John Michelburne


Life
1647 [var.1648]-1721 [Michelborne or Michelburne; err. Mitchelbourne, &c.]; b. 8 Jan., Horsted Keynes, Sussex; prob. brought up in Ballyarthur Hse. at Kilcandra, nr. Vale of Avoca, Co. Wicklow, where his father received or leased land; served at Tangier under Percy Kirke, 1680-83; commissioned as major by Duke of Orange, 5 Feb. 1689; involved in Carrickfergus landing of William III; commanded Skeffington’s foot at Cladyford and in the City of Londonderry; appt. deputy-governor by Baker, 17 June 1689; acted as military governor throughout the siege, becoming governor with George Walker at Baker’s death, and sole governor after the relief of Derry, 1689;
 
refused a bribe of £10,000 from the Jacobite leaders; suffered the death of his wife and two children, 1689; commanded a corps. of combined regiments at Boyne; served at the siege of Sligo town, stormed on 19 Sept 1691; appt. Gov. of Sligo [see Harris, iii; ODNB], defending the property of locals from his own forces; remained permanently in Derry as an alderman; petitioned for arrears of pay, 1691, being paid in 1703; his statement of loss in 1699 caused offence leading to his being deposed as alderman; reinstated after litigation [mandamus]; suffered imprisonment in the Fleet, 1709;
 
issued a play, Ireland Preserved, or the Siege of Londonderry (1705, 3 edns.), and poss. written in the Fleet and contesting the account of Rev. John Walker; contains populist caricatures of church leaders, landed gentry and city burghers; George Farquhar - also imprisoned at the time - may have been involved in its composition; much bowdlerised by nineteenth-century editors; separated from his second wife, Susanna Beresford-Jackson of Coleraine, who was mother of seven children (sometimes mistated as his own);
 
he bequeathed £50 for maintaining the red flag on the cathedral, a custom that he instituted [together with the placing of the French flags within]; established earliest Derry Siege commemoration in 1718; d. in Derry, 1 Oct., bur. Glendermot Churchyard, south of Derry city, where there is a funerary monument (restored); his sword and saddle are preserved in Derry, the latter being used in Apprentice Boy rituals; celebrated by the Mitchelburne Club as ‘Defender of Derry’; he corresponded with Archb. William King. ODNB DIW OCIL DIL2

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Works
Prose
, C[ol]. J. Michelburne, An Account of the transactions in the north of Ireland, anno domini 1691, and of many other remarkable passages during our last years successful campaign in that kingdom [microform]: with a particular relation of the manner of beseiging and taking the town of Sligoe by storm by the Honourable Collonel John Michelburne, Governor of London-derry, and sometimes Governour of the town and fort of Sligoe, the commander in chief of their Majesties forces in the province of Ulster (London [s.n.] 1692), [14], 96pp., 4o; The Case of Col. J. Michelburne, the late Governor of Londonderry and the regt. under his command (London [1699]), rep. as. The Case of Col. J Michelburn late Governour of London-Derry ... offered to consideration of the ... House of Commons (London [1703; 1708]).

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Plays, Ireland Preserv’d, or the Siege of London-Derry together with the troubles of the North written by the then Governor [Michelburne], a tragi-comedy in two parts, each in 5 acts and in prose (London [priv.] 1705; rep. 1708); Do., with Robert Ashton, Battle of Aughrim (1774; 1783; 1839); Ireland Preserved; or the Siege of Londonderry, with The Battle of Aughrim, with lyrical poetry and biographical notes by the Rev. John Graham (Dublin: Hardy & Walker 1841), xiv, 396pp. , 8o.

Holograph, A manuscript version close to the second edition of 1705 is held in the British Library (Stowe MS 977), though unlikely to be in his hand.

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Criticism
Cecil David Milligan, History of the Siege of Londonderry (1951); Christopher Morash, A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 (Cambridge UP 2002), p.32ff. See also Irish Book Lover Vols. 1 & 2

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Commentary
G. C. Duggan, The Stage Irishman (Dublin: Talbot 1937), notes that John Michelburne’s Ireland Preserved or The Troubles of the North, being a preparation to the Siege of Derry, a tragi-comedy; the second part being The Siege of Derry. 2nd edn., 1708, has portrait of Michelbourne (Vera Effigies Iohannes Michelburn Armigeri Gubernatoris Derriensis, a.d. 1689); first ed. of both parts dated 1705; probably written in the Fleet; a ded. makes the first reference to ‘the Virgin City’. The first part is scarce, but the second part popularised in Ulster. Remodelled by Rev John Graham of Magilligan in 1841, removing all the vigour of the original. Michelburn became third military governor after ousting of Lundy and the death of Baker; settled in [Derry] after the Siege, with occasional visits to London. Plays never intended to be staged. Michelburne’s own country, as he hints in the preface of his play, had forgotten him within a few years, and from his quiet home near the city which he had helped to defend he could look with a tolerant eye on those who differed from him in faith, but possessed the simple virtues of the soldier in arms. / He died in 1722 [sic] and left a legacy to ring the bells of the Cathedral on the anniversary of the raising of the siege. [102]

