Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ginkel, Godert de

GINKEL, GODERT de, first Earl of Athlone (1630–1703), eldest son of Godard Adriaan van Reede, baron Ginkel, was born at Utrecht in 1630. He was educated for a military career, and took part in the battle of Senef in 1674. Though a member of the equestrian order of Utrecht, he never took his seat in that assembly, and in 1688 he accompanied the Prince of Orange to England (A. J. Van der Aa, Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden; Bosscha, Neêrlands Heldendaden te Land, ii. 172; Lodge, Peerage, ed. Archdall, ii. 153). His first service in England was the suppression of the mutiny of a Scotch regiment at Harwich on occasion of the proclamation of William and Mary. He overtook the mutineers not far from Sleaford in Lincolnshire, and immediately attacked them, though strongly ensconced among the fens of the district. His energy struck terror into them, and they surrendered at discretion (Macaulay, Hist. of England, ch. xi.). Accompanying William to Ireland in 1690, he distinguished himself at the battle of the Boyne, and was afterwards present at the first siege of Limerick in the autumn of the same year (Tindal, Hist. of England, iii. 137, 147; Story, Impartial History, p. 96). On the departure of William he was appointed general-in-chief of the Irish forces. He retired into winter quarters at Kilkenny, endeavouring, however, as far as possible to check the predatory excursions of the Irish guerilla bands, or ‘rapparees.’ The rapparees were an active race and difficult to come at, while his own soldiers were ill-supplied, their pay was in arrear, they were growing mutinous and were pillaging the neighbourhood (Burnet, Hist. of his own Time, ii. 66). In the spring of 1691 large supplies of money and provisions arrived, and Ginkel prepared to open the campaign with vigour. Collecting his troops in the vicinity of Mullingar, he marched straight on Athlone, the strongest fortress in the hands of the enemy and the key to the west of Ireland. The Duke of Würtemberg at the same time marched northward from Clonmel to join him, although in the opinion of General Mackay the plan gave a dangerous opportunity to St. Ruth, commanding the enemy, to attack before the juncture had been effected (Life of Mackay, p. 110). Ginkel, after capturing and regarrisoning Ballymore, a fort erected by Sarsfield to cover Athlone and Lanesborough, successfully accomplished his object, and with his combined force marched westward, appearing before the walls of Athlone on 19 June 1691. So strongly fortified was that town both by nature and by art that St. Ruth exclaimed: ‘His master ought to hang him for trying to take Athlone, and mine ought to hang me if I lose it.’ Nevertheless, after a series of gallant assaults, Ginkel succeeded on 30 June, by a brilliantly conceived though extremely hazardous plan, in capturing the place (see MACAULAY'S graphic description in Hist. of England, ch. xvii.). He used his victory with moderation, leaving nothing ‘unattempted which might contribute to bringing the enemy over by fair means.’ A proclamation by the lords justices promising pardon and a restoration to their estates to all who submitted within a certain specified time, made, according to Story, ‘a great noise’ all over the kingdom, and was the precedent for the articles of Galway and Limerick. But though many sued for pardon, the proclamation came too late to have any general effect; St. Ruth especially exerted himself to prevent his soldiers taking advantage of it. On 11 July Ginkel, having repaired the fortifications of Athlone and left a garrison there, fixed his headquarters at Ballinasloe, on the borders of Roscommon and Galway, about four miles from Aughrim, where St. Ruth had taken up his position. At five in the afternoon of 12 July the battle began, and after two hours of equal fighting was decided by the death at a critical moment of St. Ruth. Fighting obstinately and only yielding inch by inch, the Irish at length broke and fled. A horrible carnage ensued, and one who was present tells us that from the top of a neighbouring hill he saw the country to the distance of near four miles white with the naked bodies of the slain. After a few days' rest Ginkel moved towards Galway. According to the ‘Memoirs of King James,’ he might have finished the war at one blow had he marched straight on Limerick; as it was, he gave the Irish time to rally their scattered forces and complete their fortifications. Passing through Loughrea and Athenry, and cutting off all chance of assistance from Baldearg O'Donnell, he sat down before Galway on 19 July. Two days after, D'Usson, the governor, consented to a capitulation on favourable terms, pleading as an excuse the bad state of the fortifications, the ill-will of the citizens, many of whom were protestants, but above all the discouragement of the soldiers (Ranke, Hist. of England, v. 29). On the 26th Ginkel entered the city and was received with profound respect by the mayor and aldermen; D'Usson departed the same day with about 2,300 men for Limerick, ‘the last asylum of the vanquished race.’ Ginkel followed without loss of time, for the season was well advanced and the lords justices were anxious for a settlement before the arrival of fresh supplies from France. Disappointed in the expectation that the dissensions of the besieged would lead to a surrender, Ginkel carefully invested Limerick on all sides. Then, having completed his arrangements, he crossed the Shannon on 22 Sept., directing his main attack against the fort commanding the Thomond Bridge. A few hours afterwards the fort was stormed, and the besieged, deeming further resistance futile, beat a parley. An English squadron had meanwhile appeared in the estuary of the Shannon. On 3 Oct. the town, with the exception of the castle and cathedral, which were for a time left in the keeping of the Irish, was delivered up to Ginkel on conditions which have since excited considerable controversy, but which, so far as Ginkel was concerned, were faithfully kept (Macaulay, Hist. of England, ch. xvii.; T. D. Ingram, Two Chapters of Irish History, pp. 91–154; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. pp. 203, 207, 210). The capture of Limerick having practically put an end to the war, Ginkel, after a short delay, proceeded to Dublin, where he was greeted with public demonstrations of respect and gratitude. On 5 Dec. he sailed for England on board the Monmouth yacht, and two days afterwards arrived at Chester (Story, Continuation, p. 282). His journey to London resembled a triumphal progress, and on his arrival there he was publicly thanked by the speaker of the House of Commons for his services, to which he judiciously replied by ascribing his success to the bravery of his English soldiers. Shortly afterwards he was created Baron of Aughrim and Earl of Athlone (4 March 1692). He obtained a large grant of forfeited lands in Ireland, afterwards confirmed to him by the Irish parliament, but was subsequently deprived thereof by the Act of Resumption (Harris, Life of King William, pp. 353, 478). On 6 March 1692 he accompanied William to the continent, and after witnessing the capture of Namur by Lewis, and taking part in the battle of Steinkirk, he presided over the court-martial which tried and condemned Grandval for his plot to assassinate William. In the following year he served at the battle of Landen (19 July 1693), and narrowly escaped being drowned in his efforts to restore order during the retreat of the allies. In the campaign of 1695 he commanded the Dutch horse in the army of the elector of Bavaria, and played a prominent part at the recapture of Namur (Tindal, Hist. of England, iii. 288, 295). Early in the following spring he assisted Cohorn in surprising Givet and destroying the immense military stores collected there by Lewis for the ensuing campaign (Macaulay, Hist. of England, ch. xxii.). On the renewal of the war in 1702 he consented to waive his claim to the supreme command of the Dutch troops, and to serve under Marlborough, being chiefly instrumental in the capture of Kaiserswerth (Tindal, Hist. of England, iii. 562; Stanhope, Reign of Queen Anne, pp. 47, 49). He frankly admitted the superiority of Marlborough, by whom he was supplanted. ‘The success of this campaign,’ he generously said, ‘is solely due to this incomparable chief, since I confess that I, serving as second in command, opposed in all circumstances his opinion and proposals’ (Coxe, Life of Marlborough, i. 147). He died on 11 Feb. in the following year (1703) at Utrecht, after two days' illness (Europ. Merc. 1703, p. 160). He married Ursula Philippina van Raasfeld, by whom he had several children.

