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Irish House of Commons
Irish House of Commons

The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from 1297 until 1800. The upper house was the House of Lords. The membership of the House of Commons was directly elected, but on a highly restrictive franchise, similar to the Unreformed House of Commons in contemporary England and Great Britain. In counties, forty-shilling freeholders were enfranchised whilst in most boroughs it was either only the members of self-electing corporations or a highly-restricted body of freemen that were able to vote for the borough's representatives. Most notably, Catholics were disqualified from sitting in the Irish parliament from 1691, even though they comprised the vast majority of the Irish population. From 1728 until 1793 they were also disfranchised. Most of the population of all religions had no vote. The vast majority of parliamentary boroughs were pocket boroughs, the private property of an aristocratic patron. When these boroughs were disfranchised under the Act of Union, the patron was awarded £15,000 compensation for each.[10]

The British-appointed Irish executive, under the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was not answerable to the House of Commons but to the British government. However, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was usually a member of the Irish parliament. In the Commons, business was presided over by the Speaker. The House of Commons was abolished when the Irish parliament merged with its British counterpart in 1801 under the Act of Union, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The House sat for the last time in Parliament House, Dublin on 2 August 1800.

Speaker of the Commons

The Speaker of the Irish House of Commons was the presiding officer of the House and its most senior official. The position was one of considerable power and prestige, and in the absence of a government chosen from and answerable to the Commons, he was the dominant political figure in the Parliament. The last Speaker was John Foster.


The House was elected in the same way as the British House of Commons. By the time of the Union, the shape of the House had been fixed with two members elected for each of the 32 Counties of Ireland, two members for each of 117 Boroughs, and two members for Dublin University, a total of 300 members. The number of Boroughs invited to return members had originally been small (only 55 Boroughs existed in 1603) but was doubled by the Stuart monarchs.


Parliament of 1374

Parliament of 1375[29]


Parliament of 1380


Parliament of 1429

Parliament of 1450


  • First session held at Dublin 13 June to 20 or 23 July 1541, 7 November 1541, 22 December 1541[32]
  • Second session held at Limerick 15 February to 7 or 10 March 1542[32]
  • Third session held at Trim June 1542
  • Dissolved 19 November 1543[32]

Speaker: Sir Thomas Cusack[33]


Members: List of Irish MPs 1585–86

Members: List of Irish MPs 1639–49

Members: List of Irish MPs 1661–66



Members: List of Irish MPs 1692–93

Members: List of Irish MPs 1695–99

Members: List of Irish MPs 1703–13

Members: List of Irish MPs 1713–14

Members: List of Irish MPs 1715–27

Members: List of Irish MPs 1727–60

Members: (elected 1727)

Members: (elected 1728/29)

Members: (elected 1739)

Members: (in 1747)

Members: (elected 1751/1752)

Members: (elected 1753/1754)


Members: List of Irish MPs 1761–68

Members: List of Irish MPs 1769–76

Members: List of Irish MPs 1776–83

Members:List of Irish MPs 1783–90

Members: List of Irish MPs 1790–97

Members:List of Irish MPs 1798–1800

Means of resignation

Until 1793 members could not resign their seats. They could cease to be a member of the House only by one of four ways:

In 1793 a methodology for resignation was created, equivalent to the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds or the Manor of Northstead as a means of resignation from the British House of Commons. From that date, Irish members could be appointed to the Escheatorship of Munster, the Escheatorship of Leinster, the Escheatorship of Connaught or the Escheatorship of Ulster. Possession of one of these Crown offices, "office of profit under the Crown" with a 30-shilling salary, terminated one's membership of the House of Commons.

Famous members

See also

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