Family History Notebook

John Keogh

Son of Cornelius (1708–1774) and Abigail (1711–1779) Keogh m, born c1740John Keogh

Married Catherine


Abigail, baptised on the 21st of January 1777 in St Andrew's, Dublin
Cornelius, baptised on the 15th of May 1778 at St Andrew's
John, baptised on the second of May 1780 at St Andrew's d

Married Mary Drew (1757 - 1823)6


George Drew, baptised on the 19th of December 1782 at St Andrew's, Dublin
?Elio, baptised in 1785 at St Andrew's, Dublin
Mary, baptised on the 21st of August 1785 at St Nicholas, Dublin (d.1804)
Marianne, baptised on the 25th of September 1788 in St Andrew's
Michael (fourth, youngest son)

Died on the 13th of November 1817 in Dublin, aged 77, and buried in St. Kevin's churchyard.

PersonID 03445

A wealthy merchant and well known campaigner for Catholic emancipation - see biography.

"Little is known about Keogh's family or about his early life. When he became rich and important his enemies liked to taunt him with his humble beginnings. They said he was the son of a Connaught spalpeen; and that he had served his apprenticeship to a smuggler in the Isle of Man, afterwards becoming a porter and counter-boy to the Widow Lincoln who carried on business as a silk-mercer at the Sign of the Spinning-Wheel in Francis Street. No doubt he began as a humble employee of Mary Francis Lincoln, but when she moved to the Eagle in Dame Street in 1770 she took Keogh into partnership in the firm of Lincoln, Son & Keogh. The partnership was dissolved, however, in 1772 and Keogh set up as a silk-mercer on his own at the Sign of the Peacock in Dame Street, where he remained until he retired from active participation in the silk trade in 1787. Some of his wealth was made from the brewing industry also; and as early as 1775 he was beginning to acquire an industry in land, when he leased over 3,000 acres from the Creevaghs in County Sligo. When the relief acts of 1778 and 1782 permitted Catholics to take long leases once more and to buy land outright, Keogh was quick to invest his money in landed property. Apart from the estate in Sligo he acquired property in Leitrim and Roscommon, as well as Mount Jerome in Dublin. Already in 1782 he claimed to have two thousand tenants on his lands. By means of shrewd investment his fortune continued to increase and his annual income in the years immediately before the Union was reputed to be between five and six thousand a year." i


1    There is a family tradition of connection with John Keogh. The picture of him (on right) was passed down in the Rattray family and a family tree drawn up by Frances (Franceska) Mähler had a John Keogh as her g-grandfather, husband of Catherine Lewis. (In fact Catherine's husband was George Drew Keogh). Details published in 1935 of Catherine's grandson Henry Birt says that his mother Fanny was the grand-daughter of John Keogh of Mount Jerome.

2    There is a life of John Keogh by Denis Gwynn published 1930 in Dublin.
"John Keogh: Pioneer of Catholic Emancipation". This does not set out to be a biography but rather recounts John Keogh's influence on the Catholic Emancipation in 1792 and 1793.

3    Catherine Aungier was the niece (great-niece?) of John Keogh (see #j). This implies that John Keogh had a sibling or that a sister of one of his wives married an Aungier.

4    Not found in Irish Wills Index  1484-1858 ( However in George Drew Keogh's will he refers to his father's will of 17th June 1816.
'Most wills (and other probate records) of the Irish church courts up to 1857 were lost in the 1922 fire'. However the will should still exist in will indices.

5    The baptisms found in the on-line database (June 2010/July 2016) for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dublin present a slight puzzle.  Abigail, Cornelius, John, George and Michael were already known from other sources. Abigail and Cornelius are found in the register as children of John Keogh and Catherine. George and two further children, Elio and Marianne, are found as children of John Keogh and Mary. This implies that John Keogh married twice and that his first wife, Catherine, died between the births of Cornelius and George. However there is a further, earlier entry before the baptisms of Abigail and Cornelius, for a George Keogh, son of John Keogh and Mary, whose sponsors were George Drew and Abigail Keogh.

6    Mary is identified as the daughter of George Drew  in a footnote to The Correspondence of Edmund Burke"  Volume VII  Edited by P.J. Marshall and John A. Woods, published by Cambridge University Press 1968.
See this extract concerning three Keogh sons being invited to Beaconsfield. The basis for this identification of John's wife is not stated but it is consistent with the naming of their first child.

