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The Earl of Athlone
1st Earl of Athlone
Born 4th June 1644
Died 1703 (aged 1698–1699)
Occupation General

Godert de Ginkell,[1] 1st Earl of Athlone, or in his own country of the Netherlands born Baron Godard van Reede (Amerongen, 1644 – 11 February 1703, Utrecht) was a Dutch general in the service of England.

He came of a noble family, and bore the title of Baron van Reede, being the eldest son of Godard Adrian van Reede, Baron van Amerongen. In his youth he entered the Dutch cavalry as an officer, receiving his first commission at age 12. In 1688, he accompanied William, Prince of Orange, in his expedition to England — the "Glorious Revolution" which deposed James II. The following year, Ginkell distinguished himself by a memorable exploit—the pursuit, defeat and capture of a Scottish regiment that had mutinied for James 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, Ginkell accompanied William III to Ireland to take on the Franco-Irish Jacobites, and commanded a body of Dutch cavalry at the Battle of the Boyne. On the King's return to England, General Ginkell was entrusted with the conduct of the war in Ireland. (See also Williamite war in Ireland).

He took command in Ireland 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, Ginkell took the fortress of Ballymore, capturing the whole garrison of 1,000 men. The English lost only eight men. After reconstructing the fortifications of Ballymore, the army marched to Athlone, then one of the most important of the fortified towns of Ireland and key to the Jacobite defensive position, as it bridged the River Shannon. The Irish defenders of the place were commanded by a distinguished French general, the Marquis de St Ruth. The firing began on 19 June, and on 30 June the town was stormed,[2] the Irish army retreating towards Galway, and took up their next defensive position at Aughrim. Having strengthened the fortifications of Athlone and having left a garrison there, Ginkell led the English combined forces, on 8 July, westward in pursuit of the retreating army and met the Franco-Irish in formal battle on 12 July 1691 at Aughrim.

The subsequent Battle of Aughrim all but decided the war in the Williamites' favour. An immediate attack was resolved on, and, after a severe and at one time doubtful contest, the crisis was precipitated by the fall of the Franco-Irish leader, the French General Charles Chalmont, Marquis de St Ruth, after which his disorganized forces fled in the ensuing darkness of the early-morning of 13 July. A stunning defeat of the fleeing Franco-Irish followed in the confusion and darkness, with some 4000 corpses were left on the field.

Galway next capitulated, its garrison being permitted to retire to Limerick. There the viceroy Tyrconnell was in command of a large force, but his sudden death early in August left the command in the hands of Lord Lucan, General Patrick Sarsfield and the Frenchman d'Usson. Led by Ginkell, the English came in sight of the town on the day of Tyrconnell's death, and the bombardment and siege were immediately begun. Ginkell, by a bold device, crossed the River 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 Treaty of Limerick, 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. Ginkell received the formal thanks of the House of Commons, and was created by the king 1st 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 in 1695 and the Battle of Neerwinden, and assisted in destroying the French magazine at Givet. In the War of Spanish Succession Ginkell succeeded the Prince of Nassau-Usingen in 1702 as first Field Marshal of the Dutch States Army, serving under John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the Allied commander-in-chief in the Low Countries.

Ginkell was succeeded in 1703, by his eldest son the 2nd earl (1668–1719), a distinguished soldier in the reigns of William III and Queen Anne.[3]

On the death of the 10th Earl of Athlone without issue in 1844, however, the title expired.

See also

  • List of people on stamps of Ireland


  1. Or, sometimes recorded in early records as "Goddard von Ginkel".
  2. Letter from Godard van Reede, General lieutenant of their majesties of England combined forces at land and at sea in Ireland, 1690-1691, to his father. From the Army Camp at Athlone, 5–15 July 1691. Excerpt from the family van Reede archives
  3. Descendants of Ginkell's other, untitled progeny, some of whom emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the late 19th Century, had their name spelled and recorded by Ellis Island immigration officials as "Gingles", and descendants of the Earl living in the U.S. today are generally known by that name.
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Athlone
1st creation
Succeeded by
Frederick de Ginkel
Dutch nobility
Preceded by
Godard Adriaan van Reede
Baron van Reede
Succeeded by
Frederick de Ginkel

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 

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