of nineteen, capable of the literary skill needful to the production of the papers, or to regard the proof of forgery as sufficient. He published in November 1796 ‘A Vindication of his Conduct,’ defending himself from the charges of having wilfully deceived the public, and with the help of Thomas Caldecott attacked Malone, whom he regarded as his chief enemy, in ‘An Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claim to the Character of Scholar and Critic.’ On 29 Oct. 1796 he was ridiculed on the stage at Covent Garden as Sir Bamber Blackletter in Reynolds's ‘Fool of Fortune.’ When in 1797 he published his ‘Picturesque Tour on the Wye,’ the chilling reception with which it met and the pecuniary loss to which it led proved how low his reputation had fallen. George Chalmers's learned ‘Apology for the Believers in the Shakesperian Papers,’ with its ‘Supplemental Apology’ (1797), mainly attacked Malone, made little reference to the papers, and failed to restore Ireland's credit. In 1799 he had the hardihood to publish both ‘Vortigern’ and ‘Henry II,’ the copyrights of which his son gave him before leaving home, and he made vain efforts to get the latter represented on the stage. Obloquy still pursued him, and more than once he contemplated legal proceedings against his detractors. He died in July 1800, and Dr. Latham, who attended him, recorded his deathbed declaration, ‘that he was totally ignorant of the deceit, and was equally a believer in the authenticity of the manuscripts as those who were the most credulous’ (Diabetes, 1810, p. 176). He was never reconciled to his son. His old books and curiosities were sold by auction in London 7–15 May 1801. The original copies of the forgeries and many rare editions of Shakespeare's works were described in the printed catalogue. His correspondence respecting the forgeries was purchased by the British Museum in 1877 (cf. Addit. MS. 30349–53).
Gillray published, 1 Dec. 1797, a sketch of Ireland as ‘Notorious Characters, No. I.,’ with a sarcastic inscription in verse by William Mason (cf. Gent. Mag. 1797, p. 931). Ireland was anxious to proceed against the artist for libel (Addit. MS. 30348, f. 35). Two other plates, ‘The Gold Mines of Ireland,’ by John Nixon, and ‘The Ghost of Shakespeare appearing to his Detractors,’ by Silvester Harding, introduce portraits of Ireland.
Meanwhile William Henry had wandered almost penniless through Wales and Gloucestershire, visiting at Bristol, in the autumn of 1796, the scenes connected with Chatterton's tragic story. His appeals to his father for money were refused. On 6 June 1796 he had married in Clerkenwell Church Alice Crudge, and in November 1797 he wrote home that ‘he had been living on his wife's cloaths, linnen, furniture, &c., for the best part of six months.’ He thought of going on the stage, but his applications were treated with scorn, and he began planning more tragedies after the pattern of ‘Vortigern.’ In 1798 he opened a circulating library at 1 Princes Place, Kennington, and sold imitations in his feigned handwriting of the famous forged papers. A copy of ‘Henry II’ transcribed in this manner is now in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 12052). A complete set of the forgeries belonged at a later date to William Thomas Moncrieff the dramatist (Notes and Queries, 5th ser. v. 160), and was presented in 1877 to the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, where it was destroyed by fire in 1879. Book-collectors, in pity of his poverty, employed him to ‘inlay’ illustrated books, and rumours of his dishonesty in such employment were current at one time. In 1802 he had a gleam of better fortune, and was employed by Princess Elizabeth, afterwards landgravine of Hesse-Homburg [q. v.], to prepare a ‘Frogmore Fête.’ Before 1811 he settled at York, where his extravagance led to a temporary imprisonment in the castle. Andrew Ritchie, who saw much of him in York in the autumn of 1811, describes him as engaging in manner, very communicative, but vain and unprincipled. He seems to have published some time at York a weekly print called ‘The Comet,’ in which he lampooned his neighbours, and contemplated publishing a poem on the ‘Pleasures of Temperance’ (manuscript letter from Ritchie to Richard Garnett, November 1811). Finally he obtained fairly regular employment of varied kinds from the London publishers. He was in Paris in 1822, and thenceforth described himself on the title-pages of his books as ‘member of the Athenæum of Sciences and Arts at Paris.’ His verses show some literary facility, and his political squibs some power of sarcasm. Throughout his writings he exhibits sufficient skill to dispose of the theory that he was incapable of forging the Shakespearean manuscripts. That achievement he always regarded with pride, and complained until his death of the undeserved persecution which he suffered in consequence. His ‘Confessions,’ issued in 1805, expanded his ‘Authentic Account’ of 1796, and was reissued in London in 1872, and with a preface by Mr. Grant White in New York in 1874. Almost his latest publication was a reissue of ‘Vortigern’ (1832), prefaced by a plaintive rehearsal of his misfortunes. He died at Sussex Place, St. George's-in-the-Fields, on 17 April 1835, and was survived by a daughter, Mrs. A. M. de Burgh. Mr. Ingleby describes his wife as belonging to the Kentish family of Culpepper, and widow of Captain Paget, R.N.; but this does not correspond with what we learn from the elder Ireland's papers of the lady whole young Ireland married in 1796; he may, however, have married a second time.
A portrait of W. H. Ireland at the age of twenty-one was drawn and etched by Silvester Harding in 1798. An engraving by Mackenzie is dated 1818. A miniature of him in middle