The Council of Fourteen at Derry

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER IV....continued


One of the difficulties of the garrison was, that they did not rely with sufficient confidence on the wisdom and loyalty of some of their leaders. The experience which they had of Lundy made them, perhaps, over-suspicious. Rumours for some time had been rife in regard to Walker; and about the end of May these rumours took such a definite shape, that a number of charges were drawn up, and over a hundred officers agreed to prosecute him on these charges. He was charged with taking measures to surrender the city, with embezzling the stores, with abusing some of the officers, and with other matters. It is possible that some of the charges were unfounded, and that others may have been exaggerated; still, his conduct was not above suspicion, and men of such high character as Colonels Hamill, Murray, Crofton, Monro (who had now succeeded to the command of Whitney's Regiment), and Fortescue, with Captains Noble and Dunbar, would scarcely have consented to his prosecution had they believed him entirely innocent. Even Baker himself was blamed for allowing himself to be too much guided by Walker's advice. But the attempt to procure his removal from the position of trust which he filled was defeated, and confidence was again restored, by the wisdom of Governor Baker, who proposed that a Council of Fourteen should be appointed, consisting of all the colonels, and of representatives from the town and country, with whom the Governors could consult, both as to the management of the stores and the affairs of the garrison, and that nothing of importance should be done without the consent of at least seven of this Council. At some sacrifice of popularity to himself, the prudence of Baker hushed the matter up, and prevented a second revolution. Of this Council of Fourteen, Baker was, as he well deserved to be, the President;[16] and each of the members was sworn that he would be "true to the garrison, and have no treaty with the enemy without the knowledge and order of that Council." This arrangement allayed discontent at the time; but it does not appear afterwards that the interference of the Fourteen was much required.

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[16] Mackenzie, Nar., p. 36; Invisible Champ., p. 6; Londerias, iii. 9 and 12.

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.