Williamite War in Ireland

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Williamite–Jacobite War in Ireland
Part of the War of the Grand Alliance
The Battle of the Boyne depicted by Jan Wyck.
Date12 March 1689 – 3 October 1691
(2 years, 6 months and 3 weeks)

Williamite victory

  • Signing of the Treaty of Limerick
  • Withdrawal of remaining Jacobite forces to France
  • Confirmation of William as ruler of Kingdom of Ireland
  • English parliament passes An Act for the Abrogating the Oath of Supremacy in Ireland and Appointing other Oaths 1691
 Dutch Republic
Irish Williamite militias


Parliament of Ireland; Irish Royal Army

Commanders and leaders
William III
Kingdom of England Frederick Schomberg
Dutch Republic Godert de Ginkell
Kingdom of England Earl of Marlborough
James II
Earl of Tyrconnell
Patrick Sarsfield
William Dorrington
Kingdom of France Duc de Lauzun
Kingdom of France Marquis de St Ruth
44,000[1] 36,000[2]-39,000[1]
Casualties and losses
c.10,000 from all causes [3] 13,293 from all causes[3]
c.2,000 irregulars[3]

The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691) (Irish: Cogadh an Dá Rí, "war of the two kings"),[4][5] was a conflict between Jacobite supporters of King James II and Williamite supporters of Prince William of Orange. It is also called the Jacobite War in Ireland or the Williamite–Jacobite War in Ireland.

The proximate cause of the war was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, in which James, a Catholic, was overthrown as king of the Three Kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland and replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary and nephew and son-in-law William, ruling as joint monarchs. James's supporters initially retained control of Ireland, which he hoped to use as a base for a campaign to reclaim all three kingdoms; however, the conflict in Ireland also involved longstanding domestic issues of land ownership and religious and civic rights, and many Irish Catholics supported James in the hope he would address their grievances. A small number of English and Scottish Catholics, and Protestants of the established Church in Ireland, also fought on the Jacobite side,[6][7] while many Irish Protestants supported or actively fought for William’s regime.

While the war's Irish name emphasises its aspect as a domestic conflict between James and William, some contemporaries and many modern commentators have viewed it as part of a wider European conflict known as the Nine Years' War or War of the Grand Alliance in which William, as Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, led a multi-national coalition against France under Louis XIV.[4][5] William’s deposition of James was partly driven by his need to control and mobilise English military and commercial power, while Louis provided limited material support to the Jacobites: both sides were aware of the Irish war's potential to divert military resources from the Continent.

The war began with a series of skirmishes between James’s Irish Army, which had stayed loyal in 1688, and militia forces raised by Irish Protestants: they culminated in the Siege of Derry, where the Jacobites failed to regain control of one of the north’s key towns. William landed a force including English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops to put down Jacobite resistance. James left Ireland after a reverse at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, as did William after a successful Jacobite defence of Limerick; the remaining Jacobite forces were decisively defeated at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691, and negotiated terms in the Treaty of Limerick.

A contemporary witness, George Story, calculated that the war had claimed 100,000 lives through sickness, famine, and in battle.[3] Subsequent Jacobite risings were confined to Scotland and England, but the war was to have a lasting effect on the political and cultural landscape of Ireland, confirming British and Protestant rule over the country for over two centuries. While the Treaty of Limerick had offered a series of guarantees to Catholics, subsequent extension of the Penal Laws, particularly during the War of the Spanish Succession, would further erode their civic rights.

The Williamite victories at Derry and the Boyne are still celebrated by some, mostly Ulster Protestant, unionists in Ireland today.

