Sir William Yorke, 1st Baronet
Sir William Yorke, 1st Baronet PC (c. 1700 – 30 September 1776 ) was an English-born politician and judge in Ireland.
Yorke was born in Northampton, son of the Reverend John Yorke. The future Lord Chancellor, Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, was a cousin: William, unlike Philip, is said to have been only a mediocre lawyer and probably owed his advancement largely to his family connections. He was educated at the Charterhouse and the University of Cambridge, and was called to the Bar about 1723. Not much is recorded about his legal practice: in 1743 he was appointed a judge of the Irish Court of Common Pleas.
Yorke found life in Ireland agreeable, writing enthusiastic letters home about the hospitality and civilised conversation. For his Chief, Henry Singleton, he had the greatest regard both as man and judge; personal ties were strengthened in 1744 when Yorke married Singleton's widowed niece Charity Cope. Charity brought him a comfortable fortune with which he bought and rebuilt Rathmines Castle. As Singleton's health began to fail, Yorke pushed him gently towards retirement: eventually in 1753 Singleton stepped down as Chief Justice, to be replaced by Yorke; soon afterwards Singleton accepted the sinecure of Master of the Rolls in Ireland.
Ironically, having worked so hard to become Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, Yorke found he was unsuited to such a senior office: in particular, like many judges in Ireland at the time, he found going on assize an ordeal. Even before Singleton died in 1759 Yorke was hoping to take his place - in the end he settled for another sinecure, Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland. In 1761 he was created a Baronet, of Dublin. He resigned as Chancellor in 1763 and retired to England. He died at Brentford in 1776: Elrington Ball has an interesting reference to the cause of death as "accidental poisoning", but gives no further details.
- London Chronicle 31st March 1761
- leighrayment.com Baronetcies: Yarrow to Yule
- Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray, London, 1926
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