Tag Archives: duelling

Duelling in eighteenth-century Ireland 2

Continuing from my earlier post, Duelling in eighteenth-century Ireland

Sometimes it was not only the defeated party in a duel that suffered the consequences. In 1807 William Congreve Alcock (former MP for Waterford City and Co. Wexford) killed John Colclough over an election dispute, apparently in front of a large crowd including the county sheriff and 16 magistrates. Afterwards, Alcock ‘became melancholy; his understanding declined; a dark gloom enveloped his entire intellect; and an excellent young man and a perfect gentleman at length sank into irrecoverable imbecility’. He was confined in a lunatic asylum, and died in 1813 at the age of 42.

Robert Edgeworth, a member of the prominent Longford family and MP for St Johnstown (1713–27), was described as follows: ‘He had no notion of good breeding, was outrageously rude and abusive to persons he disliked, had a strange disposition to fighting and quarrelling and was quite void of fear of any man living; but was most childishly fearful of apparitions and goblins especially after he had killed Mr Atkinson in a duel in Clontarf Wood, after which time he could never lie without a lighted candle in his room and a servant either in his chamber or within his call … He hated many people, loved nobody, nor nobody loved him.’ Continue reading

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A year in Ireland – 1761

 

  • There is a general election. In Co. Tipperary, Sir Thomas Maude declares himself a candidate and threatens to petition against another candidate, Thomas Mathew, on the grounds that Mathew is Catholic in all but name. Daniel Gahan, agent for Maude, subsequently kills Thomas Prendergast, Mathew’s agent, in a duel. Mathew is elected but is declared not duly elected after a petition from Maude, who thus gains the seat
  • In the climate of sectarian tension created partly by the Mathew–Maude controversy, the Whiteboys, a violent agrarian protest movement, begins in Tipperary and spreads through Munster and West Leinster (October–December).
  • John MacNaghten, a gambler, duellist and criminal born in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, who had been involved in the killing of Mary Anne Knox, daughter of Andrew Knox MP, is hanged for murder at Strabane jail on 15 December. At the first attempt to hang him the rope breaks but, eschewing offers from the crowd to help him make his escape, he declares that he does not wish to be known for ever as ‘half-hung McNaghten’ and asks the hangman to proceed. (He is nevertheless known as ‘half-hung McNaghten’.)
  • Richard Nugent (Lord Delvin), MP for Fore and still a teenager, fights a duel with a Mr Reilly on 30 July and dies of his wounds on 6 August. Duelling will reach a peak in Ireland in the 1770s and 1780s.
  • Those born in Ireland in 1761 include two giants: Charles Byrne, who will be eight feet tall at 19 years of age, and Patrick Cotter (born in Kinsale, Co. Cork), who will be 97 inches tall according to his coffin plate. Other births include political radicals such as Edward Hay, James Coigley and the deportee Samuel Neilson. Dorothy Jordan, a famous Drury Lane actress and the mother of ten children by the future William IV, is born near Waterford.

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Duelling in eighteenth-century Ireland

[First posted on MyT]

I see that an exhibition will soon open at the National Museum of Ireland on the history of duelling, which reached its peak here between 1780 and 1820. In a sample of 306 Irish duels fought between 1771 and 1790, there were 65 instant deaths and 16 mortal wounds; less than a third ended without injury. At least 19 Dublin companies were making duelling pistols in the early nineteenth century.

Some years ago I worked on a project involving the Irish parliament of 1695–1800, and compiled a fair bit of information on duelling and much else. Here is some of it: more will follow in a second post. Continue reading

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