SNEYD, Nathaniel (c.1767-1833), of Ballyconnell, co. Cavan and 42 Upper Sackville Street, Dublin

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1801 - 1826

Family and Education

b. c.1767, s. of Edward Sneyd, MP [I], wine merchant, of Dublin and Hannah Honora, da. of James King of Gola, co. Louth. m. (1) 29 Jan. 1791,1 Alicia (d. 1793), da. of George Montgomery (formerly Leslie), MP [I], of Ballyconnell, s.p.; (2) 9 Aug. 1806,2 Anne, da. of Thomas Burgh, MP [I], revenue commr., of Bert House, co. Kildare, s.p. suc. fa. 1781. d. 31 July 1833.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1794-1800.

Dir. Bank of Ireland 1802, dep. gov. 1816-18, gov. 1818-20.

Sheriff, co. Cavan 1795-6, custos rot. 1801.

Trustee, linen board [I] 1815.

Capt. commdt. Ballyconnell vol. cav. 1798, 1803.


Sneyd had succeeded his father as a vintner specializing in clarets, and in 1829 Robert Peel, the home secretary, wrote that ‘his house in the wine trade was the first in Dublin when I was in Ireland [in the 1810s] and ... I continued to have my wine from Mr. Sneyd after I left’.3 Having, through the estate and influence inherited by his first wife, secured a seat on the independent interest for Cavan on the eve of the Union, he became a ministerialist and, notwithstanding that his second wife had a pension of £400 on the Irish list, constantly sought patronage from the Liverpool government.4 Professing constitutional principles at the same time as receiving liberal backing, he was returned for the last time for Cavan at the general election of 1820 without, in the end, having to stand a contest.5 No evidence of parliamentary activity has been traced for that session, but he voted for the anti-Catholic Thomas Ellis* in the Dublin by-election in June 1820.6

Sneyd divided against censuring ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., and with them against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., disqualifying civil officers of the ordnance from voting in parliamentary elections, 12 Apr., and Russell’s reform motion, 9 May 1821. He voted against inquiries into Irish tithes, 19 June, and the lord advocate’s treatment of the press in Scotland, 25 June 1822, but for one into the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. He was listed in the ministerial majority against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr. 1823, but was an absentee the following year. In June 1824 he admitted to Peel that ‘I have been a truant this session, and have not laid eyes on St. Stephen’s’, to which he received the uncharacteristically warm reply: ‘I shall be most happy to see you again, and quite as much from the satisfaction it will give me to shake by the hand an old friend, as from the additional vote which your presence will ensure’.7 He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and, in his only reported intervention in debate, vindicated the conduct of the Bank of Ireland during the depression of 1817, 15 Mar. 1825. As previously, he voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 21 Apr., 10 May, and the related franchise measure, 26 Apr. 1825. In his only other known vote before the dissolution the following year, he divided for the grant to the duke of Cumberland, 30 May 1825.

By May 1824 it had become known that Sneyd’s unopposed return in 1820 had been on the understanding that he would make way for, and give his support to, an advanced Whig at the following election. This angered the Orangeman Lord Farnham, whose nephew Henry Maxwell occupied the other seat, as it threatened to open the county to an emancipationist.8 Yet, although it was thought that he would travel to Cavan in June 1826 and might stand at the general election, Sneyd withdrew before the start of the fierce contest that year.9 He remained opposed to Catholic relief, since he chaired the Cavan meeting which established a Brunswick Club in the county, 13 Oct. 1828, and became president of the Swanlinbar branch.10 He maintained his links with the county, of which he was custos, for example by signing the address of the sheriff and grand jury against agitation for repeal of the Union early in 1831, and he may again have been briefly considered as a possible candidate at the general election that year.11 As well as signing the requisition for the Protestant county meeting in Cavan in January, he was active in Dublin, where, for instance, he presided at the meeting of the Protestant Conservative Society in April 1832.12

The senior partner in the firm of Sneyd, French and Barton, he was returning from the Bank of Ireland to his premises in Upper Sackville Street on 29 July 1833, when he was knocked to the ground by the force of a gunshot, which grazed his temple. His assailant, one John Mason, was described as having ‘gazed on his victim for a few seconds and then, placing the pistol, which was four-barrelled, close to his forehead, he discharged the contents of one of the barrels into the head of Mr. Sneyd’. He apparently shouted ‘Oh! I have done for you’, as he ran off. Sneyd died speechless, after two days of excruciating agony, on the 31st. Mason, who was found to be deranged, could give no account of his actions save to insist that he had an unspecified grudge against the three partners, the death of any of whom would have pleased him equally well. Sneyd’s estate was presumably divided among his relations, who attended his funeral on 5 Aug. 1833 in St. Mary’s, Dublin, where it was intended to raise a monument in his memory.13

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. IGI (Dublin).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Add. 40327, f. 9.
  • 4. Hist. Irish Parl. vi. 302; HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 220-1; Add. 40296, ff. 57-58; Extraordinary Red Bk. (1821), 219; Black Bk. (1823), 194; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 485.
  • 5. Dublin Evening Post, 19 Feb., 9, 25 Mar.; Enniskillen Chron. 6 Apr. 1820.
  • 6. Correct Report of Speeches at Election (Dublin, 1820), 76.
  • 7. Add. 40366, f. 196.
  • 8. PRO NI, Hist. Irish Parl. transcripts ENV5/HP/4/1, Coote to Clements, 12 May, Sneyd to Clements, 15 May; NLI, Farnham mss 18613 (1), Fox to Maxwell, 13 May 1824; Add. 40330, f. 108.
  • 9. Dublin Evening Post, 27 May; Farnham mss 18602 (21), Thompson to Maxwell, 13 June; (26), Sneyd to same, 23 June 1826.
  • 10. Enniskillen Chron. 23 Oct., 11 Dec. 1828.
  • 11. Dublin Evening Post, 9 Apr. 1831; PRO NI, Orr mss D2934/14/29.
  • 12. Ballyshannon Herald, 20 Jan., 27 Apr. 1832.
  • 13. The Times, 2, 3 Aug. 1833; Gent. Mag. (1833), ii. 183-4, 560.