Henry Barry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry

Last updated

Henry Barry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry (1710–1751), often referred to simply as Lord Santry, was an Irish peer, who was a notorious rake. He is unique in being the only member of the Irish House of Lords to be convicted of murder by his peers, for which crime he was sentenced to death. He later received a full pardon for the murder but died when he was still a young man.

Contents

Biography

He was born in Dublin on 3 September 1710, the only son of Henry Barry, 3rd Baron Barry of Santry, and Bridget Domvile, daughter of Sir Thomas Domvile, 1st Baronet, of Templeogue, and his first wife (and cousin) Elizabeth Lake, daughter of Sir Lancelot Lake. [1] He succeeded to the title in 1735 and took his seat in the Irish House of Lords. He married firstly Anne Thornton, daughter of William Thornton of Finglas, who died in 1742, and secondly, in 1750 Elizabeth Shore of Derby, but had no issue by either marriage. He died in Nottingham on 22 March 1751 and was buried at St. Nicholas' Church, Nottingham. [2]

St. Nicholas' Church, Nottingham, where Lord Santry is buried StNicsNottingham.JPG
St. Nicholas' Church, Nottingham, where Lord Santry is buried

Murder of Laughlin Murphy

Lord Barry of Santry seems to have been an extreme example of an eighteenth-century rake, a man of quarrelsome and violent nature, and a heavy drinker. He was a member of the notorious Dublin Hellfire Club: it is said that the club's reputation never fully recovered from the sensational publicity surrounding his trial for murder, although there is no reason to think that any of his fellow members knew of or condoned the crime. [3] There were widespread rumours that he had committed at least one previous murder which was successfully hushed up, although there seems to be no firm evidence for this. [4]

On 9 August 1738, Lord Santry (as he was usually known) was drinking with some friends at a tavern in Palmerstown, which is now a suburb but was then a small village near Dublin city. Santry, who had drunk even more heavily than usual, attacked a drinking companion, Mr Humphries, but was unable to draw his sword. Enraged, he ran to the kitchen, where he chanced to meet Laughlin Murphy, the tavern porter, and for no known reason ran him through with his sword. [3] Santry then bribed the innkeeper to let him escape. Murphy was taken to Dublin where he lingered for some weeks; he died on 25 September 1738. [3]

Trial

Although Lord Santry was not immediately apprehended, there is no reason to think that the Crown intended that he should escape justice; indeed the authorities clearly aimed not only to prosecute him but to secure a conviction. Even in an age when the aristocracy enjoyed special privileges, the murder of Murphy, who by all accounts was an honest and hardworking man with a wife and young family to support, had shocked public opinion, whereas Lord Santry was regarded, even among members of his own class, as a public nuisance. In due course, Santry was arrested and indicted for murder. He demanded, as the privilege of peerage, a trial by his peers. The trial, which took place in the Irish Houses of Parliament on 27 April 1739, aroused immense public interest. [3]

Lord Wyndham, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, presided in his office Lord High Steward of Ireland, with 23 peers sitting as judges. The Attorney-General for Ireland, Robert Jocelyn, and the Solicitor-General for Ireland, John Bowes, led for the prosecution. [5]

Bowes dominated the proceedings and his speeches made his reputation as an orator. [5] Thomas Rundle, Bishop of Derry, who as a spiritual peer was only an observer at the trial, [6] said "I never heard, never read, so perfect a piece of eloquence...the strength and light of his reason, the fairness and candour". [7] The Bishop was scathing about counsel for the defence, describing the performance of Santry's counsel as "detestable". [3] The defence case was that Murphy had died not from his wound but from a long-standing illness (or alternatively a rat bite), but in view of the medical evidence produced by the prosecution this was a hopeless argument. According to Bishop Rundle, Santry's counsel failed even to mention the possibility that Murphy, who lingered for 6 weeks after being stabbed, might have died through inadequate medical care. Given the overwhelming evidence of Lord Santry's guilt, however, any defence would probably have been useless, and despite what was described as their "looks of horror", his peers had little difficulty in finding Santry guilty. Wyndham, who had conducted the trial with exemplary fairness, pronounced the death sentence. His retirement soon afterwards was generally thought to be due to the strain of the trial [3]

