Irish House of Commons: Wikis


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The Irish House of Commons by Francis Wheatley (1780)

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 British 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


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 University, 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 Louth 1378 Corporation Disfranchised
Ardfert County Kerry 1639? Corporation Disfranchised
Armagh Borough Borough County Armagh 1613 Corporation One seat
Armagh County County County Armagh Two seats
Askeaton County Limerick 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Athboy County Meath 1613 Manor Disfranchised
Athenry County Galway 1310? Corporation Disfranchised
Athlone County Westmeath 1607 Corporation One seat
Athy County Kildare 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Augher County Tyrone 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Ballynakill (also Ballynakill) Queen's County 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Ballyshannon County Donegal 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Baltimore County Cork 1614 Potwalloper Disfranchised
Baltinglass County Wicklow 1664 Corporation Disfranchised
Banagher King's County 1629 Corporation Disfranchised
Bandonbridge County Cork 1614 Corporation One seat
Bangor County Down 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Bannow County Wexford  ? Corporation Disfranchised
Belfast County Antrim 1613 Corporation One seat
Belturbet County Cavan 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Blessington County Wicklow 1670 Corporation Disfranchised
Boyle County Roscommon 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Callan County Kilkenny 1264 Corporation Disfranchised
Carlingford County Louth 13?? Corporation Disfranchised
Carlow Borough County Carlow 1613 Corporation One seat
Carlow County County County Carlow Two seats
Carrick County Leitrim 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Carrickfergus County Antrim 1326 Freeholder and householder One seat
Carysfort County Wicklow 1629 Corporation Disfranchised
Cashel County Tipperary  ? Corporation One seat
Castlebar County Mayo 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Castlemartyr County Cork 1676 Corporation Disfranchised
Cavan Borough Borough County Cavan 1611 Corporation Disfranchised
Cavan County County County Cavan Two seats
Charlemont County Armagh 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Charleville County Cork 1673 Corporation Disfranchised
Clare County County Clare Two seats
Clogher County Tyrone 1264 Ecclesiastical Disfranchised
Clonakilty County Cork 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Clonmel County Tipperary  ? Corporation One seat
Clonmines County Wexford  ? Corporation Disfranchised
Coleraine County Londonderry 16?? Corporation One seat
Cork City County Cork 1264 Freeholder and Freemen Two seats
Cork County County County Cork Two seats
Dingle County Kerry 1607 Corporation Disfranchised
Donegal Borough Borough County Donegal 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Donegal County County Donegal Two seats
Doneraile County Cork 1640 Manor Disfranchised
Down County County Down Two seats
Downpatrick County Down 1586 Potwalloper One seat
Drogheda County Louth 1264 Freeholders and freemen One seat
Dublin City County Dublin 1264 Freeholders and freemen Two seats
Dublin County County County Dublin Two seats
Dublin University One seat
Duleek County Meath 1727 Corporation Disfranchised
Dundalk County Louth 1264 Corporation One seat
Dungannon County Tyrone 1613 Corporation One seat
Dungarvan County Waterford 1610 Potwalloper One seat
Dunleer County Louth 1679 Corporation Disfranchised
Ennis County Clare 1613 Corporation One seat
Enniscorthy County Wexford 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Enniskillen County Fermanagh 1613 Corporation One seat
Fermanagh County County Fermanagh Two seats
Fethard County Tipperary 1608 Corporation Disfranchised
Fethard County Wexford 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Fore County Westmeath  ? Corporation Disfranchised
Galway Borough Borough County Galway 1264 Freemen One seat
Galway County County County Galway Two seats
Gorey (also Newburgh) County Wexford 1620 Corporation Disfranchised
Gowran Borough County Kilkenny 1609 Corporation Disfranchised
Granard County Longford 1679 Manor Disfranchised
Harristown County Kildare 1684 Corporation Disfranchised
Hillsborough County Down 1662 Corporation Disfranchised
Inistioge County Kilkenny  ? Corporation Disfranchised
Jamestown County Leitrim 1622 Corporation Disfranchised
Kells County Meath 1561 Corporation Disfranchised
Kerry County County Kerry Two seats
Kilbeggan County Westmeath 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Kildare Borough Borough County Kildare 15?? Corporation Disfranchised
Kildare County County County Kildare Two seats
Kilkenny City County Kilkenny 1264? Freeholders and Freemen One seat
Kilkenny County County County Kilkenny Two seats
Killybegs County Donegal 1616 Corporation Disfranchised
Killyleagh County Down 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Kilmallock County Limerick 15?? Corporation Disfranchised
King's County County King's County Two seats
Kinsale County Cork 1334? Corporation and Freemen One seat
Knocktopher County Kilkenny 1690? Potwalloper Disfranchised
Lanesborough County Longford 1642 Corporation Disfranchised
Leitrim County County Leitrim Two seats
Lifford County Donegal 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Limerick City County Limerick 1264 Freeholders and Freemen One seat
Limerick County County County Limerick Two seats
Lisburn County Antrim 1661 Potwalloper One seat
Lismore County Waterford 1614 Manor Disfranchised
Londonderry City County Londonderry 16?? Corporation One seat
Londonderry County County County Londonderry Two seats
Longford Borough Borough County Longford 1669 Corporation Disfranchised
Longford County County County Longford Two seats
Louth County County Louth Two seats
Mallow County Cork 1613 Manor One seat
Maryborough Queen's County 1571 Corporation Disfranchised
Mayo County County Mayo Two seats
Meath County County Meath Two seats
Midleton County Cork 1671 Corporation Disfranchised
Monaghan Borough Borough County Monaghan 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Monaghan County County County Monaghan Two seats
Mullingar County Westmeath 1583 Manor Disfranchised
Naas County Kildare 1570 Corporation Disfranchised
Navan County Meath 1469 Corporation Disfranchised
New Ross County Wexford  ? Corporation One seat
Newcastle County Dublin 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 Carlow  ? Ecclesiastical corporation Disfranchised
Philipstown King's County 1571 Corporation Disfranchised
Portarlington Borough Queen's County 1668 Corporation One seat
Queen's County County Queen's County Two seats
Randalstown County Antrim 1683 Freeman / Potwalloper Disfranchised
Rathcormack County Cork c. 1611 Potwalloper / Manor Disfranchised
Ratoath County Meath  ? Manor Disfranchised
Roscommon Borough County Roscommon  ? Corporation Disfranchised
Roscommon County County County Roscommon Two seats
St Canice County Kilkenny 1264? Corporation Disfranchised
St Johnstown County Donegal 1618 Corporation Disfranchised
St Johnstown County Longford 1628 Corporation Disfranchised
Sligo Borough County Sligo 1614 Corporation One seat
Sligo County County County Sligo Two seats
Strabane County Tyrone 1613 Corporation Disfranchised
Swords County Dublin  ? Potwalloper Disfranchised
Taghmon County Wexford bef. 1642 Corporation Disfranchised
Tallow County Waterford  ? Manor / Potwalloper Disfranchised
Thomastown County Kilkenny 1541 Corporation Disfranchised
Tipperary County County Tipperary Two seats
Tralee Borough County Kerry 1613 Corporation One seat
Trim County Meath 1572 Corporation Disfranchised
Tuam County Galway 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Tulsk County Roscommon 1663 Corporation Disfranchised
Tyrone County County Tyrone Two seats
Waterford City County Waterford 1264 Freemen and freeholders One seat
Waterford County County County Waterford Two seats
Westmeath County County Westmeath Two seats
Wexford Borough County Wexford  ? Freemen One seat
Wexford County County County Wexford Two seats
Wicklow Borough County Wicklow 1614 Corporation Disfranchised
Wicklow County County County Wicklow Two seats
Youghal County Cork  ? Corporation and Freemen One seat



