Robert le Poer

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Robert le Poer (died 1344) was an Irish judge and Crown official who held the offices of Lord High Treasurer of Ireland and Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.


Francis Elrington Ball, in his definitive study of the pre-1921 Irish judiciary,[1] says nothing of Robert's ancestry. Earlier sources state that he was a younger son of Arnold le Poer, Seneschal of Kilkenny (died 1328).[2] Arnold was one of the commanders of the army of Edward II which defeated the invasion of Ireland by Edward Bruce, but his career was ruined by the Kilkenny Witchcraft Trials. His support for Alice Kyteler, who was his sister-in-law, gained him the enmity of Richard de Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory, and in 1328 Arnold was arrested on charges of heresy and died in Dublin Castle while awaiting trial.[3]

There seems no good reason to doubt this account of Robert's parentage, although it may seem surprising the if he was Arnold's son, his career was not affected by Arnold's downfall- indeed Arnold's arrest coincided roughly with Robert's appointment as Treasurer.


Robert as a young man was in the service of John Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings and went with him to Gascony in 1307.[4] The connection with the Hastings family continued, and in 1322 he is stated to have been their bailiff in Ireland. He became parish priest of Lutterworth, Leicestershire in 1318, and of Adderley, Shropshire the following year. In the 1320s he also had a living in County Carlow.[4]

His first Crown office was Chamberlain of North Wales in 1323; in 1327 he became Treasurer of Ireland. In 1331 he was appointed Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer and at the same time held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland.[5] In 1335 he was superseded as Chief Baron, but remained an ordinary Baron of the Exchequer. In 1338 he served briefly as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland); the following year he was reappointed Chief Baron and remained in office until his death.[5]


  1. ^ The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol.I pp.71-72
  2. ^ Redmond, Gabriel Historical memoir of the Family of Poher, Poer or Power Dublin 1891 p.11
  3. ^ Otway-Ruthven, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Reprinted Barnes and Noble 1993 p.245
  4. ^ a b Ball Judges in Ireland p.71
  5. ^ a b Ball p.72