Irish House of Commons
The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from 1297 until 1800. The upper house was the House of Lords. The membership of the House of Commons was directly elected, but on a highly restrictive franchise, similar to the unreformed House of Commons in contemporary England and Great Britain. Catholics were disqualified from sitting in the Irish parliament from 1691, even though they comprised the vast majority of the Irish population.
Irish House of Commons
|Disbanded||31 December 1800|
|Succeeded by||House of Commons of the United Kingdom|
John Foster (1785–1801)
|First past the post with limited suffrage|
|The House of Commons in session (by Francis Wheatley, 1780)|
The Irish executive, known as the Dublin Castle administration, under the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was not answerable to the House of Commons but to the British government. However, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was usually a member of the Irish parliament. In the Commons, business was presided over by the Speaker.
From 1 January 1801, it ceased to exist and was succeeded by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
The limited franchise was exclusively male. From 1728 until 1793, Catholics were disfranchised, as well as being ineligible to sit in the Commons. Most of the population of all religions had no vote. In counties, forty-shilling freeholders were enfranchised while in most boroughs it was either only the members of self-electing corporations or a highly-restricted body of freemen that were eligible to vote for the borough's representatives. The vast majority of parliamentary boroughs were pocket boroughs, the private property of an aristocratic patron.
The House of Commons was abolished under the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the Kingdom of Ireland into the Kingdom of Great Britain to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with effect from 1 January 1801. The Irish House of Commons sat for the last time in Parliament House, Dublin on 2 August 1800. One hundred of its members were designated or co-opted to sit with the House of Commons of Great Britain, forming the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The patron of pocket boroughs that were disfranchised under the Act of Union was awarded £15,000 compensation for each.
Speaker of the Commons
The Speaker of the Irish House of Commons was the presiding officer of the House and its most senior official. The position was one of considerable power and prestige, and in the absence of a government chosen from and answerable to the Commons, he was the dominant political figure in the Parliament. The last Speaker was John Foster.
The number of boroughs invited to return members had originally been small (only 55 Boroughs existed in 1603) but was doubled by the Stuart monarchs. By the time of the Union, there were 150 constituencies, each electing two members:
- 32 county constituencies;
- 8 county borough constituencies;
- 109 borough constituencies;
- Dublin University.
Following the Act of Union, from 1801, there were 100 MPs from Ireland in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The constituencies were adapted from those in the Irish House of Commons as follows:
- 32 county constituencies, with two MPs each;
- 2 county borough constituencies, Cork City and Dublin City, both with two MPs;
- 6 remaining county borough constituencies, with 1 MP each;
- 25 borough constituencies; with one MP each;
- Dublin University, with one MP.
|Constituency||Type||County||Creation||Franchise||Fate after the union|
|Antrim County||County||Antrim||1570||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Ards||County||Down||By 1560||Previously disfranchised|
|Armagh Borough||Borough||Armagh||1613 (26 March)||Corporation||One seat|
|Armagh County||County||Armagh||1585 (September)||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Askeaton||Borough||Limerick||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Athlone||Borough||Westmeath||1606 (10 December)||Corporation||One seat|
|Augher||Borough||Tyrone||1613 (15 April)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Ballynakill||Borough||Queen's County||1612 (10 December)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Ballyshannon||Borough||Donegal||1613 (23 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Baltimore||Borough||Cork||1613 (25 March)||Potwalloper||Disfranchised|
|Bandonbridge||Borough||Cork||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||One seat|
|Bangor||Borough||Down||1613 (18 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Bannow||Borough||Wexford||Between 1614 and 1692||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Belfast||Borough||Antrim||1613 (27 April)||Corporation||One seat|
|Belturbet||Borough||Cavan||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Boyle||Borough||Roscommon||1613 (25 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Carlow Borough||Borough||Carlow||1613 (19 April)||Corporation||One seat|
|Carlow County||County||Carlow||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Carrick||Borough||Leitrim||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Carrickfergus||County borough||Antrim||1326||Freeholder and householder||One seat|
|Cashel||Borough||Tipperary||By 1585||Corporation||One seat|
|Castlebar||Borough||Mayo||1613 (26 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Cavan Borough||Borough||Cavan||1610 (15 November)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Cavan County||County||Cavan||1579 or 1584 or 1585||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Charlemont||Borough||Armagh||1613 (29 April)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Clare||County||Clare||By 1560||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Clogher||Borough||Tyrone||Between 1614 and 1692||Ecclesiastical||Disfranchised|
|Clonakilty||Borough||Cork||1613 (5 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Clonmel||Borough||Tipperary||By 1560||Corporation||One seat|
|Clonmines||Borough||Wexford||Between 1614 and 1692||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Coleraine||Borough||Londonderry||1613 (25 March)||Corporation||One seat|
|Cork City||County borough||Cork||1299||Freeholder and Freemen||Two seats|
