Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan

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Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan
Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan.jpg
Born ca. 1660
Lucan, Ireland
Died 21 August 1693 (aged about 33)
Huy, France (now in modern Belgium)
Buried at St. Martin's Church, Huy, Belgium
Allegiance Ireland (1682–88)
Jacobites (1688–91)
France (1691–93)
Rank Lieutenant-General (maréchal-de-camp)
Battles/wars Battle of Sedgemoor, Battle of the Boyne, Siege of Limerick, Battle of Landen

Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan (ca. 1660 – 21 August 1693) was an Irish Jacobite and soldier, belonging to an Anglo-Norman family long settled in Ireland.[1]


Sarsfield was born in Lucan c. 1660. His father, Patrick Sarsfield, married Anne O'Moore, daughter of Rory (Roger) O'Moore, who organised the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The family was of Norman origin (by this time the origin was known as "Old English") and possessed an estate with an income of £2,000 a year. Patrick, who was a younger son, entered Dongan's Regiment of Foot on 6 February 1678.[1]

In his early years he is known to have challenged Lord Grey for a supposed reflection on the veracity of the Irish people (September 1681), and in the December of that year he was run through the body in a duel in which he engaged as second.[1]

In 1682–83 while in London, Sarsfield took part in two abductions of heiresses. In May 1682 he helped his friend Captain Robert Clifford to abduct Ann Siderlin, a wealthy widow, and was considered lucky not to be prosecuted. Then he abducted Elizabeth Herbert, the widowed daughter of Lord Chandos, on his own account. Elizabeth refused to marry him, but agreed not to prosecute him in exchange for her freedom.[2]

During the last years of the reign of Charles II he saw service in the English regiments that were attached to the army of Louis XIV of France. The accession of James II led to his return home.[1]

He took part in the suppression of the Monmouth Rebellion at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685. In the following year, he was promoted to a colonelcy. King James had adopted the policy of remodelling the Irish army so as to turn it from a Protestant-led force to a Catholic-led one, and Sarsfield, whose family was Roman Catholic,[1] was selected to assist in this reorganisation. He went to Ireland with Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, who was appointed commander-in-chief by the King.[1]

Williamite war 1689–1691[edit]

In 1688 the death of his elder brother, who had no son, put him in possession of the family estate, which didn't bring him much money while he was on the losing side of a civil war. When the king brought over a few Irish soldiers to coerce the English, Sarsfield came in command of them. As the king was deserted by his army there were no major battles,[1] but Sarsfield's soldiers were involved in a skirmish at Reading, and had a brush with some Scottish soldiers in the service of the Prince of Orange at Wincanton.[1]

When King James disbanded his army and fled to France, Sarsfield accompanied him. In 1689 he returned to Ireland with the king. During the earlier part of the Williamite war in Ireland he secured Connacht for the Jacobites. The King, who is said to have described him as a brave fellow who had no head, promoted him to the rank of brigadier, and then to major-general, with some reluctance.[1]

Sarsfield sat in the 1689 "Patriot Parliament" as a member for Dublin County.

It was not until after the Battle of the Boyne (1 July 1690), and during the Siege of Limerick, that Sarsfield became prominent as a leader. He captured a convoy of military stores and artillery at Ballyneety, near Pallasgreen between Limerick and Tipperary,[1] in a raid apparently guided by a rapparee known as 'Galloping Hogan'.[3] This delayed the siege of the town until the winter rains forced the English to retire.[1]

This achievement was said by the Duke of Berwick to have turned Sarsfield's head and made him the popular hero of the war with the Irish. His generosity, his courage and his commanding height, had already commended him to the affection of the Irish. When the cause of King James was ruined in Ireland, Sarsfield arranged the Treaty of Limerick and sailed to France on 22 December 1691, with many of his countrymen who entered the French service in what is known as the Flight of the Wild Geese. During that year he was created Earl of Lucan by King James.[4]

Gilbert Burnet, the contemporary historian, records Sarsfield as having told some English officers at Limerick, "As low as we are now, change but kings with us and we will fight it over again with you", as much in disgust with James' inaction as in admiration of William's generalship.[5]


