John Povey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir John Povey (1621–1679) was an English-born judge who had a highly successful career in Ireland, holding office as a Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland during the years 1673–9.


He was born at Woodseaves, Market Drayton, Shropshire, eldest son of John Povey. Thomas Povey, the friend of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, who features often in Pepys' Diary, was his cousin.[1] He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, and matriculated in 1636. He entered Gray's Inn in 1638 and was called to the Bar in 1645.[2]

Market Drayton, Shropshire, Povey's birthplace, modern day


He is first heard of in Ireland in 1658, as counsel to Sir John Barrington, 3rd Baronet, who although he was a cousin of Oliver Cromwell, had refused to sit as one of the judges of Charles I. Povey then went on the Munster circuit, did well at the Irish Bar, and brought his family to live in Ireland.[3] He lived at Nicholas St. in Dublin, and later bought Powerstown House, Mulhuddart, outside Dublin city.

After the Restoration of Charles II, Povey continued to prosper: James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland thought well of him, while his cousin Thomas was now Treasurer to the future James II. He sat in the Irish House of Commons as member for Swords and was a Commissioner of Revenue Appeals. He was appointed third Baron of the Exchequer in 1663. One of his more notable decisions was to allow the indictment of several persons for abetting murders during the Irish Rebellion of 1641.[4]

In 1673 the office of Lord Chief Justice fell vacant. The most highly qualified candidates, although both had health problems, were Povey and Sir Robert Booth. Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, supported Booth, but Charles II, who favoured toleration of Roman Catholics so far as possible, rejected him as being too strong a Protestant. Povey, with his connection to the future James II's household, was an acceptable compromise.[5] He was knighted, and given the Freedom of the City of Dublin. He earned praise as Chief Justice, and it was suggested that he transfer to the English Bench in 1675; but soon after his wife's death in 1677 his health failed. He went to France in hope of a cure, but died at Bordeaux early in 1679. His body was brought back to Ireland, and buried in St. Michan's Church, Dublin[6]


In 1648 he married Elizabeth Folliott , daughter of Guthlake (or Guthlac) Folliott of Martin Hussingtree, Worcester. They had four children:


  1. ^ Carlyle, Edward Irving "Thomas Povey" Dictionary of National Biography Vol.46 pp.236-7
  2. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol. 1 p.350
  3. ^ Ball, p.350
  4. ^ Ball, p.350
  5. ^ Ball, p.287
  6. ^ Ball, p.351
  7. ^ Spencer, Mark "Charles Povey" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  8. ^ National Library of Ireland Collection List No. 120 "Papers of the Smythe Family of Barbavilla"
Legal offices
Preceded by
Baron Barry of Santry
Lord Chief Justice of Ireland
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Booth