Maguire, John Francis (DNB00)

MAGUIRE, JOHN FRANCIS (1815–1872), Irish politician, was eldest son of John Maguire, merchant, of Cork, where he was born in 1815. He was called to the Irish bar in 1843, but adopted the profession of a journalist. In 1841 he founded the ‘Cork Examiner,’ in support of O'Connell, and conducted the paper for many years. In 1847 he was brought forward as the repeal candidate for Dungarvan in opposition to Richard Lalor Sheil, who defeated him by only fifteen votes. After a second unsuccessful candidature (against Charles F. A. C. Ponsonby) he was returned at the general election of 1852; a petition charging him with corrupt compromise with his opponent was dismissed by a committee of the House of Commons, and he continued to represent the constituency until 1865. From 1865 till his death he represented the city of Cork. In parliament he acted with the party of independent Irishmen pledged to resist every government who refused to concede tenant-right, disestablishment, and other demands of the Irish nationalists. Offers of office were made to him by both English parties, but, unlike many of his friends, he steadily declined them. In 1857 he thus described the position of his party in parliament: ‘They had voted Lord Derby out of office and Lord Aberdeen into it in 1853. They had displaced the Aberdeen cabinet on the motion for inquiry into Crimean disasters. They had also voted Lord Palmerston into office’ (Parl. Debates, cxliv. 2424). Maguire was one of the small minority who voted in 1857 against the grant to the princess royal on her marriage, as being too large, and the same year declared himself in favour of the abolition of the lord-lieutenancy, ‘when the right time comes and the right plan is proposed’ (ib. cxlvi. 1086). In all debates on the Irish land question Maguire took a very prominent part. He seconded the proposal to read a second time G. H. Moore's bill on tenant right in 1856; himself brought forward a Tenants' Compensation Bill in 1858; accepted with modifications the government bill of 1860; and moved for a select committee to revise it in 1863, in which he was successful two years later, when his motion was seconded by W. E. Forster. Of this committee he was appointed chairman. He gave a general support to the land bill of 1870, stating his opinion that the delay in settling the question had been of benefit to the tenant (ib. vol. cxcix.). Maguire advocated with equal vigour improvements in the system of public education in Ireland, the abrogation of repressive laws, and the necessity of relieving distress in Ireland between 1862 and 1865. He also procured a reform of the Irish poor law, by which the period of settlement required for relief was reduced to six months. On 10 March 1868 Maguire, in moving a resolution on the state of Ireland, laid great stress upon the evils of the Irish church establishment, and elicited from Mr. Gladstone his first declaration against the establishment. Maguire gave the liberal ministry an independent support while they were dealing with the question, though he frequently pressed them on the subject of the treatment of the Fenian prisoners. In 1871 he gave notice of a motion in favour of home rule, but was persuaded not to proceed with it.

Questions of foreign policy also interested Maguire. In the discussions arising from the Crimean war, he spoke very earnestly in favour of Roebuck's vote of censure on the conduct of the war (ib. cxxxix. 997), and supported Mr. Whiteside's motion on the fall of Kars, strongly condemning the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. He took frequent part in the debates on repeal of the paper duties, approving the removal of the excise, while opposed to taking off the custom duty. In questions of foreign policy he was a strong upholder of the papacy, and denounced the policy of Palmerston and Russell as ‘truckling and cowardice to great powers, and tyranny and oppression to small powers’ (ib. clviii. 1407–10). On 7 May 1861 he was thanked by Lord Palmerston for his motion for papers with regard to the Ionian islands; his speech (of which the exordium was very eloquent) drew an exhaustive reply from Mr. Gladstone. Maguire was devoted to Pius IX, and visited him thrice at Rome. After his first visit in 1856 he published ‘Rome and its Ruler,’ for which the pope named him knight commander of St. Gregory. After his third visit he issued a third and much enlarged edition in 1870, under the title of ‘The Pontificate of Pius IX.’

Maguire actively promoted local enterprise in Cork, his native place, endeavouring to introduce the linen industry into the south of Ireland, and obtaining from parliament a vote for the construction of a naval harbour at Cork. He was elected mayor of Cork in 1853, 1862, 1863, and 1864. In 1866 he spent six months in travelling through Canada and the United States, and published on his return ‘The Irish in America,’ which was largely quoted by Mr. Gladstone in 1868.

Meanwhile he was collecting materials for a history of the jesuits (never published), and under the stress of his literary and political work his health gave way. He died at Dublin on 1 Nov. 1872, and was buried at St. Joseph's cemetery, Cork. Maguire had been on friendly terms with the leaders of both political parties, and the national ‘tribute’ which was collected for his wife and children was contributed to by the home secretary (Henry Bruce, now Lord Aberdare), as well as by several conservative members. Queen Victoria was also among the subscribers. He is said to have been a brilliant raconteur.

Maguire was an able writer, as well as an energetic politician, and in addition to the works already mentioned he was author of: 1. ‘The Industrial Movement in Ireland,’ 1852 [1853]. 2. ‘Father Mathew, a Biography,’ 1863. 3. ‘The Next Generation,’ a novel in 3 vols. 1871. 4. ‘Young Prince Marigold, and other Fairy Stories,’ illustrated, 1873, 12mo.

[Cork Examiner, 2, 4, and 6 Nov. 1872, &c.; Times, 4 Nov.; Daily News, Dublin Evening Post, &c.; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography; Justin McCarthy's Hist. of our own Times, iv. 240–3; Allibone's Dict. (Suppl.); Parl. Debates, vols. cxxiv–ccxiii. passim; Men of the Reign.]

G. Le G. N.