|Cork County||County||Cork||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Coleraine County||County||Londonderry||1585 (September)||Freeholders||Previously disfranchised|
|Donegal Borough||Borough||Donegal||1613 (27 February)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Donegal County||County||Donegal||1585 (September)||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Drogheda||County borough||Louth||1299||Freeholders and freemen||One seat|
|Dublin City||County borough||Dublin||1299||Freeholders and freemen||Two seats|
|Dublin County||County||Dublin||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Dublin University||University||Dublin||1603||Graduates||One seat|
|Duleek||Borough||Meath||Between 1614 and 1692||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Dundalk||Borough||Louth||By 1560||Corporation||One seat|
|Dungannon||Borough||Tyrone||1612 (27 November)||Corporation||One seat|
|Dungarvan||Borough||Waterford||By 1560||Potwalloper||One seat|
|Ennis||Borough||Clare||1613 (27 February)||Corporation||One seat|
|Enniscorthy||Borough||Wexford||1613 (25 May)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Enniskillen||Borough||Fermanagh||1613 (27 February)||Corporation||One seat|
|Fermanagh||County||Fermanagh||1585 (September)||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Ferns||County||Wexford||By 1579||Freeholders||Previously disfranchised|
|Fethard||Borough||Tipperary||1613 (15 April)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Fethard||Borough||Wexford||1613 (15 April)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Fore||Borough||Westmeath||Between 1614 and 1692||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Galway Borough||County borough||Galway||By 1560||Freemen||One seat|
|Galway County||County||Galway||By 1579||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Gorey (also Newburgh)||Borough||Wexford||1620||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Gowran||Borough||Kilkenny||1608 (15 September)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Kilbeggan||Borough||Westmeath||1613 (27 February)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Kildare Borough||Borough||Kildare||By 1560||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Kildare County||County||Kildare||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Kilkenny City||County borough||Kilkenny||1299?||Freeholders and Freemen||One seat|
|Kilkenny County||County||Kilkenny||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Killyleagh||Borough||Down||1613 (10 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|King's County||County||King's County||1556||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Kinsale||Borough||Cork||1334?||Corporation and Freemen||One seat|
|Lifford||Borough||Donegal||1613 (27 February)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Limerick City||County borough||Limerick||1299||Freeholders and Freemen||One seat|
|Limerick County||County||Limerick||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Lismore||Borough||Waterford||1613 (6 May)||Manor||Disfranchised|
|Londonderry City||Borough||Londonderry||1613 (29 March)||Corporation||One seat|
|Londonderry County||County||Londonderry||1613||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Longford County||County||Longford||1571||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Mallow||Borough||Cork||1613 (27 February)||Manor||One seat|
|Mayo||County||Mayo||By 1579||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Monaghan Borough||Borough||Monaghan||1613 (26 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Monaghan County||County||Monaghan||1585 (September)||Freeholders||Two seats|
|New Ross||Borough||Wexford||By 1560||Corporation||One seat|
|Newcastle||Borough||Dublin||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Newry||Borough||Down||1613 (27 February)||Potwalloper||One seat|
|Newtown Limavady||Borough||Londonderry||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Newtownards||Borough||Down||1613 (25 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Old Leighlin||Borough||Carlow||Between 1614 and 1692||Ecclesiastical corporation||Disfranchised|
|Portarlington||Borough||Queen's County||1668||Corporation||One seat|
|Queen's County||County||Queen's County||1556||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Randalstown||Borough||Antrim||1683||Freeman / Potwalloper||Disfranchised|
|Rathcormack||Borough||Cork||Between 1614 and 1692||Potwalloper / Manor||Disfranchised|
|Ratoath||Borough||Meath||Between 1614 and 1692||Manor||Disfranchised|
|Roscommon Borough||Borough||Roscommon||1613 (27 February)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Roscommon County||County||Roscommon||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|St Canice||Borough||Kilkenny||Between 1614 and 1692||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Sligo Borough||Borough||Sligo||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||One seat|
|Sligo County||County||Sligo||By 1579||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Strabane||Borough||Tyrone||1613 (18 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Tallow||Borough||Waterford||1613 (1 May)||Manor / Potwalloper||Disfranchised|
|Cross Tipperary||County||Tipperary||by 1585||Freeholders||Previously disfranchised|
|Tralee||Borough||Kerry||1613 (31 March)||Corporation||One seat|
|Tuam||Borough||Galway||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Tyrone||County||Tyrone||1585 (September)||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Liberty of Ulster||County||Multiple||1297||Previously disfranchised|
|Waterford City||County borough||Waterford||1299||Freemen and freeholders||One seat|
|Waterford County||County||Waterford||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Wexford Borough||Borough||Wexford||By 1560||Freemen||One seat|
|Wexford County||County||Wexford||1297||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Wicklow Borough||Borough||Wicklow||1613 (30 March)||Corporation||Disfranchised|
|Wicklow County||County||Wicklow||1577; 1606||Freeholders||Two seats|
|Youghal||Borough||Cork||1374||Corporation and Freemen||One seat|
- The date of either: the earliest Parliament at which it is known to have received a writ of election or sent representatives; or else: the earliest charter or statute granting representation. Outside the Pale, places enfranchised after the Norman conquest often had long periods unrepresented prior to the Tudor reconquest.
