Barry Edward O'Meara

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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O'Meara, Barry Edward, Dr., surgeon to Napoleon Bonaparte at St. Helena, was born in Ireland in 1770, educated at Trinity College, and at an early age appointed Assistant-Surgeon to the 62nd Regiment. He served for some years in Sicily, Egypt, and Calabria. In consequence of a duel, he was obliged to quit the army, but soon received an appointment in the navy. He was serving in the Bellerophon, when, on the 14th July 1815, Napoleon surrendered himself on board of her. His professional skill and knowledge of Italian gained the favour of the ex-Emperor, at whose request he was sent with him to St. Helena, as his medical attendant.

O'Meara appears to have agreed tolerably well with Sir George Cockburn and Sir Pulteney Malcolm, Governors of St. Helena; but soon after the arrival of Sir Hudson Lowe misunderstandings arose, and he returned to England in 1818. O'Meara was at first well received by the Admiralty, but having preferred accusations against Sir Hudson for tyrannical and oppressive treatment of Napoleon, his name was erased from the list of naval surgeons.

In 1822 he published Letters from St. Helena, in which he feelingly depicted the petty annoyances and degrading restrictions to which, according to him, Napoleon was subjected. He became exceedingly popular, his view of the case being supported by current public opinion. He died in London, 3rd June 1836, aged 66, of erysipelas, the result of a cold caught while attending one of O'Connell's meetings.

The publication, in 1853, of Mr. Forsyth's History of the Captivity of Napoleon in St. Helena, an exhaustive work, compiled from original documents, has considerably modified the public estimate of the value of Dr. O'Meara's disclosures.

Sources

6. Annual Biography. London, 1817-'27.

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

42. Biographical Dictionary: Rev. Hugh J. Rose. 12 vols. London, 1850.

146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.

251. Napoleon at St. Helena: William Forsyth. 2 vols. London, 1853.

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