Aftermath

King George II, like all British monarchs, had the prerogative of mercy, and a campaign was launched by Santry's friends and relatives to persuade the King to grant a pardon. Their plea concentrated on the victim's low social standing, the implication being that the life of a peer was worth more than that of a tavern worker, despite the victim's blameless character and the savage and wanton nature of the murder. The King proved reluctant to grant a pardon, [8] and for a time it seemed that Santry must die, but in due course, a reprieve was issued. Popular legend had it that his uncle Sir Compton Domvile, through whose estate at Templeogue the River Dodder flowed, secured a royal pardon for his nephew by threatening to divert the course of the river, thus depriving the citizens of Dublin of what was then, and remained long after, their main supply of drinking water. [3]

River Dodder today River Dodder.jpg
River Dodder today

On 17 June 1740, Lord Santry received a full royal pardon and the restoration of his title and estates; soon afterwards he left Ireland for good and settled in England. He is said to have had a personal audience with the King and thanked him in person for his clemency. His last years are said to have been wretched: although he had a second marriage shortly before his death, he was abandoned by all his former friends, was in great pain from gout, and prone to depression. [9] On his death in 1751 the title became extinct; his estates passed to his Domvile cousins. His widow Elizabeth outlived him by many years, dying in December 1816.

Parallel cases

In 1628 Lord Dunboyne was tried by his peers for manslaughter but acquitted. In 1743 The 5th Viscount Netterville was acquitted of murder by his peers, as was Robert King, 2nd Earl of Kingston in 1798. [3]

Related Research Articles

Judicial functions of the House of Lords Historical judicial role of the UK House of Lords

Whilst the House of Lords of the United Kingdom is the upper chamber of Parliament and has government ministers, it for many centuries had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachments, and as a court of last resort in the United Kingdom and prior, the Kingdom of England.

Santry Suburb of Dublin, Ireland

Santry is a suburb on the northside of Dublin, Ireland, bordering Coolock, Glasnevin, Kilmore and Ballymun. It straddles the boundary of Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council jurisdictions.

John Bowes, 1st Baron Bowes

John Bowes, 1st Baron Bowes PC (I) was an Anglo-Irish peer, politician and judge. He was noted for his great legal ability, but also for his implacable hostility to Roman Catholics.

The Lord High Steward of Ireland is a hereditary Great Officer of State in the United Kingdom, sometimes known as the Hereditary Great Seneschal. The Earls of Shrewsbury have held the office since the 15th century. Although the Irish Free State, later the Republic of Ireland, became independent in 1922, the title remained the same, rather than reflecting the region of Northern Ireland, which remains within the United Kingdom.

Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty 17th-century Irish earl

Sir Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty (1594–1665), was an Irish magnate, soldier, and politician. He succeeded as 2nd Viscount Muskerry in 1641. He rebelled against the government, demanding religious freedom as a Catholic and defending the rights of the Gaelic nobility in the Irish Catholic Confederation. Later, he supported the King against his Parliamentarian enemies during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, a part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, also known as the British Civil War.

Baron Barry of Santry, in the County of Dublin, was a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1661 for the Irish lawyer and politician Sir James Barry, a former Member of the Irish Parliament for Lismore and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. His grandson, the third Baron, served as Governor of Londonderry and of Culmore Fort and was sworn of the Irish Privy Council. The third Baron's son, the fourth Baron, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in 1739 and his title declared forfeit. However, he was pardoned the following year and restored to his title. On his death eleven years later, in 1751, the barony became extinct.

Events from the year 1739 in Ireland.

James Barry, 1st Baron Barry of Santry PC (Ire) (1603–1673) was an Irish lawyer, judge and peer.

