Theobald Wolfe Tone

Tone, Theobald Wolfe, was born in Dublin, 20th June 1763. [His grandfather owned property at Bodenstown, County of Kildare; his father carried on business as a coachbuilder, in Stafford-street, Dublin.]

Wolfe Tone

Theobald Wolfe Tone.
From a portrait by his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sampson Tone. Image borrowed from Irish Orators and Oratory, introduced by T. M. Kettle.


Theobald, with his brothers William and Matthew, attended a school kept by Rev. William Craig, where he managed to pull through his lessons in three days out of the six, and devoted the rest of the week to country rambles and attending the parades, field days, and reviews of the Dublin garrison.

In February 1781, much against his will, he entered Trinity College. He says:

“I continued my studies at college as I had done at school; that is, I idled until the last moment of delay. I then laboured hard for about a fortnight before the public examinations, and I always secured good judgments, besides obtaining three premiums in the three last years of my course.”

Elopement with Matilda Witherington

In 1784 he obtained a scholarship, and in the following year he eloped with Matilda Witherington, a girl of sixteen, who lived with her grandfather, an elderly clergyman, in Grafton-street. He describes her at this time as “beautiful as an angel,” and says that after their marriage she grew more and more upon his heart. To the last hour of his life he continued to pay her the most devoted homage.

Writing in after years he remarked:

“Women in general, I am sorry to say, are mercenary, and especially if they have children, they are ready to make all sacrifices to their establishment. But my dearest love had bolder and juster views. On every occasion of my life I consulted her; we had no secrets, one from the other, and I invaryingly found her to think and act with energy and courage, combined with the greatest prudence and discretion. If ever I succeed in life, or attain at anything like station or eminence, I shall consider it as due to her counsels and example.”

In February 1786 he took his degree of B.A., resigned his scholarship, and left the University. He had been Auditor of the Historical Society, and was one of its most distinguished ornaments. His father became bankrupt, and retired to Bodenstown; and with him the young couple sojourned for a time.

Middle Temple, London

In 1787 Theobold entered the Middle Temple, London, took chambers in Hare-court, and supported himself mainly by contributions to the European and other magazines. In partnership with his friends Jebb and Radcliff, he wrote Belmont Castle, a burlesque novel.

After about a year he was joined by his brother William, who had been serving the East India Company. The brothers were often without a guinea, yet the recollection of happy days spent with him and other friends in London afterwards filled Theobald’s mind with a “tenderly melancholy.”

He had read nearly every book relating to the buccaneers, the South Seas, and South America, and conceived the plan of a military settlement on one of the islands lately discovered by Cook—“in order to put a bridle on Spain in time of peace, and to annoy her grievously in that quarter in time of war.” He forwarded a memorial on the subject to Mr. Pitt, but it met with no response.

At length the brothers Tone became so reduced, that they applied at the India House to be sent out as volunteers; but were refused—“I believe we were the single instance since the beginning of the world, of two men, absolutely bent on ruining themselves, who could not find the means.”

After two years’ residence in London, Theobald returned home with but a small knowledge of law. His wife’s grandfather made them a present of £500.

Tone was called to the Bar in February 1789, purchased £100 worth of law books, and took lodgings in Clarendon-street. But he hated and despised the profession, and it was impossible he could make any way in it.

Thomas Russell

He was somewhat attracted to the Whig Club, and wrote a pamphlet in its favour, and in the gallery of the Irish House of Commons he became acquainted with Thomas Russell, an ensign in the army. Their sentiments coincided, and they soon became most intimate.

Writing a few years afterwards, he says:

“I frame no system of happiness for my future life in which the enjoyment of his society does not constitute a most distinguishing feature, and if I am ever inclined to murmur at the difficulties wherewith I have so long struggled, I think on the inestimable treasure I possess in the affections of my wife and the friendship of Russell, and I acknowledge that all my labours and sufferings are overpaid.”

