William Conyngham Plunket

1764-1854 [Lord Plunket; 1st baron]; son of Presbyterian Minister nr. Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh; ed. TCD, prominent in TCD Historical Society; BA 1784, Bar; 1798, took seat for Charlemont; defended United Irishmen, 179-98; replied to Lord Castlereagh in January 1799; chief prosecutor in Emmet State Trial 1803; Attorney General 1805; MP Midhurst, 1807; MP TCD; continued Grattan’s movement for enquiry into effect of laws on Catholics; his Catholic Relief Bill defeated by Duke of York in House of Lords, 1821;

re-appt. Attorney General, 1821; supported Catholic Relief Bill of Sir Francis Burdett, but also supported repression of Catholic Association, 1825; Master of the Rolls in England, 1827; soon retired and made Chief Justice of Common Pleas in Ireland and Baron Plunket of Newton, Co. Cork, 1827; cabinet adviser to Wellington; Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 1830; retired by Lord Melbourne, 1841; praised for oratory and character by Dr. Madden; Life, Letters and Speeches ed. by his son (1867). CAB ODNB DIH.


C. Hoey, ed., with a memoir, Speeches at the Bar and in the Senate [q.d.]; Hon. David Plunket, ed., The Life, Letters and Speeches of Lord Plunket, 2 vols. (1867), port.


‘I cannot fear that the constitution which has been formed by the wisdom of ages, and cemented by the blood of patriots and of heros, is to be smitten to its centre by such a green and limber twig as this’; [I] deny the competency of Parliament to do this act … I tell you, that if, circumstanced as you are, you pass this act, it will be a mere nullity, and no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it.’ (cited in cited in D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland, London: Routledge 1982, p.133; quoting Memoirs of Henry Grattan, Vo. V, 1846, pp.18-20.)


Church of Ireland Hymnal (1960, 1987), includes his hymn by him as Nos. 137 [‘Our Lord is risen, the tempter foiled/His legions are scattered his strongholds are spoiled’]; 599 (under Schools) [‘For Christ to learn, for Christ to teach’]


Thomas Davis, ‘The Young Irishman of the Middle Classes’, his lecture to the TCD Historical Society of 1839 (reprinted in three instalments in The Nation, 1848) refers to William Conyngham Plunket (1764-1854), 1st baron; lord chancellor of Ireland 1830-41; his oratory praised; Lord Dudley quoted in Davis’s note as bearing witness to it. (See The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991, Vol. 1.)

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