Archive for June 9th, 2009

The Dublin by-election of 1782

9 June 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

fishamble finalDue to the size of the Dublin city electorate in the eighteenth century, 3,000 freemen could vote, elections in the capital were hotly contested. Elections in the city were fought between the two city factions- the alderman, pro-castle (government) candidates and the anti-alderman, city radicals (patriots). The 1782 by-election occasioned by the death of Dr. William Clement was fought between the Presbyterian merchant and city radical Travers Hartley and the alderman and pro-castle brewer, Nathaniel Warren. The election was bitterly fought with the Castle newspaper The Freeman’s Journal backing Warren and slandering Hartley and was hotly contested when the Alderman failed to win his seat. 

The election was marred by a city incident in February 1782. A debate was arranged by the printers guild of St Anne at their house beside the music hall in Fishamble Street and was attended by a large number of potential voters. ‘The floor gave way and they all went through except a few who were in the windows. A great number of people had their legs and arms broke and several received great contusions by the fall which was not less than 14 feet.’ While no one died, Saunder’s Newsletter reported 7 February 1782 that many suffered severe injuries and The Freeman’s Journal reported five days later that over fifty people had received fractures. The two candidates escaped with minor bruising.

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