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Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell PC (1630 – 14 August 1691) was an Irish royalist and Jacobite soldier. He served as James II's Lord Lieutenant during the Williamite War in Ireland. His administration saw a major purge of Protestant officers from the Irish Army which had previously largely barred Catholics.
The youngest of sixteen children of Sir William Talbot, 1st Baronet, of Carton, and his wife, Alison Netterville, he was descended from an old Norman family that had settled in Leinster in the twelfth century. Like most Old English families in Ireland, the Talbots had adopted the customs of the Irish and had, like the Gaelic Irish, remained adherents to the Catholic faith even after the official change of religion took place under Henry VIII. His eldest brother was Sir Robert Talbot, 2nd Baronet.
He married Katherine Baynton in 1669. They had two daughters, Katherine and Charlotte. Baynton died in 1679. Talbot later married Frances Jennings, sister of Sarah Jennings (the future Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough).
During the Irish Confederate Wars that followed the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Talbot served in Confederate Ireland's Leinster army as cavalry cornet or junior officer. He was taken prisoner by the Parliamentarians after the battle of Dungans Hill in 1647, but was ransomed back to his own side. In 1649, he also survived the Cromwellian Sack of Drogheda, escaping from the garrison before it was massacred. Shortly after this, he fled Ireland, to join his fellow defeated Royalists in France.
Talbot had been introduced to Charles II and James, Duke of York (later James II), when they were exiles in Flanders, as a result of the English Civil War. Talbot then lived like many other royalist refugees, partly by casual military service, but also by acting as a subordinate agent in plots to upset the Commonwealth and murder Cromwell. He was arrested in London in November 1655 and was examined by Cromwell. Once more he escaped, but it was said by his enemies that he was bribed by Cromwell, with whom one of his brothers was certainly in correspondence. He was actively engaged in an infamous intrigue to ruin the character of Anne Hyde, the Duke's wife-to-be, but continued in James's employment and saw some service at sea in the naval wars with the Dutch.
After the Restoration he continued to have a place in the household of the Duke of York. Talbot accumulated money by acting as agent for Irish Roman Catholics who sought to recover their confiscated property by the Act of Settlement 1662, often helped by the Duke, who later inherited as James II of England in 1685. He was arrested for supposed complicity in the Popish Plot agitation in 1678, but was allowed to go into exile.
After the accession of James II in 1685, he was created Baron of Talbotstown, Viscount Baltinglass and Earl of Tyrconnell (2nd creation), and sent as commander in chief of the forces in Ireland. In this capacity and as Lord Deputy of Ireland (1687–88) he placed Catholics in positions of control in the state and the militia, which the Duke of Ormonde had previously organised. Consequently, the entire Roman Catholic population sided with James II in the Glorious Revolution. Thus, in 1689, when James landed at Dublin with his French officers, Tyrconnell had an Irish army ready to assist him. His role in the Revolution was satirised in the contemporary folk song, Lillibullero. After James came to Ireland, he created him Duke of Tyrconnell and Marquess of Tyrconnell, titles recognised only by the Jacobites. 
By early 1689 there was growing dissent amongst Protestants across Ireland. In County Cork, the town of Bandon rose up but were swiftly defeated by Justin MacCarthy, ending plans for a general uprising across Munster. When the Protestant inhabitants of the north began to rebel, Tyconnell sent a force of Irish Army troops under Richard Hamilton who routed the rebels at the Break of Dromore and occupied much of Ulster. A second comfortable victory at the Battle of Cladyford followed. This initial success was checked when the Catholic forces besieged Derry and attacked Enniskillen. After they were relieved by Percy Kirke's forces, the Jacobites were forced to withdraw. The situation worsened after Marshal Schomberg's large Williamite expedition reached Belfast Lough and captured Carrickfergus. Schomberg then marched south to a Dundalk where he threatened to advance on Dublin. After a lengthy stalemate the two armies withdrew into winter quarters. Both Tyrconnell and King James had rejected advice from their French allies that they should burn Dublin and retreat behind the River Shannon.
After defeat in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, Tyrconnell went to France for aid. He returned to Ireland in 1691, but died of apoplexy just before the fall of Limerick. Some contemporary accounts say that he was poisoned, but this is unsubstantiated. His widow, Frances, and daughter Charlotte remained in France, where Charlotte married her kinsman, William Talbot of Haggardstown, called 3rd Earl of Tyrconnell in the Jacobite peerage.
He is believed to be buried in the "Old Carton" graveyard. His estate in nearby Carton was uncompleted before he died. Tyrconnell Tower on this site was originally meant to be his mausoleum but was also unfinished.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tyrconnell, Richard Talbot, Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Bagwell, Richard (1899). "Talbot, Richard (1630-1691)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 57. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Wauchope, Piers. "Talbot, Richard, first earl of Tyrconnell and Jacobite duke of Tyrconnell (1630–1691)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26940. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Petrie, Sir Charles (1972) The Great Tyrconnel: A Chapter in Anglo-Irish Relations. Cork: Mercier Press
The Earl of Clarendon
|Lord Deputy of Ireland
|Peerage of Ireland|
|New title||Earl of Tyrconnell