Mary Pike, a young, wealthy Quaker heiress, was kidnapped, in July 1797, by a widowed knight, Sir Henry Brown Hayes, intent on forcing her into marriage and getting his hands on her money. She was rescued. He fled the country but then decided public opinion was in his favour and challenged her to face him in court. Her barrister was John Philpot Curran. Mary Pike won her case. Sadly , the history books tell us, the ordeal was too much for Mary Pike, she suffered a nervous breakdown and died in a mental hospital.
The story of Mary Pike warrants a closer look and reveals an amazing story.
Dr. Kieran Groeger , author of “the Much Maligned Mary Pike, “the Trial and Execution of James Cotter”, the “Little Book of Youghal”, along with other books and articles on local history, delights in stripping away the layers of a story to reveal the truth.
He is a retired teacher, avid Francophile and regular cyclist. He has been part of the group Youghal Celebrates History for far too many years.