Background; Glorious Revolution[edit]

James II and VII
King of England, Scotland, and Ireland

In March 1689, James II & VII landed in Ireland with French military support, seeking to regain the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland, after being deposed in the 1688 Glorious Revolution. Despite his Catholicism, James became king in 1685 with widespread support in all three kingdoms, due to fear of civil war if he were bypassed; by 1688, it seemed only his removal could prevent one.[8]

When the Parliaments of Scotland and England refused to pass measures of tolerance for Catholics and Nonconformists in 1685, James suspended them and thereafter ruled by decree.[9] His increasingly authoritarian approach undercut his supporters and caused great concern but it took two events in June 1688 for dissent to turn into a crisis. On 10th, the birth of James Francis Edward created a Catholic heir and excluded James' Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. The prosecution of the Seven Bishops for seditious libel was seen as an assault on the Church of England and their acquittal on 30 June destroyed James' political authority in England and Scotland.[10]

In Europe, the Dutch Republic and its allies were on the brink of war with France, which made securing English resources vital. French troops attacked the Rhineland in late September, launching the 1688-1697 Nine Years War; on 5 November, William landed in South-West England, initially to enforce his wife's rights as heir to the throne. James' army deserted him and he fled to France on 23 December.

Earl of Tyrconnell, Lord Deputy and James' chief lieutenant in Ireland

There was wider support for James in Ireland, where around 75% of the population were Catholic, although in Ulster Protestants comprised nearly 50%.[11] James's associate Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell became Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1687 and began a rapid programme of appointing Catholics to the army and other public offices. By February 1689, the Irish army was almost exclusively Catholic, albeit poorly equipped, half-trained and unpaid.[12]

However, Irish Jacobites were not a single bloc and their divisions became more apparent as the war progressed. 'Tolerance' for Protestant Nonconformists was essential for James' position in England and Scotland but Irish Catholics were far less keen, given Presbyterian predominance in Ulster. A more pressing issue for many was land reform; the proportion of Irish lands owned by Catholics declined from 90% in 1600 to 22% by 1685. The 1662 Settlement primarily benefitted the Old English elite like James and Tyrconnell, who had little interest in changing them. Catholic and Protestant merchants alike objected to commercial restrictions that prevented trading with North America and imposed tariffs on Irish exports.[13]

Finally, demands for Irish autonomy clashed with Stuart ideology, first set out by James VI and I in 1603, which his successors followed with great consistency, including Prince Charles in 1745. It envisaged a unitary state of England, Scotland and Ireland, ruled by a monarch whose authority came from God and where the role of Parliament and the church was to obey.[14] In line with this, James claimed the right to appoint Catholic bishops and clergy in his kingdoms, a significant alteration to existing practice that caused conflict with Pope Innocent XI.[15] As a result, Innocent supported William diplomatically and his family bank allegedly lent him money.[16] James eventually promised the Patriot Parliament the right to self-determination, but did so with great reluctance.[17]

The 1688-9 campaign in Ulster[edit]

After William's landing in England, Tyrconnell took action to ensure that all strong points in Ireland were held by garrisons of the Irish army, most elements of which were loyal to James's regime. Since 1686 Tyrconnell had dismissed the majority of the army's Protestant officers and men.[18] 2,500 of its best troops, about a third of its strength on the eve of the war, had already been sent to England in September to meet the threat of invasion; their loss had substantially weakened the Irish position.[19][20] Tyrconnell also opened negotiations with William; he appears to have been deeply shaken by James's deposition and seems to have genuinely considered seeking a settlement, although he may have simply been playing for further time to reinforce the Irish army.[21] Tyrconnell offered repeated reassurances to the leading Protestants of Dublin that they and their religion were secure, but anxiety grew and those fleeing for England spread "predictions of impending catastrophe".[19]

The northern province of Ulster, which had the heaviest concentration of recent English and Scottish settlers, was the only part of Ireland where Tyrconnell encountered significant resistance. The original garrison of the walled city of Derry, a battalion under Mountjoy, had been considered of dubious loyalty as it retained a Protestant commander and officers: Tyrconnell ordered it to England via Dublin on 23rd November.[19] A replacement Catholic regiment, mostly Scottish "redshanks" under the Earl of Antrim had set out to take control of Derry on the week William landed in England: when they arrived on 7 December 1688 the gates were closed against them, beginning a long siege.[19] In the following days a group of militant Protestants in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, sparked further resistance when they overruled the townspeople's decision to admit two companies of the army.[22]

In January, Tyrconnell ordered a massive expansion of the Irish army, issuing warrants for raising 40,000 levies.[20] The new regiments were organised in the English military tradition but with a largely Irish Catholic makeup;[23] the army reached a strength of about 36,000 men by the start of the campaigning season although experienced officers remained in short supply.[20] Tyrconnell continued efforts to bring the north under control, and on 4 March 1689 Richard Hamilton secured eastern Ulster by routing Lord Mountalexander's Williamite militia in an encounter at Dromore, County Down.