He describes delightful days spent at a simple cottage he had taken for his wife at Irishtown, in company with Russell, his father and brother, and his own brother William. Mrs. Tone was the centre and soul of the party.

They talked politics and loitered by the sea, and each bore a part in the housekeeping.

He depicts Russell, in his laced uniform, helping to cook a dinner.

The South Sea project again came up, was again brought before Government, and was this time civilly considered, but came to nothing.

Tone’s interest in Irish affairs

Soon Irish affairs took the foremost place in his thoughts, and he formed those decided opinions that influenced all his future life:

“I made speedily what was to me a great discovery, though I might have found it in Swift and Molyneux, that the influence of England was the radical vice of our Government, and consequently that Ireland would never be either free, prosperous, or happy, until she was independent, and that independence was unattainable whilst the connexion with England existed. … This theory … has ever since unvaryingly directed my political conduct.”

In the winter of 1790 he and his friends John Stack, William Drennan, Joseph Pollock, Peter Burrowes, William Johnson, Whitley Stokes, and Thomas Russell, formed themselves into a club for the discussion of political and literary subjects.

Russell removed to Belfast, and stirred up their friends there into sympathy with the efforts the Catholics were making to secure a measure of political equality.

In September 1791 Tone published An Argument on behalf of the Catholics of Ireland. This work brought him into intimate relation with the principal Catholic leaders, who induced him to accept the office for which Richard Burke had proved himself unsuitable—that of paid Secretary of the Catholic Committee.

The Society of United Irishmen

The Society of United Irishmen, for securing Catholic Emancipation and Reform, was inaugurated about the same period. The progress of the French Revolution vivified the whole political atmosphere.

Tone’s papers abound with sketches of the principal men with whom he was brought into contact, and give a particular account of the proceedings of the Catholic Committee, the Catholic Convocation of 1792, and the deputations and discussions in Parliament that led to the large measure of relief embodied in 33 George III. c. 21—followed as it was by cap. 29, the Convention Act, which rendered effective political action difficult, and tended to make the United Irishmen a secret society. [See Keogh, John, p. 273.]

When war was declared against France, efforts were made by Government to suppress the French principles that so largely prevailed in Ireland.

The Volunteers were discouraged, and ultimately broken up.

The Catholics saw no hope of securing full political rights, and Tone and many of his friends engaged eagerly in the secret designs of the revolutionists.

Rev. William Jackson

In April 1794, the Rev. William Jackson, who had come over on a mission from France to ascertain to what extent the Irish people were ready to support a French invasion, was betrayed by his associate Cockayne, and arrested on a charge of high treason.

Tone had had many conferences with Jackson, and had warned him against Cockayne, who, he declared, must, as an Englishman, be a traitor either to his country or to his friends.

After Jackson’s arrest, Tone’s position was known to be precarious.

Some of his friends entered into negotiations with Government, it is said without his knowledge, and it was finally arranged that if he left the country no proceedings should be taken against him.

If the statement in his memoirs is correct, he did not in any way bind himself as to his future course.

Before leaving Ireland he communicated to his friends Russell and Thomas Addis Emmet his determination, upon his arrival in Philadelphia, to seek an interview with the French Minister there, with a view to interest him in the affairs of Ireland, and point out the deadly blow that through her could be struck at English prestige.

Wolfe Tone flees to America

Tone was presented by the Catholic Committee with a sum of £300 in recognition of his services.

He paid his debts, settled with everybody, and, on 20th May 1795, with his wife, sister, and three children, left Dublin to take shipping at Belfast.

Apart from clothes and books, his whole property consisted of about £700.

His friends detained him nearly a month in Belfast; and there, on Cave Hill, on the summit of McArt’s fort, Russell, Neilson, McCracken, and Tone took a solemn obligation never to desist in their efforts until they had secured the independence of Ireland.

Within a few years two of them by their death on the scaffold, one by his own hands in prison, and one in exile, had proved the sincerity with which they had made the engagement.

