PENNEFATHER, Richard (1756-1831), of New Park, co. Tipperary.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1818 - Feb. 1819

Family and Education

b. 1756, 1st s. of Kingsmill Pennefather, MP [I], of New Park by Hon. Mary Lysaght, da. of John, 1st Baron Lisle [I]. educ. Frome sch.; Trinity, Dublin 4 Nov. 1774, aged 18. m. (1) 1782, Anna (d. 3 June 1799), da. and h. of Mathew Jacob, MP [I], of St. Johnstown, co. Tipperary, 3s. 5da.; (2) 1801, Penelope, wid. of John Jacob Gledstanes of Annesgift, co. Tipperary, s.p.; (3) 4 Feb. 1809, his cos. Elizabeth, da. of Daniel Mansergh of Cashel, co. Tipperary, s.p. suc. fa. 1771; gdfa. Richard Pennefather, MP [I], to New Park, 1777.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1777-1800.

Commr. of stamps [I] 20 July 1802-1807.

Gov. co. Tipperary 1777, sheriff 1790-1; treasurer of Cashel 1779-1830.

Lt.-col. co. Tipperary militia 1801.


Pennefather, whose family had sat for Cashel throughout the century, was one of its Members for 24 years before the Union, which, like previous government measures, he supported. He had no wish to proceed to Westminster and after the termination of an agreement with John Bagwell I*, sold the seat to government, stating his terms to the Castle thus, 8 July 1802:

In consideration of Mr Pennefather getting a place from government of £500 a year upon the usual terms by which offices are held and a cornetcy for his son or an equivalent for such commission, Mr Pennefather will return a person recommended by government for the city of Cashel in the ensuing election and so long as the Parliament shall continue.1

He was accordingly appointed a commissioner at the stamp office.

In May 1806 Pennefather’s conditions for offering government the seat at the next election were

either, the promotion of his brother, who is a clergyman, to the bench of bishops, his brother giving up the preferment, which he at present possesses, to the amount of £1000 per an[num], and Pennefather resigning his seat at the board of stamps, or a seat for himself at the board of accounts, his son succeeding him as a commissioner of stamps.

Of these the chief secretary commented to the premier Lord Grenville:

The first ..., I am sure, you will consider as quite inadmissible, and the second does not seem feasible, as there is at present no probability of an early vacancy at the board of accounts.

Government cast about for an office to offer Pennefather, but the chief secretary doubted if he would prove very efficient as a revenue commissioner. The premier, on learning this, replied:

Can you do nothing else for Pennefather? It would be a pity to lose that seat, though I should not like that, on that account, an improper nomination should be made to the revenue board and I have therefore said nothing of him to the lord lieutenant.

The chief secretary then reported a special offer by Pennefather, 14 July 1806: ‘He now offers the seat for Cashel for an office of £500 p.a. to his eldest son, and a pension out of the secret service fund of £100 p.a. to each of his two younger sons’. This would not do either: ‘the duke’s patronage is so limited, and the claims upon him are so numerous and so urgent, that I doubt whether he will be able to close even with these reduced terms’. The premier now advised shelving the problem, there being then no thought of a dissolution, but added:

There is one part of what you mention respecting him on which it is very necessary that I should explain to you distinctly what my own feelings and line of conduct are.

The chief secretary replied, 30 July:

I am very anxious to secure Cashel, but I am afraid Pennefather looks to a seat either at the board of stamps or at the board of accounts, for his son, and I at present see no prospect of a vacancy.

When Parliament was dissolved that autumn, the negotiation was resumed. The chief secretary reported, 30 Oct. 1806:

Pennefather has been offered 5000 guineas for his seat by Bagwell. He will, however, let us have it for 4000 guineas provided his son is substituted in his place at the board of stamps.2

Government settled for this and seem not to have heeded the fact that Pennefather’s eldest son Kingsmill stood, as second string to John Bagwell I*, in opposition to their friends in the county election. In 1807 Pennefather sold the seat to the Portland ministry for £5,000.3

In 1812, when government were slow in providing him with a paying guest, Pennefather informed the chief secretary, who conveyed the news to the Treasury:

if the government do not mention the name of any individual to him whom they would wish to have returned, he will bring in himself or one of his sons. If he was not subject to the gout, and laid up sometimes for a whole winter you could not have a better man probably than himself. Of his sons I know nothing. He says he is pretty confident that either of them will support government. He will however keep the borough open till I hear from you.4

Government then supplied a nominee and Pennefather in January 1813 asked the chief secretary for a place on the excise board for his brother William, a surveyor-general in the excise, pointing out that his son had resigned the commissionership in the stamp office to concentrate on a militia career, without any compensatory mark of attention from the Castle.5

In 1818 Pennefather returned himself to Parliament until such time as he could secure a purch aser through government, which he did in February 1819. There is no evidence of his attendance, nor did he have cause to repeat the experiment, thought he subsequently returned his son Matthew. He died 16 May 1831 in his 76th year.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Dublin SPO 520/131/4.
  • 2. NLS mss 12910, p. 131, Elliot to Grenville, 13 May 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 115, 175, 227, 235, 238, 249, 399, 411.
  • 3. Wellington mss, Trail to Wellesley, 30 June, 15 July 1807.
  • 4. Add. 40280, f. 50.
  • 5. Add. 40224, f. 77.