Gerald Henry Supple (1823-98)


[var. 1825]; b. Cork; poss. worked as coachbuilder with Peter Purcell; deemed a lineal descendant of Spenser through his m. Letitia Ann [ée] Sherlock, who was herself a nationalist; contrib. to Nation, 1847-51, as “G.H.S.”, and “Torquil”; studied law and literature in Dublin [?at TCD]; arrested as a Young Irelander, 1848; his poetry included in Irish anthologies such as Hayes’s The Ballads of Ireland (1856) and in Bentley’s Miscellany (1851) as well as Douglas Sladen’s Australian Poets (1888) and Patriotic Song (1901); worked as journalist in London, associating with George J. Holyoake and contrib. to writing articles for the Reasoner, the Empire and the Morning Star; he published a History of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland (Dublin 1856);
emig. Australia, 1857; settled in Melbourne and wrote for the Melbourne Age, the Argus, and the Australian; admitted to the Australian bar, Dec.1 1862; returned to journalism due to failing sight; suffered from increasing paranoia; quitted the Age, 1862 and shot the editor George Paton Smith (later Attorney-General), 17 May 1870, purportedly for vilifying the Ireland, wounding him in the elbow and killing a bystander, one J[ohn] S[enan] Walshe; defended in court on grounds of insanity by George Higinbotham (also Irish-born, and later Chief Justice), but sentenced to death on referral to Chief Justice Sir W. F. Stawell, in the Full Court [High Court], 15 Sept. 1870;
his reprieve was sought by C. G. Duffy (q.v.) and others; his ‘statement’ in the dock on sentencing to be hanged printed in the Melbourne Leader, Sept. 1870, insists on the justice of his attack on Smith in view of ‘the scurrilous abuse which he [Smith] heaped upon my countrymen’, also professed that Smith had slandered his br.-in-law Water Monroe Wilson and caused the suicide of another, M. D’Aloustel; found guilty of murder at a retrial; death sentence then commuted to life imprisonment; protested his sanity in both trials and dismissed his counsel in the second, conducting his own defence; held at Pentridge Prison, remaining there for 20 years;
he published poetry from prison incl. “Voces Dulces Animae Vinci” (Australasian, 15 April 1876), to support his sisters, incl. “A Dream of Dampier”, the vision of a bucaneer William Dampier, 1652-1715), a ballad about the future of the colony, written in prison and printed afterwards in the Melbourne Review (Jan. 1879); Supple was released on compassionate grounds, Oct. 1878, following the natural death of Smith; settled in Auckland with his sisters, 1878-98; his poems published as a leather-bound book as Dampier’s Dream: An Australasian Foreshadowing, and Some Ballads (1892), by means of a subscription organised by Marcus Clarke and Henry Kendall; the title-poem incorporates remarks condemning British colonists’ brutality towards of Australian aboriginals;
Holyoake - who devotes a chapter to him in his Memoirs - published an appeal for the support of Supple and two sisters, then living in penury, in the Freeman’s Journal [Dublin] (Nov. 1897); Supple d. 16 Aug. 1898, in hospital [aetat. 75]; some letters dated 1860-97 are held at Co-operative Union Ltd, Holyoake House, Manchester, England; there are reference to him in the papers of Henry Kendall; in Melbourne he was a member of the literary “Yorick Club”, with Adam Lindsay Gordon, James Edward Neild, Kendall and Clarke and, ironically, the Pentridge Prison superintendent. PI DIW AUS

