Baron Connor Maguire of Enniskillen

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Maguire, Connor, Baron of Enniskillen, son of Brian Roe, 1st Baron, and his wife, a sister of Owen Roe O'Neill. He was of the same family as the preceding, and was born in Fermanagh about 1616. He entered enthusiastically into the plans for insurrection in October 1641, for expelling the English settlers and asserting the freedom of Catholic worship, and was one of the leaders who came to Dublin to arrange for the outbreak. His lodging was at "one Nevil's, a chirurgeon, in Castle-street, near the pillory," and there several private conferences were held. Sir Felim O'Neill was deputed to seize Charlemont; Maguire, Barry, Preston, Moor, and Plunket, Dublin Castle; Sir James Dillon, the Fort of Galway; Sir Morgan Cavanagh and Hugh MacFelim, the Fort of Duncannon.

The plot to take Dublin Castle was betrayed, however, and while most of his confederates fled across the Liffey and escaped, Maguire was arrested. He was imprisoned in the Castle for nearly a year, and then removed to the Tower of London, with his friend MacMahon. During his incarceration he was more than once examined, and substantially admitted the charges brought against him. After nearly two years' imprisonment, he and MacMahon escaped on 18th August 1643, and were at liberty until 20th October. They lay hid in a house in Drury-lane, and would probably have escaped to the Continent, but for the rashness of one of them in calling from a top window to an oyster-man in the street. The voice was recognized; they were recaptured, and in two hours were again in the Tower.

Maguire was brought up for trial for high treason at the King's Bench on the 11th November 1644. He pleaded his right to be tried by his peers in Ireland. This was overruled by the judge, as well as by both Houses of Parliament, to whom the matter was referred, and his final trial came on 10th February 1644-'5. He defended himself with great ability, and urged so many technical objections to the proceedings that the case went over to the second day. The judge charged strongly against him; he was found guilty, and condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Both after conviction in court, and in an appeal to Parliament from his prison, he unsuccessfully prayed that his body might be spared the indignity of quartering. Then the prisoner departing from the bar, Mr. Prynne advising him to confer with some godly ministers for the good and comfort of his soul, he answered that he would have none at all, unless he might have some Romish priests of his own religion.

This prayer was also denied, and when he was brought up on a sled for execution the 20th February 1644-'5, he repeatedly broke in upon the reiterated exhortations of the sheriff that he should renounce his faith, with cries of "For Jesus Christ's sake, I beseech you to give me a little time to prepare myself... For God's sake, give me leave to depart in peace.. Pray let me have a little time to say my prayers." At the final moment "the sheriff commanded his pockets to be searched whether he had no bull or pardon about him; but they found in his pockets only some beads and a crucifix, which were taken from him."[323] His title was assumed by his son and descendants, the last of whom, Alexander Maguire, 8th Baron, was, a captain in the Irish Brigade in France. [In commemoration of his arrest and the discovery of the plot for insurrection in October 1641, it was customary, until the year 1829, for the bells of St. Audoen's Church to be rung every 22nd of October at midnight.] William Prynn, the Parliamentarian, took a prominent part against Maguire on his trial, and printed a pamphlet (running to thirty-two pages of Cobbett's State Trials) to prove "that Irish peers, as well as commons, may be lawfully tried in this court in England.

Sources

57. Burke, Sir Bernard: Vicissitudes of Families. 2 vols. London, 1869.

110. Dublin, History of the City: John T. Gilbert. 3 vols. Dublin, 1854-'9.

312. State Trials, Cobbett's, 1163 to 1820. 34 vols. London, 1806-'28.

323. Temple, Sir John, Rebellion of 1641. Dublin, 1724.

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