By the late spring of 1689 growing Jacobite strength in Ireland and Scotland appeared to threaten the security of William's regime. Persuaded by Louis and his minister Seignelay to go to Ireland, James landed in Kinsale on 12 March with a force led by de Rosen and including French officers and English, Scottish and Irish volunteers.[24] He first marched in triumph on Dublin and after assembling more troops moved north, joining the siege of Derry on 18 April. A further 1,500 - 3,000 Jacobite loyalists were landed by a French convoy at Bantry Bay on 29 April.[24] Aware that his Irish supporters were coming under increasing pressure, William was reluctantly forced to divert substantial resources from the Continent to intervene.[25]

On 8 March he had sought the English House of Commons' approval to send a force to Ireland sufficient to suppress the Jacobites within the year.[26] The corps was fixed at 22,230 men; with 10,000 of the English army earmarked for Flanders, the commitment would require raising new levies and hiring mercenaries from Europe.[26] Parliament ensured that securing funding was a protracted and ill-tempered process, but the long retelling and amplification of atrocity stories from the Irish Rebellion of 1641 made it clear that any government that failed to 'rescue' beleaguered Irish Protestants would also fail politically in England.[27] The Irish situation was a key factor in England's decision to declare war on France in May, though William himself continued to view the Irish conflict as a sideshow to the war in the Netherlands against Louis.[28] To compound William's problems, the most dangerous of the Stuart loyalists in Scotland, John Graham of Claverhouse, began mustering a small but growing force in the Highlands from 18 May onwards; William was compelled to divert further resources there as he was not confident that the faction-ridden Scottish administration could respond.[25]

In the meantime James had found himself, largely unwillingly, leading a predominantly Irish Catholic movement seeking increased administrative independence for Ireland and a new land settlement.[29] On 7 May he presided over an Irish Parliament composed almost entirely of Catholic gentry,[30] though six Protestants still sat in the Commons, including Creagh and Meade for Dublin. Five Protestant lay peers (all longstanding Royalists) and four Church of Ireland bishops remained in the Lords: Anthony Dopping, Bishop of Meath, served as effective leader of the opposition.[31] James's own views, still conscious of English public opinion, remained stubbornly Anglocentric and despite his personal Catholicism, he resisted attempts to undermine the established Church of Ireland.[32]

Though Tyrconnell had made repeated efforts to convince James that the Irish Catholics were his most loyal subjects, James was fundamentally mistrustful of the Irish landowners and particularly of the "Old Irish", those of Gaelic descent.[30] They in turn felt that James favoured the "Old English", particularly in appointments to the army's senior positions.[30] He reluctantly agreed to the Parliament's demand for an Act declaring that the Parliament of England had no right to pass laws for Ireland.[31] He also agreed, again very reluctantly, to restore estates confiscated from Catholic families after the Cromwellian conquest: the French diplomat d'Avaux accused him of stalling by encouraging complaints from the few Catholics who had purchased land since the Restoration. [32] Though named the "Patriot Parliament" by the 19th century nationalist historian Duffy, the 1689 Parliament was hamstrung by political infighting and many felt it largely supported "Old English" interests.[33]

Two battalions under Richards and Cunningham had arrived off Derry in mid-April. Feeling the town incapable of defence, they had returned to England, but by the end of May, William was in a position to actively respond.[26] Percy Kirke, with four battalions packed into 24 transports, embarked at Hoylake on 30 May to relieve Derry.[34] Kirke's force arrived at the Foyle on 11 June; they broke through the Jacobite blockade and ended the siege on 28 July 1689. The besieging Jacobite army fired much of the surrounding countryside and retired southwards.

