Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Curry, John

CURRY, JOHN, M.D. (d. 1780), historian, was descended from an ancient Irish family (O'Corra) who lost their estates in the county of Cavan during the wars of 1641–52 and 1689–91. His grandfather commanded a troop of horse in the service of James II, and fell at the head of it in the battle of Aughrim. His father took to commerce. He was born in Dublin, studied medicine for many years at Paris, and afterwards obtained a diploma for the practice of physic at Rheims. Having returned to his native city, he rose there to eminence as a physician. In the hope of dispelling the prejudices against the Roman catholics, caused by the sermons annually preached on the memorial day of the Irish rebellion of 1641, he published what is described as a ‘Dialogue.’ It is probably the book entitled ‘Brief Account from the most authentic Protestant Writers, &c., of the Irish Rebellion, 1641,’ London, 1747, 8vo (Shirley, Cat. of the Library at Lough Fea, p. 132). Curry's work was attacked in a voluminous pamphlet by Walter Harris, entitled ‘Faction Unmasked, or an Answer to a Dialogue, lately published by a Popish Physician, and pretended to have passed between a Dissenter and a member of the Church of Ireland; wherein the causes, motives, and mischiefs of the Irish Rebellion and Massacres in 1641 are laid thick upon the Protestants,’ Dublin, 1752, 8vo. Curry rejoined in his ‘Historical Memoirs,’ from which Henry Brooke [q. v.] gathered the materials for his ‘Tryal of the Cause of the Roman Catholicks’ (1761). Subsequently Curry enlarged his plan in a work entitled ‘An Historical and Critical Review of the Civil Wars in Ireland,’ Dublin, 1775, 4to, in which he gives a general view of the times from Henry II, and begins his details with the reign of Queen Elizabeth, ending with the settlement under King William. After the author's death, which occurred in 1780, a new edition, prepared by Charles O'Conor of Belanagare, Roscommon, appeared in 2 vols., Dublin, 1786 (reprinted in one volume, Dublin, 1810, 8vo). This was greatly enlarged from the author's manuscripts, with new matter taken from parliamentary journals, state acts, and other authentic documents. To it the editor added an account by Curry of ‘The State of the Catholics of Ireland from the settlement under King William to the relaxation of the Popery Laws in 1778.’ Besides the above-mentioned works Curry wrote ‘An Essay on ordinary Fevers,’ London, 1743, 8vo; and ‘Some Thoughts on the Nature of Fevers, on the causes of their becoming mortal, and on the means to prevent it,’ London, 1774, 8vo. He was one of the founders of the first catholic committee, which met privately in March 1760 at the Elephant Tavern in Essex Street, Dublin, and which was the forerunner of the powerful associations that achieved emancipation seventy years afterwards under O'Connell.

[Memoir by O'Conor; Shirley's Library at Lough Fea, pp. 82, 251; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biog. p. 120; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Wyse's Hist. Sketch of the Catholic Association, i. 33 seq.]

T. C.