Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Edward Southwell Ruthven: Irish Politician 1772-1836

Born in 1772 in Downpatrick, County Down, Edward Southwell Ruthven was the eldest of three sons born to Edward Trotter, a clergyman of the Established Church (Church of Ireland). The Trotters' youngest son Ruthven Trotter was a Major in the British army, and in 1807 was killed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Shortly thereafter Edward Southwell assumed Ruthven as his surname, instead of Trotter. Although he entered Wadham College Oxford in October of 1790, he left the university without a degree and instead pursued politics. In November of 1806 Ruthven successfully contested the parliamentary representation of Downpatrick, as a member of the Whig Party, against John Wilson Croker. He made his inaugural speech on 17 January 1807; however, parliament was dissolved the following April, and in the general election in May, Croker ousted Ruthven from Downpatrick.

Ruthven did not enter Parliament again until 1830, when he was re-elected member for Downpatrick as a supporter of Daniel O'Connell. He was re-elected for the same constituency on 9 May 1831; however, in the elections of 1832 Ruthven was returned with O'Connell as member for Dublin. From this time he took an active part in parliamentary debates. His speeches were deemed to be inarticulate in nature and delivered with a "harsh voice". During the session of 1834 he acquired notoriety by moving for adjournment of the house night after night, and members made an organized attempt to prevent his being heard by coughing and yawning. It is alleged that Ruthven aimed to cure their yawning and coughing by exchanging gunfire with a fellow member outside of Parliament.

In January 1835 Ruthven was again returned with O'Connell as a member for Dublin, but a petition for his removal was at once presented. An inquiry into the matter was prolonged until May of 1836, when both he and Daniel O'Connell were unseated, but it was of no consequence as Edward Southwell Ruthven had died 31 March 1836 at his lodgings in North Street, Westminster, England. He is buried in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin; the foundation-stone of his monument was laid by Daniel O'Connell.

*Click on Photographs to view larger version.
All photographs ©Copyright J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.
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