Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wogan, Charles

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WOGAN, (Sir) CHARLES (1698?–1752?), Jacobite soldier of fortune, known as the Chevalier Wogan, born about 1698, was the second son of William Wogan and his wife, Anne Gaydon. His great-grandfather, William Wogan of Rathcoffey (1544–1616), was twelfth in descent from Sir John Wogan [q. v.], chief justice of Ireland. In 1715 Charles and his younger brother Nicholas (see below) took service under Colonel Henry Oxburgh [q. v.], whose force ignominiously surrendered to General Wills at Preston on 14 Nov. In the following April the grand jury of Westminster found a true bill against Wogan, and his trial for high treason was appointed to take place in Westminster Hall on 5 May 1716 (cf. Hist. Reg. Chron. Diary, p. 221). At midnight on the eve of the trial Wogan took part in the successful escape from Newgate planned by Brigadier Mackintosh. He was one of the lucky seven (out of the fifteen) who made good their escape, and for whose recapture a reward of 500l. was vainly offered (Griffith, Chronicles of Newgate, i. 313). He succeeded in getting to France, where he took service in Dillon's regiment until 1718. In that year he followed the chevalier to Rome. At the close of the same year he served with Ormonde on a diplomatic mission to win a Russian princess's hand for the exiled prince. He failed, and selected Maria Clementina Sobieska, granddaughter of the famous John Sobieski, deliverer of Europe. Clementina, on her way to join the chevalier at Bologna, was arrested by the order of the emperor (to whom the goodwill of the British government was of paramount importance) at Innspruck, whence Wogan, with three kinsmen, Richard Gaydon, Captain Missett, and Ensign Edward O'Toole, released her in a romantic manner (27 April 1719). For this exploit the pope, Clement XI, conferred upon Wogan the title of Roman senator (13 June 1719). James rewarded Wogan by a baronetcy.

He took service as a colonel in the Spanish army, and in 1723 distinguished himself at the relief of Santa Cruz, besieged by the Moors under the Bey Bigotellos. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and made governor of La Mancha, an appropriate charge. Thence he sent to Swift in 1732 a cask of Spanish wine and a parcel of his writings for the dean to correct. Swift wrote him in return a characteristic letter deploring that he did not see his way to get Wogan's effusions published: ‘Dublin booksellers,’ he says, ‘have not the least notion of paying for copy.’ On 27 Feb. 1733 Wogan despatched to Swift, in his capacity as the ‘mentor and champion of the Irish nation,’ a long budget of grievances (printed in Scott's Swift, xvii. 447–97). He followed this up with another cask of Spanish wine, the merits of which Swift acknowledged in another entertaining letter (ib. xviii. 341). In 1746 the Chevalier Wogan was with the Duke of York at Dunkirk in the hope of being able to join Prince Charles Edward in England (see Stuart MSS. at Windsor, Wogan to Edgar, 1752). He seems to have returned to La Mancha, and to have died there soon after 1752. Portraits of the chevalier are in possession of Lord Aylmer, of Baron Tanneguy de Wogan, and of Lord Talbot de Malahide.

An entertaining account of the escape of the Princess Clementina from Innspruck, and the hurried flight of the party through Brixen into Venetian territory, appeared in 1722 under the title ‘Female Fortitude, Exemplify'd in an impartial Narrative of the Seizure, Escape, and Marriage of the Princess Clementina Sobiesky, As it was particularly set down by Mr. Charles Wogan (formerly one of the Preston prisoners), who was a chief Manager in the Whole Affair. “Quo ducunt fata sequantur”’ (London, 8vo; the British Museum has several copies with slightly variant title). The materials for this version of the affair may have been provided by Wogan or his comrades, but his own more detailed narrative was drawn up in French, dated ‘St. Clement de la Manche,’ 4 March 1745, and dedicated to the queen of France, Marie Leczinska. Two excellent modern narratives of the elopement (based upon the French version) are printed, one in the ‘Dublin Review,’ October 1890, and the other in ‘Longman's Magazine,’ March 1895. The texts of the various narratives of the elopement were first printed by Sir J. T. Gilbert at Dublin in 1894 in the Irish Archæological and Celtic Society's publications. Wogan's letters to Edgar (in the Stuart MSS.) display an uncommonly attractive, bright, and cheerful character.

Charles's younger brother, Nicholas Wogan (1700–1770), was born on 13 March 1700, and was thus only fifteen when he saved the life of an English officer at Preston on 13 Nov. 1715, carrying him out of a cross-fire. On 16 May 1716 he was found guilty of high treason with Charles Radcliffe and Mackintosh, but was pardoned, doubtless on account of his youth and his chivalrous action. In 1722 he was deep in the Jacobite plot which involved Atterbury and proved fatal to Christopher Layer [q.v.] . The report of the lords' commission is full of references to ‘Nick,’ who was on shipboard waiting for a chance to land with troops in England. One or two notes from ‘Nick’ are pleasant cheerful compositions. He was naturalised as a French subject on 5 March 1724, joined Berwick's regiment, and was at Fontenoy (1745), where he lost an arm. During 1745–6 he was also with Prince Charles Edward in Scotland. He was made Chevalier de St. Louis, and pensioned in 1754. He died in France in 1770. He married Rosa, eldest daughter of Sir Neill O'Neill [q.v.] , but neither he nor the Chevalier Charles left issue. The Rathcoffey line was continued in the person of the nephew of Charles and Nicholas, (Sir) François de Wogan, ‘baronnet,’ who distinguished himself with the Irish brigade at Lauffeld in 1747. His great-grandson is the present Baron Emile Tanneguy De Wogan (b 23 Nov. 1850), a well-known littérateur and member of the Yacht Club de France.

[Mémoire historique et généalogique sur la famille de Wogan par le Comte Alph. O'Kelly de Galway, Paris, 1896; Wogan's Narrative, ed. J. T. Gilbert, 1894; Wogan's (?) Female Fortitude, 1722; Patten's Hist. of the Rebellion of 1715; O'Callaghan's Irish Brigades in the Service of France, 1870, pp. 306 sq.; D'Alton's Army Lists of James II, pp. 465, 540; De Burgo's Hib. Dom. p. 266; Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. vi. 216 sq.; Swift's Works, ed. Scott, vols. xvii. xviii.; Pope's Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iv. 6, vii. 137; O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees; Stuart Papers, vol. i.; Lang's Companions of Pickle, 1898, pp. 20–3, 224; Macmillan's Magazine, March 1895; Jesse's Pretenders and their Adherents, 1883, p. 55; Ewald's Life of Charles Edward Stuart, pp. 3 sq.; Stanhope's Hist. 1853, i. 338; Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, 1830, ii. 212.]

A. L.