DESCRIPTION: Dublin 1798: "The Major" supported Orange "hangman hacks," "told informers what to swear," tried to prevent his Jemmy's execution and finally converted to Methodism. All "who have their catechism well" agree "whene'er he dies [he] will go to hell"
EARLIEST DATE: 1810 (Cox's _Irish Magazine_, according to Moylan)
KEYWORDS: violence death nonballad political police
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Moylan 165, "The Major" (1 text)
cf. "Henry Downs" (character of Major Sirr) and references there
cf. "Jemmy O'Brien's Minuet" (characters)
NOTES [214 words]: Moylan: "The Major of the title was Town-Major Sirr, chief of the Dublin police, captor of Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Thomas Russell... The Jemmy referred to ... was Sirr's creature, Jemmy O'Brien.... In 1800 he [O'Brien] killed a man near Steevens' Lane in a fit of temper, was convicted of the crime and was sentenced to hang. Sirr tried [unsuccessfully] to 'fix' the trial.... In later life Major Sirr turned to religion and became a Methodist."
For more about Major Sirr see "Henry Downs," "Edward" (III) (Edward Fitzgerald)," "The Man from God-Knows-Where" and the notes to "Who Killed Cock Robin?" (II). For more about Jemmy O'Brien see "Hevey's Mare," "Jemmy O'Brien" and "Jemmy O'Brien's Minuet." - BS
The Oxford Companion to Irish History gives Sirr's dates as 1764-1841. He came from a firmly loyalist family; his father Joseph would for a time be Dublin's Town Major (roughly equivalent to police chief). Henry joined the army at about 14, ending his service in 1791. He went into business in Dublin in that year, but was appointed Town Major in 1796. He held that office until it was abolished in 1808, and retained the title even after that; he continued to serve as a magitrate until 1826. He reportedly became very interested in Irish antiquties late in his life. - RBW
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