PRITTIE, Hon. Francis Aldborough (1779-1853), of Corville, co. Tipperary.
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Family and Education
b. 4 June 1779, 2nd s. of Henry, 1st Baron Dunalley [I], by Catherine, da. and coh. of Francis Sadleir of Sopwell Hall, wid. of John Bury of Shannon Grove, co. Limerick; bro. of Hon. Henry Sadleir Prittie*. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1795. m. (1) 10 Sept. 1800, Martha (d. 10 Apr. 1802), da. of Cooke Otway of Castle Otway, co. Tipperary, wid. of George Hartpole of Shrule Castle, Queen’s Co., 1da.; (2) 16 July 1803, Elizabeth, da. of George Ponsonby*, 3s. 3da.
MP [I] 1800.
Custos rot. co. Tipperary 1807, sheriff, 1838-9.
Prittie entered the Irish parliament for Doneraile in 1800 to assist his father’s ambition for a peerage by support of the Union and was left without a seat by its disfranchisement. His elder brother’s succession to the title in January 1801 made an opening for him at Carlow, where the patron was his stepbrother Charles, 1st Earl of Charleville. He held the seat only a few months, inconspicuously, before Charleville sold it to government.1 In 1806 he emerged as candidate for his county, his marriage to the daughter of the Irish chancellor, George Ponsonby, securing him exclusive government support on a vacancy in preference to the vacating Member’s brother, Montague Mathew*.2 The by-election was obviated by a dissolution, but Prittie was returned with Mathew at the general election, both supporting government.
Prittie voted with the outgoing ministers, 9 Apr. 1807, and took their part at the ensuing election in junction with Mathew, although his elder brother tried to persuade the Castle that this was an electioneering gambit ‘and that as to any avowed determined opposition to government, we quite disclaim it’. As he proceeded to vote steadily with opposition, ministers could scarcely be expected to believe his brother, whose prospects of a representative peerage or of a place were by 1809 damaged by Prittie’s adherence to the Ponsonby line. On 21 Oct. 1809 the viceroy wrote:
Mr Prittie ... from his connection with the Ponsonbys is said to be certainly against us. The Ponsonbys have tried to prevent his meeting me at his half brother’s, Lord Charleville’s, but without success, and when I left Charleville Forest he was asked what the Ponsonbys would say to him for having dared to meet me. His answer was they will say a good deal now but still more soon, for I shall take the first opportunity of going to Dublin, where I hope the Duke of Richmond will ask me to dinner. This is going a great way for it is the Ponsonby system to prevent their friends from going to the Castle.
Nothing came of this and his hostility to government continued to stand in the way of his brother’s prospects.3 He voted silently with opposition on all critical divisions, including Catholic relief and parliamentary and sinecure reform.
In 1812 he and Montague Mathew were the ‘popular’ candidates in the contest for the county. In that Parliament he attended regularly, voted steadily for Catholic relief (pairing in favour on 24 May 1813)4 and outdid his father-in-law in his opposition to the government’s foreign policy. He also voted steadily for retrenchment. In 1816 he was such a ‘red hot opposition’ man that he gave up the Tipperary assizes in order to attend5 and on 8 Mar. spoke (apparently for the first time) in favour of a reduction of public expenditure in Ireland. His animosity towards a Tipperary magistrate Rev. J. Hamilton, whom he accused of persecuting Catholics, provoked several speeches by him in April, May and June 1816, in which he suggested that a better magistracy was a sine qua non for dealing with Irish problems. On 2 May 1817 he favoured the reform of the Irish grand jury system. Subsequently the death of his father-in-law and the disarray of Ponsonby’s affairs distracted him.
Prittie at first stood down in 1818, but was persuaded in absentia to stand a poll, in which he was defeated.6 He was returned unopposed on a vacancy in April 1819. He continued to side with opposition, supporting parliamentary reform and opposing coercion. He died 8 Mar. 1853.