Barrister Shoots Himself While Practising for Lawyers’ Corps, 1803

From the Dublin Journal, 22 March 1803:

Died on Friday last, at Montpelier Place, near the Black Rock, James Sweetman Esq, Barrister at Law. His death was occasioned by an unhappy accident; he was in the Lawyers Corps, and though in a weak state of health, had determined to resume his arms upon the present emergency; in attempting to draw his musket, in order to prepare it, it unfortunately went off and the contents entering his breast he instantly died.  He was a loyal and respectable gentleman and is sincerely lamented by those who best know him. An inquest was held upon the body and a verdict found of accidental death.

On 21st March 1803, the Lawyers Corps, reinstated in 1796, had met and passed a resolution declaring its readiness immediately to appear in arms, to oppose the attacks of the enemies of the country, whether foreign or domestic, and allowing all gentlemen called to the Bar since November 1798 to enrol as members.

This proved a prescient move when the Emmet rebellion – led by a number of former members of the Corps itself – broke out in July 1803. Could Mr Sweetman – who must have rushed home to lovely Montpelier Hill above full of enthusiasm generated by the meeting – be regarded as the first victim of this conflict?

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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