HANRAHAN, EDMUND, politician and public servant; b. in 1802 at Carbonear, Nfld.; d. at Ferryland, Nfld., on 6 Feb. or 13 Feb. 1875.
Edmund Hanrahan, a man of “humble origins,” entered Newfoundland politics in December 1840 by contesting a by-election in Conception Bay. Both Hanrahan and his opponent, James Luke Prendergast, were Roman Catholics; Prendergast was backed by the Protestant merchants including John Munn, and Hanrahan was actively supported by the Roman Catholic clergy. The election was rendered abortive “by the ferocious conduct of a mob at Carbonear.” Rowdyism at elections was, indeed, known for a time in Newfoundland as “Carbonearism,” for it was at Carbonear that rioting occurred with regularity. Hanrahan was returned for Conception Bay in the general elections of 1842, 1848, and 1852; and, following the 1854 sub-division of districts, for Carbonear in 1855, 1859, and 1861. In the House of Assembly he was among the more radical of the Liberals and after 1850 supported Philip Francis Little* in the struggle for responsible government.
In 1855, on the introduction of responsible government, he was appointed to Little’s cabinet as surveyor general. After Little’s retirement, Hanrahan was continued in John Kent’s cabinet until its dismissal by Governor Alexander Bannerman* in 1861. The weak and divided Liberal party lost the general election in May 1861. Although Hanrahan was re-elected as a Liberal for Carbonear, where there was again violence, he accepted the appointment of acting appraiser to the General Water Company from the Conservative government of Hugh Hoyles*. Hanrahan’s resignation from his House of Assembly seat caused a by-election in Carbonear in November 1862 in which, for the first time in more than 20 years, a Conservative candidate, John Rorke, was elected. The following year Hoyles rewarded Hanrahan with the appointment of stipendiary magistrate at Ferryland, necessitating the retirement of the incumbent Peter Winser. The Liberal Record reported that “Hanrahan sold Carbonear . . . at the expense of an honest man . . . Peter Winser.” In 1872 Hanrahan was elevated to the position of sheriff of the Southern District.
Hanrahan was married and the father of an apparently large family; four sons died young. After Hanrahan’s death his widow Mary unsuccessfully petitioned the assembly for a pension in consideration of her husband’s long service.
PANL, Newfoundland, Executive Council, Minutes, 1 March 1862. Newfoundland, Blue Books, 1842–74 (copies in PANL); House of Assembly, Journals, 1863, 8, 931. Courier (St John’s), 20 March, 25, 29 Oct. 1862. Newfoundlander (St John’s), 18 Oct. 1872, 17 Jan. 1873, 26 Feb. 1875. Newfoundland Patriot (St John’s), 27 Feb 1875. Pilot (St John’s), 8, 22 Jan. 1853. Public Ledger (St John’s), 30 Oct., 14 Nov., 15 Dec. 1840; 28 Jan. 1862. Record (St John’s), 8 March 1862, 15 Dec. 1863. Times and General Commercial Gazette (St John’s), 4 Jan. 1843. E. A. Wells, “The struggle for responsible government in Newfoundland, 1846–1855,” unpublished ma thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1966.