It was November 5, 1688 when William of Orange landed in Brixham and James II’s army deserted. James was to go to Ireland. He landed three days before St. Patrick’s Day in 1689, hopeful of recovering his kingdoms. Among those who pledged their support was that mayor of Dublin, Walter Lawless, who had a son named Patrick, born in 1676.
It’s been argued that the Battle of Aughrim in Galway in July 1691 was the bloodiest ever fought on the British Isles. Patrick, despite his young age, saw action at Aughrim. He was one of the lucky ones, if stories of atrocities by the Williamites are to be believed - some 2,000 Jacobites were killed in cold blood, having been promised shelter.
He was taken prisoner, while the family assets were confiscated. His imprisonment was only short. He went into exile in France, where the Dublin County Regiment was to be ceded to Felipe V of Spain. The War of the Spanish Succession had yet to start, but Patrick was soon to become ensconced in Spanish royal circles. He was now a Bourbon man, and the Bourbons were determined to secure Spain. Patrick took the Spanish shilling and much more. But whereas Guy Fawkes had given himself an Italian name, Patrick’s became Spanish - Patricio - and his surname changed to Laules. For good measure, and in Spanish tradition, his mother’s surname was added. Patricio Laules y Briaen formally entered the service of Felipe V in 1703. Such was the king’s confidence in him that he was in charge of the royal guard.
Bygones weren’t truly bygones, but those bloody times nevertheless required some diplomacy. A fighting man, Patricio dipped his toe in diplomatic circles for the first time in 1714. Ironic? Or it might possibly have been construed as having been provocative. There again, Patricio had been Patrick. He spoke English. And so Felipe appointed him ambassador to the court of George I, the British and the Spanish having made their peace in July 1713, which meant that the British, although they were called upon to do so, didn’t go the aid of the Crown of Aragon (and of Mallorca) in what were the final acts of the War of the Spanish Succession and of Bourbon victory.
Patricio had a new career as a diplomat but he still had his military background, and Felipe’s military was established in Mallorca, just in case there was any thought of insurrection. Not that there was, as noble families had taken it upon themselves to put aside any divided loyalties and to try and ensure peace. The result was the alliance known as the Nou Cases, the Nine Houses of the Mallorcan nobility.
In November 1725, Patricio would have been well received by the houses such as the Cotoner of Ariany and the Dameto. Absolutely he would have been, for Patricio was now the Captain General of Mallorca. He was Felipe’s man on the island. A servant of the Spanish crown, he nevertheless still retained his Irish roots, and so Patricio took the opportunity to encourage Irish migrants to move to Mallorca. He created an Irish colony. Of those who were to arrive on the island was Juan O’Neille, who founded the O’Neille house in Mallorca and whose grandson, Joan O’Neille i Rossinyol, was to become Mallorca’s first great landscape painter. Patricio was to remain in Mallorca until his death in 1739, his time on the island not having been without some controversy. This concerned one Josep Bassa, who was an “oidor”, literally a hearer, the senior judge at the courts in Palma. Responsible for royal justice on the island, Josep was the victim of an assault from which he nearly died.
Who had attacked him? Why had they attacked him? Why did investigations lead nowhere? Well, it’s believed that at the centre of this matter was a lady from the Mallorcan Nine Houses nobility and an extra-marital affair. There was scandal in Palma, which somehow led to the judge being a victim. Patricio managed to hush things up. The attackers, it was widely believed (known), were officers from the Irish regiment that he had been so keen to expand.
Patricio was no saint, but there might be a particular St. Patrick’s Day neatness to his story had he not survived until he did. Following a stroke he suffered in 1735, he was granted royal licence for leave of absence. He went to the spa of Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the Occitanie region of France. But he didn’t fully recover. Back in Mallorca, he died on March 19, 1739.
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