Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara

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Thomas Preston

Also Known As: "created 1st Viscount Taragh", "co. Meath [Ireland] on 2 July 1650"
Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Of, Gormanston, Meath, Ireland
Death: circa March 7, 1654 (61-77)
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Christopher Preston, 4th Viscount Gormanston and Catherine Preston
Husband of Claire van der Eycken, dame de Saint Joris and Marguerite Dieudonnée de Namur
Father of Anthony Preston, 2nd Viscount Tara
Brother of Jane FitzWilliam; Eleanor Luttrell; Jenico Preston, 5th Viscount Gormanston; Genet Preston; Hon. Mary Preston and 3 others

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About Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara,_1st_Viscount_Tara

Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara (1585–1655) was an Irish soldier of the 17th century. He was a descendant of Sir Robert de Preston, who in 1363 purchased the lands of Gormanston, County Meath, and who was keeper of the Great Seal in Ireland some years later.

Sir Robert's great-grandson, Robert Preston, was created Viscount Gormanston in 1478; and the latter's great-grandson was Christopher, 4th Viscount Gormanstown (d. 1599), whose second son was Thomas Preston. His elder brother succeeded the title of Viscount Gormanstown, so Thomas Preston pursued a career in the military. Since Roman Catholics were not allowed to hold state positions in Ireland, he entered the Spanish service and fought in the Thirty Years' War. Preston was in the same Irish regiment in the Spanish service as Owen Roe O'Neill, and distinguished himself in the defence of Leuven against the French and Dutch in 1635. Between him and Owen Roe O'Neill there was from the first intense jealousy. There was also some tension between Preston and James Tuchet. In 1644 Tuchet, the Earl of Castlehaven was chosen to lead a major Confederate expedition into Ulster. Unlike Preston, Castlehaven was a military amateur but was he favoured over Preston as he was of a prominent English family.

Preston returned to Ireland after the Irish Rebellion of 1641 to support his fellow Irish Catholics. He was appointed general of Leinster, by the Irish Confederates, which was the largest and best equipped of the Irish Catholic forces.

His performance as a commander in Ireland was mixed. He won widespread praise for his successful siege of Duncannon in 1645, but lost a string of field battles including New Ross (1643) and Dungans Hill (1647). This last battle was disastrous for the Confederates, as their Leinster army was all but wiped out at it. In general he was skilled in the art of siegecraft, but never had a very good understanding of mobile warfare.

Preston played a major part in the Confederates' internal strife, siding at first with radicals who opposed the first Ormonde peace, but later siding with the moderates who signed a conclusive treaty with Ormonde and the Royalists in 1648. His Royalism was motivated by his Old English roots and his extreme personal dislike of Owen Roe O'Neill, who led the opposing faction. He fought with the defeated Royalists during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland - defending the city of Waterford until hunger and disease forced him to capitulate. He marched his remaining troops to Galway, the last Irish held city on the island. In late 1652, after another lengthy siege, Galway too was reduced by plague and lack of supplies. Preston surrendered the city on condition that he and his troops be allowed to leave the country and find employment in the French army. He left the country for exile in France - where the Royalist court was in exile - in 1652.

In 1650 Charles II while in exile created him Viscount Tara; and after his departure from Ireland in 1652 he offered his services to Charles in Paris, where he died in October 1655. His wife was a Flemish lady of rank, by whom he had several children, one of his daughters being the second wife of Sir Phelim O'Neill. His son Anthony succeeded him as 2nd Viscount Tara, a title that became extinct on the death of Thomas, 3rd Viscount, in 1674.

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Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara's Timeline

Of, Gormanston, Meath, Ireland
Age 30
Of, , Flanders, France
March 7, 1654
Age 69
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France