Donough MacCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarty

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Donough [Donagh] MacCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarty (1668, Blarney – 1 October 1734, Praalshof near Altona, Germany) was an Irish supporter of James II, banished after the victory of William of Orange; His peerage was attained in 1691. MacCarthy lived out his life in exile in Germany on the island Rottumeroog, Netherlands and on the Elmersmastede in Hoogkerk, Netherlands. He was part of the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty.

He was the son of Callaghan MacCarthy, 3rd Earl of Clancarty. His mother was Lady Elizabeth FitzGerald, daughter of George FitzGerald, 16th Earl of Kildare; she subsequently remarried Sir William Davys, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

As the heir of his father's massive Irish estates at Cork and Kerry (inherited 1676, age 8) MacCarthy's upbringing was a matter of high policy. His mother, described as "a fierce Protestant isolated in a Catholic family"[1] brought him to England for a Protestant education and he was placed under the tutelage of John Fell, Bishop of Oxford, but neither his mother nor the Bishop could match the influence of his uncle Justin McCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel, who was one of the closest advisers of the Duke of York, soon to become James II. With Justin's connivance, Donough married Elizabeth Spencer (1671–1704), daughter of Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, in 1684, then principal secretary of state in England:[2] the couple were sixteen and thirteen respectively. The marriage was a legal construct, and went unconsummated for many years. Kenyon remarks that Sunderland comprehensively ruined the lives of his daughter and son-in-law, without gaining any of the hoped for advantages.[3]

Imprisoned in the Tower of London for his part in the Jacobite resistance in Ireland, MacCarthy escaped in 1694 to James II's court on the continent. He returned to England in the new year 1698, to finally begin his married life, only to be turned in by his brother in law, Lord Spencer. The case raised a furore and William III, who did not take the matter seriously, said that he had never been bothered so much over anything. Months later, MacCarthy was permitted to flee to exile in Altona, near Hamburg, with his wife.[4] From 1698 to 1707 he lived in Oudwoude in Friesland, Netherlands, in a country house previously inhabited by Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll. In 1706 he bought the island and seigneurie of Rottumeroog where he lived with his family until they were washed away by the Christmas flood of 1717. In 1729 he lived on Elmersmaborg or Elmersmastede, a borg (castle) in the village of Hoogkerk, 4 kilometers west of Groningen.

MacCarthy and his wife had one son Robert MacCarty, Viscount Muskerry, and one daughter, Charlotte, who married John West, 1st Earl De La Warr.


  1. ^ Kenyon, 102
  2. ^ Kenyon, 102
  3. ^ Kenyon, 102
  4. ^ Kenyon, 302-305

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Kenyon, J.P. Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland 1641-1702 London: Longmans, Green and co. 1958.
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Callaghan MacCarty
Earl of Clancarty
1st creation