Duel Challenge at Colp.

Community Historian Brendan Matthews with another fine glimpse at past events in Drogheda.

Friday February 21st 1729 and two men are playing a game of Whisk at the home of Lord Ferrard near Clogherhead in Co. Louth. The men, Henry Hays, son of Captain Henry Hays of Drogheda,who was also known as an eminent brewer in town and Captain Lambert Peppard who was also a resident of Drogheda and who came from a well-known local and eminent family.

As the evening wore on the two men, who were close enough friends, began to get more intoxicated and so Lord Ferrard offered both men a room for the night after the game of whisk had ended. The two men took up the offer of a bed for the night and both retired to the same room in the house.

In the early hours of the morning however, the servants of the house, on hearing a rumpus, went to the room where they found Hays and Peppard fighting eachother, prancing around the room in nothing more than their long-sleeved shirts and exchanging fisticuffs.

The drunken men were separated and Mr Lambert Peppard was ushered to a room of his own for the remainder of the night. Next morning Hays went to Peppard`s room door and began shouting about `wanting to finish the fight`. When Peppard refused to come out of his room, Hays then told Peppard that, when he got up he would meet him with sword and pistols in the churchyard of Colp just outside Drogheda in Co. Meath at 12 noon, in other words, Hays challenged Peppard to a duel.

Lambert Peppard then arose from his bed and headed off to Colp for the appropriete hour and on entering the churchyard at Colp, he noticed Hays was already there with another man. Peppard approached Hays and exclaimed to him that they were friends and that as far as he was concerned the quarrel of the night before had ended and was therefore over.

According to newspaper reports of the incident, Hays was furious and replied that it was certainly not over and that he (Peppard) might be better off preparing himself for the challenge before him. The two men then squared up before eachother and, under the rules of duelling, they set their paces and Mr Hays fired first however he missed his target.

The two men then fired at once and it was reported that, `The Captain Peppard`s balls went clear through the body of Hays and drove him to the ground where he expired in a few moments`. Lamberet Peppard remained at the scene until he saw Hays was `past all hopes of life`, before he rode off back in the direction of Drogheda. The body of Hays was then loaded on to a cart and it too was returned to Drogheda and the sad news was then given to his father, who it was also stated was, `overwhelmed with sorrow for his loss`.

So ended a famous duel between two `gentlemen friends` that occurred on Saturday February 22nd 1729 in the churchyard at Colp.

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