Oliver Bond

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Oliver Bond (1760?–1798) was an Irish merchant and revolutionary, one of the leaders of the Society of United Irishmen.


Born in St. Johnston, County Donegal[1] around 1760, he was the son of a dissenting minister, and connected with several respectable families. He settled in Dublin, where he was in business as a merchant in the woollen trade, and became wealthy.[2]

Bond was an early member in the movement planning for a union in Ireland across religious lines, promoting parliamentary reform in Ireland. When the Society of United Irishmen was set up in 1791, Bond became a member. He acted as secretary to a meeting of this body at Dublin in February 1793, under the presidency of the barrister Simon Butler. On this occasion the Society condemned the government for measures seen as adverse to the liberties of the people. In further resolutions the meeting deplored the intended war against France, and asserted the necessity for Catholic Emancipation in Ireland and reform of Parliament. In consequence of these resolutions Butler and Bond were summoned before the House of Lords at Dublin. At the bar there, in March 1793, they avowed the publication of the resolutions. The lords resolved that the paper was a libel. They decreed that Bond and Butler should be imprisoned for six months in Newgate Prison, and that each of them should pay a fine, and remain in confinement until these sums had been discharged.[2]

In Newgate addresses were presented to Butler and Bond by deputations from meetings of the United Irishmen. After the failure of the efforts to obtain emancipation and parliamentary reform for Ireland by peaceful means, an organisation was formed to establish an Irish republic independent of England. In this movement Bond was regarded as the leader. He became a member of its northern executive committee and of the Leinster directorate, the meetings of which were generally held at his house. Resolutions were passed at a meeting there in February 1798, declaring a determination to be satisfied with nothing short of the complete regeneration of Ireland.[2]

In the following month Bond and other members of the directory were arrested at his house and imprisoned. Bond was tried in July 1798 on a charge of high treason, and defended by John Philpot Curran, who attacked the testimony of Thomas Reynolds, an informer, on whose statements the charges against him were mainly based. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and Bond was sentenced to be hanged.[2]

The group of "state prisoners" in custody then signed an agreement with the government, under which they would give information on the organisation of the United Irishman, and consent to voluntary exile. This proposition was accepted by Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, the Commander-in-Chief, Ireland; and the sentence on Bond was not carried out.[2]

Bond died suddenly in prison in September 1798, and was buried in the cemetery of St. Michan's Church, Dublin. The "enlightened republican" principles of Bond were eulogised by his political associate and fellow-prisoner, William James MacNeven. Bond's widow Lucy, daughter of the United Irishman Henry Jackson,[1] moved with her family from Ireland to the USA, and died at Baltimore in 1843.[2]


  1. ^ a b Chambers, Liam. "Bond, Oliver". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2832.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Gilbert, Dictionary of National Biography

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilbert, John Thomas (1886). "Bond, Oliver". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co.