Godart Van Ginkel - Encyclopedia

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GODART VAN GINKEL (1630-1703), 1st earl of Athlone, Dutch general in the service of England, was born at Utrecht in 1630. He came of a noble family, and bore the title of Baron van Reede, being the eldest son of Godart Adrian van Reede, Baron Ginkel. In his youth he entered the Dutch army, and in 1688 he followed William, prince of Orange, in his expedition to England. In the following year he distinguished himself by a memorable exploit - the pursuit, defeat and capture of a Scottish regiment which had mutinied at Ipswich, and was marching northward across the fens. It was the alarm excited by this mutiny that facilitated the passing of the first Mutiny Act. In 1690 Ginkel accompanied William III. to Ireland, and commanded a body of Dutch cavalry at the battle of the Boyne. On the king's return to England General Ginkel was entrusted with the conduct of the war. He took the field in the spring of 1691, and established his headquarters at Mullingar. Among those who held a command under him was the marquis of Ruvigny, the recognized chief of the Huguenot refugees. Early in June Ginkel took the fortress of Ballymore, capturing the whole garrison of l000 men. The English lost only 8 men. After reconstructing the fortifications of Ballymore the army marched to Athlone, then one of the most important of the fortified towns of Ireland. The Irish defenders of the place were commanded by a distinguished French general, Saint-Ruth. The firing began on June 19th, and on the 30th the town was stormed, the Irish army retreating towards Galway, and taking up their position at Aughrim. Having strengthened the fortifications of Athlone and left a garrison there, Ginkel led the English, on July 12th, to Aughrim. An immediate attack was resolved on, and, after a severe and at one time doubtful contest, the crisis was precipitated by the fall of Saint-Ruth, and the disorganized Irish were defeated and fled. A horrible slaughter of the Irish followed the struggle, and 4000 corpses were left unburied on the field, besides a multitude of others that lay along the line of the retreat. Galway next capitulated, its garrison being permitted to retire to Limerick. There the viceroy Tyrconnel was in command of a large force, but his sudden death early in August left the command in the hands of General Sarsfield and the Frenchman D'Usson. The English came in sight of the town on the day of Tyrconnel's death, and the bombardment was immediately begun. Ginkel, by a bold device, crossed the Shannon and captured the camp of the Irish cavalry. A few days later he stormed the fort on Thomond Bridge, and after difficult negotiations a capitulation was signed; the terms of which were divided into a civil and a military treaty. Thus was completed the conquest or pacification of Ireland, and the services of the Dutch general were amply recognized and rewarded. He received the formal thanks of the House of Commons, and was created by the king ist earl of Athlone and baron of Aughrim. The immense forfeited estates of the earl of Limerick were given to him, but the grant was a few years later revoked by the English parliament. The earl continued to serve in the English army, and accompanied the king to the continent in 1693. He fought at the sieges of Namur and the battle of Neerwinden, and assisted in destroying the French magazine at Givet. In 1702, waiving his own claims to the position of commander-in-chief, he commanded the Dutch serving under the duke of Marlborough. He died at Utrecht on the 11th of February 1703, and was succeeded by his son the 2nd earl (1668-1719), a distinguished soldier in the reigns of William III. and Anne. On the death of the 9th earl without issue in 1844, the title became extinct.

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