- The territory of Ards, one of the medieval sheriffdoms of the Earldom of Ulster, was included in the reconstituted County Down in 1570.
- A separate county corporate.
- The medieval county of Connacht was subdivided in 1570 into the modern counties of Galway and Mayo.
- Then called Dengenechoyshe.
- The University was in the county of the city of Dublin. The electorate was its Fellows and Scholars.
- The area of Ferns, corresponding to the northern part of County Wexford, was briefly made a separate shire between the 1570s before merging back into Wexford in the 1600s.
- Previously incorporated as Derry, 11 July 1604.
- In the county of the city of Kilkenny rather than county Kilkenny.
- Cross Tipperary last returned MPs in 1634, and was definitively merged with Tipperary in 1716.
- The medieval liberty of Ulster was subdivided in 1570 into the modern counties of Antrim and Down.
- The county of Wicklow created in 1577 seems not to have functioned and ceased to exist some time after 1586
Means of resignation
Until 1793 members could not resign their seats. They could cease to be a member of the House in one of four ways:
- taking Holy Orders, or
- being awarded a peerage and so a seat in the Irish House of Lords.
In 1793 a methodology for resignation was created, equivalent to the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds or the Manor of Northstead as a means of resignation from the British House of Commons. From that date, Irish members could be appointed to the Escheatorship of Munster, the Escheatorship of Leinster, the Escheatorship of Connaught or the Escheatorship of Ulster. Possession of one of these Crown offices, "office of profit under the Crown" with a 30-shilling salary, terminated one's membership of the House of Commons.
- Henry Grattan: Went on to serve as an Irish member of the United Kingdom House of Commons.
- Boyle Roche: The "father" of Irish bulls
- Hon. Arthur Wellesley: Later became Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon I at Waterloo, and served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He represented his family borough of Trim, County Meath from 1790–98.
- William Conolly: A past Speaker, Conolly was notable not just for his role in parliament but also for his great wealth that allowed him to build one of Ireland's greatest Georgian houses, Castletown House.
- Nathaniel Clements: 1705–77 Government and Treasury Official, Managed extensive financial functions from 1720–77[dubious ] on behalf of the Government, de facto Minister for Finance 1740–77, extensive property owner and developer. A major influence on the architecture of Georgian Dublin and the Irish Palladian Country house.
- John Philpot Curran: Orator and wit, originator of the quotation "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty".
- Porritt, Edward (1963). The Unreformed House of Commons. Parliamentary Representation Before 1832. CUP Archive. pp. 185–187. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- Johnston-Liik 2006, p. 222.