On 13th June Tone and his family sailed in the Cincinnatus for Wilmington—300 passengers in a ship of 230 tons. They had a tolerably fine voyage of seven weeks; but were boarded by officers from British cruisers, who pressed fifty of the passengers and all but one of their crew. Nothing but the tears and entreaties of his wife and sister prevented Tone being carried off with the others.

“It would have been a pretty termination to my adventures. … The insolence of these tyrants, as well to myself as to my poor fellow passengers, in whose fate a fellowship in misfortune had interested me, I have not since forgotten, and I never will.”

They landed at Wilmington 1st August; and at Philadelphia, where they arrived a few days later, he met his friends Hamilton Rowan and Dr. Reynolds.

Furnished with a letter of introduction from Rowan, two resolutions of thanks from the Catholic Committee, and the certificate of his enrolment as an Irish Volunteer, he waited on Adet, the French Minister, and explained to him his plans for a French invasion of Ireland.

Adet spoke English imperfectly; Tone, French a great deal worse: but they managed to understand one another, and at the Minister’s request Tone prepared a memorial.

Then, feeling he had done his duty, he bought a farm near Princeton, fitted up a study, and began to think of settling down as an American farmer.

In the autumn he received letters from Keogh, Russell, and Simms, informing him of the advance of revolutionary opinions in Ireland, and imploring him, if possible, to force his way to the French government, and supplicate its active assistance.

He consulted with Rowan, and again saw Adet, who now entered warmly into his plans, and furnished him with a letter to the Committee of Public Safety in France.

The conduct of Mrs. Tone was singularly self-forgetful. She concealed from her husband the fact of a probable early increase in their family, and implored him to let no consideration stand in the way of his duty to his country.

He drew upon Simms for £250, £100 of which he left with his wife; he sent his brother Arthur to Ireland, to inform the leaders that he was starting for France, and to tell his parents that he was settling on a farm: he spent a day in Philadelphia with Rowan, Reynolds, and Napper Tandy; and, at four o’clock on a December morning, embraced his wife, children, and sister, and set off for New York.—

“The courage and firmness of the women supported me; … we had neither tears nor lamentations; but, on the contrary, the most ardent hope and the most steady resolution.”

France and the journal of Wolfe Tone

On 1st January 1796 he sailed from New York, and landed at Havre on 1st February.

It was now that Wolfe Tone commenced his remarkable Journal, scarcely to be equalled in interest by any similar record in the English language, except perhaps Swift’s Journal to Stella, on which it is probably modelled.

It commences the day after his arrival in France, and continues uninterruptedly till 1st January 1797, the morning of his return from the Bantry Bay expedition.

It is resumed on the 1st of the following month, and continued with less minuteness (one entry sometimes covering a month) until 30th June 1798, before his last and fatal expedition.

Besides this, commencing on 7th August 1796, with the words, “As I shall embark in a business, within a few days, the event of which is uncertain,” he wrote out some particulars of his past career, which expanded into a memoir of his life to the time of his arrival in France.

In the Journal he unreservedly records all his doings—whether it is “a sad rainy day, and I am not well, and the blue devils torment me,” or whether he tells of his confidential interviews with Carnot. His “dearest love” and his “darling babies” are ever present in his thoughts.

Thomas Russell is constantly referred to by the pseudonym of “P.P.”

Wolfe Tone’s dealings with the French government

Without friends, with but an imperfect knowledge of French, and a small sum of money which soon ran out, and having no credentials but Adet’s letter and the resolutions of the Catholic Committee, he was a few days after his arrival in Paris, in intimate communication with the heads of the French government.

He passed openly as citizen Smith, but was known to the Government under his true name.

His views were warmly seconded by Madgett, an exiled Irishman, engaged in the Foreign Ministry.

On the 24th February he had an interview with Carnot at the Luxembourg. Tone writes:

“I am a pretty fellow to negotiate with the Directory of France, pull down a monarchy and establish a republic; to break a connexion of 600 years’ standing, and contract a fresh alliance with another country.”


