PLUNKET, William Conyngham (1764-1854), of Old Connaught, Bray, co. Wicklow

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



26 Jan. 1807 - 1807
1812 - 1 May 1827

Family and Education

b. 1 July 1764, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Rev. Thomas Plunket (d. 1778), Presbyterian minister, of Enniskillen, co. Fermanagh and Mary, da. of David Conyngham of Letterkenny, co. Donegal. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1779; King’s Inns 1780; L. Inn 1784, called [I] 1787. m. 20 Oct. 1790, Katherine, da. of John McCausland, MP [I], of Strabane, co. Tyrone, 6s. 5da. (1 d.v.p.). cr. Bar. Plunket 1 May 1827. d. 4 Jan. 1854.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1798-1800.

KC [I] 1795; solicitor-gen. [I] Oct. 1803-Oct. 1805; bencher, King’s Inns 1804; att.-gen. [I] Oct. 1805-May 1807, Jan. 1822-May 1827; PC [I] 6 Dec. 1805, [GB] 10 May 1827; l.c.j.c.p. [I] June 1827-Dec. 1830; ld. chan. [I] Dec. 1830-Nov. 1834, Apr. 1835-June 1841.


Plunket was described by Tom Macaulay* in 1831 as ‘very ugly, but with a strong expression of intellect in his strong coarse features and massy forehead’.1 The undisputed leader of the Irish chancery bar, with a steady income of about £6,000 a year, he was, as Richard Sheil* noted, one of the comparatively few lawyers who enhanced their reputations in Parliament, where his unique ‘sustained intensity’ and ‘lucidity and closeness of reasoning’ put him in the first rank of orators.2 Henry Brougham* reflected that ‘there never was a more argumentative speaker, or one ... more difficult to grapple with and answer’.3

In the 1818 Parliament Plunket, whose principal political interest lay in the peaceful promotion, in association with his hero and friend Henry Grattan I*, of the cause of Catholic emancipation, acted with the Grenvillite wing of the Whigs, though many of his oldest personal connections were with Foxites. His political instincts were essentially conservative, however, and in the emergency session of late 1819 he disgusted some of the leading Whigs by conspicuously supporting the Liverpool ministry’s coercive legislation to deal with popular unrest in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre. His immediate reward, thanks to the unbidden intervention of Lord Grenville, was a government assurance that the opposition which he had encountered in his Dublin University seat at the general election of 1818, when John Croker*, a junior minister, had run him close, would not be repeated on the next occasion. Plunket, who correctly surmised that Croker’s acquiescence was ‘very reluctantly’ conceded, was gratified, as he told Grenville, to be relieved

not only ... of ... any serious apprehension as to the result of a contest, but ... from a state of incessant contention with persons under the influence of bad and angry feelings, which ... had become so hateful to me that, independently of the injury done to the College, I began to apprehend that the return was too dearly purchased. I have great pleasure in assuring your Lordship that the course which has been adopted in Parliament affords very general satisfaction on this side of the water, and that in acting under my entire conviction of the soundness of your ... views, I have no reason to think that I have forfeited the approbation of any one individual whose good opinion was worth preserving.4

He was nevertheless given ‘a great deal of trouble’ by the persistence of rumours that Croker would stand at the general election of 1820, and asked his fellow Grenvillite Charles Williams Wynn* to try to secure from him an authoritative disclaimer. In the event, he was returned unopposed.5 At the Dublin by-election necessitated by Grattan’s death in June 1820 Plunket tearfully nominated Grattan’s son (who was defeated) and publicly assumed his mantle as the Irish spokesman for Catholic claims, explaining that Grattan’s object in pressing for emancipation had been

to give strength to the Protestant connection, and security to the empire. It is the basis of liberty, and I shall therefore be ... [the Catholics’] advocate. They are not storming the constitution by wild theories and dangerous innovations, but are calmly, temperately and constitutionally seeking for their rights ... I am probably shortly to lay their claims before the legislature.6

In a brief visit to London the following month, he spoke retrospectively in support of the bill to exclude from Parliament Irish masters in chancery, one of whom, Thomas Ellis, had defeated young Grattan, 12 July; he privately thought Ellis’s return had been ‘shameful’.7 On the 17th he drew attention to but did not present two petitions for relief, from the Catholic inhabitants of certain Dublin parishes and on behalf of the whole Catholic population of Ireland, and announced that in deference to parliamentary and public preoccupation with the Queen Caroline affair he would postpone a general motion until early the next session.

At the end of 1820 Brougham told Lord Holland and George Tierney* that he was confident that Plunket was ‘decidedly against the ministers on the queen’s business’ and would ‘take an active part’ when Parliament met; and a story to that effect was still current, to the evident ‘dismay’ of government, in mid-January 1821.8 In fact, while he thoroughly disapproved of the ministerial proceedings against the queen, he was alarmed by the encouragement given by many leading Whigs, notably Lord Grey, whose recent public attack on Grenville he deplored, to popular agitation on the subject. This worry was closely connected with his fear that Daniel O’Connell* was attempting to involve the Irish Catholics in the queen’s cause and to entice them ‘towards revolutionary movements, and to abandon all application to Parliament’. Grenville, whom he consulted, gave him discretion to remain in Ireland until he came over to move the Catholic question, and he took advantage of this dispensation, explaining to Sir John Newport* that it was best if he kept out of the queen’s business:

Feeling strongly, I should express without reserve what I feel. I know by some experience the intolerant construction to which such conduct would expose me, and I am quite certain that I should have the mortification of returning to this country with the hostility of both parties, without having reason to console myself by the conviction of having effected or contributed to any public good.

He noticed Grey’s reported reference to him in the autumn as an apostate; reviewed and defended his political conduct since entering public life, claiming to have been consistent throughout; asked Newport to show this vindication to Holland and Lord Lansdowne, and declared that ‘all intercourse and connection’ between himself and Grey was at an end. Lansdowne, alerted by Newport, sought to mollify Plunket, assuring him that he had been misinformed about Grey’s attitude and exhorting him not to rule himself out of participation in any future Whig ministry.9 In reply, 29 Jan., Plunket bared his soul:

I wrote to ... Newport with a mind deeply wounded, and with a temper ... much exasperated. Your ... letter ... has taken the sting out of everything which had excited or offended me ... I am perfectly satisfied that the expression [by Grey] reported to me has not been uttered deliberately or recently ... It is quite a relief to me to be convinced that, however I may have been opposed to a passing resentment in Lord Grey’s mind, when my public conduct may have surprised or disappointed him, I have not to resent ... his continuing to harbour an opinion that my conduct has been swayed by unworthy motives ... I regret the warmth with which I expressed myself ... [and] any unpleasant feeling is dismissed from my mind ... On the proceedings against the queen, I ... have the misfortune, in some respects, to differ from ... Lord Grenville. Without pretending to know exactly his opinions, my own are ... that the proceedings ... have been unwise and impolitic, as in the course of the business the feelings of the people of England have been roused in no ordinary degree. But all this, so far as the queen is concerned, is a mere passing cloud ... In six months hence ... the matter will ... be important, only in so far as it may have given strength to the revolutionary party ... The terror of this growing monster will ... determine the judgement of that portion of the community whom I consider as the public, and in whose confidence the claims of all parties, as well as the safety of all parties must rest ... The measures which a great portion of the opposition have been, for some time, pursuing do not address themselves to this portion of the people, and ... I do not see any immediate prospect of their doing so ... I do not mean to go over until the ... Catholic question calls me. It grieves me to anticipate that when I do, I cannot look for the probability of that co-operation in public measures which I should find so honourable and so desirable.10

