Thomas Rochfort

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Thomas Rochfort (c.1450-1522) was a distinguished Irish judge and cleric who held the offices of Solicitor General for Ireland (he was the first recorded holder of that office), Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The Master of the Rolls in Ireland was a senior judicial office in the Irish Chancery under English and British rule, equivalent to the Master of the Rolls in the English Chancery. Originally called the Keeper of the Rolls, he was responsible for the safekeeping of the Chancery records such as close rolls and patent rolls. The office was created by letters patent in 1333, the first holder of the Mastership being Edmund de Grimsby. As the Irish bureaucracy expanded, the duties of the Master of the Rolls came to be performed by subordinates and the position became a sinecure which was awarded to political allies of the Dublin Castle administration. In the nineteenth century it became a senior judicial appointment, ranking second within the Chancery behind the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The post was abolished by the Courts of Justice Act 1924, passed by the Irish Free State established in 1922.

He was born at Killadoon, near Celbridge, County Kildare, the second son of Roger Rochfort, Lord of the Manor of Killadoon, and his wife Catherine Read. [1] The Rochfort family had come to Ireland around 1240; they were descended from Sir Milo de Rochfort, who held lands in Kildare in 1309. Roger's elder brother Robert was the ancestor of another distinguished judge, Robert Rochfort, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer under Queen Anne, whose descendants held the title Earl of Belvedere. [2]

Celbridge Town in Leinster, Ireland

Celbridge is a town and townland on the River Liffey in County Kildare, Ireland. It is 23 km (14 mi) west of Dublin. Both a local centre and a commuter town within the Greater Dublin Area, it is located at the intersection of the R403 and R405 regional roads. As of the 2016 census, Celbridge was the third largest town in County Kildare by population, with over 20,000 residents.

County Kildare County in Leinster, Ireland

County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Leinster and is part of the Mid-East Region. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county which has a population of 222,504.

Robert Rochfort Irish politician

Robert Rochfort was a leading Irish lawyer, politician and judge of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. He held office as Attorney General for Ireland, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. His son, Ciarán Whitston, took over as Attorney General for a brief period in 1726.

Little is known of his life before 1502, when he became Precentor of St. Patrick's Cathedral; he became Dean in 1505. [3] He was an active and reforming Dean who laid down important new rules on the jurisdiction and discipline of the Cathedral, and it was during his tenure as Dean that the Cathedral College of Minor Canons and Choristers was incorporated. [4]

A precentor is a person who helps facilitate worship. The details vary depending on the religion, denomination, and era in question. The Latin derivation is præcentor, from cantor, meaning "the one who sings before".

He was reputed to be "a man learned in the law": [5] no doubt for that reason, rather unusually for a cleric at the time, he became Serjeant-at-law (Ireland) and Solicitor General in 1511. He is first person named as holding the office of Solicitor General for Ireland, but no definite conclusions can be drawn about the earlier existence of that office, as many of the records have disappeared. [6] Subsequently, he became clerk of the Court of Chancery, and then Master of the Rolls. As often in this period the exact dates he held office are uncertain. He was certainly still Master in 1520, but was superseded the following year. He remained Dean of St. Patrick's until his death in June 1522. [7]

This is a list (presently incomplete) of lawyers who held the rank of serjeant-at-law at the Irish Bar.

Court of Chancery court of equity in England and Wales

The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants. Its initial role was somewhat different: as an extension of the Lord Chancellor's role as Keeper of the King's Conscience, the Court was an administrative body primarily concerned with conscientious law. Thus the Court of Chancery had a far greater remit than the common law courts, whose decisions it had the jurisdiction to overrule for much of its existence, and was far more flexible. Until the 19th century, the Court of Chancery could apply a far wider range of remedies than common law courts, such as specific performance and injunctions, and had some power to grant damages in special circumstances. With the shift of the Exchequer of Pleas towards a common law court and loss of its equitable jurisdiction by the Administration of Justice Act 1841, the Chancery became the only national equitable body in the English legal system.

Hart [8] describes Rochfort's judicial career as unique in his lifetime, as he was the only cleric of his generation who held any judicial office other than that of Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

The office of Lord High Chancellor of Ireland was the highest judicial office in Ireland until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1721 to 1801, it was also the highest political office of the Irish Parliament: the Chancellor was Speaker of the Irish House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor was also Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland. In all three respects, the office mirrored the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

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References

  1. Lodge, John and Archdall, Mervyn The Peerage of Ireland Volume 3 Dublin 1789
  2. Lodge and Archdall Peerage of Ireland
  3. Ball F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926
  4. Henry Cotton Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae: the succession of the prelates and members of the cathedral bodies in Ireland Dublin 1850 Hodges and Smith Vol. 5
  5. Cotton "Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae"
  6. In 1839 Constantine Smyth in his Chronicle of the Law Officers of Ireland found it impossible to compile a full list of Solicitors General, due to the disappearance of so many of the records.
  7. Hart A.C. History of the Kings Serjeants-at -law in Ireland Four Courts Press Dublin 2000
  8. History of the King's Serjeants-at-law in Ireland