Thames and Avon Branch of the Murray Club    

  Apprentice Boys of Derry  

Lundy The Traitor

Almost nothing at all is known of Robert Lundy's parentage or early life; but he had seen service in the foreign wars before 1688, when he was at Dublin with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the regiment of Viscount Mountjoy. The Apprentice Boys of Derry shut the gates of the city against "a regiment of 1200 Papists, commanded by a Papist,who was Alexander Macdonnell, Earl of Antrim", who hastily withdrew his small force. Later, the Viceroy Tyrconnel solicited intervention by Mountjoy and later dispatched a strong but poorly disciplined Irish force commanded by Sir Richard Hamilton to march north against the Protestants.

A stratagem prepared by Mountjoy and Lundy to assume control of Derry succeeded in embedding a small garrison of predominantly Protestant troops under the command first of Mountjoy then of Lundy, who assumed the title of governor. However, popular feeling in Derry ran so strongly in favour of the Prince of Orange that Lundy declared himself an adherent of King William III, and he obtained from him a commission confirming his appointment as joint governor along with George Walker.He was to swear allegiance to King William before receiving this commission but it is not known whether he did, in fact, take the oath.

From December 1688 to March 1689 Lundy had the walls and the gates repaired to protect the city, refitted gun carriages and musket stocks, removed buildings and dungheaps outside the walls which might provide cover to besiegers, purchased powder, cannonballs and matchlocks, and had a protective ravelin and outworks built.

Lundy's motivation cannot certainly be known. What is certain is that from the moment Derry was threatened by the troops of King James, Lundy used all his endeavours to paralyse the defence of the city. In April 1689 he was in command of a force of Protestants who encountered some troops under Richard Hamilton at Strabane, when, instead of holding his ground, he told his men that all was lost and ordered them to shift for themselves; he himself was the first to take flight back to Derry. King James, then at Omagh on his way to the north, similarly turned in flight towards Dublin on hearing of the skirmish, but returned next day on receiving the true account of the occurrence.

On 14 April English ships appeared in the Foyle with reinforcements for Lundy under Colonel John Cunningham and Solomon Richards. Lundy dissuaded Cunningham from landing his regiments, representing that a defence of Derry was hopeless; and that he himself intended to withdraw secretly from the city. At the same time he sent to the enemy's headquarters a promise to surrender the city at the first summons. As soon as this became known to the citizens Lundy's life was in danger, and he was vehemently accused of treachery. When the enemy appeared before the walls Lundy gave orders that there should be no firing. But all authority had passed out of his hands.

The people flew to arms under the direction of Major Henry Baker and Captain Adam Murray, who organised the famous defence in conjunction with the Rev. George Walker. Lundy, to avoid popular vengeance, hid himself until nightfall when, by the connivance of Walker and Murray, he made his escape in disguise. One story says that he fled in disguise, carrying a load of matchwood on his back to protect him from musket fire and another says he climbed down a pear tree that grew close to the walls. This tree was still pointed out until it fell during a gale in the winter of 1844.He was apprehended in Scotland and sent to the Tower of London. He was excluded from the Act of Indemnity in 1690, but his subsequent fate is unknown.

Lundy is reviled in Ulster to this day as a traitor and is burned in effigy during the celebrations to mark the anniversary of the shutting of the gates of Derry in 1688.This event used to take place on the Walker Memorial Pillar but since 1973 when the pillar was blown up by terrorists, the effigy has been burned in various places before establishing the present site in Bishop Street in 1992.  A 'Lundy' has also become a byword for traitor for unionists and loyalists. Ian Paisley regularly denounced many people, including Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Captain Terence O'Neill and First Minister David Trimble, as Lundies.