John O’Sullivan was a native of South Kerry – where, we are not sure. He became the favourite military organiser of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) during the Prince’s invasion of Scotland in 1745, which is the subject of the contemporary document presented below. The ’45 was the third attempt, at least, to forward the Jacobite cause: to carry off a coup d’etat against the Georges, successors of William of Orange, remove them from the throne of England and restore the line of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s ancestors. The ’45 ended (despite rosy expectations) in the disastrous defeat at Culloden in 1746 where Cumberland, son of King George II, carried the day. O’Sullivan was one of the famous “Seven Men of Moidart” who landed with Charles Stuart in Scotland. The Grand Monarch mentioned is King Louis XIV of France, sponsor of the invasion.
While the Preparations for the Scotch Expedition were going on, Mr Sullivan had the honour of conversing daily with Juba, who soon contracted such an esteem for him that he was never easy but when this agreeable Irishman was with him: Indeed, no one who knows Mr Sullivan can deny his being one of the best bred, genteelest, complaisant, engaging officers in all the French Troops, which, in these respects, are certainly inferior to none in Europe. To these external accomplishments were added (and Jubasoon perceiv’d them in Mr Sullivan) a sincerity of heart, and an honest freedom of both sentiment and speech, temper’d with so much good nature and politeness, as made his conversation and friendship equally useful and agreeable.
But if Juba was highly pleas’d with Mr Sullivan, the latter thought himself no less happy in the regard paid him by the former, to whom, in return, he passionately desir’d to render all the service his abilities, strengthened by the favour of the Grand Monarch, were possibly capable of rendering: Of this Juba was well satisfied; and he, on the other hand, expected no small things from the good sense, the solid judgment, the political knowledge, and the military skill of Mr Sullivan. Nor was he deceiv’d, either in the prosecution, or the end of his famous expedition: For to the abilities of this gentleman we are chiefly to attribute the success with which the unexperienc’d Juba, with a handful of raw Highlanders, so long maintain’d a sharp, and, for some time, doubtful dispute with the whole force of his Britannick Majesty, in which he so surprisingly over-run, and (as far as he pleased) plunder’d not only the major part of the Kingdom of Scotland, but also a great part of the rich and powerful nation of England itself: a nation which is, or might be, the Terror and Arbitress of all Europe!