Governor Mitchelburn

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER IV....continued


Governor Baker had been ill from the beginning of June. His disease proved to be a fever, and from the middle of the month it became certain that he would not recover. On the 21st a Council of War was called, in order to choose a successor. Two officers were sent to the house where he lay ill to ask his opinion. The dying Governor, without hesitation, named Colonel Mitchelburn as the most suitable man. Mitchelburn was grandson of Sir Richard Mitchelburn, of Brodhurst Stanmer, in Sussex, and before coming to Derry had taken part in the ineffectual attempt to capture Carrickfergus, and afterwards to prevent the Jacobite army from crossing the Bann. At an early part of the siege, in consequence of some suspicion attaching to him, we know not on what grounds, his arrest had been ordered by Baker. Stung with the insult, he drew on the Governor, and in the conflict Mitchelburn was wounded. From that time he had been confined to his room by order of the Governor. He was now sent for to his prison, in order that he might be promoted to succeed the man who had ordered him into confinement. It shows that Baker was a true and noble man, when he thus could bring himself to bestow the highest mark of honour upon an officer whom he once had injured by an unjust suspicion. It was alike a manly confession of his own error, and an honourable testimony to Mitchelburn's merit. He died about a week after, on the 30th of June, and Mitchelburn then took his place as military governor without farther appointment. Walker, who was originally appointed assistant-governor, had not his position at the stores altered by this new appointment, but continued to act as before. The death of Baker was a loss to the garrison: all the records speak to his praise as a man of prudence and moderation; "sound in counsel and expert in war"; a man of ability, courage, and honour.

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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.