Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the corporation
Number of voters:
|1801||JOHN ORMSBY VANDELEUR|
|22 July 1802||JAMES FITZGERALD|
|6 Nov. 1806||JAMES FITZGERALD|
|25 May 1807||JAMES FITZGERALD|
|25 Feb. 1808||WILLIAM FITZGERALD vice Fitzgerald, vacated his seat|
|5 Feb. 1810||FITZGERALD re-elected after appointment to office|
|24 Oct. 1812||JAMES FITZGERALD|
|4 Jan. 1813||WILLIAM FITZGERALD vice Fitzgerald, vacated his seat|
|26 June 1818||SPENCER PERCEVAL|
The Earl of Egremont had a substantial property interest in Ennis, but the corporation was controlled by the Marquess of Conyngham and Sir Edward O’ Brien*, who each returned a Member for Ennis to the Irish parliament. This arrangement was undermined by the disfranchisement of one of the seats at the Union. O’Brien evidently felt his interest to be the stronger of the two and was no doubt annoyed to find that Vandeleur, who was dependent on the Conyngham interest, was returned by ballot to Westminster instead of himself. Thus by June 1802 he had established himself in the minds of the Castle officials as the borough’s patron and had arranged for Fitzgerald’s return at the general election. Shortly before the election a statement was issued to the press that ‘The borough of Ennis is not at the disposal of Sir Edward O’Brien. The Earl of Conyngham has very considerable interest in this borough and must be consulted before a return is made’, but this proved to be the last that was heard of the Conyngham interest in the constituency.1
The details of the arrangement that O’Brien made with Fitzgerald are uncertain, although it is most likely that they had a gentleman’s agreement for mutual consultation upon the return, on the understanding that O’Brien would have the last word in the event of any dispute. Fitzgerald’s election in 1806 and 1807 seems to have occasioned no discussion either at Ennis or Dublin, although in the latter year O’Brien’s brother did suggest that government could, if it so wished, buy him his return for the constituency. The offer was not taken up and Ennis continued to be regarded in official circles as being under the joint control of the two men.2 In 1808 Fitzgerald made way for his son William, who in 1812 hoped to find a sanctuary in the borough if he failed to be elected for Clare. As O’Brien was also a candidate for the county, he preferred to put his interest first, the understanding being that Fitzgerald’s return for Ennis could only take place if O’Brien were returned for the county. By 15 Oct. 1812 O’Brien’s return for Clare was certain, although Fitzgerald’s defeat was not admitted until 3 Nov. James Fitzgerald was therefore returned for Ennis on 24 Oct. as a possible and, as it happened, an actual ‘seat-warmer’ for his son.3 In 1818 O’Brien and William Fitzgerald formed a coalition that took both county seats and enabled Fitzgerald to return a government nominee for Ennis.4
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. Add. 35713, f. 122; 35735, ff. 76-82 (Ennis); R. Cornw. Gazette, 3 July 1802.
- 2. Spencer mss, Irish list, May 1806; Add. 38359, f. 209; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 22; Wellington mss, O’Brien to Wellesley, 27 Apr. 1807.
- 3. Add. 40181, f. 7; 40207, ff. 49a, 63; 40280, ff. 6, 35-37.
- 4. See COUNTY CLARE; Add. 40297; 40298, f. 18.