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  • History of the Invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans (Dublin: W. M. Hennessy, Crow St. 1856), xii, 199 pp., 12° [see details; and note - copies in [BL, Oxford & Bodleian Lib.; no copies held at TCD Lib.].
  • Dampier’s Dream: An Australasian Foreshadowing, and Some Ballads (Melbourne: G. Robertson & Co. 1892), [4] 85pp. [BL & Cambridge UL; NL of Australia; no copies at TCD Lib.];
  • Do. [rep. edn. as] The Dream of Dampier: An Australasian Foreshadowing A.D. 1686 (Melbourne: Ancora Press 2006), 20pp. [i.e., the title poem only; iss. by Books’].
  • Douglas B. W. Sladen, ed., Australian poets, 1788-1888: Being a Selection of Poems upon all subjects, written in Australia and New Zealand during the first century of British Colonization, with brief notes on their authors and an introduction by Patchett Martin (London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh 1888) xliv, 612pp.; 20cm.
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Dock speech ...
His speech from the dock at his first murder trial (15 Sept. 2870) was reported in Australia by the Melbourne Leader and copied by New Zealand papers such as Tuapeka Times (3 Nov. 1870) and The Evening Post - as infra.

Arthur Stanley, ed., Patriotic Song: [...] An Anthology of [...] the British Empire (1901)
“Dampier’s Dream” is anthologised in part in Patriotic Song: A Book of English Verse, being an Anthology of the Patriotic Poetry of the British Empire from the Defeat of the Spanish Armada till the Death of Queen Victoria, sel. arr. by Arthur Stanley, with an introduction by The Right Reverend J. E. C. Welldon, Lord Bishop of Calcutta, Late Head-Master of Harrow School (London: C. Arthur Pearson 1901) - viz., Sect. VIII: “Australia” - “Dampier’s Dream” p.293[-94].
—See details of this anthology in RICORSO Bibliography > “Anthologies”, via index or direct.
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Bibliographical details
History of the Invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans (Dublin: W. M. Hennessy, Crow St. 1856), xii, 199pp., 12° [16cm]. CONTENTS - Chapter I: Who the Irish were [I]; Chapter II: Social condition of the Irish—Causes of their weakness at this period [8]; Chapter III: Who the Normans were—Causes of their political and military strength [21]; Chapter IV: External causes of the invasion of Ireland, viz.:—King Henry’s Ambition—Foreign expeditions of the Irish—Pope Adrian and his policy [34]; Chapter V: domestic causes of the invasion of Ireland, viz.:—Feud between the house of O’Conor and the King of Leinster—The abduction of Dervorghil—Diarmaid’s flight over sea, and negotiation with the King of England [45]; Chapter VI: King Diarmaid’s negotiations with the Norman lords—His return to Ireland and proceedings there [53]; Chapter VII: Landing of Fitz-Stephen and Prendergast—The assault of Wexford [62]; Chapter VIII: King Diarmaid with the Normans makes war on his former vassals, the Princes of Ossory, Offaly, and Imale [69]; Chapter IX: The Ard-Righ marches against Leinster—Mac Murrogh’s quarrel with Prendergast—Landing of Fitz-Gerald—O’Conor foiled by O’Brien and Fitz-Stephen—Mac Murrogh’s expedition against Dublin—His ambition—He writes to Strongbow [81]; Chapter X: Landing and victory of Raymond Le Gros—Landing of Strongbow and capture of Waterford—Marriage of Strongbow and the Princess Eva [90]; Chapter XI: Mac Murrogh and the Normans surprise Dublin—They foray Meath and Breffni—Alarm of the Irish clergy—Intestine strife—Jealousy and proclamation of King Henry [100]; Chapter XII: Death of King Diarmaid Mac Murrogh—Asculf Mac Torcal attacks the Normans in Dublin [111]; Chapter XIII: Archbishop Lorcan O’Tuathal—His patriotic labors—Dublin besieged by the confederates [121]; Chapter XIV: Strongbow marches to relieve Fitzstephen—The fight in Idrone—Fitz-Stephen taken by the Irish—Expedition of Strongbow and O’Brien against Ossory—Acts of Strongbow at Ferns—Departs for England [129]; Chapter XV: King Henry in Ireland—Submission of Munster and Connaught—His policy with the Irish Chiefs—The Christmas on Hoggin Green [137]; Chapter XVI: King Henry’s policy with the Irish Clergy—and with his own Lords—Dublin colonized by the English [154]; Chapter XVII: Events in Ireland after Henry’s departure—Raymond as general—The Battle of Thurles [163]; Chapter XVIII: Effects of the Battle of Thurles—The Normans assailed everywhere—Grants of Strongbow and De Lacy to their knights [173]; Chapter XIX: Proclamation of the Bull and " Privilege" at Waterford—Raymond’s expedition against Limerick [181]; Chapter XX: A second expedition to Limerick—King Ruari’s submission and treaty with King Henry—Successes of the O’Nialls in Meath—The death of Strongbow [188-99]. (See Bodleian Library copy digitised by Google Books - online; accessed 09.09.2010; see Preface, under Quotations, infra.)

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Michael MacDonagh, ‘Irish journalists’ [chap.], in Joseph Dunn & P. J. Lennox, The Glories of Ireland (Wash. Phoenix Press 1914), q.pp.; J. F. Hogan, The Irish in Australia (London: London : Ward & Downey 1887), viii, 349pp., and Do. (Melbourne 1888); G. J. Holyoake, Sixty Years of an Agitator’s Life, Vol. 2 (London 1892); P. S. Cleary, Australia’s Debt to Irish Nationbuilders (Sydney 1933).

See also Patrick O'Farrell, The Irish in Australia: 1788 to the Present (Sydney New South Wales UP 1993), and Do.[rev. edn.] (Notre Dame UP 2000), 363pp. [gives simplified account of Supple's career]; Jarlath Ronayne, The Irish in Australia: Rogues and Reformers, First Fleet to Federation [rev. edn.] (Viking 2003), xx 252pp.

Contemporary: A 5-line notice of his death appeared under the title ‘Death of an Old Identity‘’ in Hawke’s Bay Herald, XXXIII, 10996 (18 Aug. 1898), p.3 - giving his age at death as 75. [see Paperspast, the New Zealand NL digitising programme - online; accessed 09.09.2010.]

Archive: Microsoft/Newspaper room holds newspaper & journal cuttings about Supple from early 20th century to 2000.

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History of the Invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans (Dublin: W. M. Hennessy, Crow St. 1856) - Preface (iii-xiii): ‘There is no history of which a correct knowledge is more rare, here or elsewhere, than that of Ireland. This ignorance does not proceed from any dearth of original records, or of modern narrative on the subject, but because nearly all the professing histories are partisan in design, and singularly disjointed and superficial in treatment. The political circumstances of the country, the animosities resulting therefrom, and the want of popular education, have been hindrances to the expression of the ungarbled truth. From our unhappy social relations, an honest history of Ireland would have been a thankless task, and competent men have avoided an undertaking involving great labour and too little reward. While animosities continue alive, and wounds are still open, few readers can relish dispassionate treatment of antagonists, or plain speaking concerning the short-comings, crimes, or reverses of their respective ancestors; and thus it is that most of our tomes on the subject have been produced either to suit the views and objects of the English masters of the island, or else to soothe with a fulsome flattery the misfortunes of the nation—a flattery which compels foreigners to turn from perusal of such works with contempt, and natives to neglect them, or rise from their study unsatisfied; for where so much is praise, there is but little intelligible explanation of so great national disaster. [iv; ...] I am conscious of no prejudice in preparing this brief record of a most momentous epoch in our troubled history; but I confess to strong sympathies, and why should I not? It is a matter of patriotism to sympathise with one’s own countrymen in their struggle with the stranger; and it is a matter of humanity to sympathise with the invaded against the invader. Let me trust that these natural sympathies have not beguiled me into withholding or discoloring the truth as I have found it, or where it has seemed to me to be so.’ (viii; for longer extracts, see attached.)

