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William John Fitzpatrick

Historian, b. in Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 31, 1830; d. there Dec. 24, 1895

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Fitzpatrick, WILLIAM JOHN, historian, b. in Dublin, Ireland, August 31, 1830; d. there December 24, 1895. The son of a rich merchant, he had ample means to indulge his peculiar tastes, and these were for biography, and especially for seeking out what was hitherto unknown and not always desirable to publish about great men. Educated partly at a Protestant school, partly at Clongowes Wood College, he early took to writing and in 1855 published his first work—”The Life, Times and Correspondence of Lord Cloncurry”. The same year he wrote a series of letters to “Notes and Queries” charging Sir Walter Scott with plagiarism in his Waverley novels, and attributing the chief credit of having written these novels to Sir Walter’s brother Thomas. The latter was dead, but his daughters repudiated Fitzpatrick’s advocacy and their father’s supposed claims, and the matter ended there. In 1859 Fitzpatrick published “The Friends, Foes and Adventures of Lady Morgan”. From that date to his death, his pen was never idle. His research was great, his industry a marvel, his patience and care immense, nor is he ever consciously unjust. For these reasons, though his style is unattractive, his works are valuable, especially to the Irish historical student. Notable examples are “The Sham Squire” (1866), “Ireland before the Union” (1867), “The Correspondence of Daniel O’Connell” (1888), “Secret Service under Pitt” (1892). Fitzpatrick also wrote works dealing with Archbishop Whately, Charles Lever, Rev. Dr. Lanigan, Tom Burke, O.P., and Father James Healy of Bray. In 1876 he was appointed professor of history by the Hibernian Academy of Arts. Fitzpatrick’s painstaking research as well as his spirit of fair play are specially to be commended and have earned words of praise from two men differing in many other things—Lecky and Gladstone.

E. A. D’ALTON


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