Robert Emmet - Emmet's Early Life

Emmet's Early Life

Robert Emmet was born at 109 St. Stephen's Green, in Dublin on 4 March 1778. He was the youngest son of Dr Robert Emmet (1729–1802), a court physician, and his wife, Elizabeth Mason(1739–1803). The Emmets were financially comfortable, with a house at St Stephen's Green and a country residence near Milltown. One of his elder brothers was the nationalist Thomas Addis Emmet, a close friend of Theobald Wolfe Tone, who was a frequent visitor to the house when Robert was a child.

Robert Emmet entered Trinity College, Dublin in October 1793, at the age of fifteen. In December 1797 he joined the College Historical Society, a debating society. While he was at college, his brother Thomas and some of his friends became involved in political activism. Robert himself became secretary of a secret United Irish Committee in college, and was expelled in April 1798 as a result. That same year he fled to France to avoid the many arrests that were taking place in Ireland. While in France, Emmet garnered the support of Napoleon who had promised to lend support when the upcoming revolution started. However, due to an explosion at one of the rebel safe houses, the plan for a revolution was exposed. This prompted Emmet to move ahead of plan with the rebellion and as premature events unfolded the military support that Napoleon had promised never materialised and ultimately the rebellion failed.

After the 1798 rising, Robert Emmet was involved in reorganising the defeated United Irish Society. In April 1799 a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he escaped, and soon after, travelled to the continent in the hope of securing French military aid. His efforts were unsuccessful, and he returned to Ireland in October 1802. In March the following year, he began preparations for another rising.

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