1888 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. James McHenry

Anonymous, in Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1888-89) 4:121-22.



James McHenry, physician, b. in Larne, County Antrim, Ireland, 20 Dec. 1785; d. there, 21 July, 1845. He was the son of a cloth-merchant, who died when the son was but a lad. He was graduated in medicine at the college in Dublin, and also received a diploma from the college at Glasgow. He began practice at Larne, then removed to Belfast, where he also carried on a drug business until he came to the United States in 1817. After living in Baltimore, Md., and Pittsburg, Pa., he came in 1824 to Philadelphia, where he practised medicine and carried on a mercantile business. From 1842 till his death he was U.S. consul at Londonderry. He was of a romantic disposition, early developed considerable poetic genius, and became noted for his rural stanzas in Ireland, and, on coming to this country, took deeper interest in literary works than in the business of his profession. His house in Philadelphia was much frequented by literary men. His earliest publication in the United States was The Pleasures of Friendship (1822), which poem, with others, was reprinted (Philadelphia, 1830). In 1824 he edited at Philadelphia the American Monthly Magazine, for which he wrote "O'Halloran, or the Insurgent, a Romance of the Irish Rebellion," afterward reprinted at Glasgow. He was also the author of The Wilderness, or Braddock's Times, a Tale of the West (2 vols., New York, 1823); A Spectre of the Forest, or Annals of the Housatonic (2 vols., 1823); The Hearts of Steel, an Irish Historical Tale of the Last Century (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1825); The Betrothed of Wyoming (2d ed., 1830); and Meredith, or the Mystery of he Meschianza, a Tale of the Revolution (1831). Among his poetical works are Waltham, an American Revolutionary Tale, in Three Cantos (New York, 1823); The Usurper, an Historical Tragedy, in Five Acts, which was played with great success at the old Chestnut street theatre (Philadelphia, 1829); and The Antediluvians, or the World Destroyed, a Narrative Poem in Ten Books (1840). Dr. McHenry took an active interest in politics, was the personal friend and ardent admirer of Andrew Jackson, and as a tribute to him published Jackson's Wreath, a Poem (1829). — His son, James, merchant, b. in Larne, Ireland, 3 May 1817, came to this country in infancy, was educated in Philadelphia, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits, and afterward went to England, where he engaged extensively in business at Liverpool. He is said to have been the first to import into England American butter and cheese. Mr. McHenry has been interested in American railway enterprises. Since 1861 he has resided in Kensington, London, in one of the most famous private houses in England — Oats Lodge — formerly called Little Holland House, where, for nearly a quarter of a century, the most noted of Americans visiting London have enjoyed Mr. McHenry's hospitalities. During the civil war his sympathies were with the National government, and he contributed $500 to the equipment of the Corn Exchange regiment of Philadelphia, and presented to that city a Whitworth-gun battery. — The first James's daughter Mary, b. in Philadelphia, married J. Bellargee Cox, and is widely known for her philanthropic work in that city. She aided in founding the Church home in 1856; the Soldiers' reading-room in 1862, which she aided in maintaining until the close of the civil war; the Lincoln institution in 1865; and the Educational home in 1871, with all of which, except the second named, she is still (1887) connected, and has been active in fostering. Since 1873 she has been president of the board of lady visitors of the Soldiers' home, Philadelphia. She was appointed in 1876 by the Centennial commission one of the thirteen women to represent the thirteen original states. For some years Mrs. Cox has been active in the movement for the education of Indian children.