7    Sponsors (godparents) for John's children were
        Abigail - Ambrose Drew8 & Mary Drew
        Cornelius - Valentinus Keogh & Agnes Lynch.
        John - Thomas Broghal & Mary Drew
        George Drew - Edward Byrne & Agnes Lynch
        Elio - Sara Murry
        Marianne Edward Kinselagh, Mary Stedd

8    Ambrose Drew - a Dublin merchant - draper 40 Bridge Street - married Mary Butler c9 Nov 1771. Brother of a George Drew who might be the father of John's second wife. (cached) and other on-line sources.

9    John Keogh of Mount Jerome appears in the Catholic qualification and convert rolls for 1793.  (See source p below). John Keogh's son John would have only been 13 at the time so this must be John Keogh, senior. However it seems unlikely that at the time when John Keogh was at the height of his campaign for Catholic Emancipation he should sign the convert roll so presumably he had sworn allegiance to the Crown and this is why his name appears.


a)    Text on picture:

Member of the memorable Catholic Convention
which met in the Taylor's Hall, Dublin, Decr  1792
ONE of FIVE DELEGATES nominated by that Convention to PRESENT
The petition of the Catholics of Ireland To his

Painted from nature and engraved by John Whitaker. Published by W.P. Carey No 29 Anglesea St Dublin May 6 1796.

The picture is a photographic copy by 'The Wykeham Studios Ltd, 304 High Holburn, W.C, 67 Balham High Road, S.W., 133 Streatham High Road, S.W., etc'

b)    The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature - Page 590   by Matthew Russell - 1954

"that of John, Keogh of Mount Jerome, a wealthy silk merchant, who was
one of the prominent supporters of Catholic ...

c)    The Catholic Who's who and Yearbook - Page 31 by Francis Cowley Burnand - 1935

Birt, DOM HENRY NORBERT, OSB—6. at Valparaiso 1861, 4 s. of late Hugh Birt, MD,
and Fanny, g-dau. of John Keogh, of Mount Jerome, со. ...

d)  John Keogh, " DIED 10th September, 1854, in his 75th year. John Keogh, second
son of John Keogh, of Mount Jerome." This was a son of the Catholic leader, ...

Historic Graves in Glasnevin Cemetery by Richard J. O'Duffy 1915 (Google Books)

e)    Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Draws from Edmund Burke letters.

f)    "In the mid 18th Century Mt Jerome was occupied by the Wilkinson family...... In 1784 Mt Jerome was purchased by John Keogh (d.1817), an early leader for Catholic emancipation. ("The Families of County Dublin" : Michael C. O'Laughlin 1999)

g)    "I take from the example of Mr. Keogh, of Mount Jerome, near Dublin, who has an estate between Boyle and Sligo at a place called Geevagh. His plan is to let portions of waste land at a fair rent, along with arable land, to each tenant. He exacts payment of the rent of his arable land, but the rent of his waste lands he terms a labour rent. His steward marks out on each man's portion an amount of draining, fencing, gravelling, and liming equal to the rent, which, if done, the tenant gets a receipt for the rent. If he does not choose to do it, payment is exacted, and a labourer is paid with the money to do it. By these means and steady perseverance, wastes which were unproductive and good for nothing have been brought into profitable cultivation without cost to the landlord, and in reality without cost to the tenants, as they have no other call for their labour. This, however, will only be partially beneficial, because it will only suit certain localities, and certain individuals only will pursue it."
Letters on the condition of the people of Ireland: Thomas Campbell Foster 1846 pp224,5

h)    The writings of Wolfe Tone p451 and Dublin Evening Post 11 Dec 1787

i)     Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century" Margaret Wall 1789 ISBN 0 906602 10 6 pp163,4

j)    According to John Hart "Irish Pedigrees" 1881 reprinted 1999, a Catherine Aungier was the niece of John Keogh.

