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 remodelled the Irish army 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, made Sarsfield the heir to the family estate, which didn't bring him much money while he was on the losing side of a civil war.

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

When King James came into Ireland attempting to regain his throne, Sarsfield came with him in command of the Irish soldiers the king brought.[1] The king's army also included French, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, and Prussians or Brandenburghers. The Irish army was largely composed of recruits, badly drilled and badly armed.[3] Sarsfield's soldiers were involved in a skirmish at Reading and another with Scottish soldiers in the service of William of Orangeat Wincanton.[1]

During the earlier part of the Williamite war in Ireland he secured Connacht for the Jacobites.

The Battle of the Boyne (1 July 1690), in which the Pope backed and financed William of Orange as part of the Papal States, while Louis XIV of France backed James to further his own imperial ambitions, was a disaster for Ireland, but Sarsfield emerged a hero.

At the Boyne and also during the Siege of Limerick (August and September 1690), Sarsfield became prominent as a leader. He captured a convoy of military stores and artillery vital to the English at Ballyneety, near Pallasgreen between Limerick and Tipperary,[1] in a raid guided by a renowned rapparee, Galloping O'Hogan.[4] This delayed the siege of the town and flooding rains forced the English to retire.[1]

James FitzJames, the Duke of Berwick, King James's illegitimate son, jealously claimed that this achievement turned Sarsfield's head. It certainly made him the popular hero of the war. His generosity and courage had already commended the tall and good-looking Sarsfield to the affection of his people.

The king is said to have described him as a brave fellow who had no head (unlike himself, since James fled the battle at the first intimation of defeat he fled, and was the very first to reach Dublin, 50 kilometres away). Sarsfield bitterly exclaimed: "Change kings and we will fight you over again",[5] as recorded by Gilbert Burnet.[6] In the evening, the defeated Irish retreated in good order southwards through Duleek to Dublin.

When the cause of King James was ruined, however, Sarsfield arranged the Treaty of Limerick and sailed to France on 22 December 1691 leading 19,000 of his countrymen to enter the French service in the first phase of the military denuding of Ireland known as the Flight of the Wild Geese. That year James created him Earl of Lucan.,[7] and promoted him to the rank of brigadier and then to major-general.[1]


Sarsfield 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.[7] He died two or three days after the battle, at Huy, Belgium,[7] 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".[8]


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.[7] They also had one daughter, who married Theodor von Neuhoff. A maternal great-great-great-great-grandson was Michael Corcoran.[citation needed]

Sarsfield's widow later married the king's illegitimate son,James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick.[7]

Sarsfield's great-nephew, Charles Bingham, had the title Earl of Lucan recreated in 1795.[9]


Patrick Sarsfield is well commemorated in County Limerick. A figure of Patrick Sarsfield is on the coat of arms of County Limerick. One of the three main road bridges in Limerick is named Sarsfield Bridge; it adjoins Sarsfield Street. Sarsfield Barracks is the army barracks of Limerick. An 1881 bronze statue of Patrick Sarsfield by the sculptor John Lawlor in the grounds of St John's cathedral.[10]

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. Sarsfield Rock, which overlooks the site of the attack, is marked by a plaque commemorating his victory

Sarsfield House in Limerick is an office block housing offices of the Revenue Commissioners.[11]

Elsewhere in Ireland, a number of GAA clubs bear the name of Sarsfield. 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.[12]

Part of the California Army National Guard, Bravo Company, 184th Infantry Regiment out of Dublin, California was called the Sarsfield Grenadier Guards at a time when the unit comprised soldiers of Irish birth or descent.[13]

The 19th-century song Jackets Green commemorates Sarsfield's soldiers.

See also[edit]



  • 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]