In the intervening months the Williamite sympathisers holding Enniskillen had organised a formidable irregular military force. The experienced soldier Justin MacCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel assembled a brigade at Belturbet to attack Enniskillen via Upper Lough Erne, but was unable to coordinate his offensive with other Jacobite commanders in the area.[35] On 28 July 1689, MacCarthy was defeated at the Battle of Newtownbutler; many of the hastily trained Jacobite troops fled as the first shots were fired, and up to 1500 of them were hacked down or drowned when pursued by cavalry. From a position of virtual domination, the Jacobites had lost their hold on Ulster within the space of a week.[36]

With eastern Ulster secure, Marshal Schomberg, at the head of 6,000 men of the main Williamite field army, sailed from Hoylake on 12 August.[26] Faced with a major Williamite landing, most Jacobite troops were withdrawn from the province and encamped near Dundalk. By the end of September there were nearly 30,000 Williamite troops in Ireland, including 6,000 Ulster Protestants now formally organised as a militia, although Schomberg disparagingly referred to them as "so many Croats".[37]

Schomberg's campaign[edit]

Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg was given overall command of William's Irish campaign in 1689. Supply difficulties and diesease caused high casualties in Schomberg's army.

After capturing Carrickfergus, Schomberg's main force, composed largely of newly raised English regiments, survivors from James's English army and several Huguenot battalions,[38] marched unopposed to Dundalk. Tyrconnell, commanding the main Jacobite army, blocked Schomberg's passage southwards but did not give battle.

Both armies faced serious logistical challenges. Ireland's population was small and much of the landscape uncultivated, limiting opportunities for provisioning.[39] Whereas Continental wars of the period were sustained by a well-organised and profitable supply network, campaigns in Ireland had no such support.[39] The Jacobites had devastated the countryside as they retreated and whereas Schomberg found plentiful standing corn around Carrickfergus, he was forced to rely on supplies from England as he moved south.[40] In mid September, Schomberg complained he had been unable to advance for four days because there was no bread: his commissaries were "like children" and had neglected to even bring money with them.[40] The Jacobites were themselves short of food, money and materiel; Tyrconnell was pessimistic about the chances of success against William's greater resources and felt the best the Jacobites could hope for was to force a settlement on favourable terms.

The two armies remained encamped opposite each other in cold, wet weather for several weeks before they withdrew to winter quarters. Throughout the winter of 1689 Schomberg's army was poorly provisioned and harassed by Irish irregulars known as rapparees. Due largely to a poor choice of encampment, Schombeg lost 5,674 men - mostly to dysentery, typhus and pneumonia - between September and November.[41] When the Jacobites retook Dundalk, John Stevens, an English Catholic serving with the Grand Prior's Regiment, recorded that "besides the infinite number of graves a vast number of dead bodies was found there unburied, and not a few yet breathing but almost devoured with lice and other vermin. This spectacle not a little astonished such of our men as ventured in amongst them".[42]

Battle of the Boyne[edit]

Impatient with Schomberg's slow progress and the loss of a quarter of his corps, William decided to take personal command and commit the majority of the British forces available to Ireland irrespective of the military situation in Flanders.[41] He arrived with a fleet of 300 ships at Belfast Lough on 14 June 1690. 30,717 men were added to the army aleady in Ireland: in addition to English Guards regiments they included nine Dutch cavalry regiments, one of dragoons and six of foot; three regiments of horse and eight of foot hired from Denmark; and further recruits to Schomberg's corps.[41] William also reverted to the practice of the Dutch army and handed responsibility for the supply of bread to civilian contractors.[40]

While the French sent 6,000 men under Lauzun to aid the Jacobites, they only did so in exchange for Mountcashel and 5,387 of the Irish army's best troops, who were sent to France.[43] As in the previous year, the Jacobite army prepared for the campaign by systematically destroying or taking foodstocks, standing crops and livestock north of the River Boyne, increasing the misery of the local civilians.[44] A French official recorded his horror at seeing them reduced to "eating grass like horses" or lying dead at the roadside.[44]

William's army marched south towards Dublin. After some resistance near Newry the Jacobites withdrew to the south bank of the Boyne. Against the advice of the French, who wanted to burn Dublin and withdraw beyond the River Shannon, James decided to take up a defensive position at the village of Oldbridge, near Drogheda.[43] On 1 July, William attacked, fording the Boyne at several places and forcing the Jacobites to retreat to avoid being surrounded.

