John Doherty (politician)

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John Doherty, Q.C. (1785–1850)[1] was an Irish politician, Solicitor-General for Ireland and senior judge.

Background and education[edit]

Doherty was born in Dublin, the son of John Doherty and his wife Margaret Verney. He was educated at Chester School and the University of Dublin and was called to the Bar 1808.

Legal and judicial career[edit]

Doherty was made a King's Counsel in 1823 (becoming a Queen's Counsel with the accession of Queen Victoria to the Throne in 1837). He was Member of Parliament for New Ross, Kilkenny City and Newport (Cornwall) and served as Solicitor-General for Ireland from 1827 to 1830. In 1830 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, which he remained until his death in 1850.

As Solicitor-General he is remembered mainly for prosecuting in the 'Doneraile Conspiracy' case in 1829, and for his ferocious clashes with Daniel O'Connell, who appeared as defence counsel for several of the accused and secured their acquittals. O'Connell attacked both Doherty's tactics and his integrity, openly accusing him of conniving at the conviction of innocent men:[2] he repeated the attacks in Parliament where Doherty successfully defended his conduct.

While O'Connell had a very poor opinion of Doherty (as he did of many of the judges at the time, notably Thomas Lefroy), most of his colleagues on the Bench admired Doherty's legal ability; but they would have agreed with O'Connell that his rapid advancement was due to his reputation as a safe "Government man".

Personal life[edit]

Doherty married Elizabeth Lucy in 1822. In private life he was noted as a keen coin collector and for his speculations, often unlucky, on the Stock Exchange. His courtroom manner was described as "theatrical and pompous", and his consciously "refined " accent made him as easy target for parody by opponents.[3]


  1. ^ F. Elrington Ball (2005). The Judges in Ireland, 1221-1921. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  2. ^ O'Faoláin, Sean King of the Beggars- a life of Daniel O'Connell Alan Figgis Ltd. Dublin 1970
  3. ^ Geoghegan, Patrick M. King Dan- the rise of Daniel O'Connell Gill and Macmillan Dublin 2008

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Francis Leigh
Member of Parliament for New Ross
Succeeded by
William Wigram
Preceded by
Denis Browne
Member of Parliament for Kilkenny City
1826 – 1830
Succeeded by
Nicholas Philpot Leader
Preceded by
William Vesey-FitzGerald
Jonathan Raine
Member of Parliament for Newport
With: Jonathan Raine
Succeeded by
Henry Hardinge
Jonathan Raine
Legal offices
Preceded by
Henry Joy
Solicitor-General for Ireland
Succeeded by
Philip Cecil Crampton
Preceded by
The Lord Plunket
Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas
Succeeded by
James Henry Monahan