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Baron O'Neillan

Dysert-born soldier who became a Major-General in the Austrian army.

FRANCIS PATRICK, the fourth son, Major General Baron [H.R.E. 16 Mar 1716] - also written Generalfeldwachtmeister Francis Patrick Freiherr v. O’Neillan, [1] Baron Patrick O’Neillan, [2] Major General Patrick Baron O’Neillan,[3] Franz Patrick baron O’Neillan,[4] Patrick Freiherr von O’Neillan and von Neulau,[5] Baron v. Neulan, [6] etc. - b. 4 Oct 1671 in Dysert, County Clare.[7] His family had fared badly under the Acts of Settlement and Explanation and lost most of their lands and property. Therefore, being a Catholic and a Jacobite he, like many other Irishmen at that time, sought scope for his ambition in a foreign military career. [8] Having proved his nobility[9] he first entered the Imperial Army of Austria as an officer in 1701. In 1708 he was a Captain (Hauptmann) in the 47th (Harrach) Infantry Regiment which was fighting in Italy under the command of Colonel Commandant (Titular Obrist) George Browne.[10] In December 1709 Browne was granted the proprietorship of a newly-formed infantry regiment in Pavia, Italy and in 1711 he appointed O’Neillan his Lieutenant Colonel (Obristleutnant).[11]

Although the Regiment Browne distinguished itself in the war that was being waged by the Imperialists in Spain it was, nevertheless, disbanded in Catalonia later in 1711, its personnel being sent back to the Hereditary Lands for reconstitution.[12] After a great deal of anxious petitioning Browne embarked for Italy in December 1715 for his installation as Colonel Proprietor (Obrist Inhaber) of the former regiment of General Johann von Wellenstein[13] which was stationed in Transylvania at that time. This was the 57th Galician Regiment which in 1716 and 1717 was in the thick of the fighting in Prince Eugene of Savoy’s Turkish campaigns.

O’Neillan, meanwhile, was employed at Mantua, in Lombardy, Italy (which at the time was part of the Holy Roman Empire and, therefore, under Habsburg rule). Then, on April 1713 he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel (Obristleutnant) of the Regiment Alexander Wurttemberg which regiment was relocated to Hungary the following year.

In 1716 O’Neillan fought with distinction at the Battle of Peterwardein,[14] where the Turks were routed, and at Temesvar (Timisoara) where, after a five-week siege which lasted from August to October 1716, Prince Eugene of Savoy captured the last Turkish stronghold in Hungary and won for the Austrians the fertile Banat of Temesvar. O’Neylan subsequently took command of the Regiment Arenberg and on 31 May, 1717 was promoted to the rank of Colonel (Obrist) of that regiment. It was in this capacity that he participated in the Battle of Belgrad. Differences with the Duke of Arenberg, however, lead to his transfer in 1723 and to his appointment as Colonel Commandant (Titular Obrist) of Browne’s 57th infantry regiment.[15] Then, shortly before the declaration of war in 1733, he was appointed Commander of the Citadel of Mantua. He received another promotion, to the rank of Major General (Obrist Feldwachtmeister), on 11 November that year.

After many years of illness his uncle and mentor, Count George Browne, died in Pavia, Italy on 10 October, 1729. Fourteen months later, on 15 January 1731, the ownership of the 57th Regiment was officially his.[16] In the Spring of 1734 Field Marshal Count Florimund Mercy assembled 50,000 men at Mantua to reclaim all that had been lost the previous year when the Austrians had been driven from Italy by the Franco-Spanish forces. Mercy expressed great satisfaction that O’Neillan had been assigned to serve with him in the field “for he is” he wrote, “an officer with good experience in the war.”[17] Poor health, however, prevented O’Neillan from participating in the campaign and Mercy’s army was halted on June 29th by a powerful enemy force at Parma. Four costly Austrian attacks failed to carry the position and early on the 30th the Imperial Army relinquished the field,[18] Mercy having been killed in battle.

With O’Neillan’s death in Mantua on 3 October, 1734 the Regiment Browne lost its last Irish commander (General Baron Adam von Thungen assumed its command the following December). His death was reported as follows:[19]

“THE DEATH OF BARON D’ONEYLAN. In the year 1734, on the night of 2nd October, going into 3rd October, at around three in the morning, in the palace of the Marquis Bevilacqua in the piazza San Pietro, died General d’Oneylan, colonel of an imperial regiment, after a long and painful illness of gout and other afflictions. The subsequent evening he was privately interred in Sant Agnese, the church of the Agostinians. Thereafter, on the morning of the 5th, a solemn funeral was conducted, with a lighted catafalque and military honours, under the boom of artillery fire.

To commemorate the place where he rests, a memorial stone of black marble was later placed on a column of the church bearing the following epitaph:

Here lies Francis, from the family of the Barons ONeilane, who was a colonel and general in the imperial army. The general lamentation that followed his death was that, as a soldier, as well as in all aspects of his life, he acted honorably. Dysert, in the County of Clare in Ireland provided him with his birthplace, Mantova in Lombardy with a tomb. He died on the 4th of October, on the very same day on which he was born, in the year 1734 of the Christian era, in the 63rd year of his life and in his 33rd year of military service. His most disconsolate wife placed this sepulchral slab to the memory of a most distinguished man, a testimony to her love and sorrow.[20]

Since the memorial stone was engraved in Germany and was not actually placed until four years later, it is excusable that an error exists regarding the date of death (4th) which in reality occurred on the morning of the 3rd (following the night of the 2nd) as stated above.