Genealogical Pub. Co., 1999  ISBN 0806312602, 9780806312606

k)    "It is ventured that John Keogh, of Catholic Emancipation fame, belonged to the Munster Keogh family. He is set down by O'Hart as of Harold's Cross ... " The lineage of my children: The historical, genealogical and topographical records of the Keogh, Benjamin, Knapp and Bellinger families.. by Chester Henry Keogh Privately printed for the author by the Silverman Press 1926 (50pp)

l)    It is suggested by Helen Landreth in her book The Pursuit of Robert Emmet (1949) that John Keogh became a paid informer to the Irish government. Francis Finegan refutes the suggestion. ( cached - More information to be gathered)

m)    See John Keogh's gravestone at foot of this page.

n)    In 1765, this Mr. Maturin mortgaged to John Keogh, of Dublin, "all the tithes, rents, and issues, that should arise out of the several parishes of Emlaghfad, Toomour, Kilraorgan, Drum- rat, and Kilturrough, with the glebe lands of Emlaghfad," as said Charles Maturin held same as Vicar.
The history of Sligo : town and county by O'Rorke, Terence Published 1900

o)    Speech by John Keogh - senior or junior?

   John Keogh speech 1807

p)    Ireland, Catholic qualification & convert rolls 1701-1845
20th April 1793
Keogh John of Mt Jerome Coy. Dublin


Keogh, John, the prominent Catholic leader, a Dublin merchant, was born in 1740. In his own words, he "devoted near thirty years of his life for the purpose of breaking the chains of his countrymen;" and his mansion at Mount Jerome was long the rallying point for discussion and organization upon all questions relating to Emancipation. Although he did not involve himself in the revolutionary plots of the United Irishmen, he was the ardent friend and confidant of many of them. Tone thus writes: "I can scarcely promise myself ever to see him again, and I can sincerely say that one of the greatest pleasures which I anticipated in case of our success was the society of Mount Jerome, where I have spent many happy days, and some of them serviceable to the country. It was there that he and I used to frame our papers and manifestoes. It was there we drew up the petition and vindication of the Catholics which produced such powerful effects both in England and Ireland." Henry Grattan, Junior, says: "He was the ablest man of the Catholic body; he had a powerful understanding, and few men of that class were superior in intellect, or even equal to him. His mind was strong and his head was clear; he possessed judgment and discretion, and had the art to unite and bring men forward on a hazardous enterprise, and at a critical moment. He did more for the Roman Catholics than any other individual of that body. To his exertions the meeting of the Convention [held at the Tailors' Hall, Back-lane, 2nd December 1792] was principally owing, and their success in procuring the elective franchise. He had the merit of raising a party, and bringing out the Catholic people. Before his time they were nothing; their bishops were servile, and Dr. Troy, Archbishop of Dublin, though an excellent man, was under the influence of the Castle... At the outset of life he [Keogh] had been in business, and began as an humble trades­ man. He contrived to get into the Catholic Committee, and instantly formed a plan to destroy the aristocratic part, and introduce the democratic. He wrote, he published, he harangued, and strove to kindle some spirit among the people... When Keogh went to London [as a delegate of the Catholics in 1792] he was introduced to Mr. Burke, who liked him, and said that he possessed parts that were certain to raise him in the world. The account of that mission afforded Mr. Burke and Mr. Grattan much amusement - seeing Keogh and the other delegates on their journey to London, admitted to the first court in Europe, going in great state, and making a splendid appearance... He was highly delighted with his position, looked very grand and very vain - he seemed to soar above all those he had left in Ireland. But when he returned home he had too much good sense to preserve his grandeur; he laid aside his court wig and his court manner, and only retained his Irish feelings." The Act of 33 George III. c. 21, passed mainly through his instrumentality and that of the committee emanating from the Catholic Convention of 2nd December 1792, enabled Catholics to vote for members of Parliament; admitted them to the outer Bar; enabled them to vote for municipal officers; permitted them to carry arms, provided they possessed a certain freehold and personal estate, and took oaths, neither of which were necessary for Protestants; allowed them to serve on juries; admitted them, under certain restrictions, to hold military and naval commissions, some of the higher grades being excepted. Most of these privileges were subject to the taking a humiliating oath; and the term “Papist or Roman Catholic" was used all through the Act. The Bill (given in full in Mitchel's History of Ireland) received the royal assent on 9th April 1793. A clause admitting Catholics to sit in Parliament was defeated by 136 to 69. The passage of this Act was, however, followed by the Convention Act (33 George III. c. 29), passed on 29th September, by 128 to 27, which has ever since prevented the holding in Ireland of assemblies such as those of Dungannon, the Rotunda, and the Catholic Convention. John Keogh died in Dublin, 13th November 1817, aged 77, and was buried in St. Kevin's churchyard, under a stone he had erected to his father and mother; and where eight years later his wife was laid.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Keogh, John (1740–1817), campaigner for Roman Catholic rights, was born in humble circumstances to Cornelius Keogh (1708–1774), labourer, and Abigail Keogh (1711–1779) in Dublin. He made his fortune in silk and brewing in Dublin, and from the lease and purchase of land. In addition to his home at Mount Jerome, Harold's Cross, co. Dublin, he acquired property in counties Sligo, Leitrim, and Roscommon which, with investments, reputedly guaranteed him an annual income of between £5000 and £6000 in the late 1790s. He was a proud man, who ‘boasted of his Milesian ancestry’ (Wall, 164), and his economic achievements served to highlight how unjust it was that Catholics in Ireland had to live their lives under the shadow of the penal laws. He successfully stood for election to the Catholic committee for Enniscorthy in January 1781, and he subsequently represented St Andrew's parish, Dublin, and co. Leitrim. He attended few meetings in 1781 and 1782, but he voted with the majority on 11 November 1783 when the committee controversially asserted that it was the voice of Irish Catholics and effectively invited the volunteer grand national convention to include Catholic enfranchisement in its plan of reform. This did not come to pass, but in 1784 Keogh and a small number of Catholic activists supported the alliance of Dublin and Ulster radicals who advocated a plan of parliamentary reform that promised limited Catholic enfranchisement. This was not popular with the mainstream Catholic leadership, but the committee was able to avoid a split.

