Oath of Allegiance to King William III.

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER III....continued

On the same day, the 21st of March, Captain James Hamilton arrived from England, bringing with him 8000 stand of arms for the garrison, 480 barrels of powder, and £595 in money;[33] a supply so necessary, that without it the defence of the city would have been impossible. He acted under written instructions, of which a copy has been preserved.[34]

Hamilton, in addition to the supplies, brought with him a commission for Colonel Lundy, which, along with the stores, was to be given to him upon his taking the oath of fidelity to King William. He also brought with him the following instructions for the Governor of Derry:—

"Instructions to our trusty and well-beloved Lieutenant-Colonel Lundy, Commander-in-Chief of the town and garrison of Londonderry, or in his absence to the Commander-in-Chief there.

"Having taken into our consideration the danger that at present threatens the Protestant interest in that kingdom, and how much it concerns the good of our subjects that all our garrisons there be in as good a posture of defence as may be, we, therefore, reposing trust and confidence in your good affection and courage, have thought fit hereby to direct you:

"1. That you do, upon receipt hereof, buy and furnish that garrison with such necessary provisions and ammunition as may enable it to subsist and make defence for some time, in case of any attack.

"2. That, for its better defence, you do break down such bridges, and cut up such dykes and sluices, as, in your judgment, shall be thought necessary.

"3. That you take special care in preserving the gates of the town, the guns with their carriages, as well as the fortifications of the place, in good order and repair, and that you add such works as you shall find necessary.

"4. That, on prospect of any more imminent danger, you do pull down such houses, and fell and cut down such trees, as may prove in the least a prejudice to its defence.

"5. That you put and set up palisades in such places as shall be thought necessary, and that you do and provide for the defence of that place what else you shall upon due consideration judge requisite.

"6. And to that end you are to receive and dispose of the thousand pounds which shall be remitted to you, to the best advantage of our service, and the safety of that garrison, and to transmit an account thereof hither.

"7. That you also send hither, from time to time, as opportunities offer, a true and particular account of the condition of that place to one of our principal secretaries of state.

"8. That you also cause the oath herewith sent you, to be taken by all the officers, both civil and military, in that town and garrison.—Given, etc., 21st. February, 1688/9."[35]

Captain Hamilton carried out his instructions faithfully, with the exception that the oath of allegiance was not administered to Colonel Lundy so publicly as it should have been. When he and Sir Arthur Rawdon, with others, went aboard ship in the harbour to wait on Captain Hamilton, after some discourse, Sir Arthur and Mr. William Ponsonby were requested ,to withdraw, and they stood upon the deck with Captain Beverley, while Hamilton and Lundy were together in the cabin. Sir Arthur heard the next day that Lundy had taken the oath on this occasion, and Henry Mervyn and James Corry afterwards testified that they were present when it was administered to him by Hamilton. Perhaps there was some difficulty in knowing who was Mayor according to law; but no person professing to be Mayor was present, and the secrecy with which the oath was administered and taken, did not in the end promote the interests of either. It excited suspicion, and this suspicion was confirmed on the next day, when the Town Committee at Derry desired that Lundy should take the oaths, and he absolutely refused, on the plea that he had taken them the day before. A few others refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new sovereigns; but it was taken, Mr. Campsie acting as Mayor, by the sheriffs, aldermen, officers, and the great bulk of the citizens, Lundy giving his assistance. Next day, the 22nd of March, William and Mary were proclaimed in Derry with great rejoicing, and the day after, Mr. Philips set out for England, to carry an address to King William and to seek for additional supplies.[36]

Had Lundy been an honest and honourable man, he would have either refused entirely to take the oath, or he would have taken it in presence of the whole city. But treachery was in his heart. He secretly took the oath to King William, and yet he could not have served King James better than he did, had he been on General Hamilton's staff. Had he been true in his profession of loyalty to William, he would have turned to good account those three months during which he acted as Governor before the siege commenced. In that time he would have trained the city companies to use their arms; he would have laid in a stock of provisions; he would have planted garrisons, defended passes, taken means to maintain every inch of ground, and used every method that a competent soldier knows, in order to harass the enemy on their march. But instead of this he made a show of resistance sufficient to lead the Protestants to believe that he meant to fight, while he carefully disposed matters so that the army of King James would, in a week or two, have the whole North of Ireland helpless at its feet, without being under the necessity of having to fight a battle. Taking advantage of the confidence, which the Protestants reposed in him as a man of military experience and of religious sentiments similar to their own, he acted exactly as he might be expected to do had his object been to leave them at the mercy of their foes. An honourable man we can respect and admire, no matter for what king he fought; one can admire the gallantry of Sarsfield and Nugent on the one side, as much as that of Murray and Noble on the other; but the base and deceitful conduct of Lundy can be approved by no man, Catholic or Protestant, who has within him a single spark of principle or honour.

