Henry Grattan

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Henry Grattan (3 July 1746 – 6 June 1820) was a member of the Irish House of Commons and a campaigner for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century. He opposed the Act of Union 1800 that merged the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain.


Early life

Grattan was born at Fishamble St., Dublin, and baptized in the nearby church of St. John the Evangelist.[1] A member of the Anglo-Irish elite of Protestant background, Grattan was the son of James Grattan (d.1766) M.P., of Belcamp Park, Co. Dublin, and Mary (1724–1768), youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Marlay (1691–1756), Attorney-General of Ireland, Chief Baron of the Exchequer and finally Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland). Grattan was a distinguished student at Trinity College, Dublin where he began a lifelong study of classical literature, and was especially interested in the great orators of antiquity. Like his friend Henry Flood, Grattan worked on his natural eloquence and oratory skills by studying models such as Bolingbroke and Junius. After studying at the King's Inns, Dublin and being called to the Irish bar in 1772 he never seriously practised law but was drawn to politics influenced by Flood. He entered the Irish Parliament for Charlemont in 1775 sponsored by Lord Charlemont, just as Flood had damaged his credibility by accepting office. Grattan quickly superseded Flood in the leadership of the national party not least because his oratorical powers were unsurpassed among his contemporaries.

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