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Morristown Lattin - Tim Mansfield

Morristown Lattin, Naas. Co. Kildare. Ireland

Colonel Patrick Lattin (an ancestor of the Anglo-Irish Lattin Mansfield family) was a close friend and aide-de-camp to Count Arthur Dillon, founder of the Dillon Regiment of the Irish Brigade.

When Dillon was “dragged out of his cabriolet and murdered by the French soldiers” for his Royalist sympathies in 1794, Lattin, who was in Dillon’s carriage at the time, immediately resigned his commission and returned to live at Morristown in Co. Kildare, Ireland. He later returned to Paris and died at his home in the Rue Trudon in 1836.

Lord Cloncurry recalled Patrick Lattin in his Memoirs thus:

“When he quitted the Irish Brigade, after the murder of General le beau Dillon, [Lattin] settled at his house of Morristown Lattin, and was thenceforward, to the close of his life, almost constantly a near neighbour and a frequent guest of mine at Lyons.

“He was one of a race now, I believe, extinct. A genuine Irishman in heart and person, his service in France, as an officer of the Irish Brigade, had added to his natural gaiety and warmth of feeling the polish and gallantry of a French gentleman, while his manly figure was set off in full perfection by the air and habits of a soldier of the old school. Light hearted and joyous, the brilliancy of his wit was never clouded, nor his enjoyment of present mirth ever damped by thoughts of the morrow.”

When his purse was full he drew upon it without scruple, to gratify his taste for pleasure, or to help a friend; when it was empty, I have known him to sit down, and, in three months’ work, to complete a translation of the Henriade, in order that he might relieve the necessities of an émigré friend with the proceeds of its publication. In the one case and in the other, he was equally blithe, and victorious over care.

At this juncture it is worth taking a short detour into the life of Patrick’s nephew Jack Lattin (1710 – 1731). Normally the death of a man aged twenty-one in the 18th century would attract little attention but it was commented “the demise of Jack Lattin was far from usual, and the memory of his going remained alive in local and family tradition for nearly two centuries”. Jack Lattin was a gentleman musician during the days of Jonathan Swift. His Catholic family, having survived the 17th century intact, were now facing utter bankruptcy in the face of the Penal Laws.

The story runs as follows. Jack was raised in Paris with his uncle, the eloquent wit and raconteur Patrick Lattin. He regularly returned home to see his relatives in Ireland. In his bizarre novel, The Life of John Buncle, Esq (1756 – 1766), the notoriously eccentric author, Thomas Amory, makes reference to a knees up in a Dublin pub called The Conniving House where he encountered “dear Jack Lattin, matchless on the fiddle, and the most agreeable of companions; … and many other delightful fellows; who went in the days of their youth to the shades of eternity”.

One summer’s day in 1731, Jack danced his way along some eight miles of road between Morristown Lattin and Castle Browne, only to drop dead of exhaustion when he arrived. Exactly why Jack headed off on his fatal marathon dance is unknown. Many say it was a wager that went wrong. Jack’s name was however enshrined in the title of a popular country dance tune, “Jacky Lattin” that arose shortly after his death.

Jack Lattin Mansfield ‘Jack Lattin dressed in satin

 Broke his heart of dancing

 He danced from Castle Browne

 To Morristown’

The original tune which Jack Lattin danced and fiddled to on his wager was apparently written by himself; it is better known today as Yankee Doodle went to town’

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Here is a link to the ‘Mansfield Papers’ in the National Library of Ireland. They have 150 boxes of documents and are still trying to catalogue them all! Click here.