Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Scully, Denys

SCULLY, DENYS (1773–1830), Irish political writer, eldest surviving son of James Scully, a landed proprietor of Kilfeacle, co. Tipperary, was born at that place on 4 May 1773. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1794, and seems to have been the second catholic student admitted for two hundred years. After a short residence he left without graduating, and studied for the Irish bar, of which he became a member in Michaelmas term 1796. He practised on the Leinster circuit with success until delicate health compelled him to retire. He became known as one of the leading catholic agitators, and joined the important deputation which was appointed in February 1805 to wait upon Pitt with a petition to the House of Commons for emancipation. Pitt declined to present the petition, but Fox and Granville consented, and laid it before the house on 25 March. Scully prepared a famous ‘Statement of the Penal Laws,’ which appeared in 1812, and resulted in the prosecution of the printer, Hugh Fitzpatrick, who was fined 200l. and imprisoned for eighteen months. Besides this work, which ran through several editions, Scully helped Edward Hay [q. v.] to prepare his account of the ill-usage of the Wexford people previous to 1798, and also contributed to the Dublin morning and evening ‘Post.’ In 1803 he published a pamphlet against the union, ‘An Irish Catholic's Advice to his Brethren, how to estimate their Present Situation, and repel French Invasion, Civil Wars, and Slavery.’ A paper on Scully's MS. diary of 1805 was read before the Royal Historical Society on 28 Feb. 1908 by the president, the Rev. William Hunt. He died on 25 Oct. 1830 at Kilfeacle.

Vincent Scully (1810–1871), lawyer and politician, son of Denys Scully, was born in Dublin on 8 Jan. 1810, and was educated at Oscott, Trinity College, Dublin, and Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not graduate at either university. He was one of the editors of the ‘Oscotian’ (from 1826). In 1833 he was called to the Irish bar, and speedily obtained a good practice. In 1840 he became a queen's counsel. He was elected M.P. for Cork in 1852, and remained its member until 1857. He was re-elected in 1859 and sat till 1865. He died on 4 June 1871. He was the author of some able pamphlets on the Irish land question, one of which, ‘Free Trade in Land’ (1853), made many novel proposals. It is accompanied by a debenture map, and was reprinted in 1881 by his son Vincent, together with ‘Occupying Ownership of Land (Ireland).’ Scully's ‘Transfer of Land Bill (Ireland),’ introduced into the House of Commons in 1853, was praised for its ingenuity.

[Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography; obituaries in Irish papers; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, p. 223; information from Vincent Scully, esq., Cashel.]

D. J. O'D.