Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Perrin, Louis

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PERRIN, LOUIS (1782–1864), Irish judge, is said to have been born at Waterford on 15 Feb. 1782. His father, Jean Baptiste Perrin (fl. 1786), was born in France, and, coming to Dublin, became a teacher of French. He often resided for months at a time in the houses of such of the Irish gentry as desired to acquire a knowledge of the French tongue. He mixed in the political agitations of the period, and on 26 April 1784 was elected an honorary member of the Sons of the Shamrock; and is said in 1795 to have joined in the invitation to the French government to invade Ireland. In his later years he resided at Leinster Lodge, near Athy, co. Kildare. The date of his death is not given; but he was buried in the old churchyard at Palmerstown. He was the author of: 1. ‘The French Student's Vade-mecum,’ London, 1750. 2. ‘Grammar of the French Tongue,’ 1768. 3. ‘Fables Amusantes,’ 1771. 4. ‘Entertaining and Instructive Exercises, with the Rules of the French Syntax,’ 1773. 5. ‘The Elements of French Conversation, with Dialogues,’ 1774. 6. ‘Lettres Choisies sur toutes sortes de sujet,’ 1777. 7. ‘The Practice of the French Pronunciation alphabetically exhibited,’ 1777. 8. ‘La Bonne Mère, contenant de petites pièces dramatiques,’ 1786. 9. ‘The Elements of English Conversation, with a Vocabulary in French, English, and Italian,’ Naples, 1814. The majority of these works went to many editions, and the ‘Fables’ were adapted to the Hamiltonian system in 1825.

Louis Perrin was educated at the diocesan school at Armagh. Removing to Trinity College, Dublin, he gained a scholarship there in 1799, and graduated B.A. in 1801. At the trial of his fellow-student, Robert Emmet, in 1803, when sentence of death was pronounced, Perrin rushed forward in the court and warmly embraced the prisoner. He devoted himself with great energy to the study of mercantile law; in Hilary term 1806 was called to the bar, and was soon much employed in cases where penalties for breaches of the revenue laws were sought to be enforced. When Watty Cox, the proprietor and publisher of ‘Cox's Magazine,’ was prosecuted by the government for a libel in 1811, O'Connell, Burke, Bethel, and Perrin were employed for the defence; but the case was practically conducted by the junior, who showed marked ability in the matter. He was also junior counsel, in 1811, in the prosecution of Sheridan, Kirwan, and the catholic delegates for violating the Convention Act. In 1832 he became a bencher of King's Inns, Dublin.

He was a whig in politics, supported catholic emancipation, and acquired the sobriquet of ‘Honest Louis Perrin.’ On 6 May 1831, in conjunction with Sir Robert Harty, he was elected a representative in parliament for Dublin. Being unseated in August, he was returned for Monaghan on 24 Dec. 1832, displacing Henry Robert Westenra, the previous tory member. At the next general election he came in for the city of Cashel, on 14 Jan. 1835, but resigned in the following August, to take his seat on the bench. In the House of Commons he strove to prevent grand jury jobbery, and made an able speech on introducing the Irish municipal reform bill; and he was untiring in his efforts to check intemperance by advocating regulations closing public-houses at eleven o'clock at night.

From 7 Feb. 1832 to February 1835 he was third serjeant-at-law, from February to April 1835 first serjeant, and on 29 April 1835, on the recommendation of the Marquis of Normanby, he succeeded Francis Blackburne [q. v.] as attorney-general. While a serjeant he presided over the inquiry into the old Irish corporations, and on his report the Irish Municipal Act was founded. After the death of Thomas B. Vandeleur, he was appointed a puisne justice of the king's bench, Ireland, on 31 Aug. 1835. In the same year he was gazetted a privy councillor. He was most painstaking in the discharge of his important functions; and, despite some peculiarities of manner, may be regarded as one of the most able and upright judges who have sat on the Irish bench. He resigned on a pension in February 1860, and resided near Rush, co. Dublin, where he frequently attended the petty sessions. He died at Knockdromin, near Rush, on 7 Dec. 1864, and was buried at Rush, on 10 Dec. He married, in April 1815, Hester Connor, daughter of the Rev. Abraham Augustus Stewart, chaplain to the Royal Hibernian School, Dublin, by whom he had seven sons, including James, a major in the army, who fell at Lucknow in 1857; Louis, rector of Garrycloyne, Blarney, co. Cork; William, chief registrar of the Irish court of bankruptcy (d. 1892); Charles, major of the 66th foot from 1865; and Mark, registrar of judgments in Ireland.

[For the father: W. J. Fitzpatrick's Secret Service under Pitt, 1892, pp. 199, 218, 245, 246; Life of Lord Plunket, 1867, i. 218. For the son: J. R. O'Flanagan's Irish Bar, 1879, pp. 307–15; Gent. Mag. 1865, pt. i. pp. 123–124; Freeman's Journal, 8 Dec. 1864, p. 2, 12 Dec. p. 3; information from the Rev. Louis Perrin and from Mark Perrin, esq.]

G. C. B.