Was Zorro from Ireland?

by Judy King 17. March 2010 08:43


“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes a horseman known as Zorro.

This bold renegade carves a Z with his blade. A Z that stands for Zorro.

Zorro the fox so cunning and free. Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z…



lepr-a Baby boomers and their parents remember these words which introduced the 1957-1959 TV series featuring Guy Williams as the dashing caped swordsman Zorro, who aided the oppressed and bedeviled greedy despots in early California.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Zorro, the Mexican Robin Hood was Irish!

Now here is a St. Patrick’s Day gift for our Irish friends. Research by Italian paleography professor Fabio Troncarelli has possibly unmasked the real 17th century Mexican hero in Vatican inquisition Zorroandbernardorecords. Troncarelli maintains Zorro was Guillen Lombardi, not a fable, nor a Mexican, nor a Spaniard. Zorro, the cunning fox, was an Irishmen, schooled by the Jesuits in Dublin.

Wexford County’s William Lamport

He was William Lamport, the son of a wealthy Catholic family in Wexford County, Ireland. “…the key information is buried in the records of the trials of suspected heretics and subversives conducted by the Inquisition,” Troncarelli said after 25 years of research in Rome, Dublin, Madrid and Mexico City archives. “They were meticulous. The name of Lamport kept coming up in the testimony of suspected rebels.”

zorro3 Lamport accepted Spain’s offer of citizenship when he was forced to leave Ireland following his open opposition to England's oppressive rule of Ireland. He first took up with a band of pirates, attacking English merchants.

William Lamport becomes Guillen Lombardo

Still in his twenties, William Hispanicized his name to Guillen Lombardo and enlisted in one of the Spanish Army’s Irish regiments where he was commended for bravery and inducted into the Spanish Royal Service.

After his seduction of a Spanish noblewoman, William was sent to Mexico in scandal. There he took up the plight of the oppressed indigenous Mexicans, learning from them traditional healing skills and astrology. Between social and official engagements, he was a spy for the chief minister of King Phillip IV.

FairbanksMarkofZorroSpying in Mexico; Trouble with the Inquisition

His association with Mexicans put him again under the unwelcome scrutiny of the Spanish Inquisition which led to charges of “conspiring against Spain to liberate the Indians and the black slaves and to set himself up as king of an independent Mexico.”

 William escaped from jail in Mexico while the Inquisition continued to gather information against him--for ten years. He left his hiding spots at night to scrawl anti-Spanish graffiti on Mexico City walls. Many of his notices included the letter Z which was a starting point for unraveling of the true story of Zorro more than two hundred years later.

The First Book: Memories of an Imposter-- 1872

Mexican General Vicente Palacio Riva was a Freemason and avid student of the Inquisition. During retirement he wrote several historical romances in the style of the Three Musketeers, in his 1872 Memories of an Imposter, which outlined the life of William Lamport. The book’s hero was Guillen Lombardo who led a double life as a nobleman Diego de la Vega. Palacio Riva mentioned the “Z” in William’s graffiti, as he recognized it as a Masonic symbol of vital life.

zorro 1919Set in California: The Curse of Capristrano—1919

Johnston McCulley wrote the story of Guillen Lombardo in his 1919 The Curse of Capistrano, but McCulley, as Troncarelli says, “Plundered without compliments” information from Palacio Riva’s book and from the 1908 book by Mexican historian Don Luis González Obregón.

To create a tale that looked new, McCulley set his story in California and gave the swashbuckler a mask to shield his identity. His story inspired Douglas Fairbanks’ 1920 silent film, The Mark of Zorro.

Zorro’s Sad End

Eventually William was discovered in bed with the wife of the Viceroy of Mexico. He served seven years in prison before being released to the Inquisition to be burned at the stake. “He cheated the Inquisition one last time,” Professor Troncarelli reported. “Before the flames were lit, he managed to strangle himself with the rope used to bind him to the stake.”

And the legend continues:

And that my friends, is the story of one of St. Paddy’s lads from the old Sod. Books, movies and TV shows continue to be made featuring the life of this likeable scallywag. In recent years, you saw Anthony Banderas in The Mask of Zorro  Have you read the story of Zorro as presented by one of my favorite authors, Isabel Allende?Her novel, Zorro, is actually a prequel to that 90-year-old story, The Curse of Capistrano.  You’ll find it in the Lake Chapala Society’s Mexico Collection.

Want More About the Irish in Mexico?

The Irish Mexican Connection --  Yesterday we wrote about famous Irish Mexicans and the Irish who settled the fishing villages of San Patricio, Melaque, and Villa Obregon (O’Brien) on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

The San Patricio Battalion – Come back tomorrow for a look at Mexico’s Irish soldiers who joined he fray against the US invasion of Mexico.

Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.


3/17/2010 3:12:25 PM #

Judy, how ever do you find this stuff. I'm sending this link to all my Irish Catholic relatives. They'll be delighted I'm sure. Or maybe not, when they read how he got himself into trouble in the first place! Lol.

Eileen Mexico |

3/18/2010 8:41:33 AM #

Hi Eileen, Thanks for visiting again! It's all on the internet, and there are books available about our friend Mr. Lamport, too! Fascinasting, NO?  AND I cleaned up his escapades a bit to keep my school kids rating... he was a scamp and a scoundral.

judyking Mexico |

4/20/2010 6:58:16 AM #

Super post :)

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4/21/2010 4:48:20 AM #

Really enjoy read your article. Waiting your next post.
Happy blogging.


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4/21/2010 6:06:51 PM #

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About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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