Carey, James (DNB00)

CAREY, JAMES (1845–1883), Fenian and informer, was son of Francis Carey, a bricklayer, who came from Celbridge, in Kildare, to Dublin, where his son was born in James Street in 1845. He also was a bricklayer, and for eighteen years continued in the employment of Mr. Michael Meade, builder, Dublin. He then commenced business on his own account as a builder at Denzille Street, Dublin. In this venture he was successful; he became the leading spokesman of his trade and obtained several large building contracts. During all this period Carey was engaged in a nationalist conspiracy, but to outward appearance he was one of the rising men of Dublin. It is curious to learn that at the moment when Carey was a leading spirit in the conspiracy for the emancipation of Ireland he was making money by subletting a large number of tenement houses, which he rented from his former employer and relet to the poor. Every one believed in his piety and public spirit; there was hardly a society of the popular or religious kind of which he did not become a member, and at one time he was spoken of as a possible lord mayor. In 1882 he was elected a town councillor of Dublin, not on political grounds, but, as he himself said, ‘solely for the good of the working men of the city.’ about 1861 he had joined the Fenian conspiracy, and soon after became treasurer of the ‘Irish republican brotherhood.’ This band held court-martials and passed sentences, but up to 1879 informers only were attacked. In 1881 the conspirators, one of whose sections assumed the title of the Invincibles, established their headquarters in Dublin, and Carey took an oath as one of the leaders. The object of the Invincibles was ‘to remove all tyrants from the country,’ and several attempts, but without success, were made to assassinate Earl Cowper and Mr. W. E. Forster. ‘No.1,’ the secret head of the association, then gave orders to kill Mr. Thomas Henry Burke [q. v.], the under-secretary to the lord-lieutenant, and on 6 May 1882 nine of the conspirators proceeded to the Phœnix Park, where Carey, while sitting on a jaunting-car, pointed out Mr. Burke to the others, who at once attacked and killed him with knives, and at the same time also despatched Lord Frederick Cavendish [q.v.], the newly appointed chief secretary, who happened to be walking with Mr. Burke. For a long time no clue could be found to the perpetrators of the act; but on 13 Jan. 1883 Carey was arrested in his own house, and, with sixteen other persons, charged with a conspiracy to murder public officials. When arrested he was erecting a mortuary chapel in the South Dublin Union, and the work was then carried on by his brother, Peter Carey. On 13 Feb. Carey turned queen's evidence, betrayed the complete details of the Fenian organisation and of the murders in the Phœnix Park, and by his evidence was the means of causing the public execution of five of his late associates. His life being in great danger, he was secretly, with his wife and family, put on board the Kinfauns Castle, bound for the Cape, and sailed on 6 July under the name of Power. The Invincibles, however, discovered the secret, and sent on board the same ship a person called Patrick O'Donnell, a bricklayer. He followed his victim on board the Melrose in the voyage from Cape Town to Natal, and when the vessel was twelve miles off Cape Vaccas, on 29 July 1883, shot Carey dead. O'Donnell was brought to England and tried for an ordinary murder, without any reference to his Fenian connection, and being found guilty was executed at Newgate on 17 Dec., without making any statement as to his associates in the planning of the murder. Carey married in 1865 Margaret M'Kenny, who with several children survived him.

[Pall Mall Gazette, 31 July 1883, pp. 10–12; Times, 1 and 3 Dec. 1883; Annual Register, 1883, pp. 192–8; Graphic, xxvii. 200, 273, with portraits, and xxviii. 112, with portrait (1883); Illustrated London News, lxxxii. 193, with portrait (1883).]

G. C. B.