ECHLIN, Robert (c.1657-by 1724), of Monaghan, Ireland, and Purfleet, Essex
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Family and Education
b. c.1657, 3rd s. of Robert Echlin of Ardquin, co. Down by his 1st w. Anne, da. of Alexander Conyngham of Mount Charles, co. Donegal, dean of Raphoe 1631–d. educ. Trinity, Dublin, adm. 9 July 1675, aged 18. m. 7 May 1696, Anne (d. 1724), da. of Sir Francis Blundell, 3rd Bt., of Blundell Manor, King’s Co., sis. of Sir Montagu Blundell, 4th Bt.†, s.p.1
Lt. Mountjoy’s regt. ft. 1685; lt.-col. 6 Drag. 1689, col. 1691–1715; brig.-gen. 1703, maj.-gen. 1704, lt.-gen. 1707.2
MP [I] 1695–1713.
Of Scots planter stock, Echlin was commissioned as lieutenant-colonel in the regiment raised by his uncle Sir Albert Conyngham in Ireland in 1689, known as the Inniskilling Dragoons, and served with distinction at the siege of Derry and at the Boyne, where he came to the notice of King William. On his uncle’s death while a prisoner of the Jacobite army in 1691, Echlin was given the regiment. One of the ‘Londonderry and Enniskillen officers’, he had a long-standing grievance against the government for the non-payment of arrears dating back to the Irish war, a debt which was still outstanding in 1708. Financial difficulties forced the sale of his Monaghan estates in 1705. As a Member of the Irish parliament he strongly supported the administration of the Duke of Ormond, to whom he attributed his belated promotion to general, and whose dismissal from the lord lieutenancy in 1707 he described as ‘the greatest misfortune that ever he met’. For this loyalty he was summarily ‘struck . . . off the establishment’ of general officers in Ireland by the Whig Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*) soon after Wharton’s nomination as viceroy in 1708, only to be restored again two years later when Ormond was reappointed lord lieutenant.3
Returned at Sudbury in 1710, a borough with which he may have had some connexion through the Kekewich family, Echlin was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ and was listed among the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session exposed the mismanagements of the old ministry. His regiment, which had been on the British establishment since 1709, was ordered to the Low Countries in March 1711, but later that year Echlin went over again to Ireland to give his support to Ormond in the Irish house of commons. Back at Westminster, he voted against the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill*) in the censure motion of January 1712. Resentful that expected advancement was once more being denied him, he petitioned the Queen in 1712 for ‘justice’. If he was still to be passed over in favour of younger officers, he requested permission to dispose of his regiment and retire from public service, ‘which such usage will make the world believe he is thought unworthy to be continued in’. He had, he said, given ‘long and signal services to his country’, and shown a ‘steady adherence to the Queen and Church, which rendered him obnoxious to the late ministry, and subjected him to their persecutions’, and he claimed that
upon the late happy change of ministry, he put himself to great expense to get into the House of Commons, upon the view only of doing service to the common cause, and last summer was at a further charge, in going for Ireland to attend the service of the parliament there, by his lordship’s [Ormond] orders.
Ormond endorsed the petition with the words, ‘he is a very honest man; I wish we had more of such in the army, I mean as to his principles’; and in June 1712 Lord Strafford asked on his behalf that his regiment be returned to Ireland. Instead it was brought back to England and reduced, though it suffered less in this respect than other regiments. Echlin’s own ‘pretensions’ were ignored. In January 1713 he begged Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) for swift financial aid or at least ‘liberty to sell my troop’, predicting that otherwise he would be ‘entirely ruined’ because of ‘executions both on my real and personal estate’. On 18 June he supported the government in the division on the French commerce bill. He resisted overtures to stand at the Irish general election in 1713, but was re-elected on the Tory interest at Sudbury. He was later classed as a Tory in the Worsley list.4
Echlin’s continuing financial difficulties were reflected in a privilege complaint on 17 Aug. 1714 against a group of creditors who had ‘made a forcible entry upon’ his Essex estate, ‘and do detain the possession thereof, and have arrested . . . [his] agent and servants’. Then early in 1715 he was ‘turned out’ of his regiment ‘without any other charge against him but that of being a Tory . . . and not a farthing paid to him, though he was poor and had not [the] wherewithal to subsist himself and his family’. He went over to France and in June 1715 wrote to the Duke of Berwick from Calais offering his services to the Pretender. Taken into the Jacobite service, he was sent to Scotland during the Fifteen and ‘after running great hazard’ escaped back to the Continent, having made his way with a group of other Jacobite officers across to the Orkneys, where they ‘took a vessel by force’. Thereafter he remained in France, living on a pension from the Pretender, whom he said he would ‘contentedly support with the meanest morsel of bread’, and awaiting any occasion ‘to show my zeal and loyalty’ in another invasion attempt. The sum of £300 was paid him ‘very privately’ on James’s instructions in November 1719. The previous August his old patron Ormond wrote to condole with him upon the recent missed opportunity: ‘had not the bad weather separated and disabled the fleet’, concluded Ormond, ‘we might have met in our own country’.5
The date of Echlin’s death has not been ascertained. His widow died on 19 Nov. 1724.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. J. R. Echlin, Gen. Mems. Echlin Fam. 39–40; Dublin Wills Abstracts ed. Eustace, ii. 128; CJ, xviii. 10.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 78; 1691–2, p. 46.
- 3. Echlin, 40; PRO NI, Rossmore mss T2929/2/2, Alexander Montgomery to William Cairnes, 7 July 1705; HMC Portland, viii. 311; Add. 9715, ff. 150–1; HMC Ormonde, n.s. viii. 80, 97, 153, 299; Swift Works, iii. 237–8.
- 4. VCH Essex, vii. 139; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 693; Add. 34777, ff. 30, 71–73; 70197, Echlin to Oxford, 23 Jan. ; 70214, Ormond to Oxford, n.d.; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 309–10; HMC Portland, ix. 329; x. 86.
- 5. Lockhart Pprs. i. 459–60; HMC Stuart, i. 366, 457, 487, 490–1; ii. 31–32, 202, 329–30, 442; v. 174; vi. 512; vii. 196–7; RA, Stuart mss 45/92; Master of Sinclair, Mems. Insurrection in Scotland (Abbotsford Club, xxx), 344–7, 363, 374; Add. 33950, f. 71.
- 6. Hist. Reg. Chron. 1724, p. 49.