Nicholas Netterville, 5th Viscount Netterville

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Nicholas Netterville, 5th Viscount Netterville (1708-1750) was an Irish peer, who is mainly remembered nowadays for having been tried and acquitted by his peers on a charge of murder.

He was the only son of John, 4th Viscount Netterville, and his wife Frances, daughter of Richard Parsons, 1st Viscount Rosse.[1] He succeeded to the title in 1727. In 1731 he married Katherine Burton, daughter of Samuel Burton, High Sheriff of Carlow, and his wife Anne Campbell, and had one son and two daughters.[2] He was a prominent Freemason, who served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1732.

In 1742 he was charged with the murder of Michael Walsh of County Meath. Possibly because no evidence was actually given at the trial, remarkably little information survives about the victim, his supposed connection with his killer, or the details of the murder. Lord Netterville claimed the privilege of being tried by his peers. The case aroused great interest among the public, no doubt partly because it was only 5 years since another Irish peer, Lord Santry, had been tried and convicted of murder.[3]

On 3 February 1743 the Irish House of Lords assembled to try Lord Netterville, who pleaded not guilty.[4] The trial was something of an anti-climax, since the Crown explained that the two principal witnesses for the prosecution had died, and the law of evidence did not permit their depositions to be read. In the circumstances his peers had no hesitation in finding him "Not Guilty".[5]

He died on 9 March 1750 and was succeeded in the title by his only son John, 6th Viscount Netterville.[6]


  1. ^ Burke Extinct Peerages Reprinted Baltimore 1976 p.614
  2. ^ Burke p.614
  3. ^ Gilbert, J.T. History of the City of Dublin Dublin 1861 Vol. 3 p.95
  4. ^ Gilbert p.96
  5. ^ Gilbert pp.96-7
  6. ^ Burke p.614