The Rev. George Walker and the Traitor Lundy

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER III....continued

What the populace and soldiery now needed, in order that they might act in concert, and give voice to their feelings, was a leader—a man bold enough to brave Lundy, and sufficiently influential and able to command the respect of the garrison. The leader appeared at the very moment he was required. Adam Murray was a descendant of the Murrays of Philiphaugh in Scotland. His family had for some time been settled at Ling, on the Faughan-water. When the Protestants of the North began to arm in order to protect themselves against Tyrconnel, he had raised a troop of horse. Sent to guard the passes of the Finn against the Irish army, he had been obliged to retreat for want of the ammunition which Lundy failed to supply, and, for want of forage in the city, he and his horse, after the flight from Cladyford, had retired to Culmore.

At the very time when King James and his men were drawn up at the Upper Strand, and all was in confusion in the city, Captain Murray advanced at the head of a party of horse to the green field below Pennyburn Mill. So soon as he and his men were seen approaching, a message was sent him from the Governor and his Council to withdraw to the back of the hill out of sight of the city, the fact being that Lundy wished to have the treaty for surrender concluded without any interruption. Not understanding the reason of this strange command, but having received from the messenger a hint as to the position of affairs, he disregarded Lundy's orders, and pushed forward to the town. Having had a narrow escape from the dragoons of the enemy, he made his way to Ship-quay Gate, but found it closed. The Council, with Lundy at their head, sent the Rev. George Walker, afterwards one of the governors of the city, to speak with him, and, after some parley, he consented to admit Murray alone, by letting down a rope and raising him over the wall. This Murray declined; he must have admittance for his men and horses as well as for himself; in no such fashion would he be smuggled into a town that he had come to defend with his life. While they parleyed, one James Morrison, who acted as captain of the city guards, without waiting for orders, ran and opened Ship-quay Gate, and admitted Murray and his party.

This brave man—the true author of that NO SURRENDER policy which has made Derry so famous—did not arrive a moment too soon. At the very time he was trying to persuade Walker to admit him at Ship-quay Gate, King James, with his army, had not yet retired from the Upper Strand. Lundy and his officers, met all day in Council, were at that moment drawing up a paper of surrender, and were preparing to throw open the gates to the King. His arrival dashed their scheme at the very point when it seemed ripe for execution. The soldiers and citizens hailed him as a leader, of whose honesty and capacity they were fully convinced. He lost no time in assuring the populace who gathered around him, that he would not consent to a surrender, and that he would stand by them to the last; and, in order they might know their strength, and he might see what support he was likely to have, he requested all who agreed with him in the determination to fight to the end to put a piece of white cloth on their left arm. It was very generally done. Glad at last to have found an honest and determined man, the rabble, as they were contemptuously called by men very much inferior to them in courage if not in character, took orders from him and obeyed them with alacrity.

Lundy and his officers, hearing what was done, grew alarmed at this new symptom of disaffection and rebellion. They sent for Murray, with the design of using him to persuade the others to concur in the treaty of surrender, knowing the weight that his name would have with the citizens. Accompanied by some of his friends, he entered the Council Chamber. The Governor asked him what reason he had to suspect him. It was no time for gentle words. Murray answered bluntly that, judging from his recent behaviour, he could not but regard him as either a fool or a knave; and went on to charge him with having failed to secure the passes of the Finn; with having refused ammunition to men who were both able and willing to fight; with having fled from the field at the head of an army of 10,000 men; and with neglecting to defend the passes on the way from Strabane.

Had he known all the facts as we know them now, he might have charged him also with the base surrender of Dungannon and Sligo; with an attempt, that happily failed, to withdraw the garrisons of Enniskillen and Ballyshannon; with deceiving, by his falsehood, the English officers; and with sending away the English soldiers without permitting them to land. Of all these facts Murray could not then have been aware; but he urged him then, even at the last hour, to take the field and fight the enemy. Lundy spoke of the common danger, dwelt upon the arguments for surrender which had proved so effectual with others, and tried to persuade Murray to attach his name to the paper, which some of those present had already signed. Murray absolutely refused on any other terms than that it should be agreed upon at a general council of officers, "of which," he added, "this is not one, for he did not see the one-half of them present." He then withdrew from the chamber, and made known to those outside what Lundy was preparing to do.

The Council, however, continued still in session. They did not yet renounce the hope of perfecting the treaty of surrender, and their aim was to remove the scruples of all who yet held out. Before they broke up they sent for the Presbyterian ministers, of whom there were at least eight in the city, with the design of bringing their influence to bear on Captain Murray and on the populace generally, to induce them to consent to a surrender. Of all the ministers only one obeyed their summons, and that one refused in any way to share their responsibility. The whole project of surrender failed, and from that hour Lundy's Council met no more.

A complete revolution, meanwhile, had occurred outside. Murray, and those officers and citizens who agreed with him, took the authority into their own hands. They seized the keys, and planted on the walls guards in whom they had confidence. Their feelings towards the Governor they no longer attempted to conceal. Lundy had done everything to ruin them in conformity to all the military forms usually observed in such cases. If he had not handed over the keys of the city to King James, he was preparing to do it in punctilious obedience to the rule in such cases made and provided, when Murray stepped into the Council Chamber, and by his abrupt speech somewhat disarranged his plans. So soon as it became known to the garrison what he and his Council were about, the authority dropped from his hands. The men on the ramparts fired at the enemy in defiance of his orders. He himself became so unpopular, that for fear of the people he dare not show his face upon the streets. He kept his house all the next day; but with the connivance of the Governors he was in the evening allowed to escape.

Disguised as a private soldier, with a load of matchwood upon his back, he passed along the street, got into the boat in which Benjamin Adair had come up from Culmore for powder, and sailed down the river to Brookhall, which by that time was occupied by the Irish army. He succeeded in reaching Scotland. Some months after, towards the close of the siege, news reached the city that, in consequence of charges brought against him by Governor Baker for his conduct at Derry, he was committed to the Tower of London. After the siege, he, along with his victims, the two English officers Cunningham and Richards, were examined before a committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the transactions at Derry, and the result was that the whole three were dismissed from His Majesty's service. Though one of thirty excepted by name in the Bill of Indemnity passed by Parliament in 1690, Lundy, like most of the others, was never brought to justice, but permitted to die in obscurity. But time had in store for him a still deeper infamy. Derry men in all generations affix to his unhonoured name the base epithet of TRAITOR.[62]

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[62] Walker, April 17th; Mack., April 18th; Ash, April 18th-20th; Evidence before House of Commons in Hempton, p. 398; Ash, July 2nd; True and Impartial Account, p. 21; Harris, p. 260.

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 into identifying participants at the siege which the author undertook when suffering from ill-health in the latter part of his life.

The book is essentially divided into two parts: the first contains 1660 biographical entries relating to the defenders of Derry, tracing, where possible, the family lineage; and the second part includes 352 entries 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., there is also background given to many of the most influential families involved in the conflict.