Cracroft's Peerage
The Complete Guide to the British Peerage & Baronetage

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The Peerage of Ireland

 

Dukes of Ireland

Marquesses of Ireland

Earls of Ireland

Viscounts of Ireland

Barons of Ireland

 

The first Parliament of Ireland, called by Ireland's Anglo-Norman rulers in Dublin, is said to have been held in 1264.  By 1310 a Parliament representative of the main temporal and spiritual interests had been established.  In the 15th century the lay magnates were said to be "eagerly seeking parliamentary peerages and jealous of their precedence".  By the end of the 15th century, the number of temporal peers had dwindled to 15, reflecting the difficulty the central government had in trying to establish control over the country.  A Parliament of two separate houses was confirmed in 1537.  In 1535, it was reported, Henry VIII was planning to make barons in Ireland "for the encrese of the number of temperal lordes of his parlament there".

 

Henry VIII conferred peerages on native Irish Chiefs:  Con O'Neill, Chief of the O'Neills in Ulster, was created Earl of Tyrone and Baron Dungannon in 1542;  Murrough, Chief of Clan O'Brien, was created Earl of Thomond and Baron Inchiquin in 1543.

 

The majority of Irish peerages were created in the 18th century and Irish peers, mainly representing Anglo-Irish landed interests, were entitled to sit in the Irish House of Lords in Dublin, but not its equivalent in London.  Irish peerages could be given to Englishmen who, it was said, did not merit an English or a Great Britain dignity, and their designations were not necessarilly Irish (for example, Earl of Mexborough, Lord Kensington and Lord Teignmouth).

 

The Union with Ireland Act 1800 terminated the Parliament of Ireland and provided that the Irish peers should elect 28 of their number to sit, for life, as their representatives in the House of Lords in London.  The total number of Irish peers was to be maintained at 100.  Those not elected were allowed to stand, for a constituency in Great Britain, for the House of Commons.  All the privileges of the peers of Great Britain were granted to Irish peers, except those elected to the House of Commons - such as Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865).

 

Irish peerages continued to be created during the 19th century, the last being the barony conferred on Lord Curzon before he went to India as viceroy in 1898.  New representative peers were chosen from time to time to replace those who had died.  No Irish peerage has been created since the proclamation of the Irish Free State in 1922.  The last Irish representative peer, the 4th Earl of Kilmorey, died in 1961.

 

It has always been possible for an Irish peer to sit in the House of Lords if he also holds a peerage of Great Britain or the United Kingdom (a so-called "Imperial" peerage).  Thus the Dukes of Leinster and Abercorn, the two highest-ranking Irish peers, are entitled to sit in the Lords as Viscount Leinster and Marquess of Abercorn (both in the peerage of Great Britain), although they are referred to in the House by their higher titles.

 

The 6th Earl Winterton, an Irish peer, retired from the House of Commons in 1951, after 47 years an a member of Parliament and having held various ministerial posts.  In 1952 he was created Baron Turnour in the peerage of the United Kingdom to enable him to sit in the House of Lords.

 

from "Aspects of Britain:  Honours and Titles", Office for National Statistics Crown Copyright 2000

 

Those Irish peerages marked with an asterisk (*) have never been associated with an "Imperial" peerage entitling their holders to a seat in the House of Lords at Westminster.

 

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