Richey, Alexander George (DNB00)

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RICHEY, ALEXANDER GEORGE (1830–1883), Irish historian, born in 1830, was the son of Alexander Richey of Mountemple, Coolock, co. Dublin, and his wife, Matilda Browne, whose sister Margaret married Henry, second son of the first earl and father of the third earl of Charlemont. He was educated at Dungannon royal school, entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1848, and was elected on the foundation in 1861. He graduated B.A. in 1853, winning the first gold medal in classics, LL.B. in 1855, and LL.D. in 1873. He was called to the Irish bar in 1855, and took silk in 1871. In 1871 he was appointed deputy regius professor of feudal and English law at Trinity College; he was also vice-president of the Royal Irish Academy, and an auditor and prizeman of the college historical society. He died at his residence, 27 Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin, on 29 Nov. 1883, having married the elder daughter of Major-general Henry Smith of Bathboys, co. Wicklow, who survived him with three sons and two daughters. He was buried on 3 Dec. in Mount Jerome cemetery. Sir Samuel Ferguson [q. v.], in his address to the Royal Irish Academy, described Richey as a man of the widest range of culture, an able lawyer, and a learned jurist. In politics he was a liberal.

Richey was author of: 1. ‘Lectures on the History of Ireland; two series,’ 1869, 1870, 8vo; the first was a course delivered at Alexandra College, Dublin, and comprised the history of Ireland down to 1534; the second was delivered at Trinity College and went as far as the plantation of Ulster. These lectures, together with other occasional lectures, were embodied in ‘A Short History of the Irish People, down to the Plantation of Ulster’ (1887, 8vo), edited, after Richey's death, by Dr. Robert Romney Kane. 2. ‘The Irish Land Laws,’ 1880, 8vo. Richey also edited vols. iii. and iv. of the Brehon laws, published by the commissioners for publishing the ancient laws and institutes of Ireland, to which he contributed masterly prefaces. He likewise contributed frequently to the ‘Athenæum’ and ‘Saturday Review.’ He was engaged on a more detailed history of Ireland at the time of his death, but only one chapter had been written, which was incorporated in the ‘Short History’ (1887). Richey's history, though incomplete, is the most dispassionate and impartial work on the subject that has yet appeared; ‘he saw his way through the complexities of ancient and modern Celtic life with a discernment almost intuitive in its appreciation of facts’ (Edinburgh Review, April 1886, p. 437); and his work on the land-laws was quoted as an authority by Mr. Gladstone in the debates on his Land Bill of 1881.

[Preface, by Dr. Kane, to the Short History, 1887; Irish Law Times, 8 Dec. 1883; Dublin Daily Express, 30 Nov. and 4 Dec. 1883; Athenæum, 1883, ii. 738 (by Professor J. P. Mahaffy); Academy, xxxiii. 22 (by R. Dunlop); Spectator, 1883, ii. 1571; Times, 4 Dec. 1883; Dublin Univ. Cal. 1883; Cal. Graduates Trin. Coll. Dublin; Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; information kindly supplied by Dr. J. K. Ingram, registrar of Trinity College, Dublin.]

A. F. P.