Daly, Denis (DNB00)

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DALY, DENIS (1747–1791), Irish politician, was the eldest son of James Daly of Carrownakelly and Dunsandle, county Galway, by his wife Catherine, daughter of Sir Ralph Gore, bart., a sister of Ralph, earl of Ross. He was the great-grandson of the Right Hon. Denis Daly, second justice of the common pleas in Ireland, who died on 11 March 1720. Daly was born on 24 Jan. 1747, and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, but it does not appear that he ever took his degree. At a bye election in 1767 he was returned to the Irish parliament for the borough of Galway, and in 1768 for the county. He continued to sit for this constituency until 1790, when he was returned for Galway town. At the previous general election of 1783 he had been elected both for the county and the town, but had chosen to continue his representation of the former. In August 1778 he moved an address to the king for the removal of the embargo, but though strenuously supported by Grattan, Yelverton, and Fitzgerald, the motion was rejected. Though possessing a great reputation among his contemporaries as a speaker, he did not often join in the debates, and rarely spoke without having first carefully prepared his speech. In 1780 he opposed the measure of independence, and in the following year accepted the office of muster-master-general, with a salary of 1,200l. a year. In 1783 he opposed Flood's bill for parliamentary reform; but, though now a ministerialist, he still continued to retain the respect of the opposition. His friendship with Grattan, who had the greatest reliance on his judgment, remained unbroken to the last. Daly was good-humoured and indolent, fond of books, and a good classical scholar. His library, which was sold after his death for over 3,760l., contained many valuable books. He died at Dunsandle on 10 Oct. 1791, in his forty-fifth year. Daly married, on 5 July 1780, Lady Henrietta Maxwell, only daughter and heiress of Robert, earl of Farnham, by his wife Henrietta, countess-dowager of Stafford. His family consisted of two sons and six daughters. His eldest son, James, sometime M.P. for Galway county, was on 6 June 1845 created Baron Dunsandle and Clan Conal in the kingdom of Ireland, and died on 7 Aug. 1847. His other son, Robert, became bishop of Cashel in 1843, and died on 16 Feb. 1872. Denis Daly's widow survived him for many years, and died at Bromley, county Wicklow, on 6 March 1852. The present Baron Dunsandle is his grandson. In Grattan's opinion Daly's death was an irretrievable loss to Ireland, and he is reported to have said that had Daly lived there would probably have been no insurrection, for ‘he would have spoken to the people with authority, and would have restrained the government’ (Grattan, Memoirs, i. 295). According to Grattan's biographer, Daly ‘had as much talent as Malone, with more boldness; he surpassed Hussey Burgh in statement, though he was not so good in reply; and he was superior to Flood in general powers, though without his force of invective’ (ib. p. 291).

[Grattan's Memoirs of the Life and Times of the Right Hon. Henry Grattan (1839), i. 251–252, 288–95; Hardy's Memoirs of James Caulfeild, Earl of Charlemont (1812), i. 283–8, 391, ii. 135, 196; Sir J. Barrington's Historic Memoirs of Ireland (1833), ii. 131–2, 166; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography (1878), p. 121; Wills's Irish Nation (1875), iii. 289–90; Burke's Peerage (1886), p. 459; Gent. Mag. 1791, pt. ii. p. 1065, 1792, pt. i. p. 326, 1852, new ser. xxxvii. 430; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 665, 669, 679, 688; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iv. 451.]

G. F. R. B.