“Here I am, with exactly two louis in my exchequer, negotiating with the French Government, and planning revolutions. I must say it is truly original.”

He presented two memorials to the Government, pointing out the advantages they would gain from assisting Ireland: the reduction of English power could alone be accomplished by the separation of Ireland from Great Britain: Ireland was a rich recruiting field both for the army and navy: The Protestant aristocracy (450,000) of the country were but a small body: the Dissenters (900,000) were largely imbued with French principles: the Catholics (3,150,000), ground down by oppressive laws, were “trained from their infancy in an hereditary abhorrence of the English name.”

To a large extent, the old volunteers and the militia would be likely to join the invaders.

All the waverers would soon go over to the new government.

If possible, 20,000 men should be sent, of whom 15,000 should land near Dublin, and 5,000 near Belfast.

These once landed, the Irish government would fall to pieces without the possibility of effort.

Should it be impossible to send such a force, 5,000 was the very lowest number with whom the attempt could be made with anything like certainty of success, and they should be landed in the north of Ireland, where the people were in the greatest forwardness as to military preparation. But with only 5,000 there might be a civil war, which he “would most earnestly wish, if possible, to avoid.”

As to arms, 100,000 stand should be sent; as to money, pay for 40,000 men for three months would be amply sufficient, “as before that time was expired, we should have all the resources of Ireland in our hands.”

There should be an absolute disavowal of ideas of French conquest.

The expedition should be commanded by a General whose name and character were well known in Ireland.

The war should not be a rose-water war: every shilling of English property in the island should be confiscated.

Such was the substance of his memorials. They concluded, as they commenced, with the assurance of “what a staggering blow the separation of Ireland would be to England in a commercial point of view, not to speak of the military, or, which is of far more consequence, the naval part of the question. … It is in Ireland, and in Ireland only, that she [England] is vulnerable.”

The French expedition to Bantry Bay

While, from Tone’s point of view, and that of many of his countrymen, the proposed invasion was perfectly justifiable, the statements in his memorials as to the state of feeling in Ireland, and the importance of Ireland to England, went largely to justify the subsequent policy of Pitt and Castlereagh.

In a few months an expedition was decided upon, and on the 12th of July Tone was introduced to Hoche as the probable commander-in-chief. He dined in state with Carnot, and his personal money troubles were put an end to by his appointment as chef-de-brigade.

In the middle of September he left Paris for Brest, with the expectation of immediate embarkation.

There were delays that almost broke his heart, and caused many a page of his Journal to be blotted with imprecations; but at length, on the 16th of December, he embarked in the Indomitable, 80, one of a fleet of forty-three vessels (seventeen sail of the line, thirteen frigates, seven corvettes, and six transports), carrying some 15,000 of the best French troops, under Hoche, one of the ablest of French Generals, the object of the armament being the separation of Ireland from Great Britain, and its erection into an independent republic under the ægis of France.

The vessels encountered very bad weather; but escaped meeting any portion of the British fleet.

On the 21st they were off Cape Clear, but thirty sail to be seen.

The wind was dead ahead, and Tone was furious with impatience and vexation.

He calculated, however, there were still in the vessels in company 41,160 stand of arms, and twenty field pieces, besides a large quantity of powder and other requisites.

Further dispersions reduced the fleet still more.

A descent in force at Bantry appeared impossible; but he urged upon the captain of his vessel the advisability of landing him and ever so small a force at Sligo, so as to make a desperate attempt to effect something.

For days the fleet rode at anchor in Bantry Bay, in the midst of blinding snow storms, unable to communicate with the shore; and, at last, on 29th December, the seven sail to which the once proud expedition was reduced, were obliged to slip their anchors and make the best of their way back to Brest.

“It was hard,” says Tone, “after having forced my way thus far, to be obliged to turn back; but it is my fate, and I must submit. … Well, England has not had such an escape since the Spanish Armada; and that expedition, like ours, was defeated by the weather; the elements fight against us, and courage is of no avail.”

