Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1870 & 79

Thomas Maguire (1835 - 1878)

 Thomas Maguire was a Royal Marine, but was somehow implicated in the Fenian plot to rescue two prominent members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from a horse-drawn police van on Hyde Road, Manchester in 1867. It resulted in the death of Police Sergeant Brett, the escape of the two Irish patriots and the rounding up of 30 local Irish men. At the trial, five men, including Thomas Maguire, were found guilty and sentenced to death. Later, Thomas was granted a pardon, another man's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, but three men were hanged, becoming known at the Manchester Martyrs.

Thomas was born in Ireland in 1835 and joined the Royal Marines in 1855 when he was 20 years old. At the time of the Fenian rescue event (above), Thomas had been on furlough from the Marines for about a month, staying with his sister, Elizabeth Perkins and an unmarried sister, at Preston Court, Greengate, Salford. He had the habit of drinking during the evening and lying-in until the afternoon. On the day in question, Elizabeth gave evidence that he rose at half past 3 o'clock and went out at about a quarter to 7 o'clock. Neighbours also testified that they saw Thomas in the back yard during that time. But witnesses for the prosecution testified he had been attacking the police van, and the jury found him and four others guilty and were sentenced to death.

On 9th November 1867, the Carlow (Ireland) Sentinel reported that a group of 22 journalists from Metropolitan and Provincial newspapers, who had been present at the Trial and having long experience in the Courts of Justice, had sent an appeal to the Home Secretary, saying that Thomas Maguire is innocent of the crimes of which he has been convicted as a result of mistaken identity. After due consideration, Thomas was given an unconditional pardon by Queen Victoria, which was conveyed to him in his cell, by the New Bailey Prison Governor, Captain Mitchell.

On 22nd April 1868, the Morning Post (London) reported that Mr Watkin MP for Stockport (who was a Railway entrepreneur, born in Salford, son of Absalom Watkin) was to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, why Thomas Maguire had recently been discharged from the Marines. On 2nd May 1868, the Plymouth Mercury reported that Thomas had been re-instated to the Plymouth Division with good conduct badges.

On 13th March 1878, the Western Morning News (Plymouth) reported "The Case of Thomas Maguire." It said "Mr O'Connor Power (who was a Fenian MP for Mayo in Ireland) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it was true that Thomas Maguire, formerly a Marine, was discharged the service from Plymouth Barracks in March 1873 after 19 years service without a pension? Lord of the Admiralty Mr W H Smith (the prominent News Agent) replied it was true. Since 1865 his name has appeared in the defaulter's book nearly forty times. He has been convicted of theft, drunkenness, insubordination and other offences, and having become a drunkard, he was discharged in 1873 as an objectionable character.

Thomas Maguire died at Salford Workhouse on 26th May 1878 aged 43 and was buried in a Roman Catholic common grave at Weaste Cemetery on 29th May 1878.