He left several male and female children with his wife, Baroness Barbara, of Ireland, born Countess Browne de Camus, a young woman of about 34, a lady of much spirit, but this beauty remains financially unable to meet her child-rearing obligations, especially as concerns the two female children.”

Baron O’Neillan was married to Barbara née Countess (Gräfin) Browne of Camus, b. 1700, another member of the celebrated Irish military family of Camus, County Limerick. (The Brownes were an Anglo-Norman family. Under the name of Browne, or Braose-Montagu, they had accompanied Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke, to Ireland in 1170. They boasted an ancient lineage which could be traced to the time of William the Conqueror. One of the branches received extensive lands in Kerry.[21] William de Braose obtained from King Henry II a grant of the “whole kingdom of Limerick” for the service of sixty knight’s fees. The family seat, from which their imperial titles would be taken, was located in Camus, in northern County Limerick).[22]

Barbara was a daughter[23] of General Count Ulysses Browne of Camus (b. Aug 24 1654 Limerick, d. Sept 1731 Frankfort-am-Maine), Commandant of Landshut in Bavaria and Colonel Proprietor (Obrist Inhaber) of an imperial cuirassier regiment (formerly that of Hohenzollern), and his wife Annabella née Fitzgerald,[24] a distant cousin and a daughter of the House of Desmond, whom he had married on 24 January, 1699. She, Barbara, was a sister of the aforementioned Field Marshal Count Maximillian Ulysses Browne of Camus (1705-1757),[25] one of the most celebrated soldiers of his time, and a second cousin of the famous Limerick-born Russian Field Marshal and Governor General of Riga and Livonia, Count George (Juri Jurievich) Browne (b. 15 Jun 1698, d. 18 Feb/Sept 1792).[26]

Upon Baron O’Neillan’s death his widow was left alone to provide for their five children, all minors. However, having been omitted from her uncle George Browne’s will[27] she found herself in serious financial difficulties. Her late husband’s effects were therefore sold for her benefit in 1735. Nevertheless, his not inconsiderable fortune was tied up so as to leave her in difficulties until a settlement was reached three years later.[28]

Barbara, Baroness O’Neillan died at Mantua aged 51 years on 16 September, 1751 having had by her husband:

     1 EUGENE O’NEILLAN, of whom presently,
     2 Francis O’Neillan, also written Baron Franz deOneylan and later Graf Franz O’Neillan and O’Nieuland, b. 30 April 1729. Described in the Musterliste des Regiments Hagenbach[29] as having been b. in Ireland. Raised at the colleges of Parma and Modena.[30] Joined the Imperial Army in 1745. Captain (Hauptmann) in the 22nd (Hagenbach) Infantry Regiment under Field Marshal Count Salomon Sprecher von Bernegg. Whilst under the command of General Count Anton Colloredo he distinguished himself when fighting the French in the Alpine campaign of 1747. He was a personal friend of Giacomo Casanova who, in his autobiography Histoire de ma Vie, described him as “brave as a Bayard. A man of his complexion was certain to fall the victim of Mars or of Venus. He might be alive now if he had been endowed only with the courage of a fox, but he had the courage of the lion.”[31] He was killed by musket fire on the night of 20 February, 1757 while demolishing the city gates with an axe in the war near Hirschwald in Saxony[32] and was buried in Friedland, Bohemia.
     1 Annabella, Baroness O’Neillan, m. as his first wife the Marchese Vincenzo Striggi of Mantua.[33] She d. in childbirth at the age of twenty-one at her mother’s home in Mantua.
     2 Catherina, Baroness O’Neillan, b. 5 September, 1726 m. the Marchese Cosimo Borsati of Mantua,[34] son of the Marchese Francesco Borsati, knight of Santo Stefano.
     3 Barbara, Baroness O’Neillan, b. on 2 December, 1734. Unwed and residing at the convent Castiglione delle Riviera on 2 May 1752. Later m. Baron (subsequently Count) de Terzi.[35] Dame of the Order of the Starry Cross.

EUGENE, Count (H.R.E. 7 April 1734), the eldest son, also written Count Nealan[36] , Graf Eugen Onelly and Graf Eugenius de Onelli. Born at Lodi, in northern Italy, in 1724. A page at the Court of the Emperor Charles VI. He studied in Ethall and subsequently became a Major (Wachtmeister) in the 59th Infantry Regt. under the famous Irish-born Field Marshal Count Leopold Daun (pictured below). He died on March 12th, 1748 due to campaign exhaustion. He was married to Countess Theresa Onelli (O’Neill), possibly the daughter of Count Alexander O’Neill, Colonel Proprietor (Obrist Inhaber) of the 42nd Infantry Regiment. Eugene and Theresa left issue.

Baron O'Neillan












































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