Henry Barry, Lord Santry (1710–1751)
Like his fellow Irish Hellfire Club members, Henry Barry, Lord Santry, was a known drunkard. However, he combined his drinking and debauchery with a love for violence. Barry was reportedly prone to sudden and unpredictable acts of aggression (11). He is said to have had notches on his pistol barrel to represent those he had downed in duels (12). He was feared in Dublin for his unpredictable rage and his apparent immunity to prosecution, as he was known to routinely bribe witnesses. Two differing accounts of murders detail the aggression and cruelty of Henry Barry. The first horrifying tale describes his casual cruelty in the murder of a sedan chairman:
‘…having forced a poor chairman (that had been used to carry him) lying sick a-bed to drink a quart of brandy; then, with kindled spirits, he set fire to the sheets, &c. the wretch lay in, who soon expired in the most excruciating torture.’ (13).
The second murder is a matter of public record as he was arrested and brought to trial. When Henry Barry was embroiled in an incident that resulted in the fatal wounding, and eventual death, of Laughlin Murphy. At the inquest the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ and named Henry Barry as the perpetrator. The trial and scandal attracted enormous interest, and the public galleries were packed with fascinated onlookers. The jury heard how on the 9th August 1738, Henry Barry and a group of friends spent most of the day drinking in the kitchen of Patrick Corrigan’s tavern in Palmerstown.
At one stage, the victim, Laughlin Murphy, who was already acquainted with Henry Barry, passed by the kitchen door. Barry invited him to join the company. Murphy accepted. The group began to disperse as the night wore on. Leaving only a Mr Humphries, Laughlin Murphy and a horrendously drunk Henry Barry. Wholly intoxicated, Barry had quarrelled repeatedly with Mr Humphries. Several times he tried to pull his sword though he was too incapacitated to withdraw it from the scabbard. In a rage, Henry Barry stormed from the room, only to collide with Murphy. He shoved Murphy back into the kitchen, and threatened to run through the next man who spoke. Murphy, with ill-judged courtesy, ‘wished that no-one might offend the noble lord’. Henry Barry was true to his word, and immediately plunged his sword into Murphy’s side.
Murphy did not die instantly, he died of infection of the wound some weeks after the initial injury. After deliberation the jury declared a guilty verdict. Henry Barry was sentenced to be executed. Thankfully for Henry Barry, he had influential friends and relatives. Henry Barry was granted a royal pardon in June 1739. His uncle Domville paid off all Barry’s enormous debts. And so Barry left Ireland to live out his days in Nottingham. Where he died in 1751 at the age of 40. Alone and ostracised from his friends and accomplices in Ireland (14).