John Lloyd was born in 1789 into a privileged and wealthy lifestyle. His father was Reverend Robert Jones Lloyd of Smith-hill House, and Susanna Devenish of Rush Hall. The Lloyd family were relatives of Oliver Goldsmith, as well as many other members of the Anglo-Irish gentry, including the Kings, Drurys and Caulfields.
He married Emma Lloyd of Paulville. After his father's death in 1832, he moved into Smith-hill House. He was the rector for Aughrim.
The Lloyd couple had six children. Three died as children and a fourth tragically drowned in Cobh aged eighteen, in 1842. His only two children who survived to adulthood were Robert Jones Lloyd and Owen Tudor Lloyd.
It was Sunday, the 28th of November, 1847. Reverend John Lloyd had been preaching a sermon in Aughrim Church and was returning home in a chaise with his servant, seventeen year old Patrick Rooney. A short distance away from his home, two men jumped out onto the road, armed with pistols.
"Say your prayers, for you are going to be shot", said one of the men. "What have I done that I should be murdered?" Lloyd exclaimed. The man told him that he had evicted two tenants from his estate in Leitrim two years ago, and again told him "Say your prayers, for your time is come".
One man held the reins of the clergyman's horse while the other rose his gun. Rooney yelled "Don't kill my master!" and Lloyd called to the horses "Pull away boys". The man fired and two bullets hit Lloyd, killing him.
It is unclear why John Lloyd was targeted to be murdered. He was involved in the proselytizing movement, and had taken apart in evictions in the last few years of the famine, as well as being connected to suggested evictions in local areas. The murder of Major Denis Mahon of Strokestown Park House three weeks before may have inspired the men who shot Lloyd.
The murder was first announced on 4 December 1847 in the Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette. There was much excitement in the county as a list had been posted on a road near Strokestown stating all the gentry that were to be killed. Many of them fled the county.
Lord Farnham, a friend of Lloyd's and an influential man in the House of Lords in Westminster was outraged and stated he was "one of the very best of good men, charitable, kind, and humane to all persons, without any distinction, esteemed and loved by his parishioners and neighbours. Living not many miles from him from my infancy, I never heard he intentionally offended or injured any person. I cannot account for this melancholy murder, otherwise than that he might have been mistaken for some other person, or that there is now such a thirst for blood that he was shot to intimidate others."
By the first of January 1848, twelve men had been arrested. Thomas Donoughue and John Flanagan were identified by Patrick Rooney. Donoughue had shot Lloyd while Flanagan held the reins.
The case was taken up by Constable William O'Brien of Fourmilehouse.
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