Colonel Richard Grace

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Grace, Richard, Colonel, the younger son of Robert Grace, Baron of Courtstown, was born the early part of the 17th century, of a Kilkenny family, descended from Raymond le Gros (corrupted into Grace). He resided at Moyelly Castle, Queen's County, and served Charles I. in England, until the surrender of Oxford in 1646. He then returned to Ireland, and was for some years engaged in the War of 1641-'52. He is referred to in State Papers as being at the head of 3,000 men, harassing the Parliamentary troops — now in Wicklow, and again at Crogan, beyond the Shannon.

In 1652 a reward of £300 was by the English government set upon his head, yet at the conclusion of the war he was permitted to enter the Spanish service with 1,200 of his men. After some time he went over to the French side, without betraying any trust imposed upon him, having given due notice to his Spanish friends. After the Restoration he was appointed Chamberlain to the Duke of York, and in consideration of his faithful and indefatigable services, received "pensions of £400, and a portion at least of his estates were restored to him." When James II. came to Ireland, Grace was appointed Governor of Athlone, with a garrison of three regiments of foot, and eleven troops of cavalry.

After the battle of the Boyne, the town was invested by General Douglas with ten regiments of foot, and five of horse. Grace having burnt the English town, and broken down the bridge, defended the Connaught works with indomitable spirit. When called upon to surrender, he fired a pistol over the messenger's head, and declared: "These are my terms; these only will I give or receive; and when my provisions are consumed, I will defend till I eat my old boots." At the end of a week, Douglas was obliged to draw off, with the loss of 400 men. The town was again invested by De Ginkell in 1691.

St. Ruth had meanwhile obliged Grace to exchange three of his veteran regiments for inferior French troops. Nevertheless he made a heroic defence under St. Ruth, and on 30th June 1691, after De Ginkell's passage of the Shannon and the capture of the citadel on the Connaught side, Colonel Grace's body was found under the ruins. His conduct towards the Protestants within his district is described as having been peculiarly humane and just; and although the severity of his discipline contrasted with the irregularities tolerated in other portions of the Irish army, he was greatly beloved by his men.

Sources

150. Grace, Memoirs of the Family of: Sheffield Grace. London, 1823.

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