Recorder of Dublin

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The Recorder of Dublin was a judicial office holder in pre-Independence Ireland. The Recorder was the chief magistrate for Dublin, and heard a wide range of civil and criminal cases. His chief responsibility was to keep the peace, and he also maintained strict control over the number of public houses in the city. The duties were so onerous – by the 1830s the Recorder was hearing roughly 2,000 cases a year – that some Recorders sought promotion to the High Court bench in the hope that the workload there would be lighter. The Recorder also acted on occasion as a mediator in conflicts between the central government and Dublin Corporation.

Although he held a full-time judicial office, the Recorder, unlike the High Court judges, was not debarred from sitting in the Irish House of Commons, and despite their heavy workload, several Recorders were MPs at the same time. After the Act of Union 1800 the Recorder was eligible to sit in the English House of Commons, although an objection was made to this in 1832, on the ground that a judge should not sit in Parliament. There was apparently no similar objection to combining the office with that of a Law Officer: Sir Richard Ryves, Recorder of Dublin 1680-1685, was a Serjeant for part of the same period.

The Recorder was not a Crown appointment, but was elected by the Corporation of Dublin, although he could be dismissed by the Crown. There is an interesting account of the election of Dudley Hussey in 1784, when he beat three rival candidates for the office.[1]

The first man to hold the position was James Stanihurst, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, in 1564, and the last was Sir Thomas O'Shaughnessy. The Recordership was abolished in 1924 and the Recorder's functions transferred to the new Circuit Court.[2]

List of holders of the office of Recorder of Dublin 1564-1924[edit]

Holders of the position have included:


  • F. Elrington Ball (1926) The Judges in Ireland, 1221-1921
  • Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)
  • Jacqueline R. Hill (1997) From Patriots to Unionists: Dublin Civic Politics and Irish Protestant Patriotism, 1660-1840


  1. ^ Hibernian Magazine 1784
  2. ^ Courts of Justice Act 1924 s.51
  3. ^ Ball vol. I p. 223.
  4. ^ Ball vol. I p. 227.
  5. ^  "Talbot, William (d.1633)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  6. ^  "Bolton, Richard". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  7. ^  "Barry, James (1603-1672)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  8. ^ a b Hill p. 391.
  9. ^ a b His DNB article.
  10. ^ Ball vol. I p. 365.
  11. ^ Ball vol. II p. 61.
  12. ^ a b Hill p. 392.
  13. ^ Hill p. 321.
  14. ^ Sylvanus, Urban (1785). The Gentleman's Magazine. part II. London: John Nichols. p. 1007.
  15. ^ George Baronets
  16. ^
  17. ^ By Paymaster Captain Reginald P Walker published 1939.
  18. ^