1750-1809; prop. and ed. of Magees Weekly Packet, 1777, and Dublin Evening Post, 1779; fined for libellous articles on Francis
Higgins, prop. of The Freeman, from May 1788, associating him with
malfeasance in the case of Mrs. Llewellen, sentenced for procuring the
14-yr old Mary Neil for his patron Lord Carhampton; imprisoned for libel
by John Scott (later Viscount Clonmell) with an unattainable bail of £7,800;
revenged himself with a Grand Olympic Pig Hunt on his grounds in Blackrock; Richard Daly of Crow St. Theatre was awarded £200 in damages against Magee,
prop. the Dublin Evening Post, whom he accused of libel leading
to riots at the Crow Street Theatre; W. J. Fitzpatrick calls him the
Irish Cobbett [PI]. ODNB PI DIB OCIL
See Sir John Gilbert, Crow Street, in History of Dublin (1854-59; IUP rep. 1972) and Brian Inglis, Freedom of the Press
in Ireland (1954) and West Briton (1962).
Elliott, Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence (London
& New Haven: Yale UP 1989), calls him the editor of a racy and scurrilous
pro-Whig newspaper, the Dublin Evening Post, who was sued for libel
by the manager of the Theatre Royal and the editor of the rival Freemans
Journal, Francis Higgins; [...] Chief Justice Earlsfort (shortly
to be elevated as Lord Clonmell) set such a ridiculously high bail that
Magee languished in prison for the next six months, prompting Tones
outburst against the biased judge [...] riotous scenes at the Four Courts
[...] virulent personal abuse was exchanged [in] the House of Commons
[80-1]; over half of Tones first pamphlet [A Review of the Conduct
of Administration During the last Session of Parliament, published
by Byrne in March 1790], surveys the case against Magee with a competence
and fluency which belies Tones self-professed ignorance of the law
and contrasts sharply with the amateurishness of the pamphlets political
sections (Elliott, p.84; Magees fate operated as a caution on Dublin
printers (ibid., p.94,).
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, notes that one William Magee was prosecuted
by the attorney general, William Saurin, in 1813, for his analysis of
the record of the Duke of Richmond as lord lieutenant. Daniel OConnell
defended him, and made of his speech an occasion to challenge the attack
on the liberal press by Pitt, and to vindicate the Irish view of history
(FDA1, 941-48). Note also reference to this incident in T. W. Moody, et
al., eds., New History of Ireland. However, the FDA editors
seem to have mistaken the name. Henry Boylan, A Dictionary of Irish
Biography (1988) follows Dictionary of National Biography in
citing John Magee the elder and John Magee younger (who was defended by
Daniel OConnell), while William Magee, is called as the archbishop
of Dublin, ed. TCD (1766-1831) in the ODNB.
The Halliday Pamphlets, Vol.
592 (RIA Library) holds The Trial of John Magee for Printing and Publishing
a Slanderous and Defamatory Libel against Richard Daly, Esq., Dublin,
1790 [cited in Peter Kavanagh, Irish Theatre, 1946].
The Sham Squire: there
is an account of Magee and the Sham Squire [Francis Higgins] in
Brian Inglis, West Briton (1962), stemming from the fuller account
in his Freedom of the Press in Ireland (1954). SEE also Gilbert,
Crow Street,, chp. in History of Dublin for fine of
£500 levied against attacks on Richard Daly].
Grand Olympic Pig Hunt: A hunt of this description was organised maliciously by Magee on the land of Lord Clonmell. Acc. to the account given by Lord Cloncurry, Magee inherited a sum of money after
his dealings with Clonmell and having set aside £10,000 for his family, he planned to spend the remaining £4000 on the hunt with the blessings of God, on Lord
Clonmell. See in M. J. Craig, Dublin 1660-1860 (Alan Figgis 1980), p.227f., which also quotes from the diary of Lord Clonmell (John Scott) on this point.