The Battle of the Boyne was not militarily decisive and casualties on both sides were not high — around 1500 Jacobites and 500 Williamites were killed. However, it proved enough to collapse James's confidence in victory in Ireland; though he had a somewhat undeserved reputation as a warrior-prince, the events of 1688 appear to have permanently broken his nerve.[45] He rode ahead of his army to Duncannon, and from there returned to exile in France, blaming the failure largely on his Irish supporters.[46] While James's illegitimate son Berwick wrote in his memoirs that he returned to muster fresh French support,[47] Gaelic poets interpreted his flight as simple loss of courage, commemorating James as Séamus an Chaca: "James the beshitten", i.e. "James the coward".[46][48]James was however mindful of the potential effects of defeat on his fellow Catholics, and before leaving authorised Tyrconnell and his commanders to seek the best terms they could with William.

The Jacobite army retreated to Dublin, little damaged but demoralised and badly hit by desertion. The next day, they abandoned the city and retreated to Limerick; William entered Dublin on the same day without meeting resistance. On 27 July, Claverhouse's Jacobite army in Scotland secured a victory by routing a Williamite army at the Battle of Killiecrankie, but Claverhouse himself was killed towards the end of the battle.

While William's victory at the Boyne, together with James's flight, might have been the end of the war in Ireland, the peace terms offered on 17 July in the Declaration of Finglas excluded the Jacobite officers and the Irish Catholic landed class from the pardon offered to Jacobite foot-soldiers. This stiffened the resolve of the Jacobite leadership to continue fighting.

First Siege of Limerick[edit]

King John's Castle and Thomond Bridge at Limerick City. Limerick was besieged by the Williamites in 1690 and 1691.

William pushed westward from Dublin towards Limerick, the strategic key to the west of Ireland: the Jacobites responded by concentrating the bulk of their forces in the city.[49] Aided by cavalry officer Patrick Sarsfield's raids on William's baggage and artillery trains and rallied by news of a French naval victory at Beachy Head, the defenders repulsed a Williamite assault in August, inflicting heavy casualties.[30] Faced with mounting losses and overextended supply lines, William ordered a retreat and put his army into winter quarters; however the Jacobites' focus on Limerick had enabled him to consolidate his hold on the south when a second army under the Earl of Marlborough took the southern ports of Cork and Kinsale.[50]

The Irish Jacobites' position was now defensive, holding a large enclave in western Ireland, including all of the province of Connacht, bounded by the River Shannon. William left Ireland in late 1690, entrusting command of his forces to the Dutch general Godert de Ginkell. Ginkell located his winter headquarters at Kilkenny, with Douglas based in Ulster, and Württemberg and the Danish corps at Waterford: a large strip of no-man's land between the armies was heavily plundered by both sides.[51] In retaken counties, an English-led Protestant administration was reestablished including arrests of Jacobites for treason and confiscation of estates.[51] While William aimed for a future settlement in which sufficient land was confiscated to reward his supporters, Ginkel urged the offer of more generous terms to Catholic landlords in order to secure a quick end to the conflict.[51]

The 1691 campaign: Athlone, Aughrim and the Second Siege of Limerick[edit]

Dutch general Ginkell; he advocated a cautious approach and attempted to end Jacobite resistance by offering a revised peace settlement.

