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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: in counties forty shilling freeholders were enfranchised whilst in most boroughs it was either only the members of self electing corporations or a highly restricted body of freemen that were able to vote for the borough's representatives. Most notably, Roman Catholics were disqualified from sitting in the Irish parliament from 1691, even though they comprised the vast majority of the Irish population. From 1728 until 1793 they were also disfranchised. Most of the population of all religions had no vote.

The British appointed Irish executive, 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 who, in the absence of a government chosen from and answerable to the Commons, was the dominant political figure in the parliament. The House of Commons was abolished when the Irish parliament merged with its Britishmarker counterpart in 1801 under the Act of Union.

Famous members



Speakers (1689-1800)

Engraving of section of the Irish House of Commons chamber by Peter Mazell based on the drawing by Rowland Omer 1767


Constituencies

The House was elected in the same way as the British House of Commons. By the time of the Union, the shape of the House had been fixed with two members elected for each of the 32 Counties of Ireland, two members for each of 117 Boroughs, and two members for Dublin Universitymarker, a total of 300 members. 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.

Constituency Type County Creation Enfranchised Fate after the union
Antrim Borough Borough County Antrim 1666 Potwalloper Disfranchised
Antrim County County County Antrim Two seats
Ardee County Louthmarker 1378 Corporation Disfranchised
Ardfert County Kerrymarker 1639? Corporation Disfranchised
Armagh Borough Borough County Armagh 1613 Corporation One seat
Armagh County County County Armagh Two seats
Askeaton County Limerickmarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Athboy County Meathmarker 1613 Manor Disfranchised
Athenry County Galwaymarker 1310? Corporation Disfranchised
Athlone County Westmeathmarker 1607 Corporation One seat
Athy County Kildaremarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Augher County Tyrone 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Ballynakill (also Ballynakill) Queen's Countymarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Ballyshannon County Donegalmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Baltimore County Corkmarker 1614 Potwalloper Disfranchised
Baltinglass County Wicklowmarker 1664 Corporation Disfranchised
Banagher King's Countymarker 1629 Corporation Disfranchised
Bandonbridge County Corkmarker 1614 Corporation One seat
Bangor County Down 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Bannow County Wexfordmarker ? Corporation Disfranchised
Belfast County Antrim 1613 Corporation One seat
Belturbet County Cavanmarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Blessington County Wicklowmarker 1670 Corporation Disfranchised
Boyle County Roscommonmarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Callan County Kilkennymarker 1264 Corporation Disfranchised
Carlingford County Louthmarker 13?? Corporation Disfranchised
Carlow Borough County Carlowmarker 1613 Corporation One seat
Carlow County County County Carlowmarker Two seats
Carrick County Leitrimmarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Carrickfergus County Antrim 1326 Freeholder and householder One seat
Carysfort County Wicklowmarker 1629 Corporation Disfranchised
Cashel County Tipperarymarker ? Corporation One seat
Castlebar County Mayomarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Castlemartyr County Corkmarker 1676 Corporation Disfranchised
Cavan Borough Borough County Cavanmarker 1611 Corporation Disfranchised
Cavan County County County Cavanmarker Two seats
Charlemont County Armagh 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Charleville County Corkmarker 1673 Corporation Disfranchised
Clare County County Claremarker Two seats
Clogher County Tyrone 1264 Ecclesiastical Disfranchised
Clonakilty County Corkmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Clonmel County Tipperarymarker ? Corporation One seat
Clonmines County Wexfordmarker ? Corporation Disfranchised
Coleraine County Londonderry 16?? Corporation One seat
Cork City County Corkmarker 1264 Freeholder and Freemen Two seats
Cork County County County Corkmarker Two seats
Dingle County Kerrymarker 1607 Corporation Disfranchised
Donegal Borough Borough County Donegalmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Donegal County County Donegalmarker Two seats
Doneraile County Corkmarker 1640 Manor Disfranchised
Down County County Down Two seats
Downpatrick County Down 1586 Potwalloper One seat
Drogheda County Louthmarker 1264 Freeholders and freemen One seat
Dublin City County Dublinmarker 1264 Freeholders and freemen Two seats
Dublin County County County Dublinmarker Two seats
Dublin University One seat
Duleek County Meathmarker 1727 Corporation Disfranchised
Dundalk County Louthmarker 1264 Corporation One seat
Dungannon County Tyrone 1613 Corporation One seat
Dungarvan County Waterfordmarker 1610 Potwalloper One seat
Dunleer County Louthmarker 1679 Corporation Disfranchised
Ennis County Claremarker 1613 Corporation One seat
Enniscorthy County Wexfordmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Enniskillen County Fermanagh 1613 Corporation One seat
Fermanagh County County Fermanagh Two seats
Fethard County Tipperarymarker 1608 Corporation Disfranchised
Fethard County Wexfordmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Fore County Westmeathmarker ? Corporation Disfranchised
Galway Borough Borough County Galwaymarker 1264 Freemen One seat
Galway County County County Galwaymarker Two seats
Gorey (also Newburgh) County Wexfordmarker 1620 Corporation Disfranchised
Gowran Borough County Kilkennymarker 1609 Corporation Disfranchised
Granard County Longfordmarker 1679 Manor Disfranchised
Harristown County Kildaremarker 1684 Corporation Disfranchised
Hillsborough County Down 1662 Corporation Disfranchised
Inistioge County Kilkennymarker ? Corporation Disfranchised
Jamestown County Leitrimmarker 1622 Corporation Disfranchised
Kells County Meathmarker 1561 Corporation Disfranchised
Kerry County County Kerrymarker Two seats
Kilbeggan County Westmeathmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Kildare Borough Borough County Kildaremarker 15?? Corporation Disfranchised
Kildare County County County Kildaremarker Two seats
Kilkenny City County Kilkennymarker 1264? Freeholders and Freemen One seat
Kilkenny County County County Kilkennymarker Two seats

