Denys Scully

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Scully, Denys, a prominent leader in the cause of Catholic Emancipation, was born at Kilfeacle, County of Tipperary, 4th May 1773. He was the eldest surviving son of James Scully, an extensive landed proprietor. In 1794 he entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, being the first Catholic student admitted for upwards of two hundred years. He was called to the Irish Bar in 1796, and in February 1805, was one of a deputation of Catholic noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants, appointed by their co-religionists to wait on Pitt with a petition for Emancipation. Pitt declined to present it to Parliament; but Fox and Lord Grenville, after an interview with the deputies, presented it on 25th March.

Mr. Scully had private interviews with Castlereagh, Fox, Huskisson, Cobbett, and other public men, regarding the question he had so much at heart; and amongst his many correspondents on Catholic affairs, were Grattan, O'Connell, and Lords Holland, Grenville, Hardwicke, and Donoughmore. He wrote more than one pamphlet on the subject, and joined Edward Hay, secretary of the Catholic Board, in preparing a statement of the cruelties to which the people of Wexford had been subjected previous to the Insurrection of 1798. The work by which he is chiefly known is his Statement of the Penal Laws, published in 1812, a standard authority in regard to those oppressive enactments, and a powerful agent in preparing the public mind for Emancipation. This book attracted so much attention that the government of the day, being opposed to Emancipation, prosecuted the publisher, FitzPatrick, for libel on the Lord-Lieutenant, and FitzPatrick was fined £200, and imprisoned for eighteen months. To the prolific pen of Denys Scully may be traced many of the petitions and resolutions of the Catholic clergy and laity of his day, as well as many able articles in the Morning Post, and Dublin Evening Post, bearing on the Catholic question. He lived to see the fruition of his labours in the Emancipation Act of 1829, and died at Kilfeacle, 25th October 1830, aged 56, having been paralysed for some years previously. He was buried with his ancestors on the Rock of Cashel. [His son, Vincent Scully, for some years member of Parliament for County Cork, and the author of some valuable treatises on the facilitation of the transfer of land, died on 4th June 1871.

Sources

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

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