Honora Burke

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Honora Burke
Duchess of Berwick
Bornc. 1675
Portumna Castle
Died16 January 1698
Pézenas, Languedoc, France
James Sarsfield; James, 2nd Duke of Berwick
FatherWilliam, 7th Earl of Clanricarde
MotherHelen MacCarty

Honora Burke (c. 1675 – 1698), married Patrick Sarsfield and went into French exile where he followed her soon afterwards. After his death at the Battle of Landen, she married James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick, an illegitimate son of James II. She may have introduced the country dance (contredanse anglaise) to the French court.

Birth and origins[edit]

Honora was born about 1675 at Portumna Castle, County Galway.[1] She was the youngest child of William Burke and his second wife, Helen MacCarty. Her father was William Burke, 7th Earl of Clanricarde. The Burkes (originally De Burgh) were an Old English family long-established in Connacht. Her mother was a daughter of Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty and thus belonged to the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a Gaelic Irish family that descended from the kings of Desmond.[2] She had previously been married to Sir John Fitzgerald of Dromana.[3] Honora was raised as a Roman Catholic. She was often called Honora de Burgh during this period.[1]

Family tree
Honora Burke with her two husbands, her parents, and other selected relatives.[a]

d. 1626
1st Earl


7th Earl

d. 1687

d. 1722

d. 1694
d. 1691
d. 1744
1st Earl


c. 1675 – 1698
1st Duke

2nd Earl

2nd Duke

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the article
XXXDukes of
XXXEarls of
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Early life[edit]

Her father died in 1687[12] and was succeeded by her half-brother Richard as the 8th Earl of Clanricarde. Honora inherited a fortune of £3,500 from her father.[13] Her mother married thirdly, sometime between 1687 and 1700, to Colonel Thomas Burke.[14]

First marriage[edit]

On 9 January 1689 Honora, aged 15,[15] married Patrick Sarsfield, aged about 24, at Portumna Abbey.[16][17] The couple went to live in Sarsfield's house at Lucan near Dublin.[16] Sarsfield was at that time the eldest living son of a landowner from County Kildare and an experienced soldier, serving in the Irish Army of James II during the Williamite War in Ireland.[18]

Sarsfield rose rapidly to become one of the leaders of the Jacobite movement in Ireland, noted in particular for the Ballyneety Raid on King William's artillery train shortly before the Siege of Limerick (1690).[19] In January 1691 James II ennobled him for this achievement making him the 1st Earl of Lucan.[20] She therefore became Countess of Lucan. After the surrender of Limerick following a second siege in 1691, Lucan led the defeated Irish Army to France to continue serving the exiled James II, an event known as the Flight of the Wild Geese.[21]

Honora had probably left for France a year earlier with other Jacobite ladies.[22] In France she was admired for her beauty and is said to have introduced "les contredanses anglaises" (English country dance) to the French Court.[23][24] In 1692 her husband participated in a failed plan to invade England.[25]

In April 1693 Honora and Patrick had one son:[26]

  1. James Francis Edward (1693–1719), became the 2nd Earl of Lucan and took part in the planned 1719 Jacobite Rising in Ireland, but died of natural causes shortly afterwards.[27]

He was named after James Francis Edward Stuart, the Jacobite Prince of Wales, later known as the Old Pretender.

On 29 July 1693 Lucan was mortally wounded at the Battle of Landen[28] and died shortly afterwards at Huy.[29]

It has been said that Catalina Sarsfield, who married a German adventurer, known for having briefly established himself as King Theodore of Corsica, was a daughter of Honora and her first husband.[30][31] In fact Catalina (the Spanish form of Catherine) came from the Limerick branch of the Sarsfield family and was born in Nantes to David Sarsfield, a distant cousin of Lucan.[32][citation needed]

After Lucan's death the dowager countess joined the Jacobite court-in-exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris. She tried to help the Irish community there, part of which lived in great poverty but lacked herself the means.[33]

A lady with brown eyes and hair wearing a pearl neckless
English portrait of Honora de Burke

Second marriage[edit]

At Saint-Germain-en-Laye the dowager Countess Lucan met James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick and fell in love with him. Berwick was an illegitimate son of James II and Arabella Churchill, and pursued a brilliant military career since an early age. He had served alongside Lucan in Ireland. Honora married James on 26 March 1695 in the chapel of the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye.[34] making her the Duchess of Berwick. The King was not overjoyed at the marriage, as he had wanted his son to make a grander match that might have helped the Jacobite cause.[35] In that same year her husband was attainted in England and therefore lost, at least officially, his title.[36] However, she and her husband continued to use it and were generally known as the Duke and Duchess of Berwick. Saint-Simon, for example calls him so in 1698.[37]

Honora and James had a son:

  • James (1696–1738), who served in the Spanish Army and founded a dynasty in that country.[38]

Death and timeline[edit]

