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Narrated by Northern Irelands' leading Genealogist Brian Mitchell, the story of an Irish Freedom fighter in Malaga and his links to Spain's first Protestant cemetery is a fascinating read.

Robert Boyde, Irish Freedom Fighter

Nestled in a quiet corner, up against her 17th-century walls, and less than 400 meters from the busting Foyleside and Richmond shopping centers in the heart of Derry city, can be found St. Augustine's Church (pictured below). Inside this church, on the entrance porch, is a memorial that reads:

Sacred, To the memory of, ROBERT BOYD of this city Esquire, and sometimes Lieutenant in the Bengal Army, who with 53 Brave and Devoted Companions, Fell at Malaga on the 11th December 1831, In a bold but successful attempt, to overthrow despotism in Spain, and to advance the Sacred cause of, Religion and Liberty, in that degraded country aged 26 years

St. Augustines Church

Image: By tradition, in 546 AD, the church of Doire [anglicised as Derry] Calgach, “the oak wood of Calgach”, was founded by St Columcille, also known as St Columba, on the crest of a small, wooded hill on the west bank of the River Foyle, and, today, St. Augustine’s Church (Church of Ireland) marks the location of this monastic church.

Explore the Derry Diaspora Community

Robert Boyd was born into a wealthy Protestant family in Derry in 1805. He served as a lieutenant in the Bengal Army of the East India Company and was active in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) against the Ottoman Empire. Robert Boyd returned to Derry in 1829 and met General Torrijos, who was raising money for a rebellion against King Ferdinand VII of Spain. He quit his role as a lieutenant in the Bengal Army and used money he inherited following the death of his father to provide financial backing to the revolutionaries.

 In 1831 Boyd bought a ship and set sail for Malaga, along the Costa del Sol, with Torrijos and some 60 followers. They were forced ashore by Spanish ships near Malaga and hid in the hills but were soon rounded up by troops and sentenced to execution. Robert wrote a last letter to his brother William, stating he would ‘die like a gentleman and a soldier.’ Boyd was marched to the beach with 48 of his fellow prisoners on 11 December and executed by firing squad.

 His grave in the English Cemetery in Malaga is marked by a gothic obelisk with the inscription: ‘To the memory of Robert Boyd, Esquire of Londonderry, Ireland. The friend and fellow martyr of Torrijos who fell at Malaga, in the sacred cause of liberty.’ He was the first person buried in the cemetery after it opened; before that, Protestants living in the area were buried on a local beach.

Robert Boyd's Family History

Robert, born in 1805, was the son of Archibald Boyd and Anne MacNeill. It would appear that at the time of the 1831 Census, Anne Boyd (nee MacNeill), mother of Robert Boyd, was residing at 8 Shipquay Street (Figures 2 and 3); the household consisted of 3 males, 6 females, and 5 servants. Anne's husband Archibald Boyd died in 1826 and is buried in the graveyard attached to St Augustine’s Church.

 Boyd family home at Number 8 Shipquay Street, Derry

Image: Boyd family home at Number 8 Shipquay Street, Derry. In the 18 th and 19 th centuries Shipquay Street was home to local gentry and wealthy merchants, and the family of Robert Boyd resided at Number 8 Shipquay Street which also had room for a carriage arch (partially hidden by van), aligned under the right-hand bays. This street rose steeply from Derry’s quay with a succession of typical Georgian houses stepping up the hill: graceful, red-bricked buildings of three or four storeys, with entrances (owing to the street’s steepness) by way of steps and balconies bounded with metal railings.

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