Archive for the ‘Irish Inventors Series’ Category
The Sun King’s Irish Galley Slaves
We love a list of names here at fmp.ie and although this record set is not one we have on the website we thought you might like to hear about this rare and unusual ‘offline’ source for seventeenth and eighteenth century prisoners in the galley ships of France during the reign of Louis XIV.
In the late seventeenth century thousands of soldiers left Ireland to join continental forces, many served in the Irish regiments of Louis XIV’s French army. While the involvement of Irish troops in the European wars of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century are well documented their names are largely forgotten.
Some records were transcribed, such as those found in the de La Ponce manuscript housed in the RIA, a two volume history of Irish regiments in France listing the names and pedigrees of officers. This material was drawn on by John Cornelius O’Callaghan for his History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France, published in 1869. While both of these are, undoubtedly, valuable and underused genealogical resources for the period, they are primarily concerned with officers, gentlemen, people with pedigrees, not ordinary soldiers.
The ratio of ordinary soldiers to officers means that for every officer we might know about there are probably ten (or more) ordinary soldiers whose names are largely unrecorded. Information on these men usually comes through casualty lists or from records of disciplinary actions.
One small but fascinating source relating to the arrest and punishment of Irish soldiers in the French army is a list, compiled by Eoghan Ó hAnnracháin, of 167 Irishmen who were sentenced to serve as galley slaves aboard French ships between 1660 and 1748. The 167 names discovered by Ó hAnnracháin are scattered among those of over 60,000 prisoners recorded in the massive ledgers of the galleys, which are housed in the Service Historique de la Marine in Toulon, France. The dedicated research involved in discovering these names is to be greatly admired as they gives us a unique glimpse into the fate of ordinary Irish soldiers in this pivotal period of European history (those who broke the law anyway!).
Most of those sentenced to serve in the galleys were deserters, although others were charged with a range of offences from stealing to forgery. The deserters were sentenced to serve as rowers in the oar-powered galleys still in use well into the eighteenth century by the French navy to ferry goods between sailing ships. Conditions were harsh and most would die in their chains. Many opted to return to active service rather than face the conditions aboard a galley. Some even volunteered to work in towns as corbeau (lit. raven) affected by outbreaks of plague, removing and burying bodies of plague victims, such was the reputation of the galley ships.
The bulk of the entries in the list date to between 1690 and 1740, with most of them clustered around 1700-1710. The short entries are full of information. As well as the name of the prisoner and the charge for which they were arrested most entries note the prisoner’s county of origin, their age at arrest and physical appearance, their parent’s names are also recorded; and, in most cases, their fate. Occupations are also recorded in a number of the entries, these include wigmaker, tailor and shoemaker. Twenty-three counties are represented although the bulk (47) are from Dublin. The next largest groups are from Limerick (18) and Cork (17).
The three entries below give a flavour of these mini-biographies. The details are such that you can almost picture the man. Ó hAnnracháin has provided us with a truly fascinating snap-shot of a group of men who would otherwise be wholly unknown to us.
John Armstrong son of Brian and Janette Lennon [Linon]; native of Ballinrobe, Ireland; mason; soldier in O Brien’s company, Lee Irish regiment; aged 18; good build; oval face; chestnut hair; arrived on the Paris chain on 4 December 1716; sentenced by court martial at Douai on 6 July 1716; desertion; life; died or escaped after being loaned [prêté] to the town of Marseille on 24 August 1720 to serve as corbeau [lit. raven] during the plague.
Terence O Brien [Turrance Corien] called Irlandois; son of Daniel and Catherine; native of Cloyne [Cloune] in Ireland, aged 27; tall; oval face; chestnut hair; arrived at Marseille on 4 June 1703 on the Paris chain conducted by sieur Nicolas Moncau – 254 men of whom three died en route, and the chain of criminals from the Metz prisons – 32 men according to the list of St. Didier, Procureur du Roi; sentenced by the provost of the royal camps and armies at Strasbourg on 23 December 1702; complicity in the killing of the provost of a village and for having forcibly secured lodgings and food; life; [not indicated what became of him]
Stephen Sullivan [Sulval or Surval, Etienne]; son of Amhlaoibh [Houel] and Marguerite Maurice; native of Dublin, Ireland; soldier in the colonel’s company, Anguenois regiment; aged 23; good build; long face; chestnut hair; arrived Marseille on 22 April 1701 on the Paris chain – 343 men of whom six died en route; sentenced by court martial at Logoux on 13 January 1701; desertion; life; freed on 23 March 1702 to serve in the Albermarle regiment for the rest of his life; handed over to Lieutenant Kuorville.
The full list of 167 names is available in Ó hAnnracháin, E. (2006) “Galériens: The Irish Galley Slaves of France”, The Irish Sword: The Journal of the Military History Society of Ireland, Vol. XXV, No. 99
Past issues of The Irish Sword are available from their website http://www.mhsi.ie/thesword.htm
References & Further Reading
Chartrand, R., (1988) Louis XIV’s Army, Men at Arms 203, Osprey Publishing
O’Callaghan, J.C. (1869) History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France available on CD ROM from http://www.eneclann.ie/
Ó hAnnracháin, E. (2006) “Galériens: The Irish Galley Slaves of France”, The Irish Sword: The Journal of the Military History Society of Ireland, Vol. XXV, No. 99
Ó hAnnracháin, E. (2007) “Men of the West in the Galleys of France”, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol 59, pp. 37-45
Ó hAnnracháin, E. (2007) “Dubliners in the Galleys of France”, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 60, No. 2, pp. 208-217
In the last of our inventor’s series of blog posts we take a look at Sir Francis Beaufort, Irish hydrographer from Navan in Co. Meath.
