Siege of Cork

Siege of Cork
Part of the Williamite War in Ireland
DateSeptember 1690
LocationCork and Kinsale, Ireland
Result Williamite victory
Jacobite Irish forces Williamite forces - English and Danish troops
Commanders and leaders
Roger MacElliot
Cornelius O'Driscoll 
Sir Edward Scott
Duke of Marlborough
Duke of Württemberg
? 9,000 troops and a naval fleet
Casualties and losses
? ?

The Siege of Cork took place during the Williamite war in Ireland in the year of 1690, shortly after the Battle of the Boyne when James II attempted to retake the English throne from King William III.

In a combined land and sea operation, Williamite commander Marlborough, took the city and captured 5,000 Jacobite prisoners.[1]


After the Boyne, William occupied Dublin and the Jacobites retreated to the west of Ireland. William assaulted Limerick in August 1690 but was repulsed. To secure the Jacobite-held ports of Cork and Kinsale on the southern coast, he dispatched a force under John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (then 1st Earl).

The sieges


Marlborough reached Cork by sea on 21 September 1690. His English forces were 5,000 strong and he also had at his disposal a fleet which blockaded the port of Cork. He landed his troops at Passage West on 24 September and set up his base at Red Abbey, to the south of the walled city. Approaching from the northern, landward, side were 4,000 Danish troops under the Duke of Württemberg.[2]

The Williamites took the forts (such as Elizabeth Fort) which commanded the hills around Cork and commenced a bombardment of the city from the heights. When a breach was opened in the city walls, the town's garrisoned opened surrender negotiations, asking to be allowed to leave Cork and join the main Jacobite army at Limerick. Marlborough refused the request, although Württemberg was in favour of granting the terms.[3]

A few days later, the Williamites mounted a joint English-Danish assault of the breach from the south. When the Williamites reached the walls, the Governor of Cork, McElliot, opened new surrender talks and agreed that the garrison would become prisoners and would surrender their arms and stores. Marlborough accepted and the town surrendered.

In spite of this, the Williamite troops, sacked the city, did a great deal of damage, looting much property and abusing the Catholic inhabitants. Many civilians were killed before Württemberg and Marlborough could restore order.[4]


It remained for the Williamites to take nearby Kinsale which was strongly defended by two forts, the Old Fort, also known as James' Fort, and the New Fort or Charles Fort. Marlborough assaulted these fortifications but was unable to take them by storm. The Old Fort, defended by the Governor Colonel Cornelius O'Driscoll, fell after an assault was made possible by an accidental explosion in its gunpowder magazine, which killed 40. After some 200 were slain in the following assault, including Colonel O'Driscoll, the rest surrendered, receiving quarter. Charles Fort, however, held out for ten days and surrendered only after receiving guarantees that its 1,200-strong garrison could march away to Limerick. It was defended by the elderly and experienced Governor Sir Edward Scott, and his Deputy Governor Colonel Daniel O'Donovan.


  1. Padraig Lenihan, Consolidating Conquest, Ireland 1603-1727, p184
  2. John O'Driscol, History of Ireland (1827) , Volume 2> ], p188
  3. O'Driscol, p188-192
  4. O'Driscol, p193-194
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