John Naish

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John Naish PC, QC (15 August 1841 – 17 August 1890) was an Irish lawyer and judge, who held a number of senior offices, including Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Early life[edit]

Born in Limerick on 15 August 1841, son of Carroll Naish of Ballycullen and his second wife Anne Margaret Carroll[1] or O'Carroll,[2] Naish was educated at Clongowes Wood School and Dublin University. He was an outstanding student, gaining numerous distinctions in mathematics, physics and natural science, as well as law.[3]

Early career[edit]

He was called to the Irish Bar in 1865, and practiced on the Munster Circuit, becoming a QC in 1880. His reputation as a barrister was mixed: he was too nervous and retiring to be a good advocate, but hard work and academic brilliance compensated for this. He appeared in the celebrated libel action brought by Canon O'Keeffe against Cardinal Cullen, and co-wrote an influential textbook on the Common Law Procedure Acts.[4]

Law officer[edit]

He became Law Adviser to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (a deputy to the two senior law officers) in 1880. The office had become a very onerous one and had been criticised for its excessively political nature, since one of the Law Adviser's responsibilities was to advise magistrates on how to deal with proceedings with a political element. Naish is credited with having suggested that magistrates in their ongoing struggle with the Irish National Land League, should rely on an obscure medieval statute, 34 Edward III c.1, to imprison those who could not find sureties for their good behaviour. This was arguably an abuse of the law since the statute was clearly aimed only at cases of riot. These concerns about his obviously political role may explain why the office was left vacant after his promotion.

Judge[edit]

He was Solicitor-General for Ireland from January 1883 and Attorney-General for Ireland from December 1883. He stood for the House of Commons at Mallow as the Government candidate in 1882, but in the fraught political atmosphere which followed the Phoenix Park murders, was crushingly defeated by William O'Brien. He was appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland in 1885 and served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from May to July 1885 and again from February to June 1886; he was a Lord Justice of the Irish Court of Appeal 1885-6 and 1886-90.[5]

Death and family[edit]

Naish's health failed when he was still in his late forties: he travelled to the Continent in hope of a cure, but died at the German spa town of Bad Ems on 17 August 1890 and was buried there.[6]

He married Maud Dease of County Westmeath and they had three children.

Reputation[edit]

Delaney, in his biography of Christopher Palles, calls Naish an outstanding judge, even in an age when the Irish judiciary included such eminent figures as Christopher Palles himself, Gerald FitzGibbon, and Hugh Holmes.[7] Elrington Ball, on the other hand, thought him a poor choice as Lord Chancellor: in Ball's view Naish was a good academic lawyer but an unsuccessful barrister and a failure as a politician. As a Roman Catholic, however, he was acceptable to Nationalists.[8] The Dictionary of National Biography praises him as a brilliant academic, and while accepting that he had his faults as a barrister, agrees with Delaney that he was a great judge, perhaps the most eminent Irish judge of his time.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See Naish of Ballycullen in Burke's 'Genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland', 1871, Volume 2, p.972.
  2. ^ P. L. Nolan, ‘Naish, John (1842–1890)’, rev. Nathan Wells, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1], accessed 11 April 2013. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19731.
  3. ^ Nolan, Pierce Laurence "John Naish" Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900 Vol.40 p.28
  4. ^ Nolan p.28
  5. ^ Nolan p.28
  6. ^ http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Datei:Bad_Ems-Gedenktafel_Lord-Justice-John-Naish.jpg
  7. ^ Delaney, V.T.H Christopher Palles Allen Figgis and Co. 1960 p.158
  8. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol. ii p.313.
  9. ^ Nolan p.28
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Andrew Porter
Solicitor-General for Ireland
1883
Succeeded by
Samuel Walker
Preceded by
Andrew Porter
Attorney-General for Ireland
1883 - 1885
Succeeded by
Samuel Walker
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Edward Sullivan, Bt
Lord Chancellor of Ireland
May–July 1885
Succeeded by
The Lord Ashbourne
Preceded by
The Lord Ashbourne
Lord Chancellor of Ireland
Feb-June 1886
Succeeded by
The Lord Ashbourne