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Saturday, 3 November 2012

3 November [N.S.] 1717:

Colonel Henry Luttrell was brutally shot while being carried in his Sedan chair through the streets of Dublin on this day. No one was surprised as he was a man with many enemies - none more so than his ex comrades in Arms from the War of the Two Kings nearly 30 years before.

The deed was done at night near Colonel Henry Luttrell's town house in Stafford Street, while he was sitting in a hackney chair in which he had returned from a coffee house on Cork Hill, and although enormous rewards were offered and two persons were arrested the assassin was never discovered.

He was in the words of Lord Macaulay a man with:

 A sharpened intellect and polished manners, a flattering tongue, some skill in war, and much more skill in intrigue.

Henry Luttrell was born about 1655 into one of the most distinguished Anglo -Irish families in Dublin. His ancestors had arrived here with King John around the beginning of the 13th century and had extensive estates on the western outskirts of the County at Luttrellstown - by which name they are still known to this day. However his life, both public and private, brought his family into great disrepute. He appears to have passed his early life in France, where in 1684 we find him taking part in a quarrel, resulting in no less than three duels, in which he was wounded, and another of the combatants. Lord Purbecke, was killed.

With the advent of the War between King James and William of Orange for the Throne he sided with the original Monarch and saw service on a number of fronts. He did well at Sligo but at the crucial Battle of Aughrim he abruptly led his cavalry away from the scene of action as the Williamite Army was about to break through. While this may have been down to a disastrous error of judgement it cast a shadow over him that his further actions did nothing to dispel.

During the subsequent Siege of Limerick he was caught in secret correspondence with the besiegers in attempt to open private negotiations towards a capitulation. On the surrender of Limerick he went over openly to King William, and was active in inducing Irish soldiers to join the winning side or to enlist in foreign service. William III had the family estates and a pension of £500 settled on him, and became a major-general in the Dutch army. The Estate at Luttrellstown really belonged to his elder brother who went into Exile with King James. In 1693 he was employed as agent for the Venetian government to enlist 2,000 Irish Catholics for service against the Turks. On the death of William III he returned to Luttrellstown, where he thenceforward chiefly resided.

He returned to Ireland in the service of James II., bringing back to his native country the same sense of intrigue with which he left it. He fell out with his late brother's widow and as Colonel Henry Luttrell seems still to have professed to be a Roman Catholic, and a quarrel between him and Lady Eustace, a sister of Colonel Simon Luttrell's wife, is said, by Archbishop King writing in 1699, to have created two very furious parties amongst Roman Catholics. Intrigue on his part was not confined to public affairs, and whether the assassin to whom his death was due was actuated by political or private motives is open to doubt, although the Irish parliament and the publisher of an elegy on his death attributed his murder to the former.
A History of County Dublin
Francis Elrington Ball

In a bizarre and macabre twist to the tale of his life many years later in the 1790s, as Ireland exploded into more violence, his tomb at Clonsilla Graveyard, near to Luttrellstown Castle, was broken open and his skull smashed in.