A guide to trace your ancestors from Lurgan, County Armagh and from the County of Armagh

Memoirs of John Corry

Memoirs of John Corry.

“I was born in a village near the sea shore, on the eastern coast of an island, the inhabitants of which have for ages been misrepresented, by the ignorance and prejudice of neighbouring nations.” – John Corry.

John Corry (1770 – 1825) was born near Ravensdale, County Louth, Ireland, the son of Elizabeth Corry. His father was a strict Presbyterian who was employed as superintendant at an extensive bleach-green. John attended school in a village about two miles from his father’s house. There he was instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, and book-keeping. In his memoires John Corry states – “In my thirteenth year I had completely exhausted my instructors stock of knowledge.” John’s leisure hours were filled with the study of history and poetry. At the age of fifteen John was taken from school and taught by his father in the art of bleaching linen.

John Corry – “In my seventeenth year I first experienced the hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows of love.” The object of this attachment was Anna, the second daughter of John Reynolds, a farmer, the father of two sons and four daughters. In his enthusiasm for the Irish volunteers, John enrolled as a member in the corps belonging to his native village. “With what ardour and attention did I devote my whole thoughts to military manoeuvres, and with the quickness of electricity perform the different motions with the firelock to the flam of the drums! with what exultation did I hear my attention and activity praised by my officers and the spectators.” – John Corry.
John states “I became an admirer of the trappings of the military habit. The waving plume, the superfine ruffle, the gorgeous embroidery, and the succinct uniform, transformed me from a plain clown into a smart young fellow.” As a volunteer John “shared all the pleasures without the perils of war.” John still continued his studies, in his leisure time he read whatever books chance would throw his way. Waller’s Poems was one of his great pleasures.

John’s attachment to Anna grew over a three year period but when he was twenty, John’s father obtained employment for him at ‘a distant part of the island.’ Six months after he departed Ravensdale, John received a letter from Anna to say her father had sold his farm, and had embarked with his family in a vessel (the Columbia) for New York. John was determined to emigrate to America once he obtained sufficient property so he could unite his fate with that of his beloved mistress. About a year afterwards a letter from a friend communicated the news of Anna’s death. John states “Thus were all my projects of felicity blasted – I was seized with an habitual dejection which threatened my life, but youth prevailed over grief, and on my recovering, I bade adieu to my parents, and sailed for England.”

John arrived at Liverpool endeavouring to obtain employment as a Merchant’s clerk, but ‘a stranger without friends’ he had little chance of success in England and he ‘rambled about’ until his money lasted and afterwards had recourse to manual labour for subsistence. John spent two years at Lleweney in the vale of Clowyd, in Denbigshire, North Wales, where the Honorable Thomas Fitzmaurice had established extensive bleach-works. As the workmen were unemployed more than half their time, John spent the intervals of leisure in the acquisition of knowledge. In this pursuit John was assisted by Mr. Griffith, a schoolmaster, who had formerly been steward to a nobleman, and had acquired a valuable library, to which John had access and which revived his love of literature.

In the spring of 1789, John set out on his journey for London. He travelled by foot which give him the opportunity of observing the different towns through which he passed. He reached London in May via Highgate-hill. John states “I descended the hill with all the eagerness of curiosity, and passing through several streets I at length stopped at a barber’s shop where I was shaved. I afterwards obtained the comfortable refreshment of a good dinner at an adjacent eating-house and again sallying forth into the streets with an accession of animal spirits I enquired the way to Westminster Abbey.” Entering the Abbey and finding Poet’s Corner, John states “To describe my feelings would be impossible. A mingled emotion of awe, sensibility and pleasure, overwhelmed my mind. I gazed with rapture on the bust of Milton, and the statue of Shakespeare. As I stood before the figure of the Avonian bard I read the inscription on the scroll – I paused at the conclusion, and casting my eyes on the tombstone below my feet, I found it inscribed with the name of Dr. Samuel Johnson. I felt as if I were electrified, and the tears of enthusiasm started from my eyes.” John obtained lodgings at a public house in Hart-street, Cripplegate. After a week in London, John settled in Carshalton, Surrey, where he obtained employment at a linen business. “At this pleasant village I continued four years in a state of healthful serenity, and engaged in an occupation which furnished me with the means of a comfortable subsistence, besides a surplus of about twenty guineas a year, which I sent to my parents in Ireland. My affection for them was unabated by absence, and in 1793 I resolved to revisit them.” – John Corry.

