Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dwyer, Michael

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DWYER, MICHAEL (1771–1826), Irish insurgent, was born in co. Wicklow in 1771. He took part in the insurrectionary movement of 1798, joining Joseph Holt with a band of twenty or thirty insurgents from the Wicklow mountains, where he subsequently pursued a sort of bandit career on his own account. He is described as a handsome, intelligent Wicklow man, possessed of some fine traits of character. In 1803 he was concerned in Robert Emmett's insurrection, bringing five hundred men with him to Rathfarnham, but he refused to concur in Emmett's attempt upon Dublin. It was in the house of his niece, Anne Devlin, that Emmett lay for a time concealed after the failure of his plans. Dwyer surrendered to Captain Hume on 17 Dec. 1803. The ‘Belfast News-Letter,’ which calls him a ‘notorious mountain robber,’ gives a minute account of his appearance and manners. He was sentenced only to transportation, on the ground of the humanity he had displayed. Grattan erroneously says that he died on board the convict ship which was to convey him to New South Wales, before the vessel started. Webb wrongly gives 1815 as the date of his death. In that year he became high constable of Sydney. He died at Sydney in 1826, and was buried in the Devonshire Street cemetery there. He married Mary Doyle, a farmer's daughter; Ross dates the marriage in 1778, perhaps a misprint for 1788.

[Belfast News-Letter, 23 Dec. 1803, and 17 Jan. 1804; Grattan's Memoirs of Henry Grattan, 1842, iv. 397; Ross's Correspondence of Cornwallis, 1859, iii. 283; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878, p. 162.]

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