Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/252

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Lawless
Lewless
246

and O'Coigly, and the fact that he furnished funds for the defence of the latter, increased suspicion, and on 31 May 1798 he was arrested at his lodgings, 31 St. Albans Street, Pall Mall, on a charge of suspicion of high treason (Castlereagh Correspondence, i. 216). His detention on this occasion lasted about six weeks, during which time he was more than once examined before the privy council. He was discharged on bail (ib. i. 254), and being forbidden by his father to return to Ireland, he spent the summer in making a tour through England on horseback. At Scarborough he made the acquaintance of Mary, daughter of Phineas Ryal, esq., of Clonmel, whom he received his father's consent to marry on condition that he was first called to the bar.

Lawless returned to London in December. On 14 April 1799 he was again arrested on suspicion of treasonable practices, and on 8 May was committed to the Tower. It is difficult to determine how far he was really guilty of the offences with which he was charged. According to his own account (Personal Recollections, p. 78) he had since his first arrest taken no part in politics, but at the same time it is clear (Castlereagh Correspondence, ii. 361) that government had good grounds for believing him to be an active agent in the United Irish conspiracy, though from want of direct evidence as to his complicity it was deemed unadvisable to run the risk of a trial by excepting him by name from the Bill of Indemnity (ib. i. 254–60). During his imprisonment in the Tower he was subjected to many needless indignities, and his confinement certainly embittered, if it did not actually shorten, the lives of his father, who died on 28 Aug. 1799, his grandfather, and the lady to whom he was engaged to be married. Many efforts were made to obtain his release, but without success, and his father, fearing lest the consequences of his prosecution might extend to a confiscation of his property, altered his will and left away from him a sum of between 60,000l. and 70,000l. He was released on the expiration of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act in March 1801, but passed the remainder of the year in England in order to recruit his health. He returned to Ireland on 31 Jan. 1802, the day of Lord Clare's funeral, and having spent several months in putting his estate in order, he proceeded in the autumn to the continent in company with his sisters Charlotte and Valentina.

At Nice he made the acquaintance of Elizabeth Georgiana, youngest daughter of Major-general Morgan, whom he married at Rome on 16 April 1803. At Rome, where he resided for more than two years in the Palazzo Acciaioli, close to the Quirinal, he went much into society, and occupied himself in forming a collection of antiquities, the more valuable part of which was unfortunately lost in transportation in Killiney Bay. He left Rome in the summer of 1805, and, proceeding through Austria and Germany, returned to Ireland at the close of the year, to find that during his absence his house at Lyons, co. Kildare, had been maliciously ransacked by one of his tenants, who was also a magistrate, during the disturbances that attended the suppression of Emmet's rebellion, and that some family plate and papers, including letters from Richard Kirwan [q. v.] the geologist, had been removed or destroyed. During the rest of his life Lord Cloncurry resided almost constantly either at Lyons or Maretimo. In February 1807 he was divorced by act of parliament from his wife, owing to her misconduct with Sir John Piers, from whom he recovered 20,000l. damages. For several years subsequently Cloncurry took no active part in politics, but devoted himself to the duties of his position as a magistrate and landed proprietor. In the former capacity he inaugurated the system of petty sessions, which was afterwards extended by parliament with good effect throughout the kingdom, though another project of his for causing all agreements between landlord and tenant to be made at these weekly meetings was not, unfortunately, carried out. As a landlord he took an active part in 1814 in founding the ‘County Kildare Farming Society,’ for the promotion of a better system of agriculture. He strongly urged the utility of reclaiming bogs and waste lands, was a director of the Grand Canal between Dublin and Ballinasloe, a friend of Robert Owen and Father Mathew, and projector of half a dozen abortive schemes, such as a ship canal between Dublin and Galway, and the establishment of a transatlantic packet station at Galway. He was a warm advocate of the catholic claims, but he was convinced of the futility of agitating the question in the imperial parliament; and regarding catholic emancipation as a party measure and repeal as a national concern, he in 1824 urged O'Connell, in a celebrated letter to the Catholic Association, to make the repeal of the union the main plank in his programme.

During the first viceroyalty of Henry William Paget, marquis of Anglesey [q. v.], in 1828, Cloncurry grew intimate with the government of Dublin Castle. He knew, notwithstanding the inauspicious commencement of his government, that Lord Anglesey's intentions were favourable to Ireland, and