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Ambrose O'Higgins, Marquis of Osorno


'''Ambrose O'Higgins, Marquis of Osorno, Baron of Ballynaryborn Ambrose O'Higgins''' , was an Irish-born Spanish colonial administrator. He served the Spanish Empire as captain general of Chile and viceroy of Peru . Chilean independence leader Bernardo O'Higgins was his illegitimate son.

Ambrose O'Higgins was the son of Charles and Margaret O'Higgins. Charles O'Higgins' grandfather, Sean Duff O'Higgins, held the Gaelic territorial title of Tiarna or Lord of Ballinary, and he was married to a woman who was of the Royal House of O'Conor of Ballintuber Castle, which ruled Ireland until the year 1000. The O'Higgins family had owned great expanses of land in the Irish counties of Sligo, Westmeath and Mayo, but with the expropriations of Catholics by Oliver Cromwell, and the deportation of tenants to County Sligo after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, the O'Higgins' lands became smaller and smaller. Due to this encroachment into their land, the O'Higgins family emigrated to County Meath, where they became lowly tenant farmers and worked in the service of the Rowley-Langford family. In fact Ambrose is said to have been employed by Lady Jane Rawley. In 1751, Ambrose arrived at Cadiz, where he dedicated himself to commerce as an employee of the Butler Trading House. As an Irishman and a Catholic, he was able to emigrate legally to Spanish America in 1756.

During this time he had a relationship with Isabel Riquelme, a criolla whose family was a member of the Spanish ruling class. From this unofficial union a son was born, Bernardo O'Higgins, who would later lead Chile to its independence from the Spanish Empire. Though Ambrose never officially recognised this son as his legal heir, he paid for his education in England and left him his possessions in Peru and Chile.

Related websites

Place Names in Revillagigedo and Gravina Islands: Spanish and Irish heritage of Southeast Alaska

Murray, Edmundo - "O'Higgins, Ambrose (Ambrosio) (c. 1721-1801), governor and captain-general of Chile, later viceroy of Peru"

The O'Higgins Clan Association

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