Richard Talbot (Irish judge)

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Richard Talbot (c.1520–1577) was a sixteenth-century Irish judge and landowner. He is notable as the ancestor of the prominent Talbot family of Mount Talbot, and for his clash with Nicholas Nugent, the future Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas.


He was the eldest son of William Talbot, who was himself the youngest son of Thomas Talbot, Lord of Malahide. William's brother Peter was the ancestor of the Barons Talbot. [1] His mother, like his wife, belonged to the Burnell family, who were Lords of the Manor of Balgriffin and Castleknock, a family which had a long tradition of judicial service.

Richard was Lord of the Manor of Templeogue from about 1555.[2] This meant that among his other duties he was responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and supply of pure water in the River Dodder, which flowed through his lands. The Dodder was for centuries the main water supply for Dublin.

River Dodder at Rathgar, present day.

He was appointed justice of Wexford in 1555 and second justice of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland) in 1558. In 1560 Elizabeth imposed the Oath of Supremacy on her Irish office holders, requiring them to recognise her as Head of the Church of Ireland; Talbot made no difficulty about swearing the oath, despite the fact that his mother's family were traditionally staunch Roman Catholics.[3] He was one of the lessees of the King's Inn in 1567.[4]

Clash with Nicholas Nugent[edit]

Talbot's colleague Nicholas Nugent was a younger son of the fourth. Baron Delvin: his family's influence, and the good opinion of some of his colleagues, secured for him high judicial office, first as Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) and eventually Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. In personality, Nugent was a hot tempered and quarrelsome man who had been notorious for brawling in his student days; his loyalty to the Crown was deeply suspect and he was eventually executed for treason, a unique fate for an Irish judge.[5]

In 1576 Talbot sued Nugent for riot and unlawful assembly in the Court of Castle Chamber.[6] That Court had been set up in 1571 as a mirror to the English Court of Star Chamber. Riot and judicial misconduct were two of its particular concerns, so it might well have been expected to take a serious view of the matter. In the end the case was dismissed in February 1577, apparently on the ground that one eye-witness was not sufficient in a matter of such gravity. It may be that the Court, which was generally regarded as being much less effective than its English counterpart, was reluctant after all to penalise men of such high social standing.[7] Talbot's reaction to the verdict is unknown; he died later the same year.


Talbot married his cousin Alice Burnell, daughter of John Burnell of Balgriffin.[8] Their son John (died 1584) was the grandfather of Sir Henry Talbot, founder of the prominent Talbot family of Mount Talbot.[9]


  1. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol 1 p.208
  2. ^ Ball p.208
  3. ^ Ball p.208
  4. ^ Kenny, Colum The King's Inns and the Kingdom of Ireland Irish Academic Press Dublin 1992 p.55
  5. ^ Ball pp.147-150
  6. ^ Crawford, Jon G. A Star Chamber Court in Ireland- the Court of Castle Chamber 1571-1641 Four Courts Press Dublin 2005 p.429
  7. ^ Crawford p.214
  8. ^ Burke's Irish Family Records London 1976 p.303
  9. ^ Burke p.303