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Dock speech: Tuapeka Times (3 Nov. 1870), [3 Whiringa-a-rangi 1870] p.7: ‘[...] In this land, newly settled, the propensity to slander, as in all new countries, is very great, and the necessity for powerful checks being given to lying tongues and false-hearted slanderers exists far more than in other portions of the world. We are young and to a great degree society is yet in a chaotic state, and there is a peculiar tendency amongst us to foster this villaneous conspiracy, through the action of which many a pure life has been blasted - many a pure heart has been crushed and brought to an untimely end, and many a hearthstone covered with trouble and sorrow. I consider by this act I have done the community a good stroke of service, and that I have served them by protesting with my life against the present mean and sordid state of civilisaiton, for I believe that the time will soon come when the public will rise in its strength and put downand exterminate this deadly canker-worm and the sacrifice of my life will hasten it. I feel proud in having done a little towards reviving something like the old fashioned feeling of honourable detestation against these professed slanderers, these murderers of reputations. It is time that some nobler aim was given to men above that of mere greed of gain, and their time better occupied than in glimmering over their bank accounts and backbiting and vilifying the characters of their neighbors. I hold that the defamation of character is one of the greatest crimes which can be committed against the interest of society, it is monstrous and outrageous, and I hold the men who engage in it, who revel and delight in it, to be the meanest reptiles that ever crept on the face of the earth, and shold be struck down as mangy hounds - these are my sentiments on the matter. I have heard I have been accused of insanity! moral insanity! emotional insanity; grotesque terms, hard to understand! What folly! For thirteen years I have been connected with the Melbourne Press, and I defy any one to come forward and say that I ever penned a line of insinuation against anyone. I believe the public to be the greatest criminal in this case, and if it could be individualised it ought to be standing now in this dock to answer for allowing the spirit of slander and defamation to spread over the land unheeded and unchecked. As for my life, I hope to die very cheerfully as I have lived, a detester of meanness. Hanging will not disgrace my life. I beg to offer my best thanks to my counsel and all my friends who have interested themselves in me. I shall be very glad to get away from the colony, even if the way out be by the gate of death, and I am perfectly willing, nay proud, to undergo it.’ (See Tuapeka Times, 3 Nov. 1870, p.7; digitised in New Zealand NL., online; accessed 09.09.2010.)

Note: The speech of 15 Sept. 1870 first appeared in the Melbourne Leader, and was inserted in the Tuapeka Times at the ‘request of our readers’ (Idem.) The speech was earlier printed verbatim in The Evening Post (3 Oct. 1870) [3 Whiringa-a-nuku], p.2. The Paperspast resource ins bilingual in English and Maori.

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Brian Cleeve & Anne Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), gives many vars. incl. prob. errs., vix, b. Dublin, and History of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland (Dublin 1856).

There is an article on Supple by E. M. Finlay in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6 (1976), pp.221-22 [online; accessed 9.09.2010].

D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); reports that he was apparently imprisoned ‘for shooting a man, in mistake for another.’

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History sources: The chief sources referenced at foot-of-page for Supple’s History of the Anglo-Norman Invasion (1856) are Roderic O’Flaherty, [Geraldus] Cambrensis, The Four Masters [Micheál Ó Cleirigh, et al.], Morice Regan, Sir James Ware, John Lynch [Cambrensis Eversus], Brompton, Hovenden, Campion [Chronicle], the Annals of Innisfallen, the Book of Howth and Thomas Moore’s History of Ireland (4 vols., 1835-46) - about which he has hard things to say [see under Moore, Commentary, supra].

Douglas Sladen: Sladen also issued and Australian ballads and rhymes : poems inspired by life and scenery in Australia and New Zealand [Canterbury poets] (London: W. Scott 1888; 4th edn. 1905), xxxiv, 301pp. - apparently a shorter anthology than his Australian Poets is the same year.

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Editor’s thanks: Vital corrections and additions to this web-page have been supplied by Emma Hegarty, MAI Press, Monash Asia Institute, Monash University [email].

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