Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown

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Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown
Member of the Irish House of Commons
In office

Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown (11 March 1701[1] – 2 October 1783) was an Irish peer and politician.


He was the son of Joseph Leeson, a brewer in Dublin, and Mary Brice, daughter of Alderman Andrew Brice, Sheriff of Dublin. His grandfather Hugh Leeson of Culworth in Northamptonshire came to Ireland about 1680, as an officer in military service, and made a fortune as a brewer, acquiring much property in the area around what is now Dawson Street. The name Leeson is found in Ireland before 1680; four Leesons occurred in the lists of army personnel in the Ormond Manuscripts, the earliest in 1644. The Earl had one known sibling – his sister, Joyce Leeson, who married Sir Robert Blackwood, 1st Baronet, the ancestor of the Barons Dufferin and Claneboye).

Political career[edit]

Between 1743 and 1756, Leeson sat in the Irish House of Commons for Rathcormack. He was created Baron Russborough, in the County of Wicklow, on 5 May 1756, Viscount Russborough, of Russellstown in the County of Wicklow, on 8 September 1760, and Earl of Milltown, in the County of Dublin, on 10 May 1763.

Family and legacy[edit]

On 20 January 1729, he married Cecilia Leigh, daughter of Francis Leigh. They had three children:

Cecilia had died by 1738, when Leeson married Anne Preston, daughter of Nathaniel Preston, on 20 October 1738. They had one daughter:

  • The Lady Anne Leeson (married Hugh Henry)

Anne died on 17 January 1766, and Leeson married thirdly Elizabeth French, daughter of the Very Revd William French, Dean of Ardagh, on 10 February 1768. They had four children:

  • The Hon. William Leeson (1770–1819)
  • The Hon. Robert Leeson (1773–1850)
  • The Lady Cecilia Leeson (married David La Touche and had a daughter Elizabeth who married William Crosbie, 4th Baron Brandon, and gained notoriety as the reputed mistress of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne)
  • The Lady Florence Arabella Leeson (d. 1840) (married Marcus Beresford, a grandson of the 1st Earl of Tyrone)

Lord Milltown died on 2 October 1783 at the age of 82. His third wife died on 23 January 1842 having lived 55 years past his death. In 1728 Suesey Street in Dublin was renamed Leeson Street, presumably in his honour. Lord Milltown commissioned Russborough House, a particularly fine example of Palladian architecture, designed by Richard Cassels and built between 1741 and 1755. The interior of the house contrasts with the austere exterior by way of some ornate plasterwork on the ceilings by the Lafranchini brothers. It is the longest house in Ireland, with a frontage measuring 210 m/700 ft, and is considered by some the most beautiful.

The title Earl of Milltown became dormant in 1891 on the death of the 7th Earl, as it is thought that there may still be living male descendants of the youngest son of the 1st Earl.


  1. ^ "Biographies of Members of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800". Ulster Historical Foundation. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  • Genealogic Information obtained from The Complete Baronetage, 5 volumes (no date (c. 1900); reprint, Gloucester, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1983), volume V, page 370 editor George Edward Cokayne via
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Rathcormack
With: James Barry 1743
Brettridge Badham 1743–1745
John Magill 1745–1756
Succeeded by
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Milltown
Succeeded by
Viscount Russborough
Baron Russborough