Henry de Massue, Marquis de Ruvigny

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Massue, Henry de, Marquis de Ruvigny, Earl of Galway, a distinguished general (son of the first Marquis de Ruvigny, a General in the French army and Councillor-of-State), was born in France in 1648, and left the country with his father on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and settled at Greenwich. When news reached him of the death of his only brother, De la Caillemotte, and of his friend Marshal Schomberg at the battle of the Boyne in 1690, he offered his services to William III., was appointed Major-General, and Colonel of Schomberg's Regiment of Huguenot Horse, and joined De Ginkell at Athlone. His regiment lost 144 men in the capture of the town.

"After the battle," says De Bosanquet, "Ginkell came up and embraced De Ruvigny, declaring how much he was pleased with his bravery and his conduct;" and the King raised him to the Irish peerage, as Earl of Galway. After serving William III. upon the Continent, he was appointed one of the Lords-Justices of Ireland; and, says Mr. Smiles, "during the time that he held office, devoted himself to the establishment of the linen trade, the improvement of agriculture, and the reparation of the losses and devastations from which the country had suffered during the civil wars."

The King conferred upon him an estate in the Queen's County, on which he founded the colony of Portarlington, where he induced a large number of the best class of Huguenot refugees to settle. He liberally assisted them out of his private means, erected more than one hundred dwellings of a superior kind, built and endowed a French and an English Church, and established two excellent schools for the education of their children. "Thus," says Mr. Smiles, "the little town of Portarlington shortly became a centre of polite learning, from which emanated some of the most distinguished men in Ireland, while the gentle and industrious life of the colonists exhibited an example of patient labour, neatness, thrift, and orderliness, which exercised a considerable influence on the surrounding population."

The appropriation of the Portarlington estate was, however, objected to by the English Parliament, and a Bill was passed annulling that and all grants of a like kind made by the King. The property was eventually made over to the Hollow Sword-Blade Company, along with many large estates throughout the country, and in 1701 Lord Galway returned to England. Fortunately the leases he had given to the Huguenot exiles were not interfered with; and he ever continued to take a deep interest in the colony he had established. The rest of his life was passed in active military service on the Continent, and for the last few years in retirement at Rookley, near Southampton. He died 3rd September 1720, aged 72, and was buried in Micheldever churchyard. Samuel Smiles's Huguenots, their Settlements, Churches, and Industries in England and Ireland, is full of interesting particulars concerning the French settlers in Ireland.

Sources

166. Huguenots in England and Ireland: Samuel Smiles. London, 1867.

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