Tag Archives: Burgoyne

The mysterious capitalist

In 1847 George Lewis Smyth wrote [in Ireland: Historical and Statistical Vol II Whittaker and Co, London 1847 Chapter 14]

Another favourite object of praise and assistance is the Dublin and Kingstown Railway. The large sums lent to this railway and to the Ulster Canal are represented in certain circles in Dublin to have been matters of personal obligation. A capitalist holding a considerable interest in both undertakings is familiarly described as always carrying a commissioner in his breeches pocket.

Who was the capitalist in question? One possibility is Peirce [or Pierce] Mahony, solicitor to both the Dublin and Kingstown Railway and the Ulster Canal Company, but perhaps “capitalist” in not quite the mot juste for him. Another is James Perry, quondam director of the railway and Managing Director of the Ulster Canal Steam Carrying Company, which was owned (from 1843) by William Dargan, the contractor who built the Dublin and Kingstown Railway.

Perry had fingers in many other pies, including the Ringsend Iron Works which, in 1842, built an iron steamer for the use of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company on the Shannon. The steamer was named the Lady Burgoyne.



Dialogue between an unidentified member of the committee and Colonel John Fox Burgoyne at a hearing of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the amount of advances made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland on 1 June 1835:

1899 Are you aware that locomotive engines have gone at a speed of from 15 to 20 miles an hour on common roads? — I think I have gone at one at the rate of 20 miles an hour myself on a common road.

1900 Suppose those carriages were used upon a curb-stone and granite road, and not subject to the interruption of carts and carriages, which occur upon common roads, what speed do you suppose they might fairly be worked at? — Very nearly the speed they go on rail-roads.

1901 If it could be proved that granite or curb-stone roads could be constructed at the rate of from £2000 to £3000 a mile, would you, in the present state of the country, recommend an expense of a sum of six and seven times that amount for a railway? — I do not imagine there would be that difference of expense; the levels would be the same, and the stone-work would be the same; the only difference would be the application or not of the iron railway bars.

Locomotives on common roads? It’ll never work.