John Philpot Curran

John Philpot Curran

Birth
Newmarket, County Cork, Ireland
Death 14 Oct 1817 (aged 67)
Brompton, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England
Burial Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Memorial ID 11262271 · View Source
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Irish politician and judge. Born in Newmarket, Cork, where his father, a descendant of one of Cromwell's soldiers, was seneschal to the manor-court, Curran was educated at Middleton, through the kind help of a friend, the Rev. Nathaniel Boyse, and at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1773, having taken his MA degree, he entered the Middle Temple. In 1774 he married a lady who brought him a small dowry; but the marriage proved unhappy, and Mrs. Curran finally left her husband. In 1775 Curran was called to the Irish bar, where he very soon obtained a practice. On his first rising in court excessive nervousness prevented him from even reading distinctly the few words of a legal form, and when requested by the judge to read more clearly he became so agitated as to be totally unable to proceed. But, his feelings once roused, all nervousness disappeared. His effective and witty attack upon a judge who had sneered at his poverty, the success with which he prosecuted a nobleman for a disgraceful assault upon a priest, the duel which he fought with one of the witnesses for this nobleman, and other similar exploits, gained him such a reputation that he was soon the most popular advocate in Ireland.In 1783 Curran was appointed King's Counsel; and in the same year he was presented to a seat in the Irish House of Commons. His conduct in connection with this affair displayed his conduct in a most honorable light; finding that he differed radically in politics from the gentleman from whom he had received his seat, he expended 1500 in buying another to replace that which he occupied. Throughout his parliamentary career, Curran was sincere and consistent. He spoke vigorously on behalf of Catholic emancipation, and strenuously attacked the ministerial bribery which prevailed. His declamations against the government party led him into two duels: the first with John Fitzgibbon, then attorney-general, afterwards Lord Clare; the second with the Secretary of State Major Hobart, afterwards Earl of Buckinghamshire. Curran's fame rests most of all upon his speeches on behalf of the accused in the state trials that were so numerous between 1794 and 1803. Among them were those in defense of Hamilton Rowan, the Rev. William Jackson, the brothers John and Henry Sheares, Peter Finnerty, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Wolfe Tone and Owen Kirwan. Another of his most famous and characteristic speeches was that against the Marquis of Headfort, who had eloped with the wife of a clergyman named Massey. On the arrest of Robert Emmet, who had formed an attachment to his daughter, Curran was himself under suspicion; but on examination before the privy council, nothing was brought forward to implicate him in the intended rebellion. In 1806, on the death of Pitt and the formation of the Fox ministry, Curran received the post of Master of the Rolls, with a seat in the privy council, much to his disappointment, for he had desired a position of greater political influence. For eight years, however, he held this office. He then retired, and the three remainng years of his life were spent in London, where he became one of the most brilliant members of the society which included Sheridan, Erskine, Thomas Moore, and William Godwin. He died at his house in Brompton on October 14, 1817.

Bio by: Connie Nisinger


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Connie Nisinger
  • Added: 29 Jun 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11262271
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Philpot Curran (24 Jul 1750–14 Oct 1817), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11262271, citing Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .