Maguire, Connor (DNB00)

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MAGUIRE, CONNOR or CORNELIUS, second Baron of Enniskillen (1616–1645), born in co. Fermanagh, was son of Sir Bryan who was created a peer on account of his own and his father's loyal adherence to the English crown when resisting those chiefs of Fermanagh who supported Tyrone. His mother was an O'Neill. He is said to have been partly educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, but did not matriculate in the university. He succeeded to the peerage in 1634, and attended the parliament which met in Dublin on 10 March 1639-40. Carte says he was a dissipated young man, who had impaired what was still a very considerable estate, though only a small part of the territory over which his ancestors held sway. Being in Dublin during the session in February 1640-1, he gave ear to the suggestions of Roger More [q. v.], who had conceived the idea of raising catholic Ireland while the English government was busy with Scotland. Having first sworn him to secrecy, the tempter reminded Maguire that he was 'overwhelmed in debt,' that rebellion alone gave him a chance of regaining his ancestral estates, and that there was no other chance of maintaining their religion against the oppression intended by the English parliament. Being married to a lady of the Pale, Maguire was valued as much for his influence among her connections as for his own importance in Ulster. In August 1641 he first heard of the plan for seizing Dublin Castle; but it was settled to do nothing till close upon winter, for then help from England would be long delayed. Discontented officers of Strafford's army furnished ready tools. It was vaguely supposed that Richelieu would help the Irish, but the chief hope of the conspirators rested on Colonel Owen Roe O'Neill, who served the king of Spain in the Low Countries. The rising was fixed for 23 Oct., but the folly of Hugh MacMahon [q. v.] disclosed the plot on the night of the 22nd. Roger More escaped, but Maguire, who throughout was rather a dupe than a leader, was captured, with MacMahon and Colonel Reade (afterwards Sir John and gentleman of the bedchamber), who had served the king in Scotland. The two latter were racked, but Maguire admitted all the material facts without torture on 26 March 1642, and made a fuller voluntary statement some six months later. In June Maguire, MacMahon, and Reade were removed to the Tower of London, and treated there with great rigour. Eleven months later they were transferred 'to the noisome' prison of Newgate, and there kept close prisoners, without any maintenance, having not one penny to buy themselves food;' but they were not allowed quite to starve. In October 1643 Reade escaped—perhaps there was no great wish to keep him—when Maguire and MacMahon were sent back to the Tower, with a weekly allowance of seven shillings each. In August 1644 both prisoners escaped, suspicion falling upon persons about the Spanish embassy, but were retaken within six weeks. After many delays Maguire was brought to trial in the king's bench before Mr. Justice Bacon in February 1644-5.

MacMahon had already been hanged, but the peerage in Maguire’s case made a difficulty. There were several precedents for trying in England treasons committed in Ireland. That being admitted as good law, it was easy to show that an Irish peer was a commoner in England, and as such Maguire was tried. Many points of law were raised, but the facts were patent, and he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. After conviction Prynne, who was one of the prosecuting counsel, urged the prisoner to 'confer with some godly ministers,' but Maguire would have only a Roman catholic priest, and none was allowed. Sir John Clotworthy [q. v.], who had been at school with him, was present in court and behaved humanely. On the cart at Tyburn Maguire was cruelly harassed about religious matters, but he remained firm. He carried in his hand some curious papers, partly of a devotional character, with directions as to how he should bear himself (Contemp. History, i. 664). He declared that he forgave all his 'enemies and defenders, even those that have a hand in my death,' and that he died a Roman catholic.

Maguire married Mary, daughter of Thomas Fleming of Castle Fleming [Queen's County], by whom he had a son. The chieftainship of Fermanagh during the civil war fell to his brother Rory, who was killed in the winter of 1648. Descendants direct or collateral were long called Barons of Enniskillen in the service of France or of James II. The last titular lord was a retired captain of Lally's regiment at the outbreak of the revolution in 1689.

[Carte's Ormonde, bk. iii.; State Trials vol. i. ed. 1742: Nalson's Collections, vol. ii.; Burke's Extinct and Dormant Peerage; O'Callaghan's Irish Brigades, vol. i. The most important documents concerning Lord Maguire are collected in vol. i. of the Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland, and in vol. iv. of the Confederation and War in Ireland, both edited by Mr. Gilbert.]

R. B-l.