Born in 1774, Francis was descendent of French Protestant Huguenots and his father was a rector for the local area. At the age of 14 he joined the East India Company and enlisted in the Royal Navy for whom he remained in active service until 1812. He served in the Napoleonic wars and was known for devoting himself to making meticulous surveys of uncharted coasts. In 1829, at the age of 55, he was appointed hydrographer to the Royal Navy, a post he held until he reached the age of 81.
During his early years of command he developed the first versions of his Wind Force Scale. This 13-point ‘Beaufort Scale’ is an empirical measure that relates wind speed to observed conditions at sea or on land. It was officially adopted by the British navy in 1838.
In our Irish family history records we found an entry for Sir Francis Beaufort in Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, his entry falls under the Edworths of Edgeworthstown after he had married Honora Edgeworth in 1838.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Inventors series, if there’s any other areas you’d like us to do a special series on please email us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
Robert Perceval was born near Finglas in Dublin on 30 September 1756. He was the youngest son of a Dublin barrister William Perceval. Although sometimes wrongly accredited as the creator of soda water he is recognised as one of Ireland’s most talented chemists, becoming Trinity College’s first Professor of Chemistry.
Throughout his school years he stood out as being particularly bright and entered Trinity College Dublin at the age of 16. After graduating with a B.A. he went to Edinburgh to study medicine where his teachers included the distinguished chemists William Cullen and Joseph Black. Having completed his M. D. degree he began a European tour eventually settling in Switzerland for a time where he visited and observed the practices of numerous hospitals and laboratories. He did not return to Dublin until late in 1782.
In 1793 he took up a post as lecturer in chemistry in Trinity College. For the next two years he was extremely active and involved in scientific matters. He became a founding member of the Royal Irish Academy and its first secretary. He later became Trinity College’s first ever Professor of Chemistry. He was the first Irish physician to introduce the use of carbonated water for medicinal purposes after its creation by Manchester apothecary Thomas Henry in the 1770s.
As time went on he became more and more involved in medical practice as we can see from some of the entries for him in our family history records. In the first of our entries he is listed as a member of The Royal Dublin Society in The Gentlemen’s and Citizen’s Almanack 1814:
We were recently inspired by a goireland.com feature on Irish inventors to take a look through our Irish family history records for some of these famous Irish men and woman who made a huge contribution to science, technology and engineering. In the second of our posts we take a look at the family history records of John Joly, famous geologist and physicist associated with discovering the first process for producing colour images.
John Joly was born 1st November 1857 in Bracknagh, Co. Offaly. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Literature and Bachelor of Engineering in 1883. He went on to become Assistant to the Professor of Civil Engineering at TCD, then Assistant to the Professor of Experimental Physics before being appointed Professor of Geology and Mineralogy in 1897.
He wrote over 270 books and scientific papers in his career. Some of which discovered or were the foundation for important discoveries in such varied fields as:
He is credited with the invention of:
- The meldometer: for measuring the melting points of minerals
- A steam calorimeter: for measuring specific heats
- A photometer: for measuring light intensity
- Joly is credited with having been the first to accurately estimate the age of a geological period – an essential step in estimating the age of the Earth.
- Working in collaboration with Dr Walter Stevenson’s he pioneered the use of radiation as a treatment for cancer.
- Perhaps Joly’s most practical application of his great intelligence was his development and patenting of a method for producing colour photographs.
In the records on findmypast.ie we found a number related to Professor John Joly. In the first of two entries from Thom’s Directory of Ireland 1910 we can see Joly as a council member of the Biological Association of TCD:
In the second entries from Thom’s Directory of Ireland 1910 we can see Joly residing in Somerset House, Temple Road, Rathmines:
The final entry see’s Joly listed in Thom’s Whos Who of Ireland 1923:
John Joly died in December 1933 and is remembered as one of Ireland’s, if not the World’s greatest scientists.
We were recently inspired by a goireland.com feature on Irish inventors to take a look through our Irish family history records for some of these famous Irish men and woman who made a huge contribution to science, technology and engineering. The first famous inventor we came across was John Philip Holland, the man who invented the submarine.
John Philip Holland was born into an all Irish speaking family in Liscannor, Co. Clare on February 24 1841. He eventually became a school teacher in various Christian Brothers’ schools throughout the country. Influenced by his love of science and engineering he began to work on designs for aeroplanes and battle ships, some of which were intended for use under water. He completed his first detailed designs for a submarine in 1859, a design which he never radically changed. In 1870, Jules Verne’s novel “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was published, giving Holland a fresh impetus to turn his design into a reality.
He followed his mother and brother to Boston in 1873 where he initially worked for an engineering firm before returning to teaching in St. John’s Catholic School, Paterson, New Jersey. It was in new Jersey that Holland planned and built his first submarine the Holland I which made several successful dives to a depth of 12 feet. By this time his brother had become heavily involved with the Fenian Movement in America who agreed to fund the research and construction of Holland’s designs in order to use them against the British. In 1881 Holland completed the construction of the Fenian Ram but fell out with the Fenian’s over money.
In 1896 he set up a private company to develop his submarine designs further and eventually after much alterations, failed prototypes and huge personal investment Holland sold the Holland 6 to the U.S. Navy in October 1900 for a price of $150,000, half the price it cost to build. It was the first submarine of the U.S. Navy.
Holland went on to sell his designs to the British Navy and built two submarines for Japan. He died of pneumonia at his home in Newark, New Jersey on August 13 1914. Below we can see his death recorded in the Tipperary Clans Archive: