DALY, James (1782-1847), of Dunsandle, co. Galway.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



29 June 1805 - Feb. 1811
1812 - 1830
1832 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 1 Apr. 1782, 1st s. of Denis Daly, MP [I], of Dunsandle and Hon. Henrietta Maxwell, da. and h. of Robert, 1st Visct. Farnham [I]. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1799; King’s Inns 1802. m. 5 Mar. 1808, Maria Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir Skeffington Smyth, 1st bt., MP [I], of Tinnapark, co. Wicklow, 5s. 2da. suc. fa. 1791; cr. Bar. Dunsandle [I] 6 June 1845. d. 7 Aug. 1847.

Offices Held

Lt. 9 Ft. 1805-9.

Trustee, linen board [I] 1817.

Mayor, Galway 1804-5, 1810-11, 1814-15, 1818-20, 1822-6.


Daly, who had entered Parliament in 1805 and joined Brooks’s on the general admission of the Grenvillites in 1816, was an inactive adherent of the Liverpool administration and a lukewarm supporter of Catholic relief. As head of one of the largest family interests in his native Galway, he occupied a seat for that county from 1812 and enjoyed complete control over the corporation of its borough, where his electoral patronage was, however, in eclipse for most of that decade. Following the 1818 election he wrote to his friend Robert Peel*, the Irish secretary, pledging his continued backing, but acknowledging that he was ‘tired of the rascality of elections and electioneering’ and wished to escape from the fray via a peerage.1 At the general election of 1820, when he was closely involved in efforts to restore order to the disturbed districts of county Galway, he was returned unopposed with his colleague Richard Martin, no challenger persisting to a poll. He succeeded in bringing in his brother-in-law Michael Prendergast for the town, although the defeated candidate Valentine Blake†, who described him in a letter to Liverpool the following year as Peel’s ‘purchased follower’, remained a thorn in his side.2

Daly gave evidence to the select committee on sheriffs’ election expenses, of which he was a member, 19 June 1820.3 As he had on the hustings, he called for the renewal of Peel’s Irish Insurrection Act in order to stamp out unrest, 28 June; Edward Littleton* called it ‘the purest specimen of party spirit I ever saw’, but the less authoritarian chief secretary Charles Grant defended the Irish administration’s limited measures and the motion was defeated without a division.4 He spoke against the Dublin Member Thomas Ellis being disqualified from sitting as an Irish master in chancery, 30 June. At a county Galway meeting, 19 Aug. 1820, he claimed that he would have had up to 40 Irish Members in favour of his motion for a new insurrection bill had Martin’s intervention not scuppered it.5 He successfully opposed the promotion of a loyal county address to George IV in January 1821, when he was reported to be fulminating against ministers in private, but he divided against censuring their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb.6 He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb., and intervened in its favour, 2, 19, 23 Mar.7 He was listed in the majority against repeal of the additional malt duty (although his name was also included among the minority pairs), 3 Apr. He seconded the motion for a loyal address to the king on his visit to Ireland at another county meeting, 6 Aug. 1821.8 In January 1822, when he was angered by the dismissal of the Irish attorney-general Saurin, a leading Orangeman, he informed Peel, now home secretary, that he was undecided whether to attend the opening of the session, as he had originally intended.9 He called for alteration of Irish tithes to procure relief from distress, 20 May, and opposed the tithes leasing bill, 13 June, but at Peel’s request he reluctantly gave up his intended motion, 19 June; on Hume taking up the subject that day, he voted in the minority for Newport’s amendment for an inquiry in the next session.10 Yet he supported the government’s Irish constables bill that month and divided for the aliens bill, 19 July, and the grant for printing proclamations in Irish newspapers, 22 July 1822.11

In January 1823 Canning, the foreign secretary, considered approaching Daly to second the address, but Peel discouraged the idea, believing him to be ‘too agriculturally distressed’.12 He brought up his county’s petition for relief from distress, 27 Feb., and obtained leave for the unpopular Galway (borough) tolls bill, 21 Mar.13 He divided against repealing £2,000,000 of taxes, 3 Mar. He stated that he would vote for Charles Brownlow’s motion condemning William Plunket’s* use of ex-officio informations and urged Brougham to bring forward his promised motion for further investigation, 15 Apr., and he duly voted for inquiry into the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, which was in fact proposed by Burdett, 22 Apr. He defended his Irish joint tenancy bill against Martin’s claims that it would reduce the number of Catholic freeholders, 27 May, and denied that Catholics suffered any discrimination in the administration of justice, 26 June. He supported a successful amendment to the Irish tithes composition bill, 30 May, but voted against its committal, 16 June. He divided against reform of the Scottish representative system, 2 June, but for censuring the lord advocate over the Borthwick case, 3 June. On 23 Dec. 1823 he repeated his request (which Liverpool rebuffed) for an Irish title, informing Peel that

my father and my grandfather both refused the peerage and if I had not had so large a family I should not myself be anxious about it, but I am tired of being a county Member and cannot while living here give my children the education necessary in their station in life and when I do go away for a year I am immediately declared to neglect my constituents.14

Writing to Canning the same day that ‘in times of difficulty I was always present at the opening of the session’, he promised to postpone some business which he had arranged in Dublin in order to second the address.15 He duly did so, 3 Feb. 1824, though his ill-judged call for Catholic relief provoked a bad tempered response from Peel; Charles Williams Wynn*, president of the India board, commented privately that ‘it proceeded from his having given offence by his opposition to Plunket last year, and that he therefore meant it as a tub to his Catholic constituents’.16 Daly, whose tolls bill again failed that session, continued to be heavily criticized in Galway, where, on attending the county Catholics’ meeting, he was given a drubbing by Daniel O’Connell*, 31 Mar. 1824.17

Despite being considered secure as regards his future return for the county after a canvass in June 1824, there was speculation later in the year that Lord Clanricarde’s influence would endanger his county seat and borough interest.18 Early the following session, when he renewed his request for a peerage, he was accused of rusticating at Dunsandle rather than supporting the Catholic cause in Parliament. He is not known to have voted on the Irish unlawful societies bill in February 1825, though, oddly (unless Martin was meant), John Foster, Member for Louth, wrote to Lady Blackwood on the 15th that ‘Daly astonishes me by his want of firmness in voting against the bill’ to abolish the Catholic Association.19 Named as a defaulter from the call of the House, 28 Feb., he nevertheless voted for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May. He spoke in its favour as the only means of restoring peace to Ireland, 19 Apr., and denied Martin’s allegations of having used improper influence over his 40s. freeholders, 9 May. He sided with ministers for the duke of Cumberland’s grant, 10 June 1825, and against condemning the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. 1826. He was present at the county Galway pro-Catholic gatherings of Catholics, 7 Aug., and Protestants, 15 Aug. 1825, but missed the Connaught provincial meeting, 10 Jan. 1826.20 He vindicated his conduct and that of Galway corporation in relation to tolls, 16 Feb., and presented the county’s Catholic petition, 19 May.21 In the run-up to the general election that summer he was thought to be attempting to safeguard his county seat by coalescing either with Martin or with Clanricarde, at the price of allowing one of them the nomination of an ostensibly independent town Member, but it was also supposed that he might have a deeper strategy.22 After violent contests had taken place simultaneously in Galway, the borough was unexpectedly won by the recorder James O’Hara, one of his loyal supporters, and Daly, having insisted on his neutrality and advocated Catholic claims, easily topped the poll for the county.23 He was subsequently criticized, not least for failing to use his mayoral powers to halt the disturbances, in both the town petition, which made no progress, and the county one, which eventually resulted in James Lambert, Clanricarde’s candidate, being seated in place of Martin.24

Daly, who presented the petition from his county’s Catholics in favour of their claims, 21 Feb., missed the division on this question, 6 Mar. 1827; according to the analysis of Sir Robert Wilson*, ‘amongst the defaulters were four Irish in p[air]s, one of them, however, Daly, is accounted for by the promise of a peerage’.25 On 29 Jan. 1828 he assured Peel, who had been reappointed to the home office by the new premier, the duke of Wellington, that he would ‘be at my post early next week in spite of O’Connell and Co. who you see have denounced me’.26 His failure to back the late pro-Catholic premier Canning and his hostility to the bill to enfranchise Catholic tradesmen in Galway borough that session continued to make him unpopular at home, though he received some credit for forwarding sympathetic petitions.27 He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May. By the summer, when speculation began about whom he would bring forward to replace him in county Galway, it was known that he would be ennobled and the king, who bowed to ministers’ repetition of Liverpool’s opinion that no one had a better claim to an Irish peerage, even signed the warrant. But the prospect of a repeat of the Clare by-election, in which O’Connell had defeated a government minister, was too much for Wellington, who, on Daly raising his own concerns, induced him to postpone his pretensions.28 He signed the Irish Protestants’ petition in favour of the Catholics in the autumn of 1828 and voted for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. 1829.29 Amid further electoral speculation that spring, it was thought that he had delayed taking his peerage till his eldest son, Denis, who was also said to be destined for the borough seat, came of age, and he was criticized for voting against O’Connell being allowed to take his seat unimpeded, 18 May 1829.30 He divided against parliamentary reform, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He opposed the reintroduced Galway franchise bill, 4 Mar., presented the corporation’s hostile petition, 30 Mar., raised objections in the committee, 26 Apr., and on the report, 19 May, and was a minority teller against agreeing with the amendments to it, 24 May, and the third reading, 25 May; it was quashed by Wellington in the Lords. He joined other Irish Members in condemning the increased stamp and spirit duties in May, and his only other known vote was to abolish the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.31

Greatly disliked in the borough of Galway, where his partly independent connection O’Hara was again returned, Daly was challenged in the county at the general election of 1830, especially as being undeserving of Catholic support because of his patchy record and his closeness to ministers.32 On the hustings he reminded the electors of his speeches in favour of tithes and Catholic relief, and explained that he had missed the division on emancipation in 1827 owing to severe illness, that he had voted against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham in 1828 because it was an opposition initiative, and that he had supported economies and retrenchment in the last session. However, he refused to make any pledges and was defeated in a fierce contest by Lambert and a Catholic landowner, Sir John Burke. He threatened to petition and one from him was lodged, 19 Nov. 1830, but was not pursued, while, as the result of another, the sitting Members were confirmed the following year.33 Daly was assured by Wellington that his peerage would be honoured by the incoming Grey administration, but, despite the endorsement of the reappointed lord lieutenant Lord Anglesey, it was not forthcoming.34 Although there were rumours that he would stand as an anti-reformer at the general election the following year, neither he nor his son contested the borough, where he was forced to allow the seat to go to a radical and to open the corporation to the Catholic inhabitants, or the county, where he blamed his previous defeat on a defective registry and declined to disturb the peace by opposing his friends over reform.35 On the eve of the general election of 1832 John Denis Browne* remarked that ‘James Daly standing as a Conservative for the county and his son as a repealer for the town is a worthy continuation of Daly politics’. Denis Daly in fact refused to pledge for repeal of the Union and the representation of the borough passed out of the family’s control, but James, who boasted of his widespread territorial and non-sectarian support, was elected after a contest.36 He retired two years later, but was again disappointed in his hopes of a peerage during Peel’s brief first ministry.37 He had to wait another ten years to receive his title, which, after his death from typhus fever in August 1847, was inherited by his eldest son Denis St. George (1810-93), who supported the Conservatives as an Irish representative peer from 1851.38

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


See J.N. Dillon, ‘Lords of Dunsandle’, Kiltullagh/Killimordaly as the Centuries Passed ed. K. Jordan, 43-67.

  • 1. Add. 40298, f. 20; Black Bk. (1823), 150; PP (1835), xxvii. 523; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 658; iii. 564-5.
  • 2. Dublin Evening Post, 20 Jan., 24 Feb., 14 Mar., 1, 4 Apr.; PRO NI, Sligo mss MIC292/2, Daly to Sligo, 5 Mar. 1820; Add. 38289, f. 70. See GALWAY.
  • 3. PP (1820), iii. 278.
  • 4. Hatherton diary, 28 June; The Times, 29 June 1820.
  • 5. Dublin Evening Post, 31 Aug. 1820.
  • 6. Dublin Weekly Reg. 27 Jan. 1821.
  • 7. The Times, 3, 20, 24 Mar. 1821.
  • 8. Dublin Evening Post, 14 Aug. 1821.
  • 9. Add. 40344, f. 213.
  • 10. The Times, 21 May, 20 June 1822.
  • 11. Add. 37299, f. 213.
  • 12. Add. 40311, f. 9; Arbuthnot Corresp. 38.
  • 13. The Times, 28 Feb.; Connaught Jnl. 20 Mar., 10 Apr., 12 May 1823.
  • 14. Add. 40304, f. 212; 40359, f. 256.
  • 15. Harewood mss WYL 250/8/87.
  • 16. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, ii. 42, 44.
  • 17. Connaught Jnl. 5 Feb., 1 Mar., 1 Apr. 1824; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1119.
  • 18. Connaught Jnl. 17, 24 June, 16 Aug., 13 Sept. 1824.
  • 19. Ibid. 17 Feb. 1825; Add. 40372, f. 245; PRO NI, Foster mss T2519/4/2172.
  • 20. Connaught Jnl. 8, 18 Aug. 1825, 12 Jan. 1826.
  • 21. The Times, 20 May 1826.
  • 22. Connaught Jnl. 17 Apr., 4, 8, 11, 25, 29 May, 1, 12, 15 June; Harewood mss 11/28, Burke to Clanricarde, 30 Apr., 27 May 1826.
  • 23. Connaught Jnl. 19, 22 June, 6 July; Dublin Evening Post, 22, 27, 29 June, 11 July 1826.
  • 24. CJ, lxxxii. 61-64, 94-97.
  • 25. The Times, 22 Feb. 1827; Canning’s Ministry, 47.
  • 26. Add. 40395, f. 159.
  • 27. Connaught Jnl. 28 Feb., 24, 31 Mar., 21 Apr., 19 May 1828.
  • 28. Ibid. 26 May, 2, 23 June, 22 Sept. 1828; Add. 40300, f. 237; 40334, ff. 230, 232, 238; 40397, ff. 91, 113, 131, 246; Wellington mss WP1/925/23; 951/47; 953/8; 957/22; N. Gash, Secretary Peel, 534-5.
  • 29. Dublin Evening Mail, 8 Oct. 1828.
  • 30. Connaught Jnl. 30 Mar., 13 Apr., 14, 25, 28 May 1829.
  • 31. Ibid. 13 May 1830.
  • 32. Ibid. 5, 15, 29 June, 5, 8, 15, 22 July, 2 Aug. 1830.
  • 33. Ibid. 16, 19, 23 Aug., 2, 6 Sept. 1830.
  • 34. Wellington mss WP1/1152/20; Herts. Archives, Panshanger mss, Daly to Melbourne, 12, 17 Dec., Anglesey to same, 14 Dec. 1830.
  • 35. Freeman’s Jnl. 28 Apr., 4 May; Connaught Jnl. 28 Apr., 2, 5, 9, 12, 16 May, 2, 6, 9, 16 June, 4, 11 July 1831.
  • 36. Dublin Evening Post, 15 Sept., 17, 26 Nov.; Connaught Jnl. 13, 24 Dec.; Derby mss 920 Der (14) 125/4, Barrington to Smith Stanley, 16 Nov.; 126/5, Browne to same, 3 Nov. 1832; Dublin Evening Mail, 9 Jan. 1833.
  • 37. Wellington Pol. Corresp. ii. 609-10; N. Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 89.
  • 38. Galway Vindicator, 11 Aug. 1847; Gent. Mag. (1847), ii. 313.