He received a commission as lieutenant-general (maréchal-de-camp) from King Louis XIV and fought with distinction in Flanders until he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Landen, on 19 August 1693.[4] He died two or three days after the battle, at Huy, Belgium,[4] where he is buried in the grounds of St Martin's Church. A plaque on the wall of this church marks the approximate location of his grave.[citation needed] He was quoted as watching his lifeblood ebbing away, and saying "Oh, if only this were for Ireland".[6]


He married Lady Honora Burke (or de Burgh), daughter of John Burke, 9th Earl of Clanricarde, by whom he had one son, James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan, who died childless in 1718.[4] They also had one daughter, who married Theodor von Neuhoff. A maternal great-great-great-great-grandson was Michael Corcoran.[citation needed] His widow remarried to the Duke of Berwick.[4] Patrick Sarsfield's great nephew, Charles Bingham had the title, Earl of Lucan, re-created in 1795.[7]


Patrick Sarsfield is well-recognised in County Limerick. One of the three main road bridges in Limerick is named Sarsfield Bridge, along with the adjoining Sarsfield Street. Sarsfield Barracks is the army barracks of Limerick. Part of the route Sarsfield took for his daring attack on the Williamite siege train is marked out today, as "Sarsfield's Ride", and is a popular walking and cycling route through County Tipperary, County Clare and County Limerick. A rock which overlooks the site of the attack is today named Sarsfield Rock, with a plaque commemorating the Irish victory. A figure of Patrick Sarsfield is on the coat of arms of County Limerick. Sarsfield House in Limerick is an office block housing offices of the Revenue Commissioners.[8] There is an 1881 bronze statue of Patrick Sarsfield by the Irish sculptor John Lawlor in the grounds of St John's cathedral.[9] This statue has been the cause of much debate since before its erection as to where it should be located[10]

A number of GAA clubs around Ireland also bear his name. A fine portrait of Sarsfield by John Riley (1646–91) hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.[citation needed]

The town of Sarsfield in eastern Ontario was named in honour of Patrick Sarsfield in 1874.[citation needed]

A part of the California Army National Guard, Bravo Company, 184th Infantry Regiment out of Dublin, California was once called the "Sarsfield Grenadier Guards" after the Irish leader when the unit was only composed of soldiers of either Irish birth or descent.[11]

The song "Jackets Green" is an account of maiden and a trooper with Lord Sarsfield.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Chisholm 1911, p. 223.
  2. ^ Kelly 1994, p. 10 cites Wauchope 1992, pp. 22–26
  3. ^ Todhunter 1895, p. 91.
  4. ^ a b c d e Chisholm 1911, pp. 223, 224.
  5. ^ Wauchope 2004 cites Wauchope 1992
  6. ^ McCaffrey 2006, p. 106.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Dictionary of Irish Architects – lawlor, john *". Retrieved January 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "California State Milita and National Guard Unit Histories Sarsfield Grenadier Guards". The California State Military Museum. Retrieved November 2011.  (Originally publisher March 1939 issue of California Guardsman)


  • Kelly, James (1994). "The abduction of women of fortune in eighteenth-century Ireland". Eighteenth-century Ireland Journal 9: 10. 
  • McCaffrey, Carmel (2006). In search of Ireland's heroes: the story of the Irish from the English invasion to the present day (illustrated ed.). Ivan R. Dee. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-56663-615-5. 
  • Wauchope, P. (1992). Patrick Sarsfield and the Williamite war. 
  • Wauchope, Piers (2004). "Sarsfield, Patrick, Jacobite first earl of Lucan (d. 1693)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24671. 
  • Todhunter, John (1895). Life of Patrick Sarsfield, earl of Lucan: with a short narrative of the principal events of the Jacobite war in Ireland. T.F. Unwin. pp. 88, 91. 

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sarsfield, Patrick". Encyclopædia Britannica 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 223, 224. 

Further reading[edit]

  • See S McGarry, Irish Brigades Abroad (Dublin 2013)
  • See J Todhunter, Life of Patrick Sarsfield (London, 1895).
  • See Randal McDonnell, My Sword for Sarsfield (W. Tempest, Dundalgan Press, Dundalk, 1920).
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Lucan
Succeeded by
James Sarsfield, 2nd Earl of Lucan

External links[edit]