John Ireland was the 18th Governor of Texas from 1883 to 1887.
Ireland was born on January 1, 1827 in Hart County, Kentucky to Irish immigrants Patrick Ireland and the former Rachel Newton. Although he had little formal education, when he was 18 he was appointed deputy sheriff of the county. At 24 years of age he decided to study law, and was admitted to the bar.
In 1852, Ireland moved to Texas, where he settled in Seguin and practiced law. Two years later, he married Mathilda Wicks Faircloth. She died in 1856, and the following year Ireland married Anna Maria Penn. They had three children together. Ireland was elected the mayor of Seguin in 1858. Ireland reentered politics in 1872, when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and chaired the executive committee of the Democratic party. During his time as a state legislator, Ireland backed the bill creating the University of Texas at Austin was a proponent of low taxes, and favored regulating the railroads. In 1875, he served as an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Later that year, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The new state constitution reduced the number of associate justices on the supreme court, and in 1876 Ireland lost his position. In 1882, Governor Oran Roberts declined to run again, and Ireland received the Democratic nomination. His main competition was G. "Wash" Jones of the Greenback party. Ireland defeated Jones by over 48,000 votes.
Construction began on the new Texas State Capitol building during Ireland's tenure. At his insistence, the building was constructed of Texas pink granite instead of imported Indiana limestone.
In 1887 Ireland attempted again to run for a U.S. Senate seat, but lost the race, ending his political career.
After retiring from politics, Ireland returned to Seguin to practice law. His profits were invested in land and railroad stocks, and during the Panic of 1893, he lost all of his holdings. He died on March 15, 1896, and is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.