Despite the successful defence of Limerick, internal divisions, exacerbated by James's absence, were increasingly undermining the Jacobite command.[52] The main split was between the so-called "Peace Party" and "War Party".[52] The former, grouped around Tyrconnell but also including figures such as Lord Riverston, Denis Daly and the Earl of Antrim, proposed seeking a negotiated settlement with William.[53] The "War Party", led by Sarsfield and including younger army officers such as Nicholas Purcell and the English Catholic William Dorrington argued the war could still be won outright.[53]

Encouraged by William's failure to take Limerick and looking to break Tyrconnell's influence, Sarsfield's faction decided to appeal directly to Louis XIV, requesting that Tyrconnell and army commander Berwick were removed from office.[54] They also requested that Louis send further military aid, although in reality, the French regime saw Flanders, the Rhine, and Italy as greater strategic priorities in the war and were unwilling to commit significant resources to Ireland.[55][52] The "Peace Party" obtained an offer of settlement from the Williamites in December 1690, upon which Sarsfield demanded that Berwick have Riverston, Daly and other "Peace Party" leaders arrested. Berwick complied, although likely with the approval of Tyrconnell, who having travelled to France now returned to try and regain control of the Irish establishment.[52]

Deeply alarmed by the fracturing of the Irish command, James was persuaded to request further military support directly from Louis.[56] Louis dispatched general the Marquis de St Ruth to replace Berwick as commander of the Irish Army, with secret instructions to assess the situation and help Louis make a decision on whether to send additional military aid.[56] St Ruth, accompanied by lieutenant-generals de Tessé and d'Usson, arrived at Limerick on 9 May 1691; they brought sufficient arms, corn and meal to sustain the army until the autumn, but no troops or money.[57]

The Williamite commander Ginkell was aware of the poor military situation facing William in the Netherlands; wanting to avoid strengthening the position of the Jacobite "War Party", he had finally obtained William's permission to offer moderate terms of surrender to the Jacobites with a guarantee of religious toleration.[58] However by late spring 1691 Ginkell began planning to enter the field as quickly as possible, concerned that a French convoy could land further reinforcements at Galway or Limerick.[59] During May, both sides began assembling their forces for a summer campaign, the Jacobites at Limerick and the Williamites at Mullingar, while low-level skirmishing continued.

On 16th June, Ginkell's cavalry began reconnoitring from Ballymore towards Athlone. St Ruth had initially strung out his forces behind the line of the Shannon, but by 19th June he realised Athlone was the target and began concentrating his troops west of the town.[60] Ginkell breached the Jacobite lines of defence and took Athlone on 30th June after a short but bloody siege; having mishandled the defence, St Ruth was unable to relieve the town and fell back to the west. Athlone was seen as a significant victory for William's forces; it had been believed that St Ruth's army would probably collapse if the Shannon was crossed.[60] The Lords Justice in Dublin issued a proclamation offering generous terms for Jacobites who surrendered, including a free pardon, restoration of forfeited estates, and the offer of similar or higher rank and pay if they wished to join William's army.[61]

Memorial cross on the site of the Battle of Aughrim, where 7000 men died on 12 July 1691 and the Jacobite cause in Ireland was defeated

Unaware of the location of St Ruth's main army and assuming he was outnumbered, on 10th July Ginkell continued a cautious advance through Ballinasloe down the main Limerick and Galway road.[62] St Ruth's initial plan, endorsed by Tyrconnell, had been to fall back on Limerick and force the Williamites into another year of campaigning, but wishing to redeem his errors at Athlone he appears to have instead decided to force a decisive battle.[63] Ginkell, with 20,000 men, found his way blocked by St Ruth’s similarly sized army at Aughrim on the early morning of 12th of July 1691; the resulting Battle of Aughrim would see St Ruth dead, many senior Jacobite officers captured or killed, and the Jacobite army shattered.[63]

The remnants of the army retreated to the mountains before regrouping under Sarsfield's command at Limerick, where the defences were still in the process of being repaired: many of the Jacobite infantry regiments were seriously depleted, although some stragglers arrived later.[64] Tyrconnell, who had been sick for some time, died at Limerick shortly afterwards, depriving the Jacobites of one of their main leaders. The city of Galway under d'Usson surrendered without a fight on 21 July, on advantageous terms, while Sarsfield and the Jacobites' main army surrendered at Limerick after a short siege.

Treaty of Limerick[edit]

Sarsfield, now the senior Jacobite commander, and Ginkell signed the Treaty of Limerick on 3 October 1691 offering favourable terms to those Jacobites willing to stay in Ireland and give an oath of loyalty to William and Mary. The treaty specified tolerance for Catholicism and that Catholics taking the oath would retain full legal rights, although the estates of those killed prior to the treaty were still liable to forfeiture.

