Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Hara, Charles (1640?-1724)

O'HARA, Sir CHARLES, first Lord Tyrawley (1640?–1724), military commander, is said to have been a native of Mayo, but his patent of peerage (Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, iv. 201 n.) describes him as of Leyny, co. Sligo. If he was really eighty-four at his death in 1724, he must have oeen born in 1640 ; but it is just possible that he was ten years younger, and thus identifiable with Charles, second son of Sir William O'Hara, knt., of Crebilly, co. Antrim, who was admitted fellow-commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, in June 1667, at the age of seventeen. In 1679 he was gazetted to a captaincy in the Earl of Ossory's regiment (Bnt. Mus. Add. MSS), having been Ossory's 'tutor' (Lodge, l.c.), that is, probably, tutor to his son James, second duke of Ormonde, who was born in 1666. In 1688 he was transferred to the 1st footguards, of which he became lieutenant-colonel in March, and he was knighted in August 1689. He served under William III in Flanders ; in 1696 was made brigadier-general, in 1702 major-general, in 1704 lieutenant-general, and on 3 Nov. 1714 general. Meanwhile, in November 1696, at Ghent, he had been rewarded with the colonelcy of the royal fusiliers, now the 7th foot. His regiment, after being stationed in the Channel Islands from 1697, was in 1703 sent on the Cadiz expedition under Ormonde. O'Hara distinguished himself at the capture of Vigo and the burning of the Spanish fleet, but is said to have treacnerously thwarted Ormonde (Parnell, War of the Succession in Spain, p. 29). He was arrested for having connived at the plunder of Port St. Mary, tried by a court-martial, and acquitted. In 1706 Hara was created a peer of Ireland, taking his title from Tirawley or Tyrawley, a barony in co. Mayo. In 1706 he proceeded to Spain with his regiment, and was appointed second in command to the Earl of Galway. At Guadalaxara his gallant defence of an outpost for two hours 'only just saved the army from a disgraceful surprise' (Russell, Peterborough, ii. 64). On 16 Jan. 1707 a council of war was held at Valencia, in which Galway, Tyrawley, and Stanhope were in favour of immediate offensive operations with undivided troops. Peterborough advocated delay, but appears to have been outvoted by the foreign generals. Galway, Tyrawley, and Stanhope put their opinions in writing, and sent them to England (Stanhope to Sir C. Hedges in Stanhope's War of Succession in Spain, App. p. 44). The result of the attempt to march on Madrid was the disastrous battle of Almanza, fought on 25 April 1707. Tyrawley, though the royal fusiliers were not present, was in command of the left wing of the allies, and made two charges, which were repulsed by the Due de Popoli (Parnell, op. cit. pp. 218-19; Boyer, p.292). He was wounded, but escaped with the cavalry to Tortosa (Stanhope, op. cit. p. 231). He soon returned to England, either before September 1707 (Parnell, p. 230), or with his regiment in 1708. He took his seat as a peer 25 May 1710, and was sworn a privy councillor, being re-sworn in 1714 by George I. His regiment was at Minorca 1709-13, and he was probably governor of that island. In January 1711 the tory party in the House of Lords, in order to cement their alliance with Peterborough, summoned Galway and Tyrawley to answer for the mismanagement of the war in Spain in 1707. Tyrawley 'stood upon the reserve,' and said that 'when he was in the army he kept no register, and carried neither pen nor ink about him, but only a sword' (Boyer, p. 485). On 9 Jan. Galway produced his 'Narrative,' and on Peterborough's making adverse statements, Tyrawley demanded to know, before he made any explanations, whether he was accused or not. The opposition raised a debate as to his right to an answer. Peterborough disclaimed any wish to accuse him, and Tyrawley then gave a short account, supporting Galway. On a resolution being passed declaring the three generals responsible for the offensive operations and for the disaster at Almanza, Galway and Tyrawley petitioned (11 Jan.) for time to produce answers, and the whig peers recorded two strong protests in their favour; but no further steps were taken (Rogers, Protests of the Lord, i. clxix, clxx).

On 6 Nov. 1714 Tyrawley, having resigned his colonelcy to his son, was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland, where he raised a regiment of foot in 1715. This post he retained till 1721. He was some time governor of the Royal Hospital near Dublin. He died on 8 or 9 June 1724, and was buried on 11 June in the chancel-vault of St. Mary's, Dublin.

Tyrawley had married Frances, daughter of Gervase Rouse of Rouse-Lench, Worcester, who survived him, and died on 10 Nov. 1738. He left, besides his son James [q. v.], a daughter Mary, who died in 1759 (Burke, Extinct Peerage). He is described as a man of 'a good understanding, a large fund of learning, and fit to command an army' (Lodge, l.c.) Some official letters by him are preserved among the Tyrawley Papers (Addit. MSS. 1854-60, pp. 876-8), and also among the Ellis Papers (Addit. MS. 28946).

[Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, vol. iv.; Stanhope's War of the Succession in Spain; Parnell's War of the Succession in Spain; Cannon's Historical Records of the British Army, 7th Foot; Parl. Hist. vi. 938 seq.; Burnet's Hist, of Own Time; Boyer's Annals of Queen Anne, 1735; Townsend's Cat of Knights; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

H. E. D. B.