Grattan, Henry

Henry Grattan (1746-1820) was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, between 1763 and 1767, after which he entered the Middle Temple to study law in London. He attended the Robin Hood debating society and sat in on sessions in the House of Commons to learn debating techniques. He became associated with Irish patriot politicians and reformists like Henry Flood, in the late 1760s. He returned to Dublin and practiced law and was admitted to the Irish House of Commons for Charlemont in November 1775, soon becoming a major voice for Irish reformist politics. He joined the patriot club known as the Monks of the Screw and became steadily a voice for popular reform, including free and more equal trade and more authority for the Irish parliament. In December 1782 he married Henrietta Fitzgerald of County Kilkenny. He helped form the Irish Whig Club in 1789 to promote political reform and protect the constitution of 1782. He represented Dublin in 1790 and sought to find a solution to the Catholic question of relief. A more conservative bent in the Irish government worked against Grattan during the 1790s, and he did not seek relection for 1798, nor did he join the United Irishmen. He returned to parliament in 1800 as a member for Wicklow, opposed to any legislative union with England; his opposition was in vain, and the Act of Union became law. He sat out of parliament for a few years then returned in 1805, continuing his support for Catholic relief but now doing so in the combined parliament in Westminster, London, for the next 15 years. He died in his home in Portman Square, London, in June 1820, still pursuing Catholic relief. He was interred in Westminster Abbey, noted for his great oratorical skills and his relentless desire for legislative independence for Ireland and Catholic Emancipation.