Resources on the Life of William Lamport

Later this week we will be continuing with Chapter 2 of ‘The Legend of William Lamport’. In the interim, a couple of readers to the site have been in contact to ask how they could access further information regarding Lamport and his extraordinary life.

Where possible to obtain a copy, Gerard Ronan’s excellent ‘The Irish Zorro- The Extraordinary Adventures Of William Lamport (1615-1659)’, comes highly recommended.

For further historical analysis on the life of William Lamport, History Ireland published an insightful article back in 2001 as part of Early Modern History (1500-1700) entitled ‘The Man Behind The Mask of Zorro’. This article also comes with a ‘Further Reading’ list.

In terms of documentary information Newstalk’s J.J. O’Shea produced an engaging audio documentary Man and Myth which you can still listen to today as a podcast.

Across all aforementioned sources a recurring theme of connecting the life events of Lamport as inspiration for Johnston McCulley in his creation of ‘Zorro’ are implied by the authors. The merits of this statement does warrant further discussion and will serve as the subject of a future article on this site.

In the meantime, we leave you with a preview of what’s to come in our next installment of Chapter 2 with a depiction of the Jesuit College College of Back Lane in Dublin, where a young Lamport would have studied as the ‘Oath of Supremacy’ would have made Trinity College inaccessible to him. Art and colours by Cormac Hughes and Ellie Wright respectively.

Jesuit College of Back Lane, Dublin. Art by Cormac Hughes and Colours by Ellie Wright.

Chapter 2- Pt. 1

Welcome to the start of the next thrilling installment as we explore the Legend of William Lamport. This chapter begins with exploring Lamport’s teen years and the events which will ultimately lead him to London.

Chapter 2, pg. 1 Art by Cormac Hughes, Colour by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones
Chapter 2, pg. 2 Art by Cormac Hughes, Colour by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones

The Political Landscape of 17th Century Ireland

The years of 1536-1691 bore witness to the erosion of Gaelic Culture as the first full conquest by England of the island of Ireland was undertaken. This was achieved through the colonization by Protestant Settlers from England. The 17th Century bore witness to the emergence of great estates formed from the confiscated lands of the Gaelic Chieftains.

What emerged from this tumultuous time were two pivotal themes within the history of Ireland:

1.) The subordination of Ireland to London-based governments.

2.) Sectarian animosity between Catholics and Protestants.

Under King Henry VIII Ireland was transformed from a Lordship to a full Kingdom. Often cited as a strong reason as to why Henry VIII sought to conquer Ireland completely, the growing influence of the Fitzgerald dynasty in County Kildare is provided as evidence. The Fitzgeralds had become the effective rulers of Ireland in the 15th Century and their allegiance to the Tudor Monarchs became questionable.

Since the forming of a lordship in Ireland in the 12th Century, Ireland had retained its own Parliament. To secure effective control over Ireland as a full Kingdom, Henry VIII pursued a Policy of “surrender and regrant”. Under this policy Gaelic Chiefs, and some autonomous Norman-Irish Lords, were actively encouraged to surrender their lands to the King of England and recognise him as the King of Ireland and then have their lands regranted to them. Those who resisted faced military reprisals. Those who surrendered their lands were expected to; speak English, wear English style-clothing, follow English laws and customs, remain loyal to the crown and convert to Henry VIII’s new church. Ultimately this conquest, which was completed under Elizabeth I and James I, resulted in the assimilation and abolition of lordships which had been independent for several hundred years.

As discussed back in the entry for Chapter 1 Part 1 of ‘The Legend of William Lamport’, Hugh O’Neill and his allies, supported by a Spanish expeditionary force were defeated at ‘The Battle of Kinsale’ in 1601 and forced to surrender to James I in 1603.

From the mid-16th Century to the early 17th Century the English government carried out a policy of colonisation known as ‘Plantations’. These new settlers held a strong British and Protestant identity and would go on to form the ruling class of the British administration in Ireland.

What resulted under this new administration were a series of ‘Penal Laws’ which discriminated against all other Christian Faiths apart from the Church of Ireland formed by Henry VIII. Roman Catholics suffered greatly under these laws. From 1607 they were prevented from taking Public Office. By 1615, it was made law that there would always be a Protestant majority for any vote given in the Irish House of Commons.

Ireland’s political landscape in the 17th Century was further altered by the emergence of the “New English”. This Anglo-Irish class replaced the Gaelic Irish and “Old English” ruling class. The use of “New” and “Old” was to further distinguish them from Hiberno-Norman settlers from medieval times.

The effects of this turbulent political landscape will be explored among the themes of Chapter 2 of ‘The Legend of William Lamport’ as we will see that Lamport himself is prevented from studying in Trinity College in Dublin (founded by Elizabeth I) due to the ‘Oath of Supremacy’ (recognising the king of England as the head of the whole church of Ireland) and this would be a contributing factor in taking young William from Ireland to England. We will also see an example of how tenant farmers and peasant classes suffered under the sectarian governing of Crown rule.

It would not take an immense leap in logic to hypothesise that the experiences of the land displaced Irish Catholics of this time helped focus Lamport’s sympathies towards the land displaced Mexicans he would later encounter.

