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  • INFORMER’S MEDAL RECALLS 1798 TREACHERY

    IRISH history is peppered with stories about informers. Vital information passed to the enemy cost many a battle. An 18 carat oval gold medal at the Adams-Mealy’s Independence sale recalls one such unhappy event.  It dates to the year the United Irishmen, influenced by the ideals of the American and French revolutions, rebelled against British rule. the 1798 Rebellion went on for several months.

    The Master Wardens and Brethren of the Guild of Merchants of Dublin presented this gold medal to the informer Thomas Reynolds in 1798..

    On October 15, 1798 this oval gold medal was presented to Thomas Reynolds (1771 – 1836) the 1798 Informer.
    Though he had inherited considerable wealth poor management and a profligate lifestyle led Reynolds to virtual bankruptcy.  He joined the United Irishmen, but became nervous about their plans. On St. Patrick’s Day, 1798, he betrayed the meeting of the Leinster Directory of the United Irishmen. The meeting, held at the Dublin house of Oliver Bond, was broken up and the conspirators arrested, Oliver Bond was later murdered in prison. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, warned of the raid, was absent at the time, but forced to become a fugitive. He was arrested by Major Henry Sirr in a house in Thomas Street on May 19, dying later of wounds suffered during his arrest, and left without treatment by the authorities.
    For this act of treachery Reynolds was paid £5,000 together with a pension of £1,000 per year for life, and a government posting. In addition he was presented by the city merchants with this gold medal and a gold freedom box, the whereabouts of which is unknown. Reynolds and his wife Henrietta – whose sister Maltilda had married Theobald Wolfe Tone who is widely regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism  – left the country after the trials of the United Irishmen. He obtained various diplomatic posts becoming Consul at Copenhagen in 1819.
    The medal sold for 15,000.
    See antiquesandartireland.com posts for April 16 and April 13.

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