McCoan, James Carlile (DNB12)

McCOAN, JAMES CARLILE (1829–1904), author and journalist, born at Dunlow, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, on 14 July 1829, was only son of Clement McCoan of Charlemont, Armagh, by Sarah, daughter of James Carlile of Culresoch, Moy.

After education at Dungannon school and Homerton College, London, he matriculated at London University in 1848. Having entered at the Middle Temple on 15 November 1851, he was called to the bar on 17 November 1856, and joined the south-eastern circuit. But he did not seek practice in England. Engaging in journalism, he acted as war correspondent for the 'Daily News' during the Crimean war. At the close of the war McCoan travelled in Georgia and Circassia, and afterwards settled at Constantinople he practised in the supreme consular court until 1864, and founded and edited the first English newspaper in Turkey, the 'Levant Herald,' which was for a time subsidised by the English government. In 1870 McCoan disposed of the paper, and, returning to England, embodied full information which he had collected during visits to Egypt in his exhaustive and readable 'Egypt as it is' (1877). 'Egypt under Ismail : a Romance of History,' with appendix of official documents (1889), carried on the story. Some articles which McCoan contributed to 'Fraser's Magazine,' after the conclusion of the Anglo-Turkish convention of 1878, he expanded into 'Our New Protectorate: Turkey in Asia, its Geography, Races, Resources, and Government, with Map showing existing and projected Public Works' (2 vols. 1879).

McCoan represented Wicklow county as a protestant home-ruler in the parliament of 1880-5. In 1881 he volubly attacked the government's coercive legislation (cf. Lucy, Diary of the Gladstone Parliament, pp. 117, 118). On 3 February McCoan was among the home-rulers suspended for defying the authority of the Speaker. Subsequently he disavowed sympathy with the illegal action and unconstitutional methods of the Land League, and supported Gladstone's land bill, while endeavouring to amend it. Denounced for disloyalty to his party by Patrick Egan, treasurer of the Land League (cf. Hansard, 20 May 1881), McCoan thenceforth gave an independent support to the liberal government. He frequently spoke at length on the politics of the Near East, championing the Turks from personal knowledge.

McCoan was an unsuccessful liberal candidate for the Lancaster division in 1885, for Southampton in 1886, and for the Macclesfield division in 1892. He died at his residence, 42 Campden Hill Square, Kensington, on 13 January 1904, and was buried at Kensal Green.

He married on 2 June 1857 Augusta Janet, the youngest daughter of William Jenkyns of Elgin, and left one son, and a daughter who married the Rev. J. C. Bellew. Besides the works mentioned he was author of 'Protestant Endurance under Popish Cruelty : a Narrative of the Reformation in Spain' (1853), and 'Consular Jurisdiction in Turkey and Egypt' (1873).

[Private information; Foster's Men at the Bar; The Times, 15 Jan. 1904; Daily News, 16 Jan. 1904; Levant Herald, 25 Jan. 5 Hansard's Parl Debates; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Allibone's Dict. Eng. Lit. (Suppl.); Lucy's Memories of Eight Parliaments, pp. 303-4; Northern Whig (weekly), 23 Jan. 1904.]

G. Le G. N.