An Irish Rebel in New Spain

The Tumultuous Life and Tragic Death of William Lamport

By (author) Andrea Martínez Baracs Translated by Hank Heifetz

Paperback - £18.95

Publication date:

15 December 2021

Length of book:

160 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271090405

An Irish Rebel in New Spain recounts the story of the so-called Irish Zorro, who, in 1659, was burned at the stake for conspiring against the empire to make himself king of Mexico, restore the privileges of the Indigenous people, end the persecution of the Jews, and free the African slaves.

William Lamport was an Irish rebel, a soldier, a poet, and a thinker. His Catholic family lost their land and their religious freedom after the English conquest of Ireland. In 1640, Lamport emigrated to New Spain, where he witnessed the abuses of the colonial system and later ran afoul of the Mexican Inquisition. Imprisoned in 1642, Lamport argued his own defense as well as that of the Jews who were in prison with him. Along with a concise biography, this volume provides an anthology of Lamport’s most representative writings: his detailed project for a Spanish-supported Irish insurrection; a manifesto and plan for a Mexican uprising against Spain; his self-defense, which he nailed to the doors of the cathedral when he managed to momentarily escape from prison; a selection of his poetry; and the court documents about the accusation that led him to the pyre.

This concise, compelling, and original reflection on the systems of (in)justice in seventeenth-century Mexico is designed for classes on early modern Spain, colonial Latin America, and the Inquisition. Those with an affinity for Irish history will also enjoy learning about the colorful life of William Lamport.

“It is remarkable, as Andrea Martínez Baracs suggests, that such a high-ranking political player in the Spanish court, who argued forcefully for liberty, freedom, and self-rule a century before those ideas became associated with the Age of Revolutions, has been so thoroughly forgotten. This volume succeeds admirably in bringing William Lamport back into view, connecting him to historical relationships between Ireland and both Spain and Native America that are often overlooked.”

—Laura Matthew, author of Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala