Open main menu

Gray, John (1816-1875) (DNB00)

For works with similar titles, see John Grey.

GRAY, Sir JOHN (1816–1875), journalist, was third son of John Gray of Claremorris, co. Mayo, where he was born in 1816. He graduated M.D. and master in surgery at Glasgow University on 24 April 1839, and in the same year became connected with a hospital in Dublin. Gray contributed to periodicals and the newspaper press, and in 1841 became joint proprietor of the Dublin ‘Freeman's Journal,’ which was issued daily and weekly. He acted as political editor of that newspaper, and, as a protestant nationalist, supported O'Connell's movement for the repeal of the union with England. In October 1843, Gray was indicted, with O'Connell and others, in the court of queen's bench, Dublin, on a charge of conspiracy against the queen. In the following February Gray was condemned to nine months' imprisonment, but early in September the sentence was reversed. Gray became sole proprietor of the ‘Freeman's Journal’ in 1850, increased its size, reduced its price, and extended its circulation. He advocated alterations in the Irish land laws, and was in 1852 an unsuccessful candidate for the representation of Monaghan in parliament. In the same year he was elected a councillor in the municipal corporation of Dublin, and took much interest in the improvement of that city. As chairman of the corporation committee for a new supply of water to Dublin, Gray actively promoted the Vartry scheme, in face of formidable opposition. On the occasion of turning the Vartry water into the new course in June 1863, Gray was knighted by the Earl of Carlisle, lord-lieutenant. In 1865 Gray was elected M.P. for Kilkenny city. He advocated the abolition of the Irish protestant church establishment, reform of the land laws, and free denominational education. Through the ‘Freeman's Journal’ he instituted a commission into the condition of the protestant church in Ireland. The results appeared in the ‘Freeman.’ He published in 1866 a volume entitled ‘The Church Establishment in Ireland,’ which included a detailed statement respecting disestablishment made by him in the House of Commons on 11 April 1866. In 1868 he was re-elected member for Kilkenny city, and in the same year he declined the office of lord mayor of Dublin, to which he had been elected. He frequently spoke in the house on Irish questions, and in 1869 delivered an address at Manchester on the land question. Gray was a ready and effective speaker. A public testimonial of 3,500l. was presented to him in acknowledgment of his labours in connection with disestablishment. He originated the legislation for abolition of obnoxious oaths, and promoted the establishment of the fire brigade and new cattle market at Dublin. In 1874 he was elected for the third time as member for Kilkenny. Gray died at Bath on 9 April 1875. A marble statue of him was erected in 1879 in Sackville or O'Connell Street, Dublin. His son, Edmund Dwyer Gray, is separately noticed.

[Freeman's Journal, 1844–1875; Report of Proceedings in case of the Queen against O'Connell and others, 1844; Return to order of House of Commons in relation to Water-supply of Dublin, 1865; The Church Establishment in Ireland, 1868; Reports of Municipal Council of Dublin, 1850–75; Life and Times of O'Connell, by C. M. O'Keeffe, 1864; Correspondence of O'Connell, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick, 1888.]

J. T. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.141
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
9 i 19-20 Gray, Sir John: for He entered the medical profession … degree of M.D., and read He graduated M.D. and master in Surgery at Glasgow University on 24 April 1839 and