On 28 Feb. 1821, after presenting several Irish Catholic petitions and paying tribute to Grattan,11 Plunket moved to consider relief in committee of the whole House, making out the case in a long speech which Peel, the leading opponent of Catholic claims, later said was ‘the most powerful and eloquent ... I ever heard in Parliament’. It was described by Sir Henry Hardinge* as ‘inimitable’ and by Brougham as ‘the finest thing ever heard’, while John William Ward* wrote that

I have not for many years heard such an astonishing display of talent. His style is quite peculiar; for its gravity and severity, I prefer it to all others of which I ever heard a specimen. If he had been bred in Parliament I am inclined to think he would have been the greatest speaker that ever appeared in it.12

The anti-Catholic Member Henry Bankes, however, thought the speech was ‘more praised than it seemed to me to deserve, being inferior to some of his other very able exertions’.13 Although Lord Bathurst, the colonial secretary, had told Lord Harrowby the previous day that ‘opposition do not mean to make a great press to support Plunket’s motion, as they think he is quitting them and they do not like he should have the credit of [a] powerful if not a successful division’, it was carried by 227-221, the first pro-Catholic majority since 1813.14 The following day Plunket moved resolutions to form the basis of a bill, which he was given permission to introduce. So little had he expected to succeed, that he had no detailed measure prepared, but with Williams Wynn and the Catholic lawyer Blake he drafted a general relief bill, which was framed to make the oath of supremacy palatable to Catholics, and one dealing with the twin securities of regulation of the intercourse between British and foreign Catholics and the royal veto on the appointment of Catholic bishops.15 Plunket, who on 5 Mar. supported a renewed attempt to exclude Ellis from the Commons, introduced the bills on 7 Mar.16 While the English Catholic laity were willing to accept all these proposals, the misgivings of the clergy forced Plunket to make considerable changes to the ‘explanation’ of the oath; but in the House, 16 Mar., he condemned the public opposition of the extremist Catholic Dr. Milner as ‘only an act of undeviating, consistent bigotry’, which was ‘inaccessible to reason’ and ‘irreclaimable by experience’. Lady Holland, a spectator, thought this speech was ‘as neat and witty as Canning himself could have made’, and that in support of the successful second reading later that day he produced ‘the most perfectly well reasoned, clear, distinct argument I ever heard ... and gave a conviction of his wonderful abilities and powers’.17 Irish Catholic laymen were divided on the bills, with O’Connell, for example, hostile to the securities, and Richard Sheil favourable to both measures. There was an attempt by the moderate Irish Catholic clerics, led by Doyle, bishop of Kildare, to effect a compromise, but many of the provincial priests proved to be implacably anti-vetoist.18 On 23 Mar. Plunket received news of his wife’s mortal illness and returned immediately to Ireland ‘in a state of distraction’, leaving the Catholic bills, which were subsequently amalgamated into one, in the hands of Newport, who steered it through the Commons. Despite his grief ‘under the heaviest blow on this side the grave’, he corresponded with Williams Wynn and Grenville on the problem of how in future to reconcile the Irish Catholics to the securities. He was prepared for the measure’s rejection by the Lords, though he lamented that ‘so decided a tone has been adopted by a certain portion of the cabinet’ and thought it ‘scarcely possible that the question can be left to meet another session in its present shape’. At the same time he was averse to Williams Wynn’s notion of seeking a limited concession without securities:

This piecemeal course of proceeding seems to me not to have anything of statesmanship; it has no principle; it leads to the final accomplishment of the R. C. claims, but not in a course of conciliation and confidence, or with the prospect of binding up the question in a way calculated to promote public peace, or to afford security to our establishments.19

Before he returned to Ireland he was sounded by Lord Liverpool about joining the administration as Irish attorney-general. He was strongly tempted, but on Grenville’s advice stipulated that he must be allowed a free hand as to the timing and method of dealing with the Catholic question. Williams Wynn informed Grenville’s nephew Lord Buckingham, the active head of the Grenvillites, whom ministers were also courting, of his

conversation with Plunket ... about his views, and I am sorry to find him most disinclined - indeed I might say almost resolved - against taking any office which would fix him in England, and looking only to the attorney-generalship and great seal of Ireland, but thinking that he could, while in the former office, give considerable attendance in the House of Commons. He appeared to feel that there was no longer any obstacle to his taking office under the present government, as now constituted, and to be well disposed to accept the offer of the attorney-generalship of Ireland whenever they can make room for him, though he would much prefer coming in with us.20

In the summer, when the king’s particular attentiveness to Plunket on his visit to Ireland did not pass unnoticed, Liverpool tried to have him installed as Irish attorney-general in the room of the long serving Saurin, a Protestant bigot. The Protestant lord lieutenant, Lord Talbot, made difficulties, and evidently did so in November, when Liverpool again raised the matter, which he had pressed on the Irish lord chancellor Lord Manners as one of urgency.21 Soon afterwards Talbot and his chief secretary Charles Grant* were dismissed and replaced by Lord Wellesley, a pro-Catholic, and the Protestant Henry Goulburn*. Plunket was offered the attorney-generalship, on the understanding that he would have ‘entire freedom of action and opinion’ on the Catholic question, which was to remain an open one within the cabinet and be kept in such a state as would give neither side a preponderance. His appointment became an important factor in the concurrent negotiations with the pro-Catholic Grenvillites. To Buckingham he argued, conveniently, that the cause of emancipation would be advanced by their junction with government:

That the ... question cannot, for any great length of time, be kept back, appears to me evident, but it seems equally clear that there is great occasion for caution, and much room for accommodation, as to the time of bringing it forward; nothing could be more injurious than the risking the loss of the vantage ground which we have taken possession of during the last session; and ... such might be the consequence of bringing the measure forward, without some better prospect of good sense and good temper on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy than they displayed on the late occasion. Of improvement in that quarter I am led to entertain some hopes, as well as on the part of those of the laity who were least manageable; and all these are arguments for delay. At the same time this should be certainly kept open for discussion, and above all, must not be liable to be considered as the result of contract or stipulation, especially with any portion of the government, which would undoubtedly tend to throw the Roman Catholic body into dangerous hands. Under these circumstances, and reserving this perfect freedom, I am quite disposed to attend in Parliament, and render what services I can to the general measures of administration.22

The problem of providing for Saurin, who eventually resigned without compensation, delayed the ratification of Plunket’s appointment until January 1822. He was quietly re-elected for the university the following month, when he claimed to have accepted office ‘without compromise of any principle whatever’.23

The Foxite Whig Lord John Russell* regretted the loss of Plunket, but reflected that ‘he is not yet formidable - new, and provincial, and no gentleman, no character’.24 O’Connell optimistically hoped that in office he would ‘completely accede to our wishes and allow us to be emancipated without any of those restraints on our religion for which no civil rights could afford any compensation’.25 In reality, by accepting office and exposing himself to the formidable difficulties which confronted all Irish ministers in this period, Plunket had effectively hamstrung himself as the champion of Catholic emancipation. He performed his general duties creditably enough, though he was betrayed on occasions by his impetuosity and want of cool judgement. He reached London in the second week of March 1822, bringing a surprisingly cheerful report on the state of Ireland.26 He was present to vote with his colleagues against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. Three days later, reporting to Wellesley on inconclusive discussions with Liverpool on tithes, he went on:

The parliamentary storm has I think spent its force, and the exposition of the resources of the country has inspired very general confidence. The retrenchments adopted have also ... given satisfaction to the great portion of the public mind which is capable of listening to reason. I rejoice to think that there is some reason to look to returning tranquillity in Ireland, and that the alarmists cease to call for martial law, and begin to acknowledge the efficacy of the measures which have been resorted to.

Like Williams Wynn, who was now in the cabinet, he was averse to pressing the general question of Catholic relief in present circumstances, and was ‘sorry to say that many of the opposition Members are desirous of bringing it forward this session. Such a course would, in my opinion, be ruinous, and I trust that we may be able to prevent it’.27 When Canning gave notice, 29 Mar., of his plan to introduce a bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities and pointedly drew his attention to it, Plunket, caught on the hop, blustered indecisively as to his attitude to the general issue being moved. Pressed by Tierney for an explicit statement, he said that while he had not finally decided, he was inclined to think that ‘this was an unfavourable season for the discussion of this question’. Lord Holland’s worthless son Henry Fox* commented that he ‘made a very bad figure and lost more credit with the House than anyone ever did in so short a time. Nobody cheered, nobody supported him’.28 Plunket was ‘in great doubt’ for several days, though he retained his own view, which he expressed plainly to an impatient O’Connell, and which was shared by Wellesley and Lord Londonderry*, the foreign secretary, that forcing the question that session would set it back many years. After consultations with Williams Wynn and Grenville, he concluded that Canning’s measure should be supported as a step in the right direction, and that the wider question should be considered at a meeting of the leading friends of relief on 16 Apr. At that gathering, which was attended by Plunket, Williams Wynn, Canning, Newport, Tierney, Grant, Sir Henry Parnell* and the Grenvillite Joseph Phillimore*, it was decided to defer the question until the next session. Tierney, who was unhappy with the decision, told Lady Holland that he had taken ‘special care’ to ensure that ‘the postponement should be Plunket’s own act, and not a measure advised by the friends of emancipation, which was the point he wanted to establish’.29 The Whig George Agar Ellis* noted that when he appeared at the levee, 19 Apr., with ‘the new Buckingham rats’, Plunket was ‘seemingly ashamed of himself’.30 He partially redeemed himself on the 22nd when, in the debate on Newport’s motion for inquiry into the state of Ireland, he made mincemeat of Thomas Ellis for his anti-Catholic rant and gave an optimistic account of the prospects for Ireland under Wellesley’s enlightened administration. Sir James Mackintosh, who told Fox that ‘he would rather be six days under the lash of Brougham or the ridicule of Canning than ten minutes under Plunket’s invective’, recorded the scene:

Plunket sprang upon his prey. I have never seen such a chastisement. He fixed his eye on Ellis and treated him with a degree of scorn, disgust and contempt which I scarcely thought possible from one man to another. The invective was worthy of Demosthenes. P[lunket] was really angry as well as desirous of making his first official speech as an advocate of the Catholics rather than as an adversary of his old friend [Newport]. His success was complete. We who had prepared groans for him received his speech with raptures of clamorous applause. Even our Mountaineers were delighted and began to suspect that he may be honest.31

Hudson Gurney* thought the attack was ‘strong but very coarse; his words disjointed like broken bones; his sentences very incomplete. It is not eloquence but a style that fixes attention’. Phillimore felt that the speech was ‘everything that could be wished, and set us quite right with the House as to Ireland’; but Agar Ellis, while acknowledging that Plunket spoke ‘admirably’, could not ‘say his explanation of his own political conduct was equally successful’. Buckingham preferred Grant’s speech as showing ‘more real practical desire to remedy the grievances of Ireland’, but he acknowledged that Plunket ‘fights in fetters owing to his official situation’.32 When Plunket supported Canning’s Catholic peers bill, 30 Apr., Mackintosh noted that he ‘spoke with great energy and maintained true principles of Whiggism on which, alas! he does not act’; and Agar Ellis thought he performed ‘rather in a rambling manner’.33 Plunket told Holland in mid-May that he could not see his way through the problem of a commutation of tithes.34 He said as much in the House, 15 May, when he argued that it would trench on the rights of property and that ‘much of the evil arose from the heavy exaction of rent, and not of tithes. If the landlords of Ireland were not prepared to lower their rents, in vain would any relief be sought through a commutation of tithes’. He stood by this argument, 20 May, commending Spring Rice’s suggestion that tithes be levied on rents. He supported the government’s tithes leasing bill, 13 June, but again raised the problem of property rights; and on the 19th he condemned some of the propositions advanced by Hume and Newport as ‘nothing less than spoliation and robbery’, though he conceded that the present system of tithe collection might be ameliorated.35 On the Irish constables bill, 7 June, he said that ‘a change in the police must be the first step towards the promotion of tranquillity’. He defended the continuation of the Irish Insurrection Act as ‘a lamentable evil’, 2, 8 July. He opened the ministerial defence of the aliens bill, 14 June, supported inquiry into the Calcutta bankers’ financial claims, 4 July, and on 12 July welcomed Lords’ amendments to Phillimore’s marriage bill, which ‘would do great good, by removing a system whose principal features were manifest injustice and gross cruelty’. He was in the ministerial majorities against inquiry into the lord advocate’s dealings with the Scottish press, 25 June, and repeal of the salt duties, 28 June 1822.

Towards the end of the session Fox wrote that Plunket ‘has quite fallen this year, and has behaved most shabbily in a true Hibernian manner. Everybody gives him up’. Buckingham was also evidently out of humour with him, for Williams Wynn commented:

I think you quite right in your plan of writing a letter to Plunket to explain your general views with respect to Ireland. He must remember he is attorney-general, and from his character ought to be House of Commons minister for that country, besides being representative of that shabby body called Trinity College. He cannot conceal from himself the resolution of the Irish Members, and indeed of the House, to force the tithe question, and that the only thing in his power to determine is, whether the government will take the conduct and management of the business to themselves or leave it to the opposition’.36

Had Peel become leader of the Commons after Londonderry’s suicide in August 1822 Buckingham, so he told the duke of Wellington, would have insisted on Plunket’s admission to the cabinet.37 At this time Croker, speculating to Peel on the support to be had in debate if Canning decided to go to India, observed that

from Plunket, except on Irish affairs, I do not think much could be expected. I do not think he has either the versatility, information, or boldness necessary for a general debater; besides, I hear he is dissatisfied, and if he be sulky, nobody is so sulky. In short, if he and Goulburn manage Ireland and keep Spring Rice, Lord Wellesley and Kit Hutchinson in check, it is as much as can be expected; but I ought to add that some of our friends here, and particularly the peers, talk sanguinely of Plunket’s assistance.38

He was said to be ‘very unpopular’ in Ireland in the autumn of 1822.39

Plunket, who told Williams Wynn in late November that Wellesley’s ‘system of government affords satisfaction to all reasonable people’, still planned to bring on the Catholic question early in the next session, but he was distracted and delayed in his departure for London by the consequences of the Dublin theatre riot of 14 Dec. 1822, when disgruntled Orangemen threw wood and bottles at Wellesley’s box. Plunket indicted the rioters, but the Dublin grand jury threw out the bills, and he then filed ex-officio informations. These proceedings outraged not only their partisans, but many Whigs, while Peel and other ministers were in private highly critical of Wellesley and Plunket, and even Williams Wynn thought that they had acted ‘absurdly’, though he agreed with Buckingham as to the necessity of supporting them in public.40 Plunket professed utter confidence in the outcome of the trial and told Williams Wynn, whom he asked to give notice of the Catholic question for him on an early day, that reports of the ‘insurrectionary state’ of Ireland were unfounded. At the same time he complained of incessant headaches and of Wellesley’s neglectfulness in correspondence with the home government. The rioters were acquitted, leaving the Orangemen ‘quite triumphant and insolent’, and Plunket with a peck of troubles.41 When he arrived in London, fortified by O’Connell’s blessing, 15 Feb. 1823, Williams Wynn found him ‘harassed and fatigued to a great degree’. He deplored ‘Wellesley being surrounded by a set of people totally incapable of assisting or advising him, and who merely carry rumours to irritate him’, and confirmed the impression of ‘the ascendancy of the Orange faction in every department of government’. At a meeting at his London base, 18 Feb., it was decided that ‘in consequence of the very agitated state of Ireland, and the certainty that the debate, instead of relating to the Catholic question, would have turned wholly on the late proceedings in Dublin’, it was best to postpone the Catholic question until after Easter. Plunket, backed by Canning and Newport, gave notice accordingly in the House later that day.42 He was in the ministerial majorities against inquiry into the parliamentary franchise, 20 Feb., and repeal of the house tax, 10 Mar., and for the national debt reduction bill, 13 Mar. When Brownlow, the Orange Member for county Armagh, moved for information on the Dublin trials, 24 Feb., Plunket challenged his associate Sir John Stewart to make good his threat to censure the proceedings. He said that Hume’s resolutions on the Irish church establishment were ‘full of desperation and folly’, 4 Mar., and blamed Protestant hostility for the reluctance of Catholics to serve in the yeomanry, 10 Mar. The following day Plunket, who according to Williams Wynn still looked ‘wretchedly ill’, privately congratulated Grenville ‘on the prospect of the affairs of Ireland being steadily administered, on ascertained principles, and in a spirit of sincerity and moderation’. He agreed that placing a limitation on the number of emancipated Catholic peers and Members of Parliament would ‘probably reconcile many persons to the measure, who now entertain apprehension of a Popish parliamentary invasion’, but thought that as it was ‘in point of principle objectionable’, it should be implemented ‘by declaring a willingness to yield to such a modification [rather] than by making it part of the original proposition’.43 He was vexed by Wellesley’s threat to resign unless he returned ‘immediately’ to Ireland to take stock of ‘the dangers which are rising around us’.44 On 24 Mar., claiming that he was ‘desirous to show that the power which the Irish government possessed had not been influenced by malice or party spirit’, he defeated a motion for the production of copies of the ex-officio informations by 48-32. He had no objection to furnishing copies of the prisoners’ recognizances. The Whig James Abercromby* thought he had done himself great ‘injury’ with ‘his feeble and injudicious speech’, and feared that ‘he may be in danger’.45 He defended himself against aspersions on his conduct in the petition of the Dublin grand jury, 11 Apr. There was concern in government circles that a combination of Orangemen, anti-Catholic Tories and Whigs out for Plunket’s blood, together with ministerialist abstentions, might carry Brownlow’s censure motion on the informations. Ministers were not prepared to risk a direct negative, but decided to have the orders of the day moved by Courtenay, Member for Exeter. In reply to Brownlow, 15 Apr., in what Bankes described as a speech of ‘admirable talent’, Plunket vindicated his actions and contended that he had used ‘sound discretion’. Williams Wynn reported to Buckingham:

The triumph of Plunket was complete. He addressed a House evidently unfavourably disposed to him, and for the first hour we could scarcely raise a decent cheer to encourage him. It then became evident that he was making progress, and he proceeded till the applause fairly rung from every part of the House, and his adversaries, who had every reason to expect a majority, found it impossible even to venture on a division.

Agar Ellis considered it ‘a most able and ingenious speech’. Plunket told Grenville:

There is a very active party at work against me, but I trust matters are now in such a state as to secure me against them. Had the question been met by a direct negative, I believe we should have succeeded by a great majority. However, I have no right to complain, as I am convinced the support of ministers was cordial and sincere.

His personal success was confirmed when it emerged, as he smugly reported to the House, 2 May, that Saurin, a principal instigator of the attack, had himself used ex-officio informations during his attorney-generalship.46 Plunket voted against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr. Before he moved to consider Catholic relief the following day Burdett frankly accused him of treachery; and when he was called by the Speaker, Burdett and a dozen advanced Whigs and radicals left the House. His proposal got little support, and was defeated by 313-111 on an adjournment motion.47 Next day he said that his future course on the question would be guided by the wishes of its supporters at large. As arranged with ministers, he abstained on Burdett’s successful motion for inquiry into the conduct of the sheriff of Dublin in allegedly packing the grand jury with Orangemen, 22 Apr., when his enemy Thomas Creevey* thought he cut a ‘wretched’ figure. Lord Lansdowne commented that ‘putting ability in speaking aside’, Plunket had ‘managed his own case with very little judgement, which I am sorry for, connected as it is with that of liberal policy in Ireland’.48 He explained, 24 Apr., that he would not prosecute the sheriff unless directed by the House to do so.49 He took a minor share in the questioning of witnesses and was himself briefly examined in his place, 9, 14 May. On the renewal of the Irish Insurrection Act, a measure of ‘melancholy necessity’, 12 May, he denied Lord Archibald Hamilton’s charges of political inconsistency and betrayal of the cause of Catholic emancipation. At about this time he mistook the day on which he had been invited to dine with Goulburn and found Brownlow and other Orangemen there. He ‘did not stay dinner’, and was said to be ‘angry at the secretary for giving countenance to his persecutors’.50 He was in the ministerial majorities against Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June, and inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823, and on the 9th defended a clause of the Irish tithes composition bill. The following day, to the annoyance of Peel, the home secretary, and Goulburn, who were ‘left to carry through the ... bill unassisted’, he returned to Ireland, ‘much out of spirits’, as Williams Wynn told Buckingham, and ‘anticipating all evil from the irritation of the two factions, and I fear from the want of energy and vigour’ in Wellesley. Williams Wynn subsequently told Buckingham:

You must not wonder that Plunket did not stop to visit you in his way. He has now been four months absent from Ireland, suffering all the while from vexation and indifferent health, which have produced the effect of making him low and hypochondriac about himself. He was convinced that nothing but the native breeze of the potatoes could revive him, and he was besides not a little uneasy as to the consequences of his absence upon his professional business, and very anxious again to see his family. Nothing else could, I will not say justify, but excuse his turning his back upon the tithe bill ... but he is thoroughly dejected, and often talks of the probability of his being obliged to retire.

Hobhouse of the home office reckoned that during the session Plunket had ‘made shipwreck of the weight he possessed in the country’.51

In late August 1823 Goulburn informed Peel that Wellesley understood that Plunket would resign if Lord Farnham, who, as Member for Cavan, had been one of his Orange tormentors earlier in the year, was elected an Irish representative peer.52 A month later, however, a report reached Williams Wynn that Wellesley and Plunket now took ‘great satisfaction’ in ‘the improving state of Ireland’.53 Prompted by Williams Wynn, he asserted in November that the tithes bill was working ‘reasonably well’ and that he had ‘little doubt of its ultimate and not very remote success’; that while the ‘reign of terror’ was over, the ‘system of insubordination’ persisted, making it necessary to retain the Insurrection Act, and that Wellesley’s ‘good sense and temper’ in communicating with the Catholic clergy had prevented a public squabble on the burials question:

Depend upon it that if our government here is carried on without grudge or suspicion, and if the Roman Catholics are led to believe that we are disposed to deal with them fairly on the principles announced two years ago, we may indulge in every prospect of governing this country in such a way as not to create disturbance or annoyance to the ... government in England; but otherwise I cannot answer for it. I need not tell you that in speaking thus hopefully, I do not underrate the necessity of the final settlement of the great question, without which I am convinced the true foundations of tranquillity in Ireland never can be effectually laid.

In response to Buckingham’s exhortation to secure ‘the admission of the Roman Catholics to their fair proportion of the offices to which they are by law admissible’, he admitted that ‘various circumstances (and I freely own not sufficient to afford a satisfactory explanation) have concurred to prevent it hitherto’, but gave assurances that Wellesley and Liverpool were determined to redress the balance:

The Roman Catholics ... are on the whole in good humour, and strongly disposed to place confidence in ... [Wellesley’s] government ... Their entire confidence in myself is not without its share in producing this disposition.

Yet Williams Wynn perceived in this a symptom of ‘a want of energy’ in Wellesley and Plunket, ‘which must almost disqualify them for coping successfully with the exterior and interior enemies they have to deal with’.54

Williams Wynn pressed Plunket to go to London in time for Newport’s Catholic burials motion of 19 Feb. 1824, on which subject ministers were all at sea; but as his doing so would have been ‘attended with very serious inconvenience’, Plunket persuaded Newport to postpone the matter. After his arrival, 1 Mar., he assisted the cabinet in deciding to take over the question and to introduce a bill to repeal obsolete regulations and empower the Protestant clergy to permit the performance of Catholic and Dissenting burials by their respective ministers. He introduced this, 23 Mar., and explained it at length, 29 Mar. It passed the Commons on 1 Apr. and, after amendment by the Lords, became law on the 15th (5 Geo. IV, c. 25). O’Connell publicly attacked it and privately damned Plunket, who was ‘as bad as any of the king’s ministers’.55 On the Irish Catholic bishops’ petition for improving the education of poor Catholics, 9 Mar., Plunket agreed that it should be founded on religion, but said that to make it ‘rest on a moral basis alone was not only useless, but absolutely pernicious’, and that the union of morals and religion should not be ‘converted into an instrument of proselytism’ by the establishment of separate Protestant and Catholic schools.56 Plunket, who received another resignation threat from Wellesley and was the subject of a complaint from Lord Clancarty to Wellington of supineness in the face of Roman Catholic aggrandisement,57 opposed Lord Althorp’s motion for information on the ribbonmen, 11 Mar., arguing that the Irish administration were ‘endeavouring honestly to discharge their difficult duties’. He came back from Ireland in early May, according to Williams Wynn, ‘low and out of spirits, deeply impressed with the dangers threatening us from the Roman Catholics and the Orange Association, and desirous of stronger measures to put both down than can be hoped for from a divided and paralysed administration’.58 He opposed Hume’s attack on the Irish church establishment, ‘the great bond of union between the two countries’, 6 May, and Newport’s motion on the Irish first fruits fund, 25 May, and amendment to the clergy residence bill, 27 May; but, objecting to Hill’s Londonderry Cathedral bill, 10 May, he observed that the Irish Protestant clergy must recognize ‘the necessity of entrenching themselves on public opinion by their good conduct’. When asked by O’Connell and a deputation from the Catholic Association to present their emancipation petition, he agreed to do so, while making it clear that he had no intention of bringing on the question that session. O’Connell threatened to wash his hands of him.59 Plunket presented the petition, 31 May 1824, regretting its reference to attacks on Catholicism by members of the Protestant hierarchy, and announced that he and the leading friends of relief concurred in thinking that it would be ‘unavailing and hopeless’ to propose it at that stage of the session. In what Christopher Hely Hutchinson* considered a ‘neat and ... excellent reply’, he repudiated Brownlow’s insinuation that he had ‘neglected his duty’ by not prosecuting the Catholic Association.60

In mid-September 1824 Lord Redesdale told Lord Colchester that Manners ‘talks of resigning’, but that ministers now had ‘little disposition to make Plunket chancellor, fearing he would not be very manageable’.61 A month later Plunket assured Holland that

the appearances of tranquillity in ... [Ireland] become more promising. There is certainly a considerable share of agitation amongst the Roman Catholics, and a correspondent apprehension on the other side that the measure is advancing to a consummation. The alarm ... which grows out of this, many of them pass on themselves as a fear of insurrectionary movements ... for which, so far as the Roman Catholics are concerned, there does not appear to me to be any rational ground.62

Williams Wynn believed in late November that Plunket, who was required to submit to ministers his professional opinion on the legality of the Catholic Association, was still of the opinion that it had not broken the law.63 A fortnight later Plunket informed him that while there was ‘a more violent degree of political agitation than I ever remember, and a stronger excitement and more general union amongst the Roman Catholic body’, he was confident that ‘insurrection, and combination for the purposes of insurrection, is put down’. At the same time, he conceded that the ‘intimate union’ of the Catholics, forged by the priesthood under the aegis of the Association, was a potential source of ‘mischief’, which required vigilance. Yet he remained sure that ‘coercion alone will be ineffectual for any lasting good’. He wrote in broadly the same terms to Buckingham in January 1825, stating that ‘all the rational friends’ of emancipation in Ireland were against bringing it forward in the forthcoming session. He hoped that ‘admonition and private remonstrance’, rather than coercion, could be used to restrain the respectable Catholics.64 Without consulting the home government, he instigated a prosecution of O’Connell for a recent speech at the Association; its failure was an embarrassment.65

On his slightly belated arrival in London Plunket, backed by Wellesley’s representations, carried his argument in favour of a bill to put down the Association without mentioning it by name.66 He would have answered Denman, 10 Feb. 1825, if the debate on Goulburn’s motion to introduce the measure had not been adjourned. The following day he defended the bill and his own political conduct since 1813, claiming that the success of 1821 had convinced him that emancipation could be carried by a divided government and that the Whigs were incapable of forming a stable ministry. The wife of the Irish Member John North, a spectator in the ventilator, thought it ‘a very fine’ speech, though ‘more an ingenious than a triumphant one’. The Grenvillite toady William Fremantle* told Buckingham that ‘nothing could have been more effectual ... and nothing ever was more manly and convincing: it was an admirable defence of the consistency of his conduct, and identified him greatly with the Grenvilles’. But to the advanced Whig Member Sir Robert Wilson, ‘his admissions both to the past and present were monstrous records of the want of all character and principle in the G[renvillite] party’.67 Plunket supported the bill, 15 Feb., when he said that one of the evil consequences of the Association’s activities was that they distracted the priests from parochial work, and 22 Feb., when he also opposed Hume’s motion for Irish office-holders to be required to disclaim on oath membership of illegal societies. According to Edward Littleton*, Plunket’s speech of 28 Feb. in support of Burdett’s motion to consider Catholic relief, which Agar Ellis thought the only ‘good’ one and Gurney considered ‘most excellent’, being ‘all sense, no flourish’, made six converts, who were crucial to the majority of 13.68 The next day Plunket complained that Brownlow had withheld a petition denigrating Catholic priests, and on the 24th he presented one for relief from the Protestants of Newry.69 Left to himself, he would have shelved the question that session, but, as he told Wellesley, the success of Burdett’s motion made him optimistic that, given the ‘reasonable prospect of tranquillity’ afforded by the Unlawful Societies Act, the chances of an early settlement of the issue were high. He stressed the importance of ‘a firm quiet system of things’ and of maintaining cordial intercourse with Catholic leaders.70 At about this time the Whig duke of Bedford wrote to Lady Holland:

Why do you imagine that I should be shocked at your enjoying Plunket’s society? There is no one more agreeable, and nobody feels his good qualities more sensibly than I do ... I am told that he has made the most powerful, convincing and eloquent speech ever heard in favour of the Catholic claims ... To be sure as a politician he is something of a rogue, but perfect honesty is a very rare quality in his class of men.

Bedford subsequently wrote:

I am glad that you have done me justice with respect to Plunket. You may recollect that [Lord] John [Russell] was not the only one amongst your friends, who thought they were breathing an infectious air by being in the same room with Mr. Plunket. I have always liked him, and always shall like him. All the harm I wish him is to see him out of office, and no longer insulted and trampled upon by such men as the chancellor and Peel.71

With Burdett and an accommodating O’Connell, who now thought him ‘quite sincere in his desire to emancipate the Catholics in the most conciliatory manner possible’, Plunket framed a relief bill and, dispensing with the veto, measures to provide for the payment of Catholic priests and to disfranchise Irish 40s. freeholders.72 Returning from Ireland after Easter, he voted silently for the second, 21 Apr., and third readings of the relief bill, 10 May. On 6 May he opposed various amendments to it and clashed with Peel on the securities issue. Supporting the franchise bill, 26 Apr., he tackled Brougham and, according to the Grenvillites, gave him a ‘thorough beating’ in his ‘most eloquent and brilliant’ style.73 He briefly endorsed the plan to make state provision for the Irish Catholic clergy, 29 Apr. On 5 May he got leave to introduce a bill to assimilate the Irish regulations governing the striking of special juries to the English, which was brought in by Goulburn later that day. He was very disappointed by the cabinet’s decision to leave the relief bill to its fate in the Lords, where it was defeated, and was said to be ‘greatly indignant’ at lord chancellor Eldon’s ‘having made a joke of him and compared him to a Jesuit’.74 On 26 May 1825 he professed confidence in the eventual success of the Catholic cause, which only ‘the egregious folly of the Catholics themselves’ could thwart, and said that no purpose would be served by his own resignation. He left for Ireland the following day ‘in excellent spirits’, according to O’Connell, who was convinced that he would soon be made Irish chancellor.75

The revival of the Catholic Association and renewed violence in Ireland in the autumn compelled Plunket to acquiesce in Canning’s insistence on setting aside the Catholic question for the remainder of the current Parliament; but he argued that it must not be put into abeyance. As he wrote to Williams Wynn, ‘if we can tide through the remainder of the present Parliament without spreading any sails, and I hope without the dangerous aid of steam, we may look for everything favourable at the commencement of the new one’. In mid-December he wrote to Canning:

Abstracting myself from all angry feelings growing out of the gross provocation of these mob leaders ... I am more than ever sensible of the necessity and urgency of the measure, but its urgency must wait on its practicability, and that must depend on circumstances which no man can anticipate. Should it be brought forward in the first session I do not look to any possible state of things in which I would not support it strenuously, but I can readily suppose circumstances under which I should strongly advise against its being brought forward. At the same time ... I cannot shut my eyes to the danger of the question assuming this position, namely, that a measure principally and substantially affecting Ireland, passionately desired by all the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and sought for or acquiesced in by the majority of the Protestants of that country, still must be indefinitely postponed in deference to the feelings of the people of England ... I see no rational solution of these difficulties, but by carrying the question, and by carrying it soon.76

Plunket was as partial to jobbery as the next Irishman, and at the end of 1825 he persuaded Wellesley to agree in principle to give the vacant deanery of Clogher, worth over £1,000 a year, to his eldest son Thomas Span Plunket (1792-1866), who had been ten years a curate. He was, however, required to consult Goulburn, who vetoed the appointment as a gross job which would discredit the Irish government. This view was endorsed by Peel, who recalled that during his time as Irish secretary ‘every official man, not content with the favour of government to himself, thought he had a right to quarter his family on the patronage of government’.77 Plunket was summoned to England in late January 1826 to give his views on the legality of the revived Catholic Association.78 He was little in evidence in the House that session. On 16 Feb. he opposed Newport’s motion on Irish church rates and Spring Rice’s call for inquiry into Irish tolls, but indicated that the government was preparing measures to amend the laws affecting bankrupts and landlord-tenant relations. He voted with his colleagues on the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. On the 9th he opposed Newport’s proposal to disfranchise non-resident Irish borough freeholders. Expectations that he was to become Irish chancellor encouraged North and Croker to canvass Dublin University at the end of that month; but there was no opposition to his return at the general election in June when, in response to some barracking, he said that any of his votes which had caused offence had been conscientiously given. He was ‘handled very roughly by the students’, who ‘pitched him violently out of the chair and broke it to pieces’.79

In reply to Canning’s questions, Plunket agreed, 10 Oct. 1826, that ‘the golden opportunity is gone by’ to implement the disfranchisement of Irish 40s. freeholders, and that although the payment of priests was perhaps still attainable, the prospects were less good than in 1825. He went on:

If ... you ask me, am I as sanguine ... of the efficiency of the Roman Catholic measure, if carried, in tranquillizing Ireland, I candidly answer I am not, and every year more of a postponement renders me less so. I do at the same time seriously believe that the measure, if soon carried and honestly acted on, will give a fair chance of tranquillity ... Until this takes place the task of governing Ireland becomes every day more difficult.

While he was unsure as to the best technical way of proceeding in the forthcoming session and had ‘an anxious desire to prevent this question pressing too heavily on the government’, he was willing to take it up if ministers had no objections, for he was sure that ‘things cannot long continue in their present state’. Canning made it clear that his colleagues would not make emancipation a government measure.80 He advised against the prosecution of Sheil for his attack on the duke of York.81 Persuaded by Canning that it was best to proceed by resolution followed by a bill (some Whigs considered this to be a ‘juggle’) he pondered in January 1827 the problems of paying the Catholic clergy and regulating intercourse with Rome. He arrived in London on 24 Feb., soon after O’Connell had publicly accused him of being the secret enemy of emancipation.82 On 2 Mar. he presented the Irish Catholic bishops’ relief petition, and later that day he clashed with Peel’s brother-in-law George Dawson, a junior minister, on the trustworthiness of the Catholic population of Ireland. Robert Wilmot Horton*, another member of the government, deplored the ‘discreditable’ spectacle of these two ‘firing red-hot shot into each other, at point-blank distance’.83 Mackintosh heard from Lansdowne, 4 Mar., that Plunket, like Burdett, ‘had great misgivings about the Catholic question and thought of delay’; but on 6 Mar. he spoke at length, to ‘loud cheers’, in favour of Burdett’s unsuccessful motion, following and replying in ‘magnificent’ style to Copley, the master of the rolls. At a small meeting at the duke of Norfolk’s, 8 Mar., he, Lansdowne, Holland and others decided to do nothing more on the subject until the ministerial uncertainty created by Liverpool’s stroke had been resolved.84 He spoke and voted for the duke of Clarence’s grant, 16 Mar. He announced that a scheme for a common system of education had been approved by the Irish Catholic hierarchy, 19 Mar. He opposed Brownlow’s motion for information on the 1825 Orange march at Lisburn, 29 Mar., and Newport’s attack on the first fruits fund, 3 Apr. He presented a pro-Catholic petition from the Protestants of Fermanagh, 5 Apr.85 Next day he told Lord Chandos that there was no intention to legislate further against the Catholic Association and repudiated Trench’s accusation that he was holding a match to the Irish powder keg. On 11 Apr. 1827 he assured Dawson that there was no doubt that Orange societies were illegal.86

When Canning formed his ministry soon afterwards Plunket was expected to become Irish chancellor, but the king intervened to thwart this. In compensation Canning offered him the mastership of the rolls in England and a British peerage. He accepted, but the great hostility of the English bar to the appointment of an Irishman forced him to renounce it.87 He took the peerage, but another month elapsed before ministers were able to persuade the 81-year-old Lord Norbury to vacate the Irish chief justiceship of common pleas for him.88 When John Hobhouse* met him for the first time socially at this juncture, he was ‘quiet, but every now and then gave vent to flashes of humour and joviality’; and in September 1827 O’Connell, who felt that Plunket had suffered a ‘pitiable fall’ into political ‘oblivion’, told Sheil that he had probably not ‘thrown cold water’ on his patent of precedence, for it was ‘no part of his character to act with duplicity. He has neither the good manners nor the bad heart of Iago’.89 Plunket made spectacularly fine speeches in favour of Catholic emancipation in 1829.90 Although, in Greville’s view, he had been a ‘rash, hasty, and imprudent’ judge, he was made Irish chancellor in the Grey ministry, and he continued in the office in the Melbourne administrations.91 His deficiencies in legal learning led to many of his decisions being overturned on appeal, but he remained politically influential in the 1830s. He earned a well-deserved reputation for nepotism and jobbery, providing Thomas and his other five sons with plenty of good things in the church and the law. In 1832 it was reckoned that he and close relatives took almost £15,000 a year in public money, not including income from church preferment.92 Ironically, he was manoeuvred out of his place in favour of John Campbell II* in the summer of 1841 in what Brougham described as ‘the most gross and unjustifiable act ever done by party, combining violence and ingratitude with fraud’.93 In retirement he travelled in Italy, but his last years were clouded by mental decay. He died at his home at Old Connaught in January 1854 and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin.94 He was succeeded in the peerage by Thomas, who was bishop of Tuam from 1839 until his death, and then by his second son John Span Plunket (1793-1871), a lawyer. Brougham described Plunket during his lifetime as

the greatest orator of the age. I place him quite on a level with Pitt, Fox, Chatham, and in many respects above them, and his eloquence has not one single Irish fault of taste in it. He is accused of want of firmness in council. I never saw it. He is charged with nepotism; he is an Irishman no doubt. He can be believed on his word though an Irishman.95

Russell remembered him as ‘the most perfect orator’ of the 1820s, who ‘so restrained his brilliant fancy that it was ever ready to help, to adorn, to illustrate, while it was never used to eclipse or encumber his argument’.96 Lord Ebrington*, comparing him as a speaker with his contemporaries, remarked that while ‘all the others made you feel that they were doing their best, with him it seemed as if he was taking no trouble, and could do even better if he liked’.97