She died on 16 January 1698[39][40] of consumption,[41][37] leaving her husband in "great grief". She was buried in the Convent of English Benedictines[42] in Pontoise.[43] Her burial was attended many prominent Jacobites: Henry FitzJames (Berwicks's brother), Lord Perth, Melfort, Richard Hamilton, James Porter, Lord Waldegrave, and Dominic Maguire (the Primate of all Ireland).[44]

Her husband married Anne Bulkeley, daughter of Henry Bulkeley (Master of the Household to James II) three years later on 18 April 1700.[45]

Notes, citations, and sources[edit]


  1. ^ Also see the lists of siblings and children in the text.
  2. ^ a b c d Lodge by error ignores Clanricarde's second marriage to Helen and lists all the children as born by Lettice Shirley, his first wife.
  3. ^ There probably is some error here as the siege of Buda was in 1686.


  1. ^ a b c Burke 2005, p. 21, line 19: "Honora de Burgh was born C 1675 at Portumna Castle, Co. Galway."
  2. ^ O'Hart 1892, p. 122: "Cormac MacCarty Mor, Prince of Desmond (see the MacCarty Mór Stem, No. 115,) had a second son, Dermod Mór, of Muscry (now Muskerry) who was the ancestor of MacCarthy, lords of Muscry and earls of Clan Carthy."
  3. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 233, line 2: "He [Clanricarde] m. [married] 2ndly Helen, widow of sir John FitzGerald, of Dromana, co. Waterford (who d. [died] 1662), da. [daughter] of Donough (MacCarty), 1st Earl of Clancarty [I. [Ireland]] by Eleanor ..."
  4. ^ a b Lodge 1789, p. 138, line 13: "Ulick, created by privy seal, dated at Whitehall, 9 May, and by patent 2 June 1687, baron of Tyaquin in the co. of Galway, and Viscount of Galway; was a nobleman of true courage and endowed with many good qualities; he commanded a regiment of foot in K. James's army; and in that station was killed at Aghrim, 12 July 1691, being not full 22 years old."
  5. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 138, line 27: "Margaret, born in 1673 and married first in 1689 to Bryan Viscount Magennis, of Iveagh who dying in 1692, she remarried in 1696 with Thomas Butler of Kilcash in the co. of Tipperary, Esq.; where she died his widow, 19 July, 1744."
  6. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 138, line 26: "William died in his minority in France."
  7. ^ Debrett 1828, p. 643: "Richard, 6th earl, who also d. [died] without issue, and was succeeded by his brother William, 7th earl, father of Richard, 8th earl (who died without issue) and John, 9th earl, who d. 17 October 1722, leaving issue."
  8. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 233: "8. Richard (Bourke), Earl of Clanricarde & [I. [Ireland]], s. [son] and h. [heir] by 1st wife. He conformed to the established Church in or before 1681."
  9. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 234: "9. John (Bourke), Earl of Clanricarde & [I. [Ireland]], br. [brother] and h. [heir] male by full blood. He was born 1642 ..."
  10. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 138, line 11: "Thomas, who was killed in 1688 at the siege of Buda, in Hungary, then possessed by the Turks ..."
  11. ^ Burke 1869, p. 228, left column, line 6: "Thomas, killed at Buda."
  12. ^ a b Cokayne 1913, p. 233, line 5a: "He [Clanricarde] d. Oct. 1687."
  13. ^ Hardy 1913, p. 14: "... the late Earl of Clanricarde bequeathed to his daughter, Lady Honor Burke, who since married Colonel Sarsfield, the sum of 3,500l by his last will and testament, which is forfeited to the King by her marriage with the said Patrick Sarsfield ..."
  14. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 233, line 5b: "His [Clanricarde's] widow m. [married] 3rdly before 1 Feb. 1699/1700, Thomas Bourke, who died between 29 May 1718 and 5 Dec. 1720."
  15. ^ a b Wauchope 2004, p. 994, right column: "Sarsfield married Lady Honora Bourke, a fifteen-year-old ..."
  16. ^ a b c Burke 2005, p. 21, line 32: "Honora married (1) Patrick Sarsfield at Portumna Abbey 9th Jan 1689, age just 16 years, after heir marriage, Honora and Patrick went to live at Sarsfield's house in Lucan, Dublin."
  17. ^ Ruvigny 1904, p. 81, last line: "He [Sarsfield] married Lady Honora, second daughter of William (Bourke) seventh Earl of Clanricarde [I.], by his second wife, Lady Ellen, daughter of Donough (MacCarty), first Earl of Clancarty [I. [Ireland]]."
  18. ^ a b Lodge 1789, p. 138, line 32: "Lady Honora (first married to Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, who was killed in the battle of Landen, 29 July, 1693, by whom she had one son who died without issue in Flanders ..."
  19. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 965, left column: "... in the early hours of 12 August 1690, he attacked the siege train while it camped at Ballyneety, near Cullen, co. Tipperary, some 12 miles from Limerick."
