Hedges Eyre Chatterton

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Hedges Eyre Chatterton (5 July 1819 – 30 August 1910) was an Irish Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom Parliament and subsequently Vice-Chancellor of Ireland.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Cork, eldest son of Abraham Chatterton, solicitor, and Jane Tisdall of Kenmare.[1] He attended Trinity College, Dublin, before being called to the Irish Bar in 1843. He became a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1858. Chatterton was Solicitor General for Ireland 1866–1867 and Attorney General for Ireland in 1867. He was made a member of the Privy Council of Ireland on 30 March 1867. He was MP for Dublin University 1867. Chatterton left the House of Commons when he was appointed to the newly created judicial office of Vice-Chancellor of Ireland in 1867, an office which was abolished when he retired in 1904.[2]

He married firstly Mary Halloran of Cloyne in 1845; she died in 1901. In the year of his retirement he remarried Florence Henrietta Gore, widow of Edward Croker.[3]

Reputation[edit]

Despite his many years of service, Chatterton does not seem to have been highly regarded as a judge. On his retirement the Bar paid tribute to his good qualities but added several qualifications :" there might have been on the Bench lawyers more profound, reasoners more acute..."[4] For his first decade on the Bench he had to endure the continual denigration of Jonathan Christian, the Lord Justice of Appeal in Chancery. Christian was notoriously bitter tongued and inclined to despise his colleagues, and he seems to have had a particular dislike of Chatterton. He regularly voted on appeal to overturn his judgments, and frequently added unnecessary insults.[5] Nor did he confine his attacks to the courtroom: there was controversy in 1870 when remarks of Christian that Chatterton was "lazy, stupid, conceited and so incompetent that he ought to be pensioned off " found their way into the Irish Times.[6] The hint about pensioning Chatterton was not taken up, no doubt because he enjoyed the confidence of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Baron O'Hagan, who was also on bad terms with Christian. In an appeal from Chatterton in 1873 the two clashed publicly, with O'Hagan reprimanding Christian for insulting a judge who was not there to defend himself.[7]

Renaming Sackville Street[edit]

Chatterton became involved in controversy in 1885, over the first attempt to rename Sackville Street as O'Connell Street.[8] Dublin Corporation voted for the name change, but it aroused considerable objections from local residents, one of whom sought an injunction. Chatterton granted the injunction on the ground that the Corporation had exceeded its statutory powers; rather unwisely, he also attacked the merits of the decision, accusing the Corporation of "sentimental notions".[9] The Corporation were angered by both the decision and the criticisms: while it may have been a coincidence, the fact that Temple Street was briefly renamed Chatterton Street was interpreted by some as an insult to the judge, since the street was frequented by prostitutes.[10]The controversy was short-lived: the Corporation was granted the necessary powers in 1890, and the new name became official in 1924, by which time it had gained popular acceptance.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol.2 p.367
  2. ^ Ball, p.367
  3. ^ Ball p.367
  4. ^ Hogan, Daire "Arrows too sharply pointed-the relations of Lord Justice Christian and Lord O'Hagan 1868–1874" published in The Common Law Tradition Irish Academic Press Dublin 1990 p.61
  5. ^ Hogan, p.69
  6. ^ Hogan, p.70
  7. ^ Hogan, p.72
  8. ^ Osborough, W.N. Law and the Emergence of Modern Dublin Irish Academic Press Dublin 1996
  9. ^ Anderson v. Dublin Corporation (1885) 15 L.R.Ir. 450
  10. ^ Osborough, p.49

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Edward Walsh and
Anthony Lefroy
Member of Parliament for Dublin University
1867
With: Anthony Lefroy
Succeeded by
Robert Warren and
Anthony Lefroy
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Morris
Solicitor General for Ireland
1866–1867
Succeeded by
Robert Warren
Preceded by
Michael Morris
Attorney-General for Ireland
1867
Succeeded by
Robert Warren