Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Commodore John Barry

From English Historical Authors:
Ireland of the mid 18th century smouldered with resentment against the ruling class and government, many of whom were descendants of the Cromwellian “settlement” of Ireland of the previous century. This and subsequent imposition of anti-Catholic Penal Laws of the early 18th century, meant that families like the Barrys were seriously disadvantaged in terms of civil rights, land ownership, access to education and many professions. The town of Wexford itself had recent bitter memories of Oliver Cromwell’s visitation to the area in 1649, when some 3,000 unarmed men, women and children had been slaughtered by Roundhead soldiers in the aftermath of the capture of the town in what was an extension of the English Civil War to Ireland. Before the end of the 18th century (during the United Irishmen’s rebellion of 1798), continuing resentment in the rural population would manifest itself in a bloody conflict which affected South-eastern Ireland more than any other part of Ireland, resulting in thousands of deaths among John Barry’s friends and neighbours in Wexford and its hinterland.

In 1761, aged 15, John left Ireland as a cabin-boy on a ship bound for Jamaica. One version of his life-story tells that his first landfall in North America was his arrival in Philadelphia as second mate on a trading ship sometime in 1762. Due to the city’s relatively liberal attitude towards Catholicism and the fact that it was the foremost maritime centre of the colony, John made Philadelphia his home. (Read more.)

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