A planned second expedition

His wife and children had meanwhile arrived at Hamburg, and peaceful ideas of settling in France floated through his brain.

He draws affecting pictures, in his letters to his wife and children, of how happy they would be in some small country place on his pay as chef-de-brigade.

They met at Amsterdam in May; but Tone was soon hurried off to join Hoche and the Batavian army, as the way began to open for another expedition to Ireland.

Indeed twenty sail, carrying 15,000 troops, with arms and supplies in proportion, were already assembled; and his friend Lewines, of Dublin, had arrived as accredited agent of the Leinster Directory of United Irishmen with the French government.

Bonaparte’s Italian policy (his suppression of liberty and evident personal ambition) gave Tone much uneasiness. He told Hoche plainly that such doings would never answer in Ireland; as it was an ally, not another master, the country desired.

On 8th July Tone went aboard the Vryhead, a fine vessel of seventy-four guns, lying in the Texel, and was presented to Admiral De Winter, who was to command the proposed expedition.

As before the Bantry expedition, his time was fully occupied conferring with the commanders, arranging plans for landing, and drawing up proclamations.

On 14th July he notes the “glorious prospect” of the Dutch fleet, ready to weigh anchor—fifteen sail of the line, ten frigates, ten sloops, twenty-seven transports.

The instructions of the Dutch government, as shown to him by General Daendels, commander of the troops, were most satisfactory; the object of the expedition was not conquest, but to aid the Irish people in establishing their liberty and independence.

But again he was doomed to disappointment.

Delays, unaccountable to him, occurred.

Hoche, whom he regarded as his best friend, and who had always entered heartily into his plans, died in September; and on 11th October, Admiral Duncan almost annihilated the Dutch fleet in an engagement off Camperdown.

Still Tone did not despair. He had several interviews with Bonaparte.

“His manner is cold, and he speaks very little; it is not, however, so dry as that of Hoche, and seems rather to proceed from languor than anything else.”

One of his last notes in 1797 is:

“It is a droll thing that I should become acquainted with Bonaparte. This time twelve months I arrived in Brest from my expedition to Bantry Bay. Well, the third time, they say, is the charm.”

The early part of 1798 was spent in Paris, urging on ministers the organization of another expedition, and conferring with the numerous Irish refugees now beginning to come over.

He was agonized at the fate of his friends at home, unsupported in their attempted insurrection, and torn with mortification that he could not be present with a French contingent to aid at such a critical juncture.

Hope almost deserts him on 26th May 1798, when he offers to go out to India in the service of the French government.

“My blood is cooling fast; ‘my May of life is falling to the sear, the yellow leaf.’”

His journal ends with the 30th June—

“If the Irish can hold out till winter, I have every reason to hope that the French will assist them effectually. All I dread is, that they may be overpowered before that time.”

Humbert’s expedition to Killala

In the middle of August Humbert forced the precipitate sailing of the desperate Killala expedition. Three Irishmen accompanied it—Tone’s brother Matthew, Teeling, and Sullivan.

About the same time a small party commanded by Napper Tandy landed at Rathlin, spread some proclamations, and, hearing of Humbert’s defeat at Ballinamuck, escaped to Norway.

Tone did not sail with either of these expeditions, as he still cherished the hope of being able to influence the despatch of one more likely to be effective.

Expedition on the Hoche

In September preparations were made for another expedition.

The Hoche, 74, eight frigates, and the Biche, despatch schooner, were collected at the Baye de Camaret.

Tone was now in the deepest despondency as to Irish affairs, and was hopeless of success. But he had all along said that while an army of 20,000 men was desirable, and 5,000 necessary, he would accompany even a corporal’s guard.

His death in case of failure was all but certain. Such had been the indiscretion of the French government, that his name in full was allowed to appear in the Parisian papers as having embarked on the Hoche.

We have no particulars of the parting with his wife, further than that he assured her, in case of capture, he would never suffer death by the halter.

The fleet sailed about the 20th September, under Admiral Bompart.

Again the good genius of England was in the ascendant.

Contrary winds scattered the fleet, and on 10th October only the Hoche, Loire, Resolue, and Biche arrived off Lough Swilly.

At daybreak next morning, before they could effect a landing, a superior British fleet, under Sir John Borlase Warren, appeared on the horizon.

Bompart determined to fight the Hoche to the last, but signalled the frigates and schooner to retreat through the shallow water.

A boat came from the Biche for last orders, when the French officers entreated Tone to escape on board of her—“Our contest is hopeless, we shall be prisoners of war, but what will become of you?”

“Shall it be said,” he indignantly replied, “that I fled, whilst the French were fighting the battles of my country?”

For six hours the Hoche engaged five sail of Admiral Warren’s fleet, Tone commanding one of the batteries with the utmost coolness and bravery.

At length the ship struck, after she had become a dismantled wreck, with five feet of water in her hold, and the cockpit full of dead and dying.

Capture in Donegal

All the French squadron were ultimately taken, with the exception of two frigates, and the Biche, in which Tone might have escaped.

The captive officers were landed and marched to Letterkenny, where the Earl of Cavan invited them to breakfast. It was believed that Tone was among them.

Sir George Hill entered the room, followed by some soldiers, recognized Tone, and said:

“Mr. Tone, I am very happy to see you.”

Tone replied with perfect composure:

“Sir George, I am happy to see you; how are Lady Hill and your family?”

On being removed to another room, and finding handcuffs about to be placed on him, he flung off his uniform coat, saying:

“These fetters shall never degrade the revered insignia of the free nation which I have served.”

Resuming his composure, he held out his hands, and added:

“For the cause which I have embraced I feel prouder to wear these chains than if I were decorated with the Star and Garter of England.”


He was taken under an escort of dragoons to Londonderry, and thence to Dublin, where he was placed in the provost prison at the Royal Barracks.

On the 10th November a court-martial was called to try him.

Tone appeared in his French uniform. He made an eloquent and touching speech—avowed everything, and declared his love for Ireland, and his belief in the necessity of a separation from England—

“For it I became an exile; I submitted to poverty; I left the bosom of my family, my wife, my children, and all that rendered life desirable. After an honourable combat, in which I strove to emulate the bravery of my gallant comrades, I was forced to submit, and was dragged in irons through the country, not so much to my disgrace, as to that of the person by whom such ungenerous and unmanly orders were issued.”

Knowing that conviction was certain and sentence of death inevitable, he pleaded that he should meet a soldier’s death—within an hour if it were practicable.

The voices of the court were immediately collected and submitted to Lord Cornwallis, who confirmed the verdict of guilty, and directed that he should be hanged within forty-eight hours.

This was on Saturday.

He wrote to the French Directory, commending his wife and children to their protection and support.

He wrote one note on Saturday and another on Sunday to his wife, full of resignation and affection:

“The hour is at last come when we must part. As no words can express what I feel for you and our children, I shall not attempt it. Complaint of any kind would be beneath your courage and mine.”

He advised her to be guided by the counsel of an old friend, Mr. Wilson, a Scotchman. He declined to see his parents.

On Sunday night he was informed that the Lord-Lieutenant had refused his last request, as to the manner of his execution, and that he was to be hanged next day.

On Monday Curran moved before Chief-Justice Kilwarden for a habeas corpus to bring him up for civil trial before the King’s Bench, then sitting. This was immediately granted, but the authorities at the barracks refused to surrender him.

The death of Wolfe Tone

All efforts to save him were too late, however; for during Sunday night Tone had with a penknife opened an artery in his neck.

The morning found him weltering in his blood, but still living.

“I find then I am but a bad anatomist,” he faintly said to the humane surgeon who was at once called in.

On his bed was found a pocket-book, stained with his blood, directed to his old friend John Sweetman, with the inscription “T. W. Tone, Nov. 11, 1798. Te nunc habet ista secundam.”

Tone lingered in agony for eight days. The end came on the 19th.

When Surgeon Lentaigne told him that death would ensue if he stirred, he replied:

“I can yet find words to thank you, Sir: it is the most welcome news you could give me: what should I wish to live for?”

Falling back, he expired without an effort. He was aged but 34.

His body, with his uniform and sword, were considerately given up to his relative William Dunbavin, of 65 High-street.

After two days, Government directed an immediate interment, and, attended only by two friends, both opposed to Tone in politics and members of yeomanry corps, his remains were buried with those of his ancestors, in the ancient cemetery of Bodenstown, near Sallins. (The stone erected by Thomas Davis and other admirers in 1843 was soon chipped away for relics. Its place has lately been taken by a more substantial memorial, surmounted by ironwork.)

Goldwin Smith, when Professor of History at Oxford, said of Tone:

“Though his name is little known amongst Englishmen, he, … brave, adventurous, sanguine, fertile in resource, buoyant under misfortune, warm-hearted, … was near being almost as fatal an enemy to England as Hannibal was to Rome.”

The fate of Wolfe Tone’s family

Mrs. Tone, on hearing of her husband’s capture, made immediate preparations for proceeding to Ireland, but was stopped by the news of his death. She lived for some years in Paris on a small grant from the French Government and a collection made in Ireland, devoting herself to the education of her children.

In 1804, her daughter, an accomplished girl of sixteen, died, and two years later she lost her younger son.

One son, William Theobald Wolfe Tone, alone survived. By a personal interview with Napoleon, Mrs. Tone procured him admission to the Imperial Lyceum, and in 1813 he joined the army. No more terrible picture of war has been penned than his account of Napoleon’s last campaigns, in which he took part. It is appended to his edition of the Memoirs and Writings of his father, published in two volumes at Philadelphia in 1826. He rose to be lieutenant of the staff and aide-de-camp to General Bagneris, and received the decoration of the Legion of Honour. On the fall of Napoleon he left the army, and remained with his mother until September 1816, when, after eighteen years of widowhood, she married Mr. Wilson, her constant and devoted friend and adviser.

William Tone then went to America, where (after a year’s residence in Scotland) his mother and Mr. Wilson joined him in the autumn of 1817. William studied law, wrote some works on military affairs, and was appointed to a captaincy in the United States army. In 1825 he married the only daughter of his father’s friend William Sampson. He died of consumption, 10th October 1828, and was buried on Long Island. His widow and daughter were living in New York in 1858.

Mrs. Wolfe Tone Wilson was intimate with Mrs. Fletcher, in whose charming Autobiography some of her letters will be found.

Mrs. Fletcher’s daughter says in a note to one of them:

“Mrs. Wolfe Tone Wilson was one of my mother’s very dear friends, and she says of her in a letter to me: ‘I admired and loved her for the union of magnanimity and tenderness she possessed, and it will always be a pleasing reflexion to me that I believe my sympathy in all she had done and suffered was some comfort to her when she came into a land of strangers.’”

She survived her second husband twenty-two years, and died at Georgetown, 18th March 1849, in her 81st year.

Wolfe Tone’s father, who latterly held a situation under the Corporation of Dublin, died in 1805, his mother in 1818.

His brother Matthew entered the French army, accompanied General Humbert to Killala, was taken prisoner at Ballinamuck, and was hanged at Arbour Hill, Dublin, 29th September 1798.

William Henry Tone, after his residence with Theobald in London, returned to the East, rose to high rank in the Mahratta service, and was killed in action between 1801 and 1804. He was the author of a Treatise on Mahratta Institutions.

His sister Mary married a Swiss merchant, and is believed to have perished in the insurrection in St. Domingo.

Arthur, the youngest of the family, a lieutenant in the Dutch navy, was last heard of in the East Indies.


324. Tone, Theobald Wolfe, Autobiography: Edited by his Son. 2 vols. Washington, 1826.

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