The policy that he carried out was to induce every garrison in the North to retreat to Derry, and then to persuade the city to surrender to the enemy, on the ground that the store of provisions was insufficient, and that the place could not be defended. His position as Governor of Derry, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army, and a Protestant, secured for him the confidence of the Protestants, and gave him the power to do mischief. Colonel Stewart occupied the fort at Dungannon, and had in his possession a considerable quantity of provisions. Lundy, about the 14th of March,[37] ordered him to retreat to Derry, and as the military governor of Derry was recognised by the Council of northern gentry as commander-in-chief in the north-west of Ulster, Colonel Stewart did not consider it wise to refuse obedience. The garrison at Dungannon broke up accordingly, some marching to Derry and some to Coleraine; the effect of which was that the stores collected there, as at a central depôt, fell into the hands of the Jacobite garrison at Charlemont; and Gordon O'Neill (son of Sir Phelim Roe) and Lord Galmoy were enabled to march on Moneymore, and compel the detachment stationed there to retreat to Derry.[38] King James's army afterwards took advantage of the free communication thus opened between Derry and Dublin, and were materially aided by having Dungannon in their hands.

But much the worst part of Lundy's behaviour was his treatment of Lord Kingston. That nobleman was at the head of the Protestant garrison of Sligo, and thus held in his possession the key of Connaught. With Sligo and Enniskillen in the hands of the Protestants, all entrance into Ulster by way of Connaught was made impossible to the Jacobites. But on the 20th of March, an order from Lundy reached Lord Kingston to march in haste to Derry. Having taken the advice of his officers, he evacuated Sligo, in compliance with orders, at the head of a thousand men; and when, on the 24th of March, he had reached Ballyshannon, another order came from Lundy, commanding him to stop there and to guard the passes of the Erne.

It was now too late to retrieve the false step which had been taken, for he was scarcely out of Sligo when the Jacobites entered it and occupied his place. There was, therefore, no alternative except to stay at Ballyshannon. But this was not all. On the 11th of April, Lundy wrote Lord Kingston again, saying he had formed a garrison in Derry, and would provide his lordship accommodation for eighty horse and three hundred foot, if he pleased to come hither. And then, after it was agreed at the Council of War held in Derry, to meet the Jacobite forces at the passes of the Finn, he wrote on the 13th of April for Lord Kingston to send him assistance at Cladyford. The despatch did not reach Ballyshannon till late on Sunday night, the 14th of April, when it was impossible for his lordship to have his men forward in time. Next morning, however, he and a small party rode forward as far as Stranorlar, where he met some of the Protestants fleeing from Cladyford, and found that the Jacobite army had got between him and Derry. His lordship then ordered his horse to go to Enniskillen, where they afterwards rendered excellent service to that garrison; and he stationed his foot in Ballyshannon and in the town of Donegal. He himself seized a French vessel which lay at Killybegs, and sailed for Scotland to report the state of matters to the King.[39]

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[33] Journal of House of Commons in Hempton, p. 393; True and Impartial Account, p. 16.

[34] See Appendix, No. 6.

[35] Mackenzie, Appendix.

[36] Sir Arthur Rawdon, in Walker's Invisible Champion; Journal of House of Commons, in Hempton, pp. 391-400, Mackenzie's Narrative a false Libel, p. 16; Walker, March 23rd.

[37] 16th of March.—Swan's evidence before committee. Hempton, p. 392.

[38] Walker's True Account, March 14th.

[39] Lord Kingston's Account in Mackenzie, Nar., ch. ii. Evidence before Committee of House of Commons in Hempton, p. 392. Letter of Walker in A True Account, p. 31. True and Impartial Account, p. 22.

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.