Philip Herbert, 7th Earl of Pembroke English nobleman and convicted murderer

Philip Herbert, 7th Earl of Pembroke, 4th Earl of Montgomery KB was an English nobleman and politician who succeeded to the titles and estates of two earldoms on 8 July 1674 on the death of his brother William Herbert, 6th Earl of Pembroke.

Robert Jocelyn, 1st Viscount Jocelyn Irish politician, Lord Chancellor of Ireland

Robert Jocelyn, 1st Viscount Jocelyn PC (I) SL was an Anglo-Irish politician and judge and member of the Peerage of Ireland, best known for serving as Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Thomas Wyndham, 1st Baron Wyndham

Thomas Wyndham, 1st Baron Wyndham PC, was an Irish lawyer and politician. He served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1726 to 1739.

The Domvile Baronetcy, of Templeogue and Santry House in the County of Dublin, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 22 May 1815 for Compton Domvile, subsequently Member of Parliament for Bossiney, Okehampton and Plympton Erle. He was the son of Charles Pocklington, nephew and heir of the second and last Domvile baronet of the 1686 creation. Charles Pocklington had assumed by royal licence the surname of Domvile in lieu of Pocklington in 1768 on succeeding to the estates of his uncle. The title became extinct on the death of the fourth Baronet in 1935.

Edmond Butler, 3rd/13th Baron Dunboyne (1595–1640) was an Anglo-Irish nobleman of the early seventeenth century. His short life was full of violence and disputes over the Dunboyne inheritance. His father was murdered when Edmond was a small child, and Edmond as an adult was forced to defend a lengthy lawsuit brought by his uncle, who sought to disinherit him. In 1627 he killed his cousin James Prendergast in a quarrel over a disputed inheritance. For this crime, he was tried by his peers for manslaughter, but was acquitted.

Nicholas Netterville, 5th Viscount Netterville (1708–1750) was an Irish peer, who is mainly remembered for having been tried and acquitted by his peers on a charge of murder.

Thomas Rundle (c.1688–1743) was an English cleric suspected of unorthodox views. He became Anglican bishop of Derry not long after a high-profile controversy had prevented his becoming bishop of Gloucester in 1733.

John Pocklington (1658–1731) was an English lawyer and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1695 and 1713. He was appointed a Welsh circuit judge in 1707 and a judge of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) in 1714, as a result of which he settled in Ireland. He suffered from chronic ill-health, and was imprisoned on the orders of the Irish House of Lords in 1719, during a major Constitutional crisis. His descendants, who adopted the surname Domvile, were wealthy landowners in south County Dublin.

Sir Compton Domvile, 1st Baronet of Templeogue and Santry House, County Dublin was an Irish Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom parliament and Governor of County Dublin.

Lady Margaret Frances Domville was an Irish aristocrat and a writer. She was also the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Howth and the wife of Sir Charles Compton Domville, 2nd Bt.

Robert Dillon, 2nd Earl of RoscommonPC (Ire) was styled Baron Dillon of Kilkenny-West from 1622 to 1641 and became earl of Roscommon only a year before his death. He supported Strafford, Lord Deputy of Ireland, who appointed him as one of the keepers of the King's seal. Lord Kilkenny-West was in December 1640 for a short while a lord justice of Ireland together with Sir William Parsons.

References

  1. Cokayne, G. E. Complete Peerage Reprinted Gloucester 2000 Vol.1, p. 448
  2. Cokayne p. 448
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 O'Flanagan, J. Roderick The Irish Bar Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington London 1879 pp.7-15
  4. Ryan, David "Uncovering the origins of Dublin's Hellfire Club" Irish Times 10 August 2012
  5. 1 2 "Bowes, John (1690-1767)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  6. By a long-standing tradition, spiritual peers in both the English and Irish House of Lords did not vote in criminal cases.
  7. Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 London John Murray 1926 Vol.2 pp.133–4
  8. Horace Walpole wrote that King George II, though merciful in other cases involving the death penalty, rarely pardoned a murderer.
  9. Ryan Irish Times
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by Baron Barry of Santry
1734–1751
Extinct