Interview with Mountjoy

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER VI...continued

INTERVIEW WITH MOUNTJOY.

Cathcart and MacCarmick, sent to carry the preceding letters to Derry, appear to have been delayed for some days before they were able to fulfil their mission; for before they arrived at the place of their destination they learned that in pursuance of the arrangement with Mountjoy of the 21st December, the citizens of Derry had admitted a part of his regiment to garrison their town. The delegates from Enniskillen, nevertheless, were kindly received, and returned home with the assurance that Derry was ready to help them so far as it was in its power. On their way home they delivered to Mountjoy, then at Newtownstewart, the following letter explanatory of their conduct and determination:—

" Your Lordship cannot but know what dreadful apprehension we were struck with, when from several parts of this kingdom we received the sad account of a designed massacre of the Protestants; in the midst of which fears, to heighten our sorrows we had news of two companies of foot, all Papists, ordered to garrison upon us: and further, to deject our despairing spirits, the threats of the officers of these companies of treading us in the kennels and dragging of our intestines about the streets, was assured us.

Nay, more, my Lord; the frequent assembling of the Irish in great companies on all hands of us, their restless pains in making skeins and pikes, insomuch that a man, and he of a mean fortune, dispersed in one week three-score; and having likewise the intelligence of your Lordship's being confined for only desiring that the Protestants might have liberty to buy arms for their own defence, did create in us so great a fear that we could not propose safety, or the preservation of our lives, in any human probability but by refusing these two companies entrance into our town. My Lord, our resolutions are firm and fully fixed to preserve this place as a refuge of many souls to fly to if any massacre should be attempted, which we daily fear and tremble to think of.

"These things seriously considered, and seeing so great and apparent dangers hovering over our heads, we can do no less than unanimously resolve not to admit any Popish garrison here, which we hope your Lordship will represent favourably to the Government. We return very humble and hearty thanks for your kind and prudent message by Mr. Mervin, and do assure your Lordship that we will demean ourselves with all the sobriety imaginable: neither did it ever enter into our thoughts to spill one drop of blood, unless we be thereunto forced in our own defence, or to take from any man the value of one farthing; which we entreat your Lordship to believe from, my Lord, your Lordship's most humble and obedient servants,

"THE INHABITANTS OF ENNISKILLEN.
"Dec. 21st, 1688."[8]

The delegates from Enniskillen who presented this letter to Mountjoy had an interview with him at Newtownstewart. He inquired their strength, and then told them that they must receive a garrison of the King's soldiers—there was no help for it. MacCarmick replied that they did not think it would be safe for them to do so. "The King will protect you," said his lordship. "My lord," replied Cathcart, "the King cannot protect himself." His lordship walked about the room for some time without speaking, as if lost in thought. Then he told the deputation that he would go to Enniskillen and confer with the inhabitants in a few days, but that in the meantime they must be cautious and shed no blood. Before Lord Mountjoy was able to carry out this intention, he was sent for by Tyrconnel, and despatched to France on the fool's errand already described.

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NOTES

[8] Further Account, p. 11.


Fighters of Derry: Their Deeds and Descendants, Being a Chronicle of Events in Ireland during the Revolutionary Period, 1688–91

William R. Young's Fighters of Derry has for decades been one of the most overlooked works on the Siege of Derry and as a local genealogical resource. First published in 1932, the book was the product of ten years’ research which the author undertook when suffering from ill-health in the latter part of his life.

Fighters of Derry

The book is essentially divided into two parts: the first contains 1660 biographical entries relating to the defenders of Derry and the second has 352 on the Jacobite side. Apart from individual accounts of eminent protagonists in the siege, such as David Cairnes, Rev. George Walker, the Duke of Schomberg, Patrick Sarsfield, etc., and the not so eminent too, there is also background given to many of the most influential families involved in the conflict.


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