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 ?


  • Sir Edmond Butler
  • Sir Christopher Barnwall
Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
3 26 April 1585 14 May 1586 Nicholas Walsh ?


Parliaments of James I

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


Parliaments of Charles I

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


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


Parliament of Charles II

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


Parliaments of James II

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


Parliaments of William III and Mary II

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


  • Richard Aldworth
  • Francis Annesley( brother of Maurice)
  • Maurice Annesley (brother of Francis)
  • Thomas Beecher
  • Henry Boyle
  • Alan Brodrick
  • St. John Brodrick
  • Sir Francis Brewster, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Randall Brice
  • Alan Broderick (brother of Thomas)
  • Thomas Broderick (brother of Alan)
  • Joseph Coghlan
  • Sir Richard Levinge, Speaker
  • Stephen Ludlow
  • Robert Molesworth
  • Neave
  • William Ponsonby
  • Brigadier Rawdon
  • John Reading
  • Edward Richardson
  • Rochfort (Speaker)
  • Philip Savage
  • Edward Singleton
  • James Sloane
  • Richard Warburton
  • Brigadier William Wolsely
Number Opened Dismissed Speaker Sessions
2 27 August 1695 14 June 1699 Robert Rochford 2


Parliaments of Anne

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


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


Parliament of George I

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


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)

  • John Macarell, Carlingford
  • Henry Mitchell, Castlebar

Members: (elected 1751/1752)

Members: (elected 1753/1754)


Parliaments of George III

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


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


Grattan's Parliament

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


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


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


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



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 Commons. 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


  • 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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