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Biographical entry Henry, Mitchell (1826 - 1910)

MRCS July 30th, 1847; FRCS May 11th 1854; MP.

22 November 1910
Businessman, General surgeon and Politician


Born at Ardwick Green, Manchester, in 1826, he was the younger son of Alexander Henry (d1862), Liberal MP for South Lancashire, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of George Brush of Dromore, Co Down, Ireland. Educated privately and at University College School in London. He afterwards joined the Pine Street School of Medicine at Manchester, which was subsequently incorporated with the medical department of the Owens College. He began to practise as a Consulting Surgeon at 5 Harley Street, London, W. He was elected Surgeon to the North London Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye in Charlotte Street, Portland Place, W. In 1857 he was elected Assistant Surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital, becoming Surgeon in 1858. He lectured on morbid anatomy and later on surgical jurisprudence.

He abandoned his profession in 1862 and became a partner in the family firm of A & S Henry, merchants and general warehousemen, of Manchester and Huddersfield. In 1865 he contested Woodstock unsuccessfully in the Liberal interest, and was defeated at Manchester both at a by-election in 1867 and at the general election in 1868. During his second Manchester candidature he founded the Evening News as an electioneering sheet, and after his defeat sold it to William Evans. He finally entered Parliament in 1871 as Member for Co Galway, being a warm supporter of Isaac Butt and a Member of the Home Rule League. His first important speech in Parliament was in support of Butt's motion for an inquiry into the judgement of Mr Justice Keogh in the matter of the Galway election petition in 1872. He opposed Gladstone's Irish University Bill, and when Butt was ill in 1877 he became the Leader of the Irish Party in the House. When the Land League came into existence he supported Forster as opposed to Parnell, and was unseated at the general election in 1885. He was, however, returned to Parliament by the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow, voted against Gladstone's Home Rule Bill on June 7th, 1886, failed to obtain re-election at the general election in that year, and retired from Parliament. Meanwhile he had bought from the Blakes a large estate of some 14,000 acres, mostly bog, in Co Galway between Letterfrack and Galway, and at the edge of Kylemore Lough he built a stately house in the baronial style, which passed afterwards to the Duke of Manchester and is now a convent. Here he lived on good terms with the peasantry until the days of the Land League. The firm of A & S Henry became a limited company in 1889 and Mitchell Henry remained chairman till 1898. His interest in Ireland declined, Kylemore was sold, and he retired to Leamington, where he died on Nov 22nd, 1910.

Mitchell Henry married in 1850 Margaret, daughter of George Vaughan, of Quilly House, Dromore, Co Down, by whom he had three sons and three daughters. His wife died before him, and in her memory he built a very beautiful chapel in the grounds of Kylemore which has survived the recent 'bad times'. A cartoon by 'Spy' appeared in Vanity Fair in 1879.

Although Henry soon deserted surgery for politics he wrote -
"Description of a Brain with Deficient Corpus Callosum." - Med-Chir Trans, 1848, xxxi, 239.
"Case of Abscess in Vesicula Seminalis perforating the Bladder Peritoneum." - Ibid, 1850, xxxiii, 307.
Translation of Velpeau on "Diseases of the Breast" for the Sydenham Society.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict. Nat. Biog., Supplement 2, 1901-11, et auct. ibi cit. Personal knowledge. Information kindly given by R. A. Foley, secretary of the Middlesex Hospital. Lancet, 1910, ii, 1592. Brit. Med. Jour., 1910, ii, 1736].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England