AN EYE-WITNESS [Bishop Stock]. A Narrative of what Passed at Killala, in the County of Mayo, and the parts adjacent, during the French Invasion in the Summer of 1798. By an Eye-Witness.
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Dublin: Printed. London: Re-printed for J. Hatchard and J. Wright, 1800. Printed by T. Bayliss, Hatton Garden. Large post octavo. pp. , 182. Contemporary half calf on marbled boards, spine divided into six panels by five raised bands, title in gilt on olive morocco label in the second. Ticket of Steen Bookbinder, Wolverhampton, on front pastedown. Neat signature of J.H. Browne on top margin of titlepage. Occasional spotting. A near fine copy.
On the 22nd August, 1798 three large white ships sailed into Killala Bay with English colours flying from their mastheads. Edwin and Arthur Stock, two sons of the Protestant Bishop of Killala, rowed out to welcome their visitors and invite the officers to their father’s house. They were taken into custody, and the three ships finally dropped anchor in Kilcummin Bay. These ships carried an army of eleven hundred men commanded by General Humbert, and they had also brought with them three United Irishmen, Matthew Tone who was a brother of Wolfe Tone; Bartholomew Teeling; and a man named Sullivan. On taking Killala, Humbert occupied the bishop’s palace; where a green flag with the inscription ‘Erin go Bragh’ in gold, was hoisted and the bishop became a prisoner at the hands of the French. This singularly interesting and graphic account, written with unusual impartiality, of the events that he witnessed, shows that Bishop Stock was a keen and discriminating judge of men. He chronicled the events in a private journal from August 23rd to September 15th, 1798. Prior to his appointment to the See of Killala, Stock was headmaster of Portora Royal School, Enniskillen. This record of the French Invasion is considered one of the most authentic records of the period and its impartiality was considered a bar to his advancement in the Anglican Church. General Humbert was joined by over three thousand local men eager to strike a blow for their country’s freedom. Following a whirlwind campaign, with victory over General Lake at Castlebar, the combined force was defeated at Ballinamuck.
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