Lord Chancellor of Ireland

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The office of Lord High Chancellor of Ireland (commonly known as Lord Chancellor of Ireland) was the highest judicial office in Ireland until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1721 to 1801 it was also the highest political office of the Irish Parliament: the Chancellor was Speaker of the Irish House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor was also Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland. In all three respects the office mirrored the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.


There is considerable confusion as to when the office originated. Until the reign of Henry III of England it is not clear if the offices of Irish and English Chancellor were distinct.[1] Only in 1232 is there a clear reference to a separate Irish Chancery. Early Irish Lord Chancellors, beginning with Stephen Ridell in 1186, were simply the English Chancellors acting through a Deputy. In about 1244 the decision was taken that there must be separate office holders in England and Ireland.[2] Elrington Ball states that the salary was fixed at sixty marks a year. Although twice what an itinerant justice was paid, at the time, this was apparently not a very generous amount, as Richard Northalis in the 1390s complained that it did not cover even a third of his expenses, and asked for an extra payment of twenty pounds.

In the earlier centuries the Lord Chancellor was always a cleric, and usually an Englishman. Lay Chancellors became common after the Reformation, but although there were a number of exceptions, the Crown retained a preference for English-born Chancellors well into the nineteenth century.

Lord Chancellors of Ireland, 1186–1922[edit]

12th century[edit]

  • Stephen Ridell. Appointed in 1186.[3] (first Chancellor)

13th century[edit]

14th century[edit]

15th century[edit]

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]


  1. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland, 1221–1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol. 1, p. 6
  2. ^ a b Ball p. 8
  3. ^ a b c Ball p. 6
  4. ^ Otway-Ruthven, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble reissue 1993 p. 256
  5. ^ Ball p. 79
  6. ^ Ball p. 80
  7. ^ a b Otway-Ruthven p. 302
  8. ^ Otway-Ruthven p. 3i6
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ball p. 98
  10. ^ Otway-Ruthven p. 370
  11. ^ Otway-Ruthven, p.386
  12. ^ a b Otway-Ruthven p. 389
  13. ^ Otway-Ruthven p. 391
  14. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, article on St. Lawrence.
  15. ^ a b Ball p. 130
  16. ^ a b Ball p. 131
  17. ^ Ball p. 250
  18. ^ James Roderick O'Flanagan,The lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of Ireland, 1870, page 345
  19. ^ Ball p. 272
  20. ^ O'Flanagan pp. 536–541
  21. ^ a b Ball Vol. 2 p. 101
  22. ^ Ball Vol. 2 p. 127
  23. ^ Delaney, V.T.H. Christopher Palles Allen Figgis and Co Dublin 1960 p.29
  24. ^ a b Delaney p. 29
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h Delaney p. 177
  26. ^ Healy, Maurice The Old Munster Circuit 1939 Mercier Press edition p. 27
  27. ^ a b Healy p. 27
  28. ^ Healy p. 105
  29. ^ Healy p. 188
  30. ^ Healy p. 242
  31. ^ Healy p. 263

External links[edit]