Records of Irish people brought before the Spanish inquisition have been discovered in Madrid, including data on the Irishman who was the inspiration behind Zoro.

The discovery has been described as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” by NUI Maynooth historian Dr Thomas O’Connor.

“You rarely get human stories in historical documents from this period and an archive as rich, varied and important as this,” he told the Irish Times.

The Spanish Inquisition was was a tribunal which ran from 1478 to 1834 . It was designed  to help maintain Catholic orthodoxy throughout Spanish kingdoms.
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The most famous Irishman brought before the Spanish Inquisition was Wexford man William Lamport. He was arrested in Mexico in 1659 for an alleged plot against the Spanish colonizers and was burnt at the stake. Due to his rebellious nature and life as a martyr, locals dubbed him El Zorro.

Dr O’Connor said that Lamport demonstrated an “extraordinary political vision” for Mexico. The historian discovered 80 pages which detailed the Wexford man’s inquisition trial.

Another Irishman executed was John Martin from Cork, who fled to Guatamala. He took part in an expedition led by the notorious English privateer Sir John Hawkins.

Dr O’Connor also found the story of Waterford-born Patrick Sinnott, a professor of rhetoric in the University of Santiago de Compostela.