The Jacobite War and the Battle of the Boyne, 1688-1691

The most common (and glamorous) family story of the origin of the Manary/Menary family in Ireland is that of a soldier or soldiers who came with William of Orange and fought in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. One story that has circulated is that of three brothers who fought in the battle and later settled in Northern Ireland. The story of “three brothers” is a very common one in myriad family stories and can probably be discounted when it comes to the soldier theory, but a more specific speculation is that a single French Huguenot soldier fought with William at the Boyne, was awarded land in Ulster, and was the original ancestor of the Menarys in that area. Historical records do back up the fact that he existed and that he lived in Dublin but there are problems with this theory. This and other theories of our origin are explored in “Manary/Menary: Family Origin Theories and Name Variations”.

James II, King of England and Ireland, James VII of Scotland, 1685–1688, portrayed as head of the army c.1685)

Whether or not it has a role to play in our family, the Battle of the Boyne was a huge turning point in the history of Ireland. Many believe that the battle was the result of England wanting to seize control over the Catholic Irish in a final drive for control over Ireland. There is some truth to this, but the battle in reality was between King William III of England
and his predecessor, King James II of England, Scotland, and Ireland. King James II was the last of the Catholic rulers to ever hold the crown of England. He inherited the throne on 6 February 1685 from his brother King Charles II. During the next three years, James tried to impose his Catholic beliefs upon the three nations he was ruling, with huge support
from France and the mainly Catholic Irish. By June of 1688, the nobles in England and Scotland had had enough of the possibility of a Catholic-held dynasty on the throne, and they invited William of Orange from the Dutch Republic to gain control of the monarchy, using whatever force was needed.

William III (“William of Orange”), King of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1689–1702, Stadtholder in the Netherlands, 1672–1702

William of Orange was a natural choice for the dissidents to turn to. He was married to King James’ Anglicized daughter who would eventually become Queen Mary II. Although Queen Mary was born the first child of James in 1662, she and her sister Anne were raised by her Anglican uncle, King Charles II, and she should have been second in line for the
monarchy, behind her father King James. On 4 November 1677, at the age of fifteen, Mary married her first cousin William of Orange. With Charles’ death in 1685, events took a different turn. Charles’ Catholic brother James gained control of the throne. Things became more alarming with the birth of James’ first son on 10 June 1688, James Francis Edward. The thought of a Catholic dynasty on the throne of England was deeply troubling to the nobles of Scotland and England, especially when they learned that James planned to dispossess his Protestant daughter Mary of her birthright to become Queen.

William seized the opportunity. In November of 1688, the army of England and Scotland, led by William of Orange, set out to overthrow the monarchy of King James in an invasion later named The Glorious Revolution. James’ army deserted, and on 23 December 1688, James left England and went into exile in France. In February 1689, a Special Convention was held and a new monarchy was proclaimed, restoring Mary as the rightful possessor of the throne, and creating Queen Mary II and her husband, William of Orange, as King William III.

On 14 March 1689, the ex-King James left France and landed in Ireland, where he was greeted with ardent support from his Irish Catholic followers. In an attempt to regain control of his former kingdoms, James assembled an army consisting of French troops and largely peasant Irish. Although he did have some highly skilled Irish Calvary, his army of 23,500 was mostly untrained Irish. Word of this reached England, and King William III quickly reacted. With the goal of finally confirming the throne of England and eliminating his father-in-law James from any future thoughts of seizing the throne, William sailed to Ireland. On 14 June 1690, he landed at Carrickfergus, bringing with him 16,000 troops composed of soldiers from many other countries. There he joined the 20,000 troops who were already stationed in Ireland, bringing the total number of his army to 36,000, only half of whom were native to England.

Jan van Huchtenburg – De slag aan de Boyne

The two armies met at the Boyne River on 1 July 1690. With overpowering force, William conquered James’ army in only one day of fighting. James fled to France, never again to
return to Ireland. Nevertheless, the Irish conflict raged on until October 1691 when the Treaty of Limerick was signed. The treaty allowed for all soldiers from James’ army to
return freely to France if they so wished, and for those who remained, a guarantee of religious freedom for those who were Catholic, as well as retention of their lands in Ireland. This, however, was not honoured and has been the source of conflicts in Ireland for countless years.

Contributor: Todd Manary



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