IRELAND, George (c.1590-1632), of Bretherton and Southworth, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1590, 1st s. of Thomas Ireland* (d. 17 July 1625)1 of Bewsey, Warrington, Lancs. and 1st w. Margaret, da. of Paul Pope, scrivener of London.2 educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1606 aged 16; G. Inn, 1608.3 m. (1) unknown;4 (2) aft. c.1614, Ellen (d.1649), da. of Raphe Standish of Standish, Lancs. and wid. of Henry Banister of the Bank, Lancs., 1da.5 d. 6 May 1632.6 sig. Geo[rge] Ireland.

Offices Held

Freeman, Preston, Lancs. by 1622,7 Liverpool, Lancs. by 1629;8 j.p. Lancs. 1624-d.;9 commr. Forced Loan, Lancs. 1627.10


This Member has previously been identified with the old Lancashire gentry family Ireland of the Hutt and Hale; however, the evidence strongly suggests that he was the son of Liverpool’s representative in the 1614 Parliament, Thomas Ireland of Bewsey.11 Ireland’s parents divorced when he was only two years old, leaving him to be raised in the household of William Lightwood, citizen of London, to whom it emerged his mother had been pre-contracted before her marriage. Thomas Ireland, wishing to protect his career as a high profile barrister of Gray’s Inn, at first disowned George as the ‘bastard issue’ of a bigamous marriage and kept the divorce as secret as possible.12 However, following Lightwood’s death he relented, and George entered Brasenose College, Oxford in 1606 as his acknowledged son. Proceeding to Gray’s Inn in 1608 along with his two younger half-brothers, Ireland took up the legal profession and thereafter often worked in partnership with his father.

In around 1620, following the death of his mother, Ireland persuaded his father to reopen the divorce case. The latter sought the opinion of bishops and common lawyers, who reassured him that his subsequent marriages were legitimate, but confirmed that because he had married Margaret Pope in good faith, George, as issue born in wedlock before her adultery, was also a legitimate son.13 This reconciliation between father and son was soured by Ireland’s own marriages, both contracted without his father’s consent; his second wife, Ellen, was a Catholic recusant.14 Although they continued to work together, Ireland was excluded from his father’s will, which left only a provisional annuity in case he had any male heirs.15

Ireland was elected, perhaps with his father’s help, for Liverpool in 1624. He is mentioned only once in the parliamentary records, in connection with his Liverpool colleague, Sir Thomas Gerrard, 2nd bt.*, a notorious Catholic who refused to take the oaths or appear in the House when summoned. Ireland, who had frequently acted as his legal counsel, hid Gerrard in his chambers, helping him to evade the serjeant-at-arms.16 He may have sympathized with Gerrard, since his own wife was a recusant. As a Lancashire burgess Ireland was entitled to attend the committee for the York gaol patent bill (19 May).17 He does not seem to have stood again.

A successful legal career enabled him to acquire lands in Lancashire. He purchased the manor of Southworth from his half-brother, Thomas, in around 1630.18 He paid a knighthood fine of £25 in 1631.19 Ireland died on 6 May 1632, and was buried at Winwick parish church. His will left his entire estate to his only daughter, Margaret, who was then aged only six; an inventory valued his possessions at £416 6s.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. DL7/26/58.
  • 2. Lancs. RO, DDLi, Box 13.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Lancs. RO, WCW, Sir Thomas Ireland, will and inventory, 1625.
  • 5. DL7/28/30; Lancs. and Cheshire Fun. Certs. ed. T.W. King and F.R. Raines (Chetham Soc. lxxv), 49-50; Lancs. RO, WCW, Ellen Ireland, 1649.
  • 6. DL7/28/30.
  • 7. Preston Guild Rolls ed. W.A. Abram (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 76.
  • 8. G. Chandler, Liverpool under Chas. I, 150.
  • 9. Lancs. RO, QSC5-11; D.J. Wilkinson, ‘JPs in Lancs. 1603-42’, Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, cxxxii. 65.
  • 10. C193/12/2, f. 30.
  • 11. W.D. Pink and A.B. Beavan, Parl. Representation of Lancs. 186.
  • 12. Lancs. RO, DDLi, Box 13.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. 1628 Recusant Roll ed. J.P. Earwaker (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xii), 174.
  • 15. DL1/266; Lancs. RO, WCW, Sir Thomas Ireland, will and inventory, 1625.
  • 16. CJ, i. 681a; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 21.
  • 17. CJ, i. 705a.
  • 18. Bodl. Dodsworth 53, f. 27.
  • 19. E407/35, f. 105.
  • 20. DL7/28/30; Lancs. RO, WCW, George Ireland of Southworth, will, 1632; WARD 9/163, f. 36v.