- Fiants Ire. Eliz. No 1530
- Hardiman, James (1842). "Appendix III: The lordes spirituall and temporall, counties, cytties, and borough-townes, as are answerable to the Parlyament in this realme of Ireland ; and souche as weare sommoned unto the Parlyament holden before the right honorable Sir John Perrot, knyght, Lord Deputie Generall of the realme of Ireland, xxvi. die Aprilis, anno regni Regine nostre Elizabeth, vicesimo septimo. A. D. 1585.". A Statute of the fortieth Year of Edward III., enacted in a Parliament held in Kilkenny, A. D. 1367, before Lionel Duke of Clarence, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Now first printed from a MS.in the Library of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth. With a Translation and Notes. Tracts relating to Ireland. Vol.II. Dublin: Irish Archaeological Society.
|volume=has extra text (help)
- Moody, T.W.; The Irish Parliament under Elizabeth and James I, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol 45 (1939) No 6, PP 72-76
- Moody, T.W.; Martin, F.X.; Byrne, F.J. (1991). Early Modern Ireland, 1534-1691. Oxford University Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780198202424.Inquisitionum in Officio Rotulorum Cancellariae Hiberniae Asservatarum Repertorium (Repertory of the Inquisitions of the Chancery of Ireland) Volume II, page xix 'An Order for the division, setting out and appoyntinge of the boundes, lymytts and circuits of sixe severall sheires or countyes within the pvince of Ulster within this realme of Ireland, viz. the countye of Tyron, the countye of Donnyngall, the countye of Fermanaghe, the countye of Colrane, the countye of Armaghe and the countye of Monohon ... the firste of September anno dei 1585, annoque d[omi]n[a]e Regin[a]e Elizabeth', 27mo'
- "Turlough Lynagh (O'Neill)'s pretence to harm ... the new made county of Cavan" Proceedings and orders of the Chancellor, Council and Gentlemen of Meath and Dublin, August 21 1579, Calendar of the State Papers relating to Ireland, of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, Volume 2, 1574-1585 page 184
- "O'Reilly's country erected into the County of Cavan" Lord Deputy Perrot to Walsyngham, 16 November 1584, Calendar of the State Papers relating to Ireland, of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, Volume 2, 1574-1585 page 537
- Moody, T.W.; Martin, F.X.; Byrne, F.J. (1984). A New History of Ireland, Vol IX, Maps, Genealogies, Lists. Oxford University Press. p. 108.
- "Orders to be observed by Sir Nicholas Malby, Knight, for the better government of the Province of Connaght" Printed in O'Flaherty's Chorographical Description of West Or H-Iar Connaught: Written A.D. 1684 ed. Hardiman, P. 304
- An Act "whereby the King and Queen's Majesties, and the Heires and Successors of the Queen, be entituled to the Counties of Leix, Slewmarge, Irry, Glinmaliry, and Offaily, and for making the same Countries Shire Grounds." 3 & 4 Phil & Mar, c.2 (1556). The Act was repealed in 1962.
- ”Falkiner, Caesar Litton (1904). Illustrations of Irish history and topography, mainly of the seventeenth century. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. pp. 118–9. ISBN 1-144-76601-X.
- Maginn, Christopher (2012). William Cecil, Ireland, and the Tudor State. Oxford. p. 194.
- "The Annaley, formerly governed by O’Farrale Bane and O’Farrale Boy, is erected into a shire called Longford." Lord Chancellor and Council to the Queen, March 23, 1571,Calendar of the State Papers relating to Ireland, of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, Volume 1, 1509-1573, page 440
- Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act 1543 34 Henry VIII cap 1 (Ire) An Act for the division of Methe into two shires.
- Falkiner, Caesar Litton (1904). Illustrations of Irish history and topography, mainly of the seventeenth century. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. p. 117. ISBN 1-144-76601-X.
- Fiants Ire. Eliz. No 3003, 22 March 1577
- Moody, T. W.; Martin, F. X.; Byrne, F. J. (1984). A New History of Ireland, Vol IX, Maps, Genealogies, Lists. Oxford University Press. p. 108.
- Moody, T.W.; Martin, F.X.; Byrne, F.J. (1991). Early Modern Ireland, 1534-1691. Oxford University Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780198202424.
- Mary Frances Cusack, Illustrated History of Ireland, Project Gutenberg
- Johnston-Liik, Edith Mary, ed. (2002). History of the Irish parliament, 1692–1800. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation.
- Johnston-Liik, Edith Mary (2006). MPs in Dublin: Companion to the History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation. ISBN 1903688604.
- McGrath, Charles Ivar (2000). The making of the 18th century Irish Constitution: Government, Parliament and the Revenue, 1692-1714. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-554-1.
- Magennis, Eoin (2000). The Irish Political System 1740-1765. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-484-7.
- Moody/Vaughan, A new history of Ireland, Oxford, 1986, ISBN 0-19-821742-0 and ISBN 0-19-821739-0
- Return of the name of every member of the lower house of parliament of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with name of constituency represented, and date of return, from 1213 to 1874. C. 69-I. HMSO. 1878.