Francis Higgins

(1746—1802) newspaper proprietor and spy

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(1746–1802), proprietor of the Freeman's Journal, which he transformed from a radical to a government paper. His origins are obscure, and traditional accounts are coloured by the lurid account of trickery and deceit published in 1789 by a rival editor, John Magee of the Dublin Evening Post, against whom Higgins subsequently won a legal action. The label ‘the sham squire’, bestowed by the judge in an earlier prosecution for fraud, was frequently used. A magistrate until he resigned (or was dismissed) shortly after irregularities in the papers on the Magee case came to light, Higgins throughout the 1790s kept the government supplied with a flow of secret intelligence, not always reliable, on the activities of Dublin radicals.

From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: European History.

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