William Caulfeild (1665–1737)

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William Caulfeild (1665 – 24 August 1737) was an Irish lawyer and judge: one of his sons became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

He sat in the Irish House of Commons for Tulsk and was later raised to the bench as justice of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland) 1715-1734.[1]

He was son of Thomas Caulfeild of Donamon Castle (died 1691) and Anne Moore, and grandson of William Caulfeild, 2nd Baron Charlemont and Charles Moore, 2nd Viscount Moore. As a wealthy landowner he did not have to earn a living and was not called to the Irish Bar until he was forty, having previously entered Middle Temple. He became Second Serjeant in 1708, resigning in 1711, and was appointed Prime Serjeant in 1714.[2] As law officer he was noted for his zeal in dealing with agrarian disturbances.

Ball states that he owed his career advancement almost entirely to his Whig sympathies,[3] but he seems to have been conscientious enough. As Ball also notes he and his King's Bench colleagues dealt with all indictable crimes in Dublin city and county.[4] The workload was heavy, and the late 1720s and early 1730s were noted for a number of much publicised trials, such as that of the surgeon John Audoen, convicted and executed for the murder of his maid Margaret Keeffe in 1728, and the trial of Daniel Kimberley, an attorney who was charged with forcing a wealthy twelve-year- old girl, Bridget Reading, into marriage with one of his clients in 1730.[5] In 1719 while on assize Caulfield narrowly escaped death when the roof of Roscommon Courthouse collapsed, with the loss of many lives.[6]

Probably the heavy workload affected Caulfeild's heath; he was unable to go on assize from 1730 on and visited London and Bath in hopes of a cure. He retired on health grounds in 1734.[7]

He married Lettice, daughter of Sir Arthur Gore, 1st Baronet by his wife Eleanor, daughter of Sir George St George, and was father of (among others) Thomas Caulfeild, Toby Caulfeild, and St George Caulfeild, all of whom were also MPs for Tulsk: St. George became Lord Chief Justice, and one of the most beloved Irish judges of his time.

His residence was Donamon Castle, County Roscommon, which he inherited from his father in 1691.


  1. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol.2 p.194
  2. ^ Ball p.194
  3. ^ Ball p.84
  4. ^ Ball p.122
  5. ^ Ball p.122
  6. ^ Ball p.98
  7. ^ Ball p.194