Hugh Francis O’HANLON (1842–1867)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 16a, Grave D68

Hugh Francis O'Hanlon's grave

[Front, shown above]  SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF HUGH FRANCIS O’HANLON

[Right side] FELLOW OF [Back]  LINCOLN COLLEGE OXFORD WHO DIED NOVR 8, 1867 [left side] AGED 25 YEARS

Hugh Francis O’Hanlon was born in Kensington near the end of 1842, the second son of the Irish-born London barrister Hugh Marmaduke O’Hanlon and London-born Anne Flint. He was the grandson of Patrick O’Hanlon of Narrow Water Castle in Ireland.

His father, who had been called to the bar in February 1824, was Counsel to the Irish Office, and was a friend of the actor William Charles Macready, who sometimes found the friendship embarrassing: he wrote in his diary on 27 April 1833, that a third party had “acquainted me with the stupid infatuation of O’Hanlon in sending again for the vulgar little Frenchwoman from whom he had separated”.

Hugh’s parents were married at Westminster in the second quarter of 1840: his father was nearly 40, and his mother under 20. They had three children:

  • Edward O’Hanlon (born at Abingdon Street, Westminster in 1841 and baptised at Westminster on 18 June)
  • Hugh Francis O’Hanlon (born in Kensington near the end of 1842)
  • Ellen O’Hanlon (born in Kensington in 1844, reg. second quarter).

At the time of the 1841 census Hugh’s parents were living at 22 Abingdon Street in Westminster with their first child Edward, then a one-month-old baby who had not yet been given a name. They had five servants.

Hugh was born the following year, and in 1844, when he was under two years old and around the time his younger sister was born, his father died (will). On 27 July 1844 The Times advertised a sale of the contents of his house at No. 1 Chester Place, Hyde Park Square.

Hugh was a pupil at Shrewsbury School until 1855, and then went to Tonbridge School from 1856 to 1861. He was Captain of the Football Thirteen from 1858 to 1860 and in the Cricket Eleven in 1861.

He won both a Judd and a Hulme Exhibition to Oxford, and was matriculated from Brasenose College at the age of 18 on 11 October 1861. He gained a first in Mods in 1863, and in Literae Humaniores in 1865. In 1866 his book A Criticism of J. S. Mill’s Pure Idealism; and an attempt to shew that, if logically carried out, it is pure nihilism was published. He was also a student of the Inner Temple in 1867.

On 2 July 1867 Hugh Francis O’Hanlon was appointed a Fellow of Lincoln College, and lived in lodgings at George Street (in the house then numbered 77), in the parish of St Mary Magdalen. Just four months after his appointment he committed suicide there:

† Hugh Francis O’Hanlon died at George Street at the age of 25 on 8 November 1867 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 11 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

The following report appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 9 November 1867:

SUPPOSED SUICIDE OF A MEMBER OF THE UNIVERSITY.— Mr. O’Hanlon, of Lincoln College, was found dead in his bedroom, Wharton’s Lodgings, George-street, yesterday (Friday), under circumstances which leave little doubt that he blew out his brains with a pistol. Mr. O’Hanlon was a Hulme Exhibitioner of Brasenose, where he remained the full time. Last Term he was elected to a Fellowship of Lincoln, but always manifested a peculiarity of disposition. His friends reside in London. The corpse was examined at noon by Mr. F. Symonds and Mr. Taunton, and an inquiry into the cause of death was to be held before the University Coroner.

His effects came to nearly £1,000, and probate was granted to his sister Ellen O’Hanlon of 34 Grand Parade, Brighton.


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