. vii. p. 271; cf. Macaulay and King, State of Ireland, p. 33). Though under age the young earl took his seat in the Irish House of Lords by royal dispensation in May 1689.
When James II landed at Kinsale in 1689, Clancarty received him at his house there, was made a lord of the bedchamber, and subsequently colonel of the 4th regiment of foot (Graham, Ireland Preserved, p. 276). This regiment was later called after him ‘Clancarty's.’ He accompanied James to Derry, and on the night of his arrival there, ‘flushed with wine and encouraged by one of the old Irish prophecies, he made a furious, and nearly successful, attack upon the “Butcher's Gate”’ (Graham, Siege, pp. 96–9). He took part in the defence of Cork, and was made prisoner on its capitulation in October 1690, and sent to the Tower (Luttrell, ii. 112; Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. pt. v. p. 146). Shortly after this event John Evelyn ‘went to the Countess of Clancarty (the earl's mother) to condole with her concerning her debauched and dissolute son, who had done so much mischief in Ireland’ (Diary, ii. 210). The earl's estates were forfeited; but, upon a petition to the House of Lords from the dowager countess, were charged with a liberal provision for her and her daughters (House of Lords' MSS.) While still in the Tower MacCarthy was named by James successor to Lord Lucan in command of the second troop of horse-guards. In April 1692 he was removed to the Savoy ‘for the convenience of new comers,’ but returned to the Tower, where, however, his confinement does not seem to have been very strict, as on 27 Oct. 1694 he managed to escape, leaving his periwig block dressed up in his bed, with the inscription, ‘The block must answer for me.’ Narrowly escaping recapture at Ostend, he found his way to St. Germains, and commanded his troop in France until the peace of Ryswick (1697). When in the autumn of 1697 it was decided that James's horse-guards should be disbanded, Clancarty determined to visit his wife, who was living in London under Sunderland's roof, and, if possible, obtain his pardon. He obtained by a ruse admission to his wife, who received him kindly, but information of his arrival was given by a waiting-woman to Sunderland's son, Lord Spencer, ‘who flew to Vernon's office’ and betrayed his brother-in-law to the government. A warrant for his arrest as a traitor, in England and without a license, was procured, and he was that night (1 Jan. 1697–8) committed to Newgate (Luttrell, iv. 327; Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. pt. iv. p. 333).
The prayers of his young wife, who begged permission to join him in prison, combined with those of Clancarty's mother, who was dying in a house belonging to the Evelyns in Dover Street, and those of a more influential person, Lady Russell, who had been touched by the romantic story, prevailed upon William to grant Clancarty his pardon, together with a pension of 300l. a year, provided that he left England and made no attempt to disturb the political settlement of affairs. At the same time Lady Clancarty was granted 2,000l. a year out of the first fruits office (Luttrell, iv. 194). The earl pleaded his pardon before the king's bench on 17 May 1698, and left the kingdom within ten days. The story of his capture, condemnation, and pardon, eloquently told by Macaulay, formed the subject of an ‘original drama’ by Tom Taylor, first produced at the Royal Olympic Theatre on 9 March 1874, with Henry Neville and Ada Cavendish in the leading rôles of the earl and countess, parts subsequently played by Mr. and Mrs. Kendal (Taylor, Historical Dramas, 1877).
Clancarty proceeded with his wife to Hamburg, and took up his abode on an island in the Elbe, near Altona, which he purchased. According to the writer of ‘A Tour through Ireland,’ 1748, he derived much profit from the flotsam and jetsam incident to its position. He died at Praals-Hoff on 19 Sept. 1734. By his devoted wife, who died in 1704, he left a daughter, Charlotte, who married John West, seventh lord Delawarr, and two sons, Robert and Justin; the latter became an officer in the Neapolitan army.
The elder son, Robert MacCarthy (d. 1769), viscount Muskerry and titular earl of Clancarty, had entered the British navy, and at the time of his father's death was in command of a vessel off Newfoundland, of which island he was governor from 1733 to 1735. Returning to England in 1735, he attempted to recover the large family estates, but the influence which he possessed through his connection with the Sunderlands and the Duchess of Marlborough was unequal to the task. Upon his father's attainder on 11 May 1691, lands to the value of 400l. a year had passed to Sir Richard Cox [q.v.] , who had strenuously resisted the proposal made in 1692, that Clancarty should be treated as a prisoner of war and exchanged for a Dutch officer; but the bulk of the forfeiture went to William Bentinck (Lord Woodstock), the grant passing the great seal in December 1697 (Thorpe, Cat. Southwell MSS. p. 26). Though he could in no wise have participated in his father's treason, and although the justice of his claim was pressed upon Walpole by Cardinal Fleury, he could effect nothing against such powerful opponents. He nevertheless remained in the British navy until 1741, by which time he was in command of a first-rate, the Adventure. Shortly after this date he went over to France, and devoted himself to the Stuart cause; he was in consequence excluded from the Act of Indemnity of 1747. Being granted a pension of 1,000l. a year by Louis XV, he retired to Boulogne, kept open house, told pleasant stories of Swift, Bolingbroke, and Lord Wharton (in a drunken brawl with whom he had lost the sight of an eye), and ‘generally finished the evening in an oblivion of all his former cares’ (cf. Swift, Works, ed. Scott, 2nd edition, xviii. 412). ‘In this simple, uniform life,’ continues his biographer, in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, July and August 1796, ‘he passed the remainder of his days,’ and died at Boulogne on 19 Sept. 1769 (Annual Register, 1769). He left two sons, who obtained commissions in the French army.
[D'Alton's Irish Army Lists, pp. 502–5; O'Callaghan's Irish Brigades, pp. 68–75; Macaulay's Hist. of England, 1861, v. 29–32; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography; Prendergast's Ireland from the Restoration to the Revolution, pp. 46, 51; Luttrell's Brief Relation, passim; Charles Smith's Hist. of Cork; Burke's Extinct Peerage, p. 344; G. E. C.'s Peerage, ii. 251–2; Addit. MS. 28229–30 passim.]