Frederick Christian Ginkel, second Earl of Athlone (1668–1719), the eldest son, succeeded him. He early acquired considerable reputation as a soldier in the wars of William's and Anne's reigns, and rose to the position of lieutenant-general of the Dutch cavalry and governor of Sluys. During the siege of Aire, on the river Lys (1710), he was entrusted with the command of a convoy, but being intercepted by the enemy was defeated, and notwithstanding great personal bravery taken prisoner (De Quincy, Hist. Militaire, ii. 300). He married Henrietta van Nassau Zuilenstein, youngest daughter of William van Nassau, earl of Rochefort, by whom he had two sons. He died on 15 Aug. 1719 (Van der Aa, Biog. Woordenboek). On the death of William Gustaaf Frederick, ninth earl of Athlone, on 21 May 1844, the peerage became extinct (Burke, Extinct Peerage).

[A. J. Van der Aa's Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden; Lodge's Peerage (Archdall); Burke's Extinct Peerage; Bosscha's Neêrlands Heldendaden te Land; Compleat Hist. of the Life and Military Actions of Richard, earl of Tyrconnel, 1689; Story's Impartial History of the Wars in Ireland and Continuation; O'Kelly's Macariæ Excidium (Irish Archæol. Soc.); Clarke's Life of James II; Mémoires de Berwick; Tenac, Hist. de la Marine, t. iii.; Rawdon Papers; Diary of the Siege of Athlone, by an Engineer of the Army, a witness of the action, licensed 11 July 1691; Mackay's Life of General Mackay; Captain R. Parker's Memoirs; An exact Journal of the Victorious Progress of their Majesties' forces under the command of General Ginckle this Summer in Ireland, 1691; Diary of the Siege of Lymerick, 1692; Burnet, Hist. of his own Time; Tyndal's Hist. of England; M. O'Conor's Military History; London Gazette; Walter Harris's Life of William III; Europische Mercurius; De Quincy, Histoire Militaire de Louis le Grand; Letters of the Duke of Marlborough, ed. Sir George Murray; Rousset's continuation of Dumont's Batailles gagnées; Coxe's Life of Marlborough; Narcissus Luttrell's Diary, 1678–1714; Macaulay's Hist. of England, with references to documents preserved in the Public Record Office and in the archives of the French war office; Stanhope's Reign of Queen Anne; Ranke's Hist. of England; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. 317–25, where are a number of letters from Ginkel, chiefly addressed to Coningsby in 1690 and following years. Among the manuscripts of the Earl of Fingall is one entitled ‘A Light to the Blind, whereby they may see the … Dethronement of J[ames] the Second, king of England,’ &c. 1711. The manuscript, strongly Jacobite in tone, appears to have been lent to Sir James Mackintosh, who made copious extracts from it, which were in turn placed at the disposal of Lord Macaulay, and frequently referred to by him. A full account of the manuscript is given by Mr. J. T. Gilbert in Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. t. v. p. 107 sqq.]

R. D.