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Macaulay Letters, ii. 82.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1854), i. 192-4; Greville Mems. vi. 307; R.L. Sheil, Sketches of Irish Bar (1854), 104, 114.
  • 3. D. Plunket, Life, Letters, and Speeches of Lord Plunket (1867), i. 5.
  • 4. Add. 58963, ff. 36, 38; NLW, Coedymaen mss 576; Croker Pprs. i. 157.
  • 5. Dublin Evening Post, 3, 10 Feb., 16 Mar. 1820; Coedymaen mss 1043; Add. 58772, f. 22.
  • 6. Dublin Evening Post, 24, 27 June 1820.
  • 7. Christ Church, Oxf. Phillimore mss, Plunket to Phillimore [?6 July]; The Times, 13 July 1820.
  • 8. Add. 51562, Brougham to Holland [21 Dec.]; 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland [28 Dec. 1820]; Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 110.
  • 9. Add. 58963, ff. 40, 46; Plunket, i. 394-409.
  • 10. Lansdowne mss, Plunket to Lansdowne, 29 Jan. 1821.
  • 11. The Times, 1 Mar. 1821.
  • 12. Hatherton diary, 6 Oct. 1838; Torrens, Melbourne, i. 163; Cent. Kent. Stud. Camden mss U840 C530/8; Add. 51564, Brougham to Lady Holland [8 Mar.]; Ward, Llandaff Letters, 279-80; Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 28 Feb. [1821]; HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 28.
  • 13. Dorset RO D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 124.
  • 14. Harrowby mss.
  • 15. Hobhouse Diary, 53-54; Twiss, Eldon, ii. 416; Buckingham, i. 124, 129.
  • 16. The Times, 8 Mar. 1821.
  • 17. Lady Holland to Son, 3.
  • 18. G.I.T. Machin, Catholic Question in English Politics, 27-29; O’Connell Corresp. ii. 894, 902; W.J. Fitzpatrick, Life of Dr. Doyle (1880), i. 157-60; Plunket, ii. 75-79.
  • 19. Buckingham, i. 141-2; Lady Holland to Son, 4-5; Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 4 Apr., 2, 11 May 1821; Add. 58963, ff. 54, 56; Buckingham, i. 156-7.
  • 20. Buckingham, i. 135-6, 233; Plunket, ii. 85, 87.
  • 21. Twiss, ii. 435; Add. 38290, ff. 88, 92.
  • 22. Croker Pprs. i. 218; Plunket, ii. 85, 87-95; Buckingham, i. 233, 235-6, 240-3, 250-1, 253, 255, 262, 277; Geo. IV Letters, ii. 971, 973; BL, Fortescue mss, Buckingham to Grenville, 30 Nov., 2, 6 Dec., memo. 30 Nov., Williams Wynn to Grenville [4, 5 Dec.] 1821; Add. 38290, f. 155; 38743, f. 72; 40328, f. 1.
  • 23. Arbuthnot Corresp. 26; Plunket, ii. 97; Dublin Evening Post, 19 Jan., 16 Feb. 1822.
  • 24. Add. 51679, Russell to Lady Holland [Jan. 1822].
  • 25. O’Connell Corresp. ii. 930.
  • 26. Buckingham, i. 294, 297.
  • 27. Add. 37298, f. 312; Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Williams Wynn to Plunket, 5 Feb. 1822.
  • 28. Fox Jnl. 108.
  • 29. Buckingham, i. 299, 304, 306, 308-12, 314-15; Plunket, ii. 100-2; Wellington and Friends, 21; O’Connell Corresp. ii. 949, 954a; Coedymaen mss 367-368, 630; bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 6 Apr.; Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/46/10/26/1; 46/10/27, 28; Add. 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland, 16 Apr. 1822.
  • 30. Agar Ellis diary.
  • 31. Fox Jnl. 113; Add. 52445, f. 79.
  • 32. Gurney diary, 22 Apr.; Buckingham, i. 318-19; Agar Ellis diary, 22 Apr. ; Fremantle mss 46/10/31.
  • 33. Add. 52445, f. 83; Agar Ellis diary.
  • 34. Add. 51832, Plunket to Holland, 18 May 1822.
  • 35. The Times, 21 May, 20 June 1822.
  • 36. Fox Jnl. 126; Buckingham, i. 351-2.
  • 37. Wellington mss WP1/718/20.
  • 38. Add. 40319, f. 57; Croker Pprs. i. 230.
  • 39. Bessborough mss, Abercromby to Duncannon, 14 Oct. 1822.
  • 40. Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 29 Nov., reply, 4 Dec.; Add. 40353, f. 226; 51574, Abercromby to Holland [29 Dec.] 1822; Grey mss, Grey to Holland, 22 Jan. 1823; O’Connell Corresp. ii. 988, 990; Buckingham, i. 408-9, 414-18, 434; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 219.
  • 41. Add. 58963, f. 60; Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 26, 28 Jan. 1823; Buckingham, i. 420, 424, 427-8; TCD, Donoughmore mss D/37/5; Fremantle mss 46/11/68/2.
  • 42. O’Connell Corresp. ii. 996; Buckingham, i. 429-30, 432-3; Donoughmore mss D/43/54; The Times, 19 Feb. 1823.
  • 43. Buckingham, i. 442; Add. 58963, f. 64.
  • 44. Plunket, ii. 135.
  • 45. The Times, 25 Mar. 1823; Brougham mss, Abercromby to Brougham, 26 Mar. 1823.
  • 46. Bankes jnl. 143 (15 Apr.); Buckingham, i. 447, 450-2; Agar Ellis diary, 15 Apr.; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 227; Harewood mss, Williams Wynn to Canning and reply, 7 Apr.; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 12 Apr. 1823; Add. 37301, f. 14; 58963, f. 68; Plunket, ii. 110-24.
  • 47. Agar Ellis diary, 17 Apr. 1823; Colchester Diary, iii. 279.
  • 48. Add. 40355, f. 328; Creevey’s Life and Times 178; PRO NI, Fitzgerald mss MIC/639/11/6/51, p. 104.
  • 49. The Times, 25 Apr. 1823.
  • 50. Add. 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland, 19 May [1823]; Russell Letters, i. 26.
  • 51. Buckingham, i. 467-9, 473; Hobhouse Diary, 103.
  • 52. Add. 40329, ff. 117, 129.
  • 53. Add. 51534, T. Grenville to Holland, 22 Sept. 1823.
  • 54. Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Williams Wynn to Plunket, 1 Nov., reply, 18 Nov., Plunket to Buckingham, 6 Dec. 1823; Buckingham, ii. 19; Plunket, ii. 140-4.
  • 55. Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 28 Jan., 10 Feb.; Buckingham, ii. 45, 48-49, 54-55; Add. 37302, ff. 145, 147, 163, 167, 171, 177, 217; The Times, 26 Mar. 1824; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1119, 1121.
  • 56. Plunket, ii. 147-50.
  • 57. Ibid. ii. 145-6; Wellington mss WP1/788/12; 796/8.
  • 58. Buckingham, ii. 71, 74.
  • 59. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1123a, b, 1124; Donoughmore mss F/13/91, 92.
  • 60. Donoughmore mss D/43/62.
  • 61. Colchester Diary, iii. 341.
  • 62. Add. 51832, Plunket to Holland, 14 Oct. 1824.
  • 63. Buckingham, ii. 165; Add. 37303, ff. 11, 13; Wellington mss WP1/805/47.
  • 64. Coedymaen mss bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 15 Dec. 1824; Buckingham, ii. 193-4.
  • 65. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1144, 1147, 1148; Add. 37303, ff. 109, 117, 121, 129, 130; Parker, Peel, i. 354-5; Lonsdale mss, Long to Lonsdale, 2 Jan.; Add. 51578, Morpeth to Holland, 10 Jan. 1825.
  • 66. Buckingham, ii. 200-6; Coedymaen mss 410, 412.
  • 67. Buckingham, ii. 208, 210-11; PRO NI D207/73/119; Add. 30124, f. 133; Plunket, ii. 168-77.
  • 68. Agar Ellis diary, 1 Mar.; Gurney diary, 1 Mar.; TNA 30/29, Littleton to Granville, 7 Mar. 1825; Add. 70928, f. 119.
  • 69. The Times, 2, 25 Mar. 1825.
  • 70. Plunket, ii. 200-3.
  • 71. Add. 51669, Bedford to Lady Holland [6, 8 Mar. 1825].
  • 72. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1178, 1180, 1192; Croker Pprs. i. 280; Buckingham, ii. 229; Brougham mss, Mackintosh to Brougham, 16 Mar. 1825.
  • 73. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1204; Buckingham, ii. 243-4; Agar Ellis diary, 26 Apr. [1825].
  • 74. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1218-20, 1228; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 398.
  • 75. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1229, 1232, 1238, 1239.
  • 76. Plunket, ii. 213-17, 220-6; Camden mss C202/11/12; Wellington mss WP1/832/13.
  • 77. Add. 40332, ff. 5, 7, 11.
  • 78. PRO NI D207/74/180; Add. 37304, ff. 33, 41, 45, 55.
  • 79. Add. 37304, ff. 115, 117; 40332, f. 30; Dublin Evening Post, 8, 13 June 1826; NLI, Farnham mss 18602 (20).
  • 80. Plunket, ii. 232-9.
  • 81. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1261; Add. 37304, ff. 230-4.
  • 82. Plunket, ii. 241-3; Lansdowne mss, Plunket to Lansdowne, 19 Jan.; Wellington mss WP1/906/2; Canning’s Ministry, 6, 32; Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 10 Feb.; Lonsdale mss, Long to Lonsdale, 22 Feb. 1827; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1367.
  • 83. Canning’s Ministry, 38.
  • 84. Add. 52447, ff. 46, 55, 56; Canning’s Ministry, 43.
  • 85. The Times, 6 Apr. 1827.
  • 86. Ibid. 12 Apr. 1827.
  • 87. Plunket, ii. 244-6; Canning’s Ministry, 180, 196, 198, 210, 249, 256; Wellington mss WP1/887/35, 41; Hobhouse Diary, 132; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 107; Coedymaen mss 195, 196; bdle. 17, Plunket to Williams Wynn, 7 Oct.; Add. 51833, same to Holland, 28 Aug. 1827.
  • 88. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1333, 1343; Canning’s Ministry, 320.
  • 89. Broughton, Recollections, iii. 194; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1389, 1393, 1397, 1414.
  • 90. Greville Mems. i. 256, 259, 283.
  • 91. Ibid. ii. 87.
  • 92. Three Diaries, 198; O’Connell Corresp. v. 2012, 2073, 2359; Greville Mems. iii. 23; Warws. RO MI 247, Philips Mems. i. 279; Extraordinary Black Bk. (1832), 562.
  • 93. Plunket, i. 20-21; Greville Mems. iv. 386; Macaulay Letters, iii. 381.
  • 94. Oxford DNB; Plunket, ii. 346-7; Gent. Mag. (1854), i. 165, 196; Speeches of W.C. Plunket ed. J.C. Hoey, p. xxiv.
  • 95. Brougham mss, autobiog. fragment.
  • 96. Russell, Recollections, 56.
  • 97. Torrens, i. 265.