Magan, Francis (DNB00)

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MAGAN, FRANCIS (1772?–1843), Irish informer, son of Thomas Magan, woollen-draper, of High Street, Dublin, was born about 1772. He graduated at Trinity Col- lege, Dublin, in 1794, and was one of the first Roman catholics admitted to the bar by the Relief Act of 1793. In 1795 he left his father's house, and established himself at 20 Usher's Island, in the neighbourhood of the Four Courts. He joined the United Irish Society, but not being successful in his profession, and being involved in pecuniary difficulties, he was induced by Francis Higgins, ‘the Sham Squire’ [q. v.], to sell his services to government as an informer. During April 1798 he kept a strict watch on Lord Edward Fitzgerald's [q. v.] movements, and it was from information supplied by him through Higgins that Fitzgerald was eventually arrested at Murphy's house in Parliament Street. But so cleverly did he divert suspicion from himself that on the very night of the arrest he was elected a member of the head committee of the United Irishmen. He continued to pose as a patriot, and at the meeting of the bar on 9 Sept. 1798 he voted against the union. On 15 Dec. 1802 he received 500l. apparently for the purpose of procuring information against William Todd Jones. But he took an active interest in the catholic emancipation agitation, subscribed liberally to the association, and possessed the entire confidence of the leaders of the movement, though on the subject of the veto he sided with Arthur James Plunket, eighth earl Fingal, and the bishops. In 1821 he was appointed a commissioner for enclosing waste lands and commons. He filled a small legal office, afterwards abolished, and until 1834 enjoyed a secret pension from government of 200l. a year. He occasionally went on the home circuit, but never held a brief. He died in 1843, was buried in the church of SS. Michael and John in Dublin, and by his will required a perpetual yearly mass to be celebrated by all the priests of the church for the repose of his soul. He never married, but left all his property to his sister, who died worth more than 14,000l. According to Huband Smith, who as a commissioner for enclosing commons was brought into close relations with him, Magan in later years was ‘sufficiently gentlemanlike in appearance; tall, yet rather of plain and even coarse exterior; perhaps a little moody and reserved at times, and something may have been pressing on him of which he said little.’

[W. J. Fitzpatrick's Secret Service under Pitt; Lecky's History of England in the Eighteenth Century.]

R. D.