Killybegs County Donegalmarker 1616 Corporation Disfranchised
Killyleagh County Down 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Kilmallock County Limerickmarker 15?? Corporation Disfranchised
King's County County King's Countymarker Two seats
Kinsale County Corkmarker 1334? Corporation and Freemen One seat
Knocktopher County Kilkennymarker 1690? Potwalloper Disfranchised
Lanesborough County Longfordmarker 1642 Corporation Disfranchised
Leitrim County County Leitrimmarker Two seats
Lifford County Donegalmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Limerick City County Limerickmarker 1264 Freeholders and Freemen One seat
Limerick County County County Limerickmarker Two seats
Lisburn County Antrim 1661 Potwalloper One seat
Lismore County Waterfordmarker 1614 Manor Disfranchised
Londonderry City County Londonderry 16?? Corporation One seat
Londonderry County County County Londonderry Two seats
Longford Borough Borough County Longfordmarker 1669 Corporation Disfranchised
Longford County County County Longfordmarker Two seats
Louth County County Louthmarker Two seats
Mallow County Corkmarker 1613 Manor One seat
Maryborough Queen's Countymarker 1571 Corporation Disfranchised
Mayo County County Mayomarker Two seats
Meath County County Meathmarker Two seats
Midleton County Corkmarker 1671 Corporation Disfranchised
Monaghan Borough Borough County Monaghanmarker 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Monaghan County County County Monaghanmarker Two seats
Mullingar County Westmeathmarker 1583 Manor Disfranchised
Naas County Kildaremarker 1570 Corporation Disfranchised
Navan County Meathmarker 1469 Corporation Disfranchised
New Ross County Wexfordmarker ? Corporation One seat
Newcastle County Dublinmarker c. 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Newry County Down 1612 Potwalloper One seat
Newtown Limavady County Londonderry 16?? Corporation Disfranchised
Newtownards County Down 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Old Leighlin Borough County Carlowmarker ? Ecclesiastical corporation Disfranchised
Philipstown King's Countymarker 1571 Corporation Disfranchised
Portarlington Borough Queen's Countymarker 1668 Corporation One seat
Queen's County County Queen's Countymarker Two seats
Randalstown County Antrim 1683 Freeman / Potwalloper Disfranchised
Rathcormack County Corkmarker c. 1611 Potwalloper / Manor Disfranchised
Ratoath County Meathmarker ? Manor Disfranchised
Roscommon Borough County Roscommonmarker ? Corporation Disfranchised
Roscommon County County County Roscommonmarker Two seats
St Canice County Kilkennymarker 1264? Corporation Disfranchised
St Johnstown County Donegalmarker 1618 Corporation Disfranchised
St Johnstown County Longfordmarker 1628 Corporation Disfranchised
Sligo Borough County Sligomarker 1614 Corporation One seat
Sligo County County County Sligomarker Two seats
Strabane County Tyrone 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Swords County Dublinmarker ? Potwalloper Disfranchised
Taghmon County Wexfordmarker bef. 1642 Corporation Disfranchised
Tallow County Waterfordmarker ? Manor / Potwalloper Disfranchised
Thomastown County Kilkennymarker 1541 Corporation Disfranchised
Tipperary County County Tipperarymarker Two seats
Tralee Borough County Kerrymarker 1613 Corporation One seat
Trim County Meathmarker 1572 Corporation Disfranchised
Tuam County Galwaymarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Tulsk County Roscommonmarker 1663 Corporation Disfranchised
Tyrone County County Tyrone Two seats
Waterford City County Waterfordmarker 1264 Freemen and freeholders One seat
Waterford County County County Waterfordmarker Two seats
Westmeath County County Westmeathmarker Two seats
Wexford Borough County Wexfordmarker ? Freemen One seat
Wexford County County County Wexfordmarker Two seats
Wicklow Borough County Wicklowmarker 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Wicklow County County County Wicklowmarker Two seats
Youghal County Corkmarker ? Corporation and Freemen One seat