Despite the treaty's provisions, before the Irish Parliament had been summoned the English legislature passed a 1691 Act "for the Abrogating the Oath of Supremacy in Ireland and Appointing other Oaths". This required anyone taking a seat in the Irish Parliament to deny transubstantiation, effectively barring all Catholics. When it eventually sat the Irish Parliament confirmed this Act and refused to ratify the articles of the treaty; the Catholic gentry saw this as a severe breach of faith. A popular contemporary Irish saying was, cuimhnigí Luimneach agus feall na Sassanaigh ("remember Limerick and Saxon treachery").

Part of the treaty agreed to Sarsfield's demand that those still serving in the Jacobite army could leave Ireland and enter French service. Popularly known in Ireland as the "Flight of the Wild Geese", the process began almost immediately using English ships sailing from Cork, with French ships completing the process by December.[65] Modern estimates suggest that around 19,000 men, including rapparees who had surrendered to Ginkell, ultimately departed, with women and children bringing the figure to slightly over 20,000, or about one per cent of Ireland's population.[65] Story alleged that some of the soldiers had to be forced on board the ships when they learned they would be joining the French; most were unable to bring or to contact their families and many appear to have deserted en route from Limerick to Cork.[65]

The "Wild Geese" initially formed James II's army in exile, though operating as part of the French army. After James's death, the remnants of this force merged into the French Irish Brigade, which had been set up in 1689 from the 6,000 troops sent to France with Mountcashel.

Long-term effects[edit]

The Williamite victory in the war in Ireland had two main long-term results. The first was that it ensured James II would not regain his thrones in England, Ireland, and Scotland by military means. The second was that it ensured closer British and Protestant dominance over Ireland. Until the nineteenth century, Ireland was ruled by what became known as the "Protestant Ascendancy", the mostly Protestant ruling class. The majority Irish Catholic community and the Ulster-Scots Presbyterian community were systematically excluded from power, which was based on land ownership.

For over a century after the war, Irish Catholics maintained a sentimental attachment to the Jacobite cause, portraying James and the Stuarts as the rightful monarchs who would have given a just settlement to Ireland, including self-government, restoration of confiscated lands and tolerance for Catholicism. Thousands of Irish soldiers left the country to serve the Stuart monarchs in the Spanish and French armies. Until 1766 France and the Papacy remained committed to restoring the Stuarts to their British Kingdoms, at least one composite Irish battalion (500-men) drawn from Irish soldiers in the French service fought on the Jacobite side in the Scottish Jacobite uprisings up to the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The war also began the penetration of the Irish Protestant gentry into the British army's officer corps; by the 1770s Irish Protestants made up about one third of the officer corps as a whole, a number hugely disproportionate to their population.[66]

Protestants portrayed the Williamite victory as a triumph for religious and civil liberty. Triumphant murals of King William still controversially adorn gable walls in Ulster, and the defeat of the Catholics in the Williamite war are still commemorated by Protestant Unionists, by the Orange Order on the Twelfth of July.


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  28. ^ Bartlett and Jeffery 1997, p. 189.
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  51. ^ a b c Bartlett and Jeffery 1997, p. 205.
  52. ^ a b c d Hayton 2004, p. 27.
  53. ^ a b Bradshaw 2016, p. 221.
  54. ^ Hayton 2004, p. 28.
  55. ^ Szech 1994, p. 47.
  56. ^ a b Childs 2007, p. 279.
  57. ^ Childs 2007, p. 295.
  58. ^ Childs 2007, p. 293.
  59. ^ Childs 2007, p. 304.
  60. ^ a b Childs 2007, p. 316.
  61. ^ Childs 2007, p. 331.
  62. ^ Childs 2007, p. 332.
  63. ^ a b Doherty 1995.
  64. ^ Murtagh 1953, p. 11.
  65. ^ a b c Manning 2006, p. 397.
  66. ^ Bartlett and Jeffery 1997, pp. 216,218.


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See also[edit]