In April 1793 John set out from Carshalton, passing through several of the midland and northern counties of England, proceeding through part of Scotland along the western road to Port Patrick, and sailed in the packet boat for Donaghadee, in Ireland. “On landing I proceeded with alacrity homeward, and arrived at my father’s house about twilight. Let those parents who love their children, and those children who venerate and love their parents, conceive our inexpressible joy on meeting, after an absence of six years – I shall not attempt to describe it.” – John Corry.

John secured employment as a private tutor to the children of two country gentlemen, in the vicinity of Newry, a sea-port in the North of Ireland. John continued in this employment one year, at the expiration of which, a cousin, who was an accountant in Newry, obtained a place for him in the counting-house of a respectable merchant.

“In this employment I continued three years, and at intervals of leisure I wrote a number of short poems, which I published with the pompous title of ‘Odes and Elegies.’ Such is the natural predominance of vanity in the human mind, that I really thought myself a great poet, and I was confirmed in this error by the patronage of the public. My poems produced me one hundred pounds : I was elated with my success, and rejecting the dull transactions of the mercantile life, I set out for Dublin on the wings of expectation.” – John Corry.

John split his ‘poetic harvest’ with his mother, and he was able to reside in Dublin for several months in a state of independence, during which he wrote essays for the newspapers. When his resources became exhausted he was engaged by an editor of a newspaper, at a moderate weekly sum. After some months John decided to try his fortune in London. He landed in Liverpool and proceeded to the capital on foot. On his arrival in London, John could not obtain employment so he sat down to write a novel, which he completed in a month. For the manuscript John received the liberal sum of five guineas from the publisher, Crosby & Co., Stationer’s Court, Paternoster Row. John republished a few of his poems but the Reviewers soon convinced him he was not a poet. He turned his attention to plain prose, and produced a short biographical sketch of a ‘celebrated character,’ which was successful. John’s next production was a satirical work, which was still more beneficial. A variety of small tracts from John’s pen appeared in succession, and amused the public, but were not of any lasting advantage to him.

“Desirous to engage in some permanent business, I commenced publisher, without any stock except ideas, and they will not pay bills. For the purpose of obtaining money to satisfy my creditors, I travelled to the provincial towns, and disposed of my books. In the course of my rambles I became acquainted with my present wife, I loved and married her. This increased my expenditure, while my income decreased, and eventually left us in that state of indigence in which you found us.” – John Corry, 1808.


John Corry – Bibliography. 

Odes And Elegies, Descriptive & Sentimental: With The Patriot; A Poem. 1797
The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester, or, The Miseries of Seduction: A Moral Tale. 1800
A Satirical View of London at The Commencement of The Nineteenth Century. 1801
The Detector of Quackery. 1802
The Adventures of Felix And Rosarito: or, The Triumph of Love And Friendship. 1802
Memoirs of Alfred Berkeley: or, The Danger of Dissipation. 1802
Sebastian And Zeila: or, The Captive Liberated by Female Generosity. 1802
The Life of William Cowper, Esquire With Critical Observations on His Poems. 1803
The Unfortunate Daughter: or, The Danger of The Modern System of Female Education. 1803
Edwy And Bertha: or, The Force of Connubial Love. 1803
Arthur And Mary: or, The Fortunate Fugitives. 1803
The History of Henry Thomson, or, The Reward of Filial Affection. 1803
Memoirs of Edward Thornton: or, A Sketch of Modern Dissipation in London. 1803
The Preservation of Charles And Isabella, or, The Force of Friendship. 1803
The Swiss Revolution: or, The Fall of Albert. 1803
An Address To The People of Great Britain: Observations on The Late Negotiation Between This Country And France. 1803
The Life of Joseph Priestly, With Critical Observations on His Works. 1804
Memoirs of Francis Goodwin: or, The Delusion of Pride. 1805
The Suicide: or, The Progress of Error 1805
A Vindication of The Character of Mrs. Elizabeth Dana, Wife of The Rev. Joseph Dana. 1806
The Mysterious Gentleman Farmer: or, The Disguises of Love: A Novel. 1808
The Life of George Washington. 1809
The History of Liverpool. 1810
Strictures on The Expedience of The Addingtonian Extinguisher: With Satirical Observations on The Influence of Methodism on Civilized Society In All Its Gradations. 1811
Narratives: Illustrative of The Passions And Affections of The Human Mind. 1815
Memoirs of The Most Noble Arthur, Duke of Wellington. 1815
The History of Bristol. 1816
The History of Macclesfield. 1817
The Works of Tim Bobbin, Esq. In Prose And Verse: With A Memoir of The Author. 1819
The English Metropolis: or, London In The Year 1820. 1820
The History of Lancashire. 1825
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