‘The Legend of William Lamport’, Chapter 2, Page 1- Art Preview, By Cormac Hughes

Word Balloon Podcast Interview

Ahead of the release of Chapter 2, ‘The Legend of William Lamport’ author Eoin McAuley spoke about the project in depth with John Siuntres of the Word Balloon Podcast.

Word Balloon is currently in its 15th year and for the past decade and a half John has been interviewing comic creators from many different publishers and has amassed a very impressive archive of insightful discussions with comic creators about their work and careers.

The full Word Balloon podcast archive is available for free here.

If you wish to support the Podcast Mr. Siuntres has a Patreon account here.

During the McAuley interview background to the project’s development and an overview of Lamport’s biography is discussed. Other topics are touched upon as well such as classic swashbuckling films and wider discussions on mainstream comics and the Irish Comic Book Community in general.

You can listen to and/or download the full interview here.

There will also be a video recording of the interview posted to the Word Balloon YouTube page which you can subscribe to for free here.

Before you go, be sure to check out some great art work by Cormac Hughes from Chapter 2 (starting next week) below.

‘The Legend of William Lamport’, Chapter 2 Art Preview By Cormac Hughes

Chapter 1- Conclusion

A little later than advertised, we’re happy to present the concluding pages to Chapter 1 which sees young William commence his education and hone his legendary intellect.

Chapter 1, pg. 7 Art by Cormac Hughes, Colour by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones
Chapter 1, pg. 8 Art by Cormac Hughes, Colour by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones

Chapter 2 Preview

This week we are concluding chapter 1 of ‘The Legend of William Lamport’, highlighting young Lamport’s childhood in Wexford. This chapter along with our 7 page prologue will be shared in a collected format on our Facebook page shortly after the final installment for chapter 1 is posted (a link to our Facebook page can be found on the contact page of this website- by ‘Liking’ and ‘Following’ the page you will be updated on all of the latest posts and installments of our story).

Ahead of chapter 1’s conclusion we’re offering a brief preview to chapter 2. This will explore Lamport’s teenage years and his wider education. Lamport’s father, Richard, managed to use his resources to have William sent to London for further learning. William’s options at home in Ireland were limited due to ‘The Oath of Supremacy’ which meant that anyone wishing to study in Trinity College, must swear an Oath recognising the King of England as the supreme leader of the Church of Ireland. This alienated the majority of Catholic citizens in Ireland.

Ireland’s political landscape in the 17th Century was further altered by the emergence of the “New English”. This Anglo-Irish class replaced the Gaelic Irish and “Old English” ruling class. The use of “New” and “Old” was to further distinguish them from Hiberno-Norman settlers from medieval times.

These political and sociocultural aspects will be further explored in a brief supplemental essay format on this website.

In the meantime, please enjoy Cormac Hughes’s character design for a teenage Lamport and an extract from chapter 2 page 1.

Sketch of Teenage Lamport by Cormac Hughes
Some Pencil work by Cormac Hughes from Chapter 2, Page 1.

Preview: Chapter 1- Pt. 2

This week the second part of Chapter 1 looks at the relationship between a young William Lamport and his father Richard and how his father’s advice will impact his life.

The artwork below is by Cormac Hughes. Stay tuned for more content coming soon.

Chapter 1 Pt. 2 Preview Art by Cormac Hughes
Chapter 1 Pt. 2 Preview Art by Cormac Hughes

Chapter 1- Pt. 1

Welcome back to this week’s installment. Starting Chapter 1 we explore some of William Lamport’s backstory. Son to Allison and Richard Lamport, William had two brothers John and Gerald and a younger sister Catherine. John was five years older than William the second eldest.

The genealogy of the Lamport family line is a fascinating one. His Father Richard helped to pilot a Spanish armada into Kinsale (The Battle of Kinsale, 1601) against the English overlords. This was part of a rebellion led by Gaelic Chieftain Hugh O’Neil. The General of the Armada sent was Juan Del Águila. Ultimately the rebellion failed and Richard reinvented himself as a merchant.

Lamport’s maternal grandfather was Leonard Sutton of Rahayle, a local nobleman who may have worked with Richard, possibly sharing connections to Spain as part of a smuggling operation, which may have culminated in a brief stint in a North African Prison.

The start of this chapter sees Richard return home to Wexford following his merchant dealings. At the time Wexford would have been a noisy place covered in raw sewage, tanning pits, brothels and alehouses.

Richard learns from his own brother that his wife Allison has passed and his brother has been caring for Richard’s children. Grief for the loss of his wife would drive Richard to seek atonement and ultimately take up the Priesthood. This path would be formative in young Willie Lamport’s education. But for now we will see how the loss of his mother so early in life left such a profound impact on Willie. We meet him as a carefree risk taker, but on a collision course reunion with his father and the advice that he has to impart.

William as a child seemed to be the type to push things to the absolute limit, so when the bloody sport of bull baiting arrived from Spain to Wexford, he was sure to take the opportunity to enrapture a crowd.

Chapter 1, pg. 1 Art by Cormac Hughes, Colour by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones
Chapter 1, pg. 2 Art by Cormac Hughes, Colour by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones