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. From information given during a debate on the duties of the Recorder in the English House of Commons in 1831, it seems that he sat twice a week, with extra sessions as and when the workload required. His chief responsibility was to keep the peace, and he also controlled the number of pubs 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 belief 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 served as MPs while sitting on the Bench. 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 grounds that a judge should not sit in Parliament. There was apparently no objection to his combining the office of Recorder with that of a Law Officer: Sir Richard Ryves, Recorder of Dublin 1680-1685, was a King's Serjeant for part of the same period.

The Recorder was not a Crown appointee: he 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 defeated three rival candidates for the office.[1]

The first two men to hold the position were Thomas Fitzsimon and his son-in-law 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 1547-1924[edit]

Holders of the position have included:


  • F. Elrington Ball (1926) The Judges in Ireland, 1221-1921
  • Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)
  • Hansard's Parliamentary Debates 1831
  • 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. Vol. part II. London: John Nichols. p. 1007.
  15. ^ George Baronets
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ By Paymaster Captain Reginald P Walker published 1939.
  18. ^ "The Shaw Family and Bushy Park, Dublin". Archived from the original on 7 October 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.