|Bill Burns thumbing nose, Richard Martin holding reins|
Colonel Richard Martin (15 January 1754 – 6 January 1834), was an Irish politician and campaigner against cruelty to animals. He was commonly known as "Humanity Dick", a nickname bestowed on him by King George IV. He succeeded in getting the pioneering Act of Parliament "Martin's Act" passed.
Martin was born at Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway, the only son of Robert Martin Fitz Anthony of Birch Hall, County Galway, and the Hon. Bridget Barnwall, a daughter of Robert Barnewall, 12th Baron Trimlestown. ...
His father's family were Jacobites and one of "The Tribes of Galway", fourteen merchant families who ruled Galway from the 14th to 17th centuries. The Barnwalls were an ennobled family of Norman descent ... Though both of his parents were born to Catholics, Richard Martin was raised a Protestant and educated in England. ...
Warning: The various kinds of Irish aristocrats over the last 800 years are pretty baffling to outsiders. That said, the Tribes of Galway were largely medieval Normans who stayed Catholic despite the Reformation in England. Families included D'Arcy, Joyce, and ffrench. Edmund Burke was another descendant of Ireland's Old English aristocracy. The Old English in Ireland were distinct from Ireland's New English or Anglo-Irish upper class, such as Swift, Berkeley, Wellington, Yeats, Wilde, Shaw, and Daniel Day-Lewis, whose ancestors typically arrived in Ireland in the 17th Century.
Whether Old or New, many of these aristocrats, while retaining their English high culture and privileges were raised by indigenous Irish Catholic servants, so they tended to strike English English as wild Irishmen. Richard Martin sounds like the wildest Irishman of them all:
He continued to represent County Galway in Westminster [i.e., Parliament] ... In the House of Commons he was known for his interruptions and humorous speeches. He continued his work towards Irish Catholic Emancipation till 1826, when he had to flee to France. Emancipation was finally granted in 1829, much to his delight.
Martin is now best known for his work against animal cruelty, especially against bear baiting and dog fighting. His actions resulted eventually in Martin's Act of 1822, entitled "Ill Treatment of Cattle Bill". He also tried to spread his ideas in the streets of London, becoming the target of jokes and political cartoons that depicted him with ears of a donkey. He also sometimes paid fines of minor offenders.
On 16 June 1824, Martin was present when the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was founded in a London coffee shop "Old Slaughter's". He denied being the initiator of the society.
Martin also had a very eventful life. ... He survived two shipwrecks. He fought over a hundred duels with sword and pistol and earned the nickname "Hairtrigger Dick". He travelled extensively in Europe and the Americas during the 1770s and was in New England when the American Revolutionary War began. He initiated Galway's first theatre in 1783. He employed as tutor to his younger half-brothers Theobald Wolfe Tone, who had an affair with Martin's wife. Martin was in Paris when the French Revolution began during 1789.
Martin was on a first-name basis with many of the famous names of his age, including King George IV (who gave him the nickname "Humanity Dick"), Henry Flood, Henry Grattan, William Pitt, Queen Caroline, and Daniel O'Connell.
After the election of 1826, Martin was deprived of his parliamentary seat because of a petition which accused him of illegal intimidation during the election. He had to flee into hasty exile to Boulogne, France, because he could no longer enjoy a parliamentary immunity to arrest for debt. ...
Following the revelation of [his wife's] affair with a Mr. Petrie in Paris, Martin sued Petrie for criminal conversation in 1791 and was awarded £10,000. He had this distributed to the poor by throwing it out the windows of his coach on the long journey back from London to Galway.
Update: Now that I look it up, I see that the the Martin Act passed when Martin was 68, so quite a few actors could play Martin in a film concentrating on this (likely) manic depressive wild man's last hurrah: Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, or, as a commenter suggests, Mel Gibson.