James Napper Tandy (1740-1803)


Life
b. Dublin, small-tradesman; opposed municipal corruption; supported American colonies, 1775; joined Irish Volunteers; helped Grattan’s in election to Dublin seat, 1790; arrested for affront to Att.-General, 1792; set free when Parliament was prorogued and instituted proceedings against Earl of Westmoreland for false imprisonment; recommenced agitation on rejection of Catholic petition;
 
fnd. Dublin chapter of United Irish Society with Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell; raised two battalions in Dublin; escaped to America and visited Paris, 1798; given command of corvette Anacreon; landed in Donegal with French troops; reputedly took to drink; escaped to Bergen, travelled to Hamburg, and there arrested; taken to Ireland and tried but not executed on a point of international law;
 
released at the request of Napoleon at Treaty of Amiens; travelled to Bordeaux, 1802; hero of nationalist folk ballad, “The Wearing of the Green” in which the lines, ‘I met old Napper Tandy, and he took me by the Hand … &c.’. ODNB DIB FDA

Criticism
Síle Ní Chinnéide, Napper Tandy and the European Crises of 1798-1803 [O’Donnell lecture UCG 1962] (NUI [1962]); Rupert J. Coughlan, Napper Tandy (Dublin: Anvil Books 1976), xii, 276pp., 8 pls.; Dorothy Thompson ‘Seceding from the Seceders: The Decline of the Jacobin Tradition in Ireland, 1790-1850’, in Outsiders: Class, Gender and Nation (London: Verso, 1993) [contrasting his views on race with those of John Mitchel], [q.p.].

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Commentary
Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th century, ed. Gerard O’Brien (Geography Publications 1989): Napper Tandy presiding at a meeting of the ‘Free Citizens of Dublin’ in 1775, ordered an address of thanks to the lords who had voted against ‘the establishment of popery in Canada’. Among toasts drunk was ‘the fate of Laud to every bishop’ who voted for the bill. Hibernian Journal (19 July 1775). [c.124]. See also ftn.: In 1784-85, Napper Tandy was involved in the open demand for votes for Catholics, which served only to stiffen Protestant resistance and alarm. [165]

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Andy Johnston, James Larragy, & Edward McWilliams [Irish Working Group], ‘James Connolly: A Marxist Analysis’, ser. in Permanent Revolution - Chapter 4: ‘The Irish Bourgeois Revolution, Part 2’ (issue of 30 Nov. 2006): ‘[...] While Tandy’s followers were the Irish approximation to the sans culottes element in the French Revolution, it is notable that he convened a meeting of “freemen and freeholders” to back the election of Howison and turn the newly emboldened Dublin merchants, manufacturers and the nascent bourgeois peasants (freehold farmers) towards a more militant republicanism on the lines of the Northern movement. Tandy’s meeting-the substance of whose resolution was a clear declaration in favour of independence, economic protection and the rule of the whole citizenry, a resolution to alter the compromising attitude of previous years - was chaired by Hamilton Rowan (1751-1834), soon to suffer coercion and imprisonment as secretary of the Dublin United Irishmen.’ (Go online; and see also Index of same, Permanent Revolution, 10 Aug. 2008 - online; accessed 28.03.2011.)

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References
Seamus Deane
, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, contains remarks: Tandy figures in James Joyce’s ‘Ireland Isle of Saints and Sages’, as an instance of a non-Gaelic patriot [8]; also cites, ‘He takes me, Napper Tandy, by the hand’, in the “Proteus” episode of Ulysses [60]. See also W. J. McCormack, Ascendancy & Tradition &c (1985)], p.667 [chk].

Notes
Fraser Drew notes that Tandy was reputed to owe his release from Kilmainham Jail to the intervention of Napoleon (Drew, ‘Ghosts of Kilmainham’, Éire-Ireland, 4, 3 (Autumn 1969), pp.110-13, p.111.)

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