Justin McCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel

Justin MacCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel (Irish: Saorbhreathach Mac Cárthaigh; died 1 July 1694) was a Jacobite general in the Williamite War in Ireland, and a personal friend of James II.


McCarthy was the younger son of Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty, from the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty who had lands in County Desmond. His mother was Lady Eleanor Butler, sister of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde.[1] The family had had their property confiscated under the Cromwellian regime, but it was restored to them at the Restoration of Charles II . Justin McCarthy was made Viscount Mountcashel with the subsidiary title of Baron Castleinch on 1 May 1689 and became a Lieutenant-General.[2]

Justin was born about 1643, and seems to have grown up mainly in France. He became a professional soldier, and showed great skill, but poor eyesight hampered his career. He entered the French army in 1671, and then transferred to the Duke of Monmouth's regiment, then in French pay, and served against the Dutch.[3]

He came to England in 1678 and was befriended by the future James II, who generally chose soldiers, especially Irish soldiers, as his boon companions. Charles II decided to use him for service in Ireland, and made him a colonel in Sir Thomas Dongan's regiment. On the outbreak of the Popish Plot, however, the discovery of MacCarthy's presence at Whitehall caused uproar: he fled the country, and the Secretary of State, Sir Joseph Williamson, who had issued his commission, was sent to the Tower of London.[4]

Family disputes

By 1683 he was at Court again, and his growing influence is shown by the marriage he arranged for his immensely wealthy nephew Donough MacCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarty. The 3rd Earl had died in 1676, leaving his young son in the care of his widow Lady Elizabeth FitzGerald, daughter of George FitzGerald, 16th Earl of Kildare: she has been described as "a fierce Protestant isolated in a Catholic family".[5] She placed her son in the care of John Fell, Bishop of Oxford, for a Protestant education. Justin was determined to have the final word on the young earl's marriage and religion, and persuaded the King to invite him to Court for Christmas. Here Donough, at sixteen, was married to Elizabeth Spencer, daughter of Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, who was two years younger. The marriage, which went unconsummated for many years, was a failure, and Sunderland's biographer remarked that it left a stain on the reputation of all those who ruined the lives of two young people, without any obvious gain.[6]Gilbert Burnet however wrote that in anything that did not directly concern his religion, MacCathy was an honourable man.[7]

Under James II

Under the Catholic King James II, MacCarthy became both Major General and a member of the Privy Council of Ireland. He quarrelled with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon, and probably worked to secure his recall.[8]

In 1689 he took Castlemartyr and Bandon for James;[9] at Bandon there was a massacre called "Bloody Monday", but MacCarthy persuaded the King to issue a general pardon. He met James at his landing at Kinsale, and was commanded to raise seven regiments. He sat in the Irish House of Lords in the Parliament of 1689.[10]

With 3,000 men he advanced from Dublin towards Enniskillen, which with Derry was the remaining resistance to James II. He was met by 2,000 Protestant 'Inniskillingers' at the Battle of Newtownbutler on 31 July 1689. Mountcashel's forces were routed; he was wounded, then captured. Allowed out on parole he broke parole and escaped to Dublin; Schomberg remarked that he had thought MacCarthy was a man of honour, but on the other hand he expected no better from an Irishman.[11]

He went into exile in France and commanded the first Irish Brigade of Louis XIV. His later career was hampered by his near-blindness. He died at Barège in 1694 and was buried there.[12]


He married Lady Arabella Wentworth, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford and his second wife Lady Arabella Holles, who was many years older than himself; they had no children. Howerver It is said that McCarthy had one child with a lady of the night named Elizabeth Billington. The childs name was Catherine. At his death he tried to leave his property to a cousin, but much of it seems to have come to his niece, another Catherine, sister of the 4th Earl of Clancarty. Her husband, Paul Davys, had the title Viscount Mount Cashell revived.[13]


  1. Cokayne The Complete Peerage Reprinted Gloucester 2000 Vol.II, p. 163
  2. Webb, Alfred 1878 A Compendium of Irish Biography M. H. Gill and Co. Dublin p.304
  3. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Vol. XIII Second Series 1907 p.157
  4. Kenyon, J. P. The Popish Plot 2nd edition Phoenix Press 2000 p. 117
  5. Kenyon J.P. Robert Spencer 2nd Earl of Sunderland 1641-1702 Longmans Green and Co. 1958 p.102
  6. Kenyon Sunderland p.102
  7. Burnet, Gilbert History of His Own Time Everyman abridged edition 1906 p.216
  8. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Vol. XIII Second Series 1907 p.157
  9. Webb p.304
  10. Webb p.304
  11. Webb p.304
  12. Webb p.304
  13. Cokayne Vol.1 p.445
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