Leonard McNally

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

« Art MacMurrough | Index | William James MacNevin »

MacNally, Leonard, a barrister who distinguished himself in the defence of the United Irishmen, but who, since his death, has been discovered to have been a government spy, was born in Dublin in 1752. Early in life lie abandoned the grocery business, to which he had been brought up, studied law with great assiduity, entered at the Middle Temple, and was called to both the English and the Irish Bar. Practising first in England, he is said to have been induced by Curran to transfer his talents to his native country. He was one of the original members of the Society of United Irishmen, and assisted in the defence of Emmet, Jackson, Tandy, Tone, and many others. He was the trusted friend of Curran — one of the intimates to whom the family felt it proper first to communicate Curran's death. MacNally was the author of twelve dramatic pieces, including the opera of Robin Hood, 1779-96; also of The Claims of Ireland, 1782; Rules of Evidence, 1802; Justice of the Peace for Ireland, 1808; and other works. For two editions of his Justice he received £2,500.

He died at 22 Harcourt-street, Dublin, 13th February 1820, aged 68. Then only did his treachery appear. His heir claimed a continuance of a secret service pension of £300 a year, which his father had enjoyed since 1798. The Lord-Lieutenant demanded a detailed statement of the circumstances under which the agreement had been made; it was furnished after some hesitation, and the startling fact became generally known, not only that he had been in regular receipt of the pension claimed, but that during the state trials of 1798 and 1803, while he was receiving fees from the prisoners to defend them, he also accepted large sums from Government to betray the secrets of their defence. The Cornwallis Correspondence, Madden's Lives of the United Irishmen, and communications from Mr. FitzPatrick in Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, put all this beyond doubt.

Another writer in the same series relates how in the London riots of 1780, MacNally saved the life of Dr. Thurlow, Bishop of Lincoln. Sir Jonah Barrington gives an amusing account of a duel between himself and MacNally, in which he says: "MacNally stood before me, very like a beer-barrel on its stilly, and by his side were ranged three unfortunate barristers, who were all soon afterwards hanged and beheaded for high treason — namely, John Sheares, who was his second,.. and Henry Sheares and Bagenal Harvey, who came as amateurs." In the same connexion, Sir Jonah, who was of course ignorant of MacNally's perfidy, thus describes him: "His figure was ludicrous; he was very short, and nearly as broad as long; his legs were of unequal length, and he had a face which no washing could clean... He possessed, however, a fine eye, and by no means an ugly countenance; a great deal of middling intellect; a shrill, full, good bar voice... In a word, MacNally was a good-natured, hospitable, talented, dirty fellow."

Sources

22. Barrington, Sir Jonah, Personal Sketches of his own Time: Townsend Young, LL.D. 2 vols. London, 1869.

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

87. Cornwallis, Marquis, Correspondence: Charles Ross. 3 vols. London, 1859.
Cotton, Rev. Henry, see No. 118.

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

254. Notes and Queries. London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

331. United Irishmen, their Lives and Times: Robert R. Madden, M.D. 4 vols. London, 1858-'60.

« Art MacMurrough | Index | William James MacNevin »

FEATURED eBOOKS

Truelove's Journal: A Bookshop Novella

"Beautiful, different and touching. Short, sweet and lovely. Made me cry. You sense that this is a true story veiled in the guise of fiction as are all the best stories."

Although ostensibly set in England, this story was penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St John Featherstonehaugh.

Truelove's Journal (amazon.com) ►

Truelove's Journal (amazon.co.uk) ►

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Annals of the Famine in Ireland, by Asenath Nicholson, still has the power to shock and sadden even though the events described are ever-receding further into the past. When you read, for example, of the poor widowed mother who was caught trying to salvage a few potatoes from her landlord's field, and what the magistrate discovered in the pot in her cabin, you cannot help but be appalled and distressed.

The ebook is available for download in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iBooks, etc.) and .pdf formats. For further information on the book and author see details ».

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

This book, the prequel to Annals of the Famine in Ireland cannot be recommended highly enough to those interested in Irish social history. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, travelled from her native America to assess the condition of the poor in Ireland during the mid 1840s. Refusing the luxury of hotels and first class travel, she stayed at a variety of lodging-houses, and even in the crude cabins of the very poorest. Not to be missed!

The ebook is available for download in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iBooks, etc.) and .pdf formats. For further information on the book and author see details ».

The Scotch-Irish in America

The Scotch-Irish in America

Henry Ford Jones' book, first published in 1915 by Princeton University, is a classic in its field. It covers the history of the Scotch-Irish from the first settlement in Ulster to the American Revolutionary period and the foundation of the country.

The ebook is available for download in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iBooks, etc.) and .pdf formats. For further information on the book and author see details ».

MAILING LIST

letterJoin our mailing list to receive updates on new content on Library, our latest ebooks, and more.

You won't be inundated with emails! — we'll just keep you posted periodically — about once a monthish — on what's happening with the library.