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J. O. Bartley, Teague, Shenkin and Sawney: Being an Historical Study of the Earliest Irish, Welsh and Scottish Characters in English Plays (Cork UP 1954), 102ff., notes that in Michelburne’s Ireland Preserved (1705), Teigue, Dermot, and Sulivan, peasants, enter ‘all with Brougs and white Stockins, hats with Hair Bands, each one of them with an Old Cloak, one Red, one Blew, and one Freize’ and an Irishwoman called Nora wears ‘a Kerchief on her head, and a Mantle pin’d about her Shoulders; in another scene, ‘three New Raised Soldiers’ on the Jacobite side appear, ‘Teigue, in a Gray Lac’d Coat, Tulough, with a Scarlet Cloak, Tob, with a Broad Cloth Coat. Old hats and brogues on their feet.’ ... There is no mention of Irish national garments in any play after Ireland Preserved [102]; he does not nationalise the upper class, but there is a good deal of realism in the presentation of peasants and similar native types; [used] partially conventionalised mimicry of Irish speak in garrison society; Bartley quotes extended passage in which Teigue argues that it is preferable to have a Trooper in his bed with his wife (‘he doth cover her and keep my wife fery faarme’) and get sheep and pigs by it than put her in the care of the Priest [111]; Although M. lays some stress on the bloodthirstiness of the rapparees, one of whom has a ‘skein to Sacrifize de Womans and Shildrens [and a knife] ‘to rip up de great Bellyed Womans’, and includes a scene in which a Protestant woman is just saved from rape by two rapparees, he is on the whole surprisingly moderate and his sketch of the dialect-speaking priest is more moderate than O’Divelly (of Shadwell) if more severe than Foigard (of Farquhar) [112]; Michelburne’s pronuncation superior to Henry Brooke’s attempts in unacted Contending Brothers [201], TITLE PAGE, IRELAND PRESERVED, Pts 1 & 2, John Michelburne, 1705 & 1708; several Scottish chars., mainly Ulster Scots [260]; [lists nine items transliterated from Irish, 274], [phonogical notes,283]; [do., 290].

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References
Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912), lists Ireland Preserv’d or the Siege of Londonderry (Dublin 1738-39), tragicom.; also cites an earlier edn of 1707 and refers to an earlier still as having been published anonymously under the title Piety and Valour, or Derry Defended (1692) [but not held in BML].

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British Library holds An Account of the transactions in the North of Ireland ... with a particular relation of the manner of ... taking the town of Sligo by storm, by C. J. Michelburne &c. (1692), 4o; Ireland Preserv’d, or the Siege of London-Derry together with the troubles of the North written by the then Governor (J. Michelburne), a tragi-comedy in two parts, each in 5 acts and in prose. 2 pt. [privately printed] (London 1705]), fol.; another edn., 1708 [text the same, add. material shows that it was not printed before accession of George I; end pages from earlier edn.]; another edn., with [Robert Ashton’s] Battle of Aughrim (1783), 12o; another edn., with Battle of Aughrim (1774), 12o; another edn., with Battle of Aughrim (1839); also John Graham, [revised] edn., with Battle of Aughrim (1841).

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COPAC adds The Case of Col. J. Michelburne, the late Governor of Londonderry and the regt. under his command (London [1699]); The Case of Col. J. Michelburn late Governour of London-Derry ... offered to consideration of the ... House of Commons (London ?1703); The Case of Colonel J. Michelburne late Govr of Londonderry further consider’d (London 1708?).

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Yale Univ. Library holds An Account of the transactions in the north of Ireland, anno domini 1691, and of many other remarkable passages during our last years successful campaign in that kingdom [microform]: with a particular relation of the manner of beseiging and taking the town of Sligoe by storm by the Honourable Collonel John Michelburne, Governor of London-derry, and sometimes Governour of the town and fort of Sligoe, the commander in chief of their Majesties forces in the province of Ulster. (London: [s.n.], 1692), [14], 96 pp. [SML, Microform / Film S2663).

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Belfast Linenhall Library holds Ireland Preserved, or the Siege of Londonderry (eds. 1744, 1841).

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Notes
Voices of the Siege (Playhouse/Londonderry 22-23 June 2005) by director and writer Vivien Hewitt dramatises the siege of Londonderry with words from those who lived through the 105 day long ordeal in 1689. Holland writes: ‘What strikes you about the people of the 17th century [...] is not only their ability to commit their story to paper in an entertaining way, but also their resilience, their sense of humour and their ability to see the absurd side of life. The cast draws mainly from the Derry-Donegal area but we also have two Americans from the heart of the Scots Irish world and an artist of Polish origin playing the Lithuanian General Rosen. .. delighted to have Gregory Peck, who played Walker in the Tercentenary celebrations, back in his pet role.’ Incls. readings from Londerias, an epic poem in the Scottish ballad style by Joseph Aikin, a doctor who saved many lives during the siege; others appearing are Sarah Lyle (Duchess of Orleans and leader of a group of Derry Amazon who give their all in Col. John Michelburne's tragic-comic dramatisation of the Siege of Londonderry); Kieran Griffgiths as Michelburne; connor Clifford as Jacobite apologist Nicholas Plunket; Julius Guzy as General Rosen; also Nuala Quinn, Jane McCarter, Scott Cooper and Loren Ohnesorge. Voices of the siege is a production of the Siege and Restoration Drama Project of the Institute of Ulster Scots studies involving 2nd year drama students of Univ of Ulster's School of media and Performing Arts. (Publicity material, June 2005.)

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