Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon

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The Lord Monteagle of Brandon

Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon.jpg
Personal details
Born(1849-05-31)31 May 1849
Hither Green, London, England of Great Britain and Ireland]]
Died(1926-12-24)24 December 1926
Limerick, Irish Free State
Political party Liberal Party
Liberal Unionist Party (Irish Unionist Alliance)
Irish Dominion League
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Butcher (died 1908)
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon KP DL (31 May 1849 – 24 December 1926) was an Anglo-Irish politician and landowner, who helped to found the anti-partition Irish Dominion League and was a key figure in the development of Irish cooperative agriculture.

The Irish Dominion League was an Irish political party and movement in Britain and Ireland which advocated Dominion status for Ireland within the British Empire, and opposed partition of Ireland into separate southern and northern jurisdictions. It attracted modest support from middle-class Dubliners of moderate unionist and nationalist backgrounds, anxious to achieve a compromise in the face of the escalating conflict between the Irish Republican Army and the British. It operated between 1919 and 1921.

Agricultural cooperative cooperative where farmers pool their resources in certain areas of activity

An agricultural cooperative, also known as a farmers' co-op, is a cooperative where farmers pool their resources in certain areas of activity. A broad typology of agricultural cooperatives distinguishes between 'agricultural service cooperatives', which provide various services to their individually farming members, and 'agricultural production cooperatives', where production resources are pooled and members farm jointly. Examples of agricultural production cooperatives include collective farms in former socialist countries, the kibbutzim in Israel, collectively governed community shared agriculture, Longo Mai co-operatives and Nicaraguan production co-operatives.


Family and education

Thomas Spring Rice was the eldest son of Hon. Stephen Spring Rice (1814–1865) and his wife, Ellen Frere. He was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. [1] He became 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon in 1866 on the death of his grandfather, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Thomas Spring Rice, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, as his father predeceased him in 1865. Spring Rice became an active member of the House of Lords and spent much of his time at Mount Trenchard House in County Limerick, from where he managed his estates. He also owned property in London. In 1872 he attended a "General Meeting of the members and friends of the Irish Society for Women's Suffrage" in Blackrock, County Dublin. [2]

Stephen Edmund Spring Rice, styled The Honourable from 1839 until his death, was an Anglo-Irish civil servant and philanthropist. He served as the Secretary of the British Relief Association between 1847 and 1848.

Harrow School English independent school for boys

Harrow School is public school for boys in Harrow, London, England. The School was founded in 1572 by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I, and is one of the original seven public schools that were regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868. Harrow charges up to £12,850 per term, with three terms per academic year (2017/18). Harrow is the fourth most expensive boarding school in the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Trinity College, Cambridge Constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

On 26 October 1875, Spring Rice married Elizabeth Butcher (d. 27 April 1908), the oldest daughter of the Most Rev. Rt. Hon. Samuel Butcher, Bishop of Meath, in County Meath. Together they had three children, who were brought up to speak fluent Irish.

Samuel Butcher PC was an Irish Anglican bishop in the Church of Ireland in the 19th century.

The Bishop of Meath is an episcopal title which takes its name after the ancient Kingdom of Meath. In the Roman Catholic Church it remains as a separate title, but in the Church of Ireland it has been united with another bishopric.

County Meath County in the Republic of Ireland

County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Leinster and is part of the Mid-East Region. It is named after the historic Kingdom of Meath. Meath County Council is the local authority for the county. At the 2016 census, the population of the county was 195,044. The county town of Meath is Navan. Other towns in the county include Trim, Kells, Laytown, Ashbourne, Dunboyne, and Slane.

Mary Ellen Spring Rice was an Irish nationalist activist during the early 20th century.

Thomas Spring Rice, 3rd Baron Monteagle of Brandon Diplomat and peer

Thomas Aubrey Spring Rice, 3rd Baron Monteagle of Brandon was an Anglo-Irish peer and British diplomat.

