Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ray, Thomas Matthew

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RAY, THOMAS MATTHEW (1801–1881), secretary of the Loyal National Repeal Association, born in 1801, was the son of Matthew Ray of Dublin. Early in life he engaged in the nationalist movement in Ireland, and as secretary of the Trades' Political Union in Dublin attracted the notice of Daniel O'Connell. O'Connell recognised his talents as an organiser, and, when the Precursor Society was founded in 1838, appointed Ray its secretary. Ray transferred his services to the Loyal National Repeal Association on its inauguration on 15 April 1840. ‘The vast correspondence of the association, with branches throughout the country, in Scotland, England, America, and youthful Australia … was carefully watched, and almost exclusively written, by himself, and displayed unerring judgment, tact, and skill’ (Freeman's Journal, 6 Jan. 1881). ‘He possessed,’ wrote Sir C. G. Duffy, ‘remarkable powers of organising and superintending work … a talent rarer in Ireland than the gift of speech … he might be counted upon for seeing done efficiently and silently whatever was ordered’ (Young Ireland, popular ed. p. 67). O'Connell's allocutions on questions of the day were for the next three years generally addressed to ‘My dear Ray.’ Ray rarely spoke at the meetings of the association. In April 1842 he was admitted to Gray's Inn, but he does not appear to have practised law. In 1844 he was one of the traversers charged, with O'Connell, with exciting disaffection in Ireland, and was condemned to imprisonment. But the decision was reversed on appeal to the House of Lords in September. On the dissolution of the association, Ray obtained the post of assistant registrar of deeds in Ireland, and held the office for many years. He died at 5 Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin, on 5 Jan. 1881, and was buried in Glasnevin.

He published ‘A List of the Constituency of the City of Dublin, arranged in dictionary order,’ 8vo, Dublin, 1835?

[Shaw's Report of Irish State Trials, 1844; Fitzpatrick's Correspondence of O'Connell; Register of Admissions to Gray's Inn; Lives of O'Connell by Luby and O'Keeffe; authorities cited in text.]

D. J. O'D.