Binns, John (DNB00)

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BINNS, JOHN (1772–1860), journalist and politician, was the son of an ironmonger in Dublin, and was born on 22 Dec. 1772. In his second year he lost his father, who left behind him a considerable property. After receiving a good education, first at a common school, and afterwards at a classical academy, he was in 1786 apprenticed to a soapboiler. At the request of his elder brother, who inherited the estate of his father, he accompanied him in 1794 to London, where for some months he acted as his assistant in the plumbing business. Shortly after his arrival in London he became a member of the London Corresponding Company, which was afterwards an influential political association. In 1797 he hired a large room in the Strand for political debates, a charge of one shilling being made for admission. On account of his connection with the schemes of the United Irishmen, the grand jury of the county of Warwick found a true bill against him, but after trial he was acquitted. On 21 Feb. 1798 he left London for France, but was arrested at Margate, and after an examination by the privy council he was committed to the Tower. At Maidstone he was tried, along with Arthur O'Connor, for high treason, but acquitted. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and confined in Clerkenwell Prison, whence he was transferred to Gloucester, where he remained till March 1801. In July following he embarked for America. Proceeding to Northumberland, Pennsylvania, he in March 1802 began there a newspaper, ‘The Republican Argus,’ by which he acquired great influence among the republican party, not only in Northumberland but in the neighbouring counties. In March 1807 he removed to Philadelphia to edit the ‘Democratic Press,’ which soon became the leading paper in the state. In December 1822 he was chosen alderman of the city of Philadelphia, an office which he held till 1844. He died at Philadelphia on 16 June 1860.

[Recollections of John Binns— Twenty-nine years in Europe and Fifty-three in the United States— written by himself. Philadelphia. 1854.]

T. F. H.