His eldest son predeceased him, therefore he was succeeded in his peerage by his youngest son. After his son died without an heir in 1934, his peerage passed onto Thomas' brother, Francis Spring Rice (1852–1937). Their sister was the poet, Lucy Knox. Lord Monteagle was a cousin of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, British Ambassador to the United States from 1912 to 1918.

A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles in a number of countries, and composed of assorted noble ranks.

Francis Spring Rice, 4th Baron Monteagle of Brandon Anglo-Irish peer

Commander Francis Spring Rice, 4th Baron Monteagle of Brandon was an Anglo-Irish peer.

Lucy Knox, styled The Honourable from 1870 until her death, was an Anglo-Irish poet of the Victorian era.


Like his grandfather, Lord Monteagle was a moderate unionist when he assumed his seat in the House of Lords. He was initially a member of the Liberal Party, and in 1885 wrote a pamphlet entitled Liberal Policy in Ireland. [5] The following year he became a Liberal Unionist out of a fear that Gladstone's 1886 Home Rule bill would lead to full independence for Ireland, and the dissolution of the United Kingdom. [6] As a consequence, Lord Monteagle sat with the peers of the Irish Unionist Alliance and he became a leading figure among moderate Southern Unionists. As a resident of Ireland he witnessed the deterioration of the political situation during the 1890s. He gradually became of the opinion that unionists had to recognise that in order to protect the Union, a compromising and workable agreement would need to be reached with Irish nationalists. [7] In 1911, he was a founding member, and later president, of the Proportional Representation Society of Ireland, believing that proportional representation would help to prevent conflict between unionists and nationalists in a self-governing Ireland. In 1917, he helped to arrange the Irish Convention, using his personal connections to ensure that the interests of Sinn Féin were represented after the party leadership refused to attend. [8] The same year, he publicly identified himself as a moderate who still believed in the principle of Union but recognised that it was not working for the majority of Irishmen. [9] He was anxious that Ireland should not be divided and in 1919 he left the fractured Unionist Alliance to join the Irish Dominion League. The League was under the leadership of his close friend and cooperative colleague, Sir Horace Plunkett. [10] [11] He subsequently became chairman of the London branch of the League, and attempted to encourage David Lloyd George's government to grant dominion status to a united Ireland in line with the League's views. [12] In June 1920 he arranged meetings between representatives of the British government and the nationalist George Gavan Duffy. [13] A month later he proposed the Dominion of Ireland Bill in the House of Lords, at the same time as the government's Government of Ireland Bill was being debated in the British parliament. [14] His bill would have granted extensive home rule to a united Ireland, with responsibility over all domestic matters as a dominion within the empire. Monteagle argued that the foreign affairs and defence of Ireland should, however, remain the responsibility of the Westminster government. Opposed by both the Conservative Earl of Dunraven and Liberal peers supporting the government, the bill was defeated at second reading on 1 July 1920, by 28 votes for to 41 votes against. [15]

Unionism in Ireland political ideology

Unionism in Ireland is a political ideology that favours the continuation of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Since the partition of Ireland, unionism in Ireland has focused on maintaining and preserving the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. In this context, a distinction may be made between the unionism in the province of Ulster and unionism elsewhere in Ireland.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade-supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party. Led by Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain, the party formed a political alliance with the Conservative Party in opposition to Irish Home Rule. The two parties formed the ten-year-long coalition Unionist Government 1895–1905 but kept separate political funds and their own party organisations until a complete merger between the Liberal Unionist and the Conservative parties was agreed to in May 1912.

He caused indignation in the unionist community in Ireland when, in a February 1920 letter to The Times , he called for an end to the deportation and internment without trial of recently elected Sinn Féin politicians. [16]

Honours and appointments

Lord Monteagle was appointed a Knight of the Order of St Patrick on 9 February 1885. [17] He served as the Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Limerick. He was a founder of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society alongside Plunkett, succeeding him as president of the society, and was a proponent of agricultural cooperative economics. [18] He was president of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland between 1882 and 1884.

Coat of arms of Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon
Monteagle of Brandon Achievement.png
A leopard’s face Gules ducally crowned Or.
Quarterly 1st & 4th per pale indented Argent and Gