Lettice Digby, Baroness Offaly

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Digby, Lettice, Baroness Offaly, daughter of Gerald, Lord Offaly, grand-daughter of the 11th Earl of Kildare, in 1596 married Sir Robert Digby, an Englishman, who died in 1618, leaving her a widow with seven children. Lady Digby unsuccessfully laid claim to the Barony of Offaly and the estates of her grandfather. In 1619 James I. created her a baroness, and awarded to her the barony of Geashill, in the King's County.

In April 1642 she was besieged by a body of the O'Dempseys in her castle of Geashill, where she held out with great bravery for six months. The letters that passed between her and her assailants are, on her side, models of scornful determination, and on theirs, of insolent swaggering. We are told that in the course of the siege a shot having struck the wall beside her, she wiped the spot with her handkerchief, to show the assailants how little she valued their attacks. A curious incident in the contest was the construction, by the besiegers, of a piece of ordnance out of one hundred and forty pots and pans, which, after two months spent in its manufacture, burst at the first discharge. The Baroness had an opportunity of leaving the castle and getting safely away under convoy of a relief party sent from Dublin; but elected to hold out; which she did until again relieved in October 1642. She retired to Cole's Hill, in Warwickshire, where she died, 1st December 1658.

Sources

202. Kildare, The Earls of, and their Ancestors: from 1057 to 1773, with Supplement: Marquis of Kildare. 2 vols. Dublin, 1858-'62.

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