Henry Joy McCracken

1767-1798; b. 31 August, at High St., Belfast, of Huguenot descent; Presbyterian in religion; cotton-factory manager at 22; fnd. Belfast United Irishmen with nine other Belfast men, joined by Thomas Russell and Robert Emmet whom they invited to Belfast, 14 Oct. 14 1791; travelled widely on business, and promoted United Ireland; arrested by govt. and imprisoned for 13 months in Kilmainham Gaol, 1796; fell seriously ill in prison; released on bail, Dec. 1797;
agreed with others to await the French, 3 June 1798; elected Comander-in-Chief by reconvened meeting at Templepatrick, 5 June 1798, and acted in that capacity at the Battle of Antrim; escaped the field to Slemish Mts., identified by former linen acquaintance and arrested, 7 July; offered clemency in return for witness against other leaders, and refused; executed by hanging in Cornmarket, Belfast [Belfast Square], 17 July 1798; bur. Clifton St. Cemetery; reputedly remarked, ‘The rich always betray the poor’; see portrait, attached. ODNB DIB DUB


A. T. Q. Stewart, The Summer Soldiers: The 1798 Rebellion in Antrim and Down (Belfast: Blackstaff 1995).


Libraries: Belfast Central Public Library holds W. T. Latimer, Henry Joy McCracken [q.d.]; also H. H. McCullagh, A Long Life, But A Short One (1909). Library of Herbert Bell (Belfast) holds Edna C. Fitzhenry, Henry Joy McCracken (Dublin 1936). Whelan Books lists (Cat. 32) lists Enda C. Fitz[H]enry, Henry Joy McCracken (Talbot 1936) and Irish Lives ser. incl. E. C. Fitzhenry, Henry Joy McCracken [q.d.]; Hyland Books (Cat. 214) lists M. MacNeill, The Life and Times of Mary Ann McCaracken 1700-1866 (1960), ills., maps.

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The Ulster Hero: J. W. Whitbread’s melodrama The Ulster Hero (1903) deals with the eponymous Henry Koy McCracken. See also under Stewart Parker, q.v.

Resolutions of the United Irishmen (14 Oct. 1971)
  • That the weight of English influence in the Government of this country is so great as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce.
  • That the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed is by a complete and radical reform of the people in Parliament.
  • That no reform is just which does not include Irishmen of every religious persuasion.
In attendance at the first meeting in Belfast: William Sinclair, Henry Joy McCracken, Samuel Neilson, Henry Haslett, Gilbert McIlveen, William Simms, Robert Simms, Thomas McCabe and Thomas Pearce, together with Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell, travelling from Dublin.
See Wikipedia online; accessed 14.05.2010.

Gift to the city: The land on which Cornmarket was built, and where McCracken was publicly executed, had been donated to the city by his paternal grandfather.

Portrait: There is a portrait by an unknown hand. (see Anne Crookshank, Ulster Museum Irish Portrait Exhibition Catalogue, 1965).

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