Austin, John (1717–84), Jesuit priest, was born off Kevin Street, Dublin, on 12 April 1717. He showed promise as a youth, and was said to have come to the attention of Jonathan Swift (qv). He went to France and joined the Society of Jesus in the Champagne (27 November 1735). After a period of teaching the humanities and as prefect of the Irish college in Poitiers, he returned to Dublin (1750) and took his final vows (2 February 1754). Austin soon acquired a reputation there as a powerful preacher and as a friend of the poor. After the society was dissolved by the pope (1773), he was one of twelve Jesuits who wrote from Ireland accepting their new status as secular priests. Three years later he and the other fourteen former Jesuits then in Ireland formed a voluntary association to hold their resources in common, thus anticipating the revival of the society after 1800 and enabling it in 1814 to open its famous school at Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare.
Austin is best remembered as founder (1760) of a classical school, in Saul's Court, off Fishamble Street, Dublin, which was so well thought of that it was used as the diocesan school for Meath as well as Dublin for preparing priests prior to their going to a seminary on the Continent. His pupils there included Daniel Murray (qv) the future archbishop of Dublin and Michael Blake (qv) who was to reopen the Irish college in Rome in 1824. John Austin died in Dublin on 29 September 1784 having acquired an exceptional reputation for ministering to the poor. He was buried in St Kevin's churchyard and a pyramidal stone erected over his grave. His portrait, by James Petrie (qv), was engraved by Henry Brocas (qv) and published by Bartholomew Corcoran (1792).