Gustavus Hamilton of Enniskillen

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER VI...continued

GOVERNOR HAMILTON.—Tuesday, 18th December.

Local magnates, as befits their importance, move slowly. The magistrates had not yet come to understand that the country was in a state of civil war. Two of them (Sir Gerard Irvine and Captain Corry), seeing Mr. Browning riding into town at the head of a party of horse, had him seized, and threatened to send him to jail on the charge of appearing in arms against Government. They meant to frighten the townspeople from their determination to protect themselves; but notice was forthwith sent to the two justices to leave town immediately, else they might soon find themselves in the place where they threatened to send Browning. The justices took the hint and rode off. Sir Gerard afterwards took sides with King William, but Captain Corry used all his influence against the town, until he left the country in the March following.

On the 15th of December, the town elected as its governor Gustavus Hamilton, Esq. He was a nephew of Lord Glenawley, and had been a cornet in the army until some short time before, when, in common with other Protestant officers, he had been disbanded by Tyrconnel. Though not present at the time of his election, he was courageous and spirited enough to accept the trust. He forthwith removed his family from the country into town, and fixed his residence in the Castle of Enniskillen—the residence of Sir Michael Cole, proprietor of the place, who was then in England.[6] He organized the townsmen into two companies of foot. One of these was under Captain Allen Cathcart; the other, under Captain Malcolm Cathcart, consisted mostly of Presbyterians or "Nonconformists," as they term them—"that party," says MacCarmick, "effectually espousing our interest, and never declined us in the most dangerous times."[7]

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[6] "The Coles came to Ireland among the colonists of James I., and settled in Fermanagh in 1611."—Froude's Ireland, i., p. 98. The head of this family is now the Earl of Enniskillen.

[7] Further Account, p. 11.

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.