The Catholic committee was largely inactive until the election in 1790 of a new committee, in which Keogh was to the fore, energized its ranks. Early in 1791 the committee determined to press actively for the repeal of the remaining penal laws but, on meeting with stiff resistance from the Irish administration, Keogh was authorized to travel to England to lay Catholic grievances before ministers. After three months he returned with a favourable answer, but the prospects of relief were undermined by the secession in December 1791 of Lord Kenmare and his conservative allies, following their failure to convince the committee to leave Catholic relief to Dublin Castle. However, instead of acquiescing in the refusal of the Irish parliament in 1792 to respond sympathetically, Keogh intensified the campaign. He drew on his extensive financial resources, on Wolfe Tone who was recruited as secretary to the committee, and on his own formidable determination, and a Catholic convention was assembled in Dublin on 3 December 1792. Guided by Keogh the convention appointed a deputation, of which he was a member, to present to the king a statement of the grievances under which the Catholics of Ireland laboured. The deputation was favourably received, and the Relief Act of 1793, which gave Catholics the vote, followed directly.

The 1793 Relief Act was the great triumph of Keogh's life, though he did not escape criticism because of his refusal to hold out for full emancipation, his failure to divulge all the details of his dealings with British politicians, and his agreement to dissolve the Catholic committee. He was tempted to take a more radical stand when Catholic expectations of emancipation were dashed by the precipitate recall of the lord lieutenant, Earl Fitzwilliam, in 1795. The subsequent Catholic delegation to London, of which Keogh was a member, was accorded a frosty response. As his membership of the United Irishmen in the early 1790s attests, Keogh shared at least some of their aims, and he may have become an active United Irishman for a time in the mid-1790s. However, his instinct for self-preservation was stronger than his desire for political change. He was arrested and his house searched on a number of occasions, but he kept radicalism at a sufficient distance to safeguard himself against prosecution. With the reanimation of Catholic politics in the aftermath of the Union, his renowned vanity allowed him to be tempted back into the limelight. He participated in the discussions of the merits of presenting a Catholic petition in 1804–5, but was uneasy at what he perceived as the élitism of the organizers and withdrew. He subsequently relented, but by 1810 he was soon eclipsed by younger men, such as Daniel O'Connell, who were not prepared to be guided by him.

Keogh died on 13 November 1817 at Mount Jerome, and was buried beside his parents in St Kevin's churchyard in Dublin. Six years later his wife, Mary Keogh (1757–1823), died and was laid in the same spot.

James Kelly

See also

See also

Map of Dublin in 1798

Note: the plaque is not a transliteration of the gravestone.

John Keogh 1740 - 1817John Keogh 1740 - 1817 plaque

For future processing - Keogh cuttings