Sessions

Parliaments of Henry VIII

Parliament 1536-1537

Parliament 1541-1543

  • Trim Session 1542


Parliaments of Elizabeth I

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 12 January 1559 1 February 1559 ?
2 17 January 1568 25 April 1571 ?
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
3 26 April 1585 14 May 1586 Nicholas Walsh ?
Members:

Parliaments of James I

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
? 18 May 1613 24 October 1615 ?
Members:

Parliaments of Charles I

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 14 July 1634 18 April 1635 ?
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
2 16 March 1639 (prorogued 1641) 30 January 1649 ?
Members:

Parliament of Charles II

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 8 May 1661 7 August 1666 ?
Members:

Parliaments of James II

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 7 May 1689 20 July 1689 ?
Members:

Parliaments of William III and Mary II

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 5 October 1692 26 June 1693 Sir Robert Levinge 1
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
2 27 August 1695 14 June 1699 Robert Rochford 2
Members:

Parliaments of Anne

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
3 21 September 1703 6 May 1713 Alan Brodrick 6
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
4 25 November 1713 1 August 1714 on death of Queen Anne Alan Brodrick 1
Members:

Parliament of George I

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 12 November 1715 11 June 1727 William Conolly 6
Members:

Parliament of George II

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 28 November 1727 25 November 1760 on death of King George II Sir Ralph Gore, Chancellor of the Exchequer 17


Members: (elected 1727)

Members: (elected 1728/29)

Members: (elected 1739)

Members: (in 1747)



Members: (elected 1751/1752)

Members: (elected 1753/1754)



Members:

Parliaments of George III

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
1 22 October 1761 28 May 1768 Octennial Act John Ponsonby 4
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
2 17 October 1769 5 April 1776 John Ponsonby to 4 March 1771, Edmond Pery Sexton 5
Members:

Grattan's Parliament

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
3 18 June 1776 25 July 1783 Edmund Sexton Pery 4
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
4 14 October 1783 8 April 1790 Edmund Sexton Pery 7
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
5 2 July 1790 11 July 1797 John Foster 8
Members:

Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
6 9 January 1798 31 December 1800 John Foster 3
Members:

Resignation

Until 1793 members could not resign their seats. They could cease to be a member of the House only by one of four ways:

In 1793 a methodology for resignation was created, equivalent to the Chiltern Hundreds in the British House of Commonsmarker. Irish members could now be appointed to either the Escheatorship of Munster, the Escheatorship of Leinster, the Escheatorship of Connaught or the Escheatorship of Ulster. Possession of one of these Crown offices, with entailed a 30/ (30 shilling) salary, automatically terminated one's membership of the House of Commons.

See also



References

  • Charles Ivar McGrath, The making of the 18th century Irish Parliament 1692-1714, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000, ISBN 1-85182-554-1
  • Eoin Magennis, The Irish Political System 1740-1765, Doublin: Four Courts Press, 2000, 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
  • Mary Frances Cusack, Illustrated History of Ireland, Project Gutenburg



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