Malaga martyr’s roots explored

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Lieutenant Robert Boyd became famous when he was martyred in Malaga for his role in General Jose Maria de Torrijo’s rebellion against the despotic King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, in 1831.

After this remarkable Derry man’s story featured in last week’s ‘Journal’ historian Brian Mitchel got in touch with some details about his roots.

Mr. Mitchell believes Boyd was born around 1805 though his baptism doesn’t appear to be recorded in the registers of St. Columb’s Cathedral.

He cites William R. Young’s ‘Fighters of Derry Their Deeds and Descendants: Being a Chronicle of Events in Ireland during the Revolutionary Period 1688-1691’ in an attempt to shed light on his background.

“The Boyd family settled in the city of Derry and County Donegal in the 17th century. They are descended from the ancient Scottish family of which the Earl of Kilmarnock was the head. The family, besides their residence in Shipquay Street, were in possession of the estate of Ballymacool near Letterkenny, still the residence of the family, now represented by Mr William Henry Boyd, who was High Sheriff in County Donegal in 1892,” wrote Young.

Mr. Mitchel thinks Robert was the son of Archibald Boyd and Anne MacNeill, of Shipquay Street, Derry; grandson of John Boyd and Ann Gamble of Letterkenny; great-grandson of John Boyd of Letterkenny; and great-great-grandson of John Boyd who built the family mansion at Ballymacool, Letterkenny in 1672.

Though his remains lie in the English Cemetery in Malaga there is also a memorial in the porch of St. Augustine’s. It states simply that he and “53 brave and devoted companions fell at Malaga on December 11, 1831, in a bold but successless attempt to overthrow despotism in Spain and to advance the sacred cause of religion and liberty.”