  20. ^ a b Ruvigny 1904, p. 81, line 18: "He greatly distinguished him at the first siege of Limerick in August 1690 and in reward was created by King James, January 1690/91 ... Earl of Lucan."
  21. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 966, left column: "Lucan left Ireland for the last time on 22 December 1691, having succeeded in getting over 12,000 Irish soldiers transported to France to join King James."
  22. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 966, right column, line 27: "... had been evacuated to France during the war in Ireland before being joined by her husband in early 1692 at the Jacobite court in exile at St Germain-en-Laye."
  23. ^ Petrie 1953, p. 101:"Her son by her second marriage wrote of her '... et ce fut elle qui introduisit à la cour de France la mode de danser les contredanses anglaises.'"
  24. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 996, right column, line 30: "Admired for her beauty, she is credited with the introduction of the 'çontradanses anglaises' to the French Court."
  25. ^ O'Callaghan 1854, p. 165: "... to be commanded, under the king, by the veteran Marshal de Bellefonds, to whom Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, was Maréchal de camp or Major General."
  26. ^ a b Wauchope 2004, p. 996, right column, line 32: "With Lucan she had one child, James Francis Edward (the Jacobite second earl), born in April 1693, three months before she was widowed."
  27. ^ Todhunter 1895, p. 202, line 19: "He [James Sarsfield] died, without issue, at St. Omer, May 12th, 1719."
  28. ^ a b Todhunter 1895, p. 202, line 1: "It was in the last charge that Sarsfield, at the head of the flower of French cavalry (no Irish regiment being engaged), as he drove the enemy down to the river, was struck by a musket ball in the breast, and fell."
  29. ^ Todhunter 1895, p. 202, line 9: "He was carried from the field to the village of Huy, where he died in a few days, of the fever induced by his wound."
  30. ^ Ruvigny 1904, p. 82: "Lady [____] Sarsfield, married about 1718, Baron Theodore de Neuhof, sometime King of Corsica."
  31. ^ Todhunter 1895, p. 202, line 23: "His daughter married Baron de Neuburg, styled King of Corsica."
  32. ^ Gasper 2013, p. 41: "Neuhoff's presentation to the king and queen of Spain had an unexpected consequence: one of the queen's maids of honour fell in love with him. She was Catalina Sarsfield, the daughter of David Sarsfield, an Irish Catholic exile who fought for Philip in Spain ..."
  33. ^ Lyons 2008, p. 69: "The protection that the widows of the Earl of Tyconnell (d. 1691) and Patrick Sarsfield (d.1692) gave to the Irish at St. Germain-en-Laye was significant but ultimately inadequate ..."
  34. ^ Handley 2004, p. 882, left column, line 32: "On 26 March 1695 Berwick married, in the royal chapel at St Germain-en-Laye, Honora Sarsfield, née Bourke ..."
  35. ^ a b Lodge 1789, p. 138, last line: "[Honora] secondly was married in the chapel of the Castle of St Germains, near Paris, in 1695, to James Fitz-James, Duke of Berwick, Marshal, Duke and Peer of France, eldest natural son of James II. by Arabella, sister to John Churchill Duke of Marlborough ..."
  36. ^ a b Burke 1866, p. 208, right column, line 43: "Marshal Berwick was attainted in 1695, when the dukedom of Berwick and his minor English honours became forfeited."
  37. ^ a b c Saint-Simon 1879, p. 24: "Le duc de Berwick perdit en même temps [1698] une très aimable femme qu'il avoit épousée par amour, et qui avoit très bien réussi à la cour et à Saint-Germain ... Elle était à la première fleur de son âge, belle, touchante, faite à peindre, une nymphe."
  38. ^ a b FitzJames 1778, p. 153, footnote: "Il m'en reste un fils qui naquit le 21 octobre 1696 ..."
  39. ^ a b FitzJames 1778, p. 153, line 11: "Ma femme ... mourut au mois de Janvier de cette année [1698] ..."
  40. ^ Mulcahy 2003, p. 119: "She died in the month of January 1698. She was not yet twenty-three."
  41. ^ Handley 2004, p. 882, left column, last line: "On 16 January 1698 his wife died of consumption at Pézenas in Languedoc;"
  42. ^ Trou 1841, p. 236, line 24: "... le tombeau en marbre blanc de la princesse Honorée, fille de Guillaume Burke, paire d'Irlande et épouse de Jacques Fitz-James, duc de Berwick."
  43. ^ Handley 2004, p. 882, right column, line 1: "... she was buried at Pontoise."
  44. ^ Trou 1841, p. 236–237.
  45. ^ Handley 2004, p. 882, right column, line 6: "In Paris on 18 April he married Anne (c. 1675–1751), daughter of Henry Bulkeley, master of the household to James II."
  46. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 44, line 46: "James II. ... acc. 6 Feb. 1685 ..."
  47. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 45, line 11: "William III. ... acc. 13 Feb. 1689 ..."
  48. ^ Witherow 1879, p. 55, line 21: "On Tuesday the 12th of March, King James arrived at Kinsale from France ..."


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