DENNY, Sir Edward, 3rd bt. (?1774-1831), of Kingsend House, Powick, Worcs.
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Family and Educationb. ?1774, 2nd s. of Sir Barry Denny, 1st bt., MP [I] (d. 1794), of Tralee Castle, co. Kerry and Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Denny of Tralee Castle. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1791. m. 26 May 1795, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Day, MP [I], j.k.b. [I], of Loughlinstown, co. Dublin, 5s. 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. bro. Sir Barry Denny, 2nd bt., MP [I], as 3rd bt. 20 Oct. 1794. d. 1 Aug. 1831.
Sheriff, co. Kerry 1794-5; provost, Tralee 1795-7, 1799-1801, 1806-7.
Denny, who came from an old English family, was descended from the Elizabethan adventurer Sir Edward Denny (d. 1600), Member for Liskeard, 1584, Westmorland, 1593, and Tregony, 1597, who was awarded the forfeited Desmond estates in and around Tralee. The Irish line of Dennys, several of whom sat in the Dublin Parliament, established in the eighteenth century a strong electoral interest in county Kerry and, by its end, a stranglehold over the corporation borough of Tralee.1 This Member’s father, who sat for his native county, 1768-76, and, having received a baronetcy in 1782, from 1783 until his death in 1794, was usually a ministerialist, but he failed to obtain his desired peerage and bequeathed a severely encumbered estate to his eldest son and namesake. Barry junior, who was apparently about to be created Lord Dunmore, had succeeded to his father’s seat in July 1794, but during another Kerry by-election in October was shot dead in a duel by the successful candidate, John Gustavus Crosbie, who believed he had breached his promise of remaining neutral in that contest. The 2nd baronet had placed his affairs entirely in the hands of his unscrupulous and financially overextended father-in-law, Crosbie Morgell, a Dublin attorney and Member for Tralee, who soon afterwards drowned in the Liffey, so the unfortunate death of the elder son was considered to have nevertheless saved the Denny estate.2 Sir Barry’s widow subsequently married General Sir John Floyd, the father-in-law of Robert Peel*.
In 1795, Sir Edward, who was luckier in his choice of legal adviser, married ‘Betsy’, the only child of the respected barrister Robert Day, Member for Tuam, 1783-90, and Ardfert, 1797-8, who three years later became a judge.3 Seemingly, it was under the marriage licence that Day secured the proceeds from the future sale of parliamentary seats at Tralee as a trust fund for the couple’s younger children.4 Following the Union, when the borough became a single Member constituency, Denny remained the sole patron, but it was Day who usually managed its electoral arrangements.5 In the only known instance of his attending an election, Denny witnessed the return of George Canning* in 1802, and later that year he commanded his own corps of Kerry yeomanry, one of his recruits being Daniel O’Connell*.6 He added a handsome extension to the historic castle, which dominated Tralee, in about 1804, but not long afterwards he moved to Worcestershire, presumably to give his children an English education. Perhaps because there were those who preferred to have their proprietor remain an absentee, he was applied to, and eventually gave permission for, the demolition of the ‘great castle’ in 1826, when it was replaced by the spacious and well built Denny Street.7
Day, who had influence in county Kerry politics, suggested bringing forward Denny in conjunction with his ward the knight of Kerry before the general election of 1806. This idea was initially supported by one resident magnate, Lord Glandore, who had fallen out with his relative James Crosbie, the other sitting Member, but, another key patron, Lord Kenmare, preferred a different local gentleman, Henry Arthur Herbert, who, although Denny briefly entered, was returned unopposed with the knight. Nothing came of Day’s scheme of canvassing for Denny’s eldest son and namesake for the county in 1816, but at the general election two years later he was brought in as a stopgap for Tralee. He made no mark in the House, where he voted for Catholic relief, 3 May 1819, and he vacated in favour of a paying guest, James Cuffe, later that month.8 It was rumoured that this Edward would stand for Kerry in 1820, but the sitting Members were left undisturbed.9 Surprisingly, Sir Edward, who that year gave over his share of Tralee’s tolls to provide an adequate salary for the provost, was thanked as an active local figure by the county’s Catholics, 28 Mar. 1824, while that summer Day complained to the knight about the Denny family’s habitually malevolent conduct towards him.10
On the death of Cuffe, Denny, who was bitterly attacked by O’Connell as an anti-Catholic boroughmonger, was returned for Tralee in September 1828 at a by-election in which the independents were refused permission to have Nicholas Philpot Leader* put in nomination.11 A proposed petition did not materialize and, after his several years of absence, he was greeted with enthusiasm during his visit in November 1828, when he congratulated the town on its recent improvements.12 In February 1829 he was listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as likely to be ‘with government’ over Catholic emancipation. He took his seat, 5 Mar., so being present for the call that day, but was not listed as having voted either for or against relief, 6 Mar. He paired against the second reading of the emancipation bill, 18 Mar., but no other evidence of parliamentary activity has been traced. He resigned at the end of May and offered to sell his seat for 3,000 guineas to O’Connell, who had just been sent back to Clare for re-election.13 In fact, in June 1829, when he retired from the corporation, it was the Huskissonite Robert Vernon Smith who was returned for Tralee.14
Smith was again returned at the following general election, when the inhabitants met to condemn the influence of Denny and his family, and, having been appointed to office in the Grey administration, in November 1830, when Denny was described by Lord Lansdowne, who feared Smith might be disturbed, as ‘a great rogue’.15 As expected, Denny, as an anti-reformer, displaced Smith in favour of a Tory at the general election the following year.16 He died at Worcester, aged 57, after a long period of delicate health, in August 1831, being succeeded in his title and estates by Edward (1796-1889), who unsuccessfully contested Tralee as a Conservative against Maurice O’Connell* in 1832 and 1835.17 Under the will (dated 22 May 1821) of Day (d. 1841), the 4th baronet’s younger brothers shared their late mother’s marriage portion of £10,000.18 Apart from William, sometime provost of Tralee, they were all clergymen: Robert Day Denny, rector of Shedfield, Hampshire; Henry Denny of Church Hill, rector of Annagh, county Kerry; and Anthony Denny, incumbent of the family living of Tralee and later archdeacon of Ardfert, who in 1887 wrote a Brief Account of the Denny Family.19
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. Rev. H.L.L. Denny, Denny Fam. of Tralee, 3-14; Hist. Irish Parl. ii. 243-4, 246.
- 2. Hist. Irish Parl. iv. 47-49; v. 316-17.
- 3. E.A. Day, Mr. Justice Day of Kerry, 105-6.
- 4. CJ, lxxxi. 373; lxxxiv. 404.
- 5. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. (1816), vi. 236; [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 367; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 661-2. See TRALEE.
- 6. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 661; O’Connell Corresp. i. 101.
- 7. Denny, 15-16.
- 8. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 660; iii. 586.
- 9. Dublin Evening Post, 10 Feb., 11 Mar. 1820.
- 10. Ibid. 13 Apr. 1824; PP (1835), xxvii. 622; PRO NI, Fitzgerald mss MIC639/11/6/67.
- 11. Dublin Evening Post, 5, 14 Aug., 16 Sept. 1828.
- 12. Western Herald, 20 Oct.; Kerry Evening Post, 19 Nov. 1828.
- 13. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1572.
- 14. Dublin Evening Post, 9, 13 June 1829.
- 15. Western Herald, 25 July; Grey mss, Lansdowne to Grey [21 Nov. 1830].
- 16. Dublin Evening Mail, 27 Apr. 1831.
- 17. Kerry Evening Post, 6 Aug. 1831; Gent. Mag. (1831), ii. 372.