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BRODRICK, Alan, Baron Brodrick [I] (?1655-1728), of Midleton, co. Cork, and Peper Harrow Park, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. ?1655, 2nd s. of St. John Brodrick and bro. of Thomas Brodrick. educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 3 May 1672, aged 16; M. Temple 1670, called 1678. m. (1) Catherine, da. of Raymond Barry of Rathcormick, co. Cork, 1s. 1da.; (2) lic. 16 Oct. 1693, Lucy (buried 30 June 1703), da. of Sir Peter Courthope of Little Island, co. Cork, 2s. 1da.; (3) 1 Dec. 1716, Anne, da. and eventually h. of Sir John Trevor, master of the rolls, wid. of Rt. Hon. Michael Hill of Hillsborough, co. Down, s.p. cr. Baron Brodrick [I] 13 Apr. 1715; Visct. Midleton [I] 15 Aug. 1717.
M.P. [I] 1692-1710, 1713-14; Speaker, House of Commons [I] 1703-10, 1713-14.
Recorder, Cork 1690; serjeant-at-law 1691, solicitor-gen. [I] 1695-1704; P.C. [I] 1703-11, 1714-d.; attorney-gen. [I] 1707-9; c.j. of Queen’s bench [I] 1709-11; ld. chancellor [I] 1714-25; ld. justice [I] 1717, 1719, 1723, 1724.
After a distinguished Irish legal and political career, Brodrick was made lord chancellor and a peer of Ireland at George I’s accession on the recommendation of the new lord lieutenant, Lord Sunderland, to whom he also owed his subsequent Irish peerage, taking the title of Viscount Midleton. Brought into Parliament in 1717 by the Duke of Somerset, he supported Sunderland till 1719, when he told him:
I cannot with honour or conscience vote for the peerage bill, it being perfectly against my judgment. I desire I may, without displeasing his Majesty, be absent from the House while that bill is under consideration, not thinking it becoming me to give opposition by voting or debating against a bill introduced and carried on as this has been.
Adhering to this decision, though pressed by Sunderland with such vehemence that his ‘nose burst out bleeding on my utterly refusing to be for the bill’, he was sent back to Ireland in disgrace, fully expecting to be dismissed. He was not dismissed, but Sunderland, whose ‘credit and power’ with George I Midleton compared to Buckingham’s with James I, saw to it that he was excluded from all influence or favour either in England or Ireland.1
Midleton’s ostracism came to an end on Sunderland’s death in 1722. Re-elected that year for Midhurst, he was among the leading ministerial supporters in the Commons who were invited to the private meetings at Walpole’s house immediately before and after the opening of the new Parliament in October (see Brodrick, Thomas); spoke for the Government on the army 26 Oct.; and was reinstated as one of the lords justices who governed Ireland in the absence of the lord lieutenant. In 1723 he returned to Ireland, where he opposed a patent for manufacturing £108,000 of copper coinage for Ireland, which had been sold by the Duchess of Kendal to a Birmingham manufacturer, Wood. At first he was supported by Carteret, with a view to embarrassing Walpole, who as first lord of the Treasury had passed the patent, though its real author seems to have been Sunderland. But when Carteret, on being removed from the office of secretary of state, was sent into exile as lord lieutenant of Ireland, he could not have displayed more ‘zeal and industry’ in promoting the patent if, as Midleton put it, ‘the success of it were to be attended with an entire restitution of the same favour and employment which he formerly enjoyed’. As in the case of the peerage bill, Midleton was immovable.
I have [he wrote to his brother, 4 July 1725], from the beginning told Lord C. that I always was, and always shall be, against Wood’s patent, in the whole and every part, and never would be prevailed upon, either by the most artful and insinuating letters from England, or by the great caresses used toward me on his arrival, to come into this darling affair ...; and since the more cavalier methods taken by him soon after his landing to carry his point had no more effect on me than his douceurs, I plainly discovered in him a coldness to me.2
In the end the patent had to be dropped but by that time Midleton, disgusted by his treatment, had resigned, going into opposition in the Irish Parliament. Again returned for Midhurst at George II’s accession, he died 29 Aug. 1728.