William Worth (Irish judge)

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William Worth (c.1646-1721) was an Irish judge of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.


He was born in Cork city, the eldest son of Edward Worth, who was Dean of Cork and subsequently Bishop of Killaloe 1661-1669, and his wife Susanna Pepper, daughter of Dennis Pepper of County Mayo.[1] His brother John continued the family's clerical tradition by becoming Dean of Kildare, and later Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. The Worths were a Cheshire family who had settled in County Cork in the sixteenth century.


William went to the University of Dublin, where he matriculated in 1661. He entered the Middle Temple in 1665 and the King's Inn in 1667. He was called to the Bar in 1669 and became Recorder of Cork in 1678. He was appointed Attorney General of the County Palatine of Tipperary in 1681, and second Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) in the same year.[1] His staunchly Protestant background was no doubt a recommendation for high office, at a time when the tolerant attitude towards Roman Catholicism which had existed in Ireland since the Restoration of Charles II had been destroyed in the anti-Catholic hysteria engendered by the Popish Plot.

As a strong Protestant, he was naturally assumed to be a supporter of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and after the arrival of the Roman Catholic King James II of England in Ireland in 1689 he was removed from office. Unlike some of his judicial colleagues (like Sir John Lyndon, who was detained when he tried to flee from Ireland) Worth was given leave to go to England.[1] On his return to Ireland he sought reappointment as a Baron of the Exchequer, and is later said to have lobbied to be appointed as Lord Chancellor of Ireland, but to no avail.[2] His failure to secure reappointment is perhaps surprising, since other Protestant High Court judges who had been removed from the Bench by James II, including Sir John Lyndon and Sir Standish Hartstonge, 1st Baronet, returned to their former positions. He spent some time managing the estates of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde.[1]

He was a man of considerable wealth, and a generous benefactor of his old University. He had a town house at Aungier Street in Dublin; he also had a house at Rathfarnham (then in the countryside, now a suburb of south Dublin) and another at nearby Oldbawn, which he probably acquired from his second wife's family, the Tyntes, who are recorded as its earlier owners.[1]


He was married four times: his marital career is unusual in that his third and fourth wives were respectively the widows of a father and son. His first wife was Alicia, daughter of William Barnet, of Yoxford in Sussex, by whom he had a son, Edward. He married secondly Mabel, daughter of Sir Henry Tynte of Ballycrenane, County Cork, and his wife Mabel Smythe, by whom he had a second son, James. He married thirdly about 1687, Dorothy, daughter of Henry Whitfield MP and his wife Hester Temple, and widow of Sir Richard Bulkeley, 1st Baronet; she died in 1705. His fourth wife was Lucy Downing. daughter of the eminent statesman Sir George Downing, 1st Baronet and his wife Frances Howard; she was also, rather strangely by modern standards, the widow of Dorothy's stepson, Sir Richard Bulkeley, 2nd Baronet. Worth's fourth marriage was short-lived: Lucy died in October 1711, only 18 months after her first husband.[1]

Worth died in 1721 and was buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral.


  • Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 London John Murray 1926
  • Cokayne, George Edward Complete Baronetage Reprinted Gloucester 1983
  • Mason, William Monck The History and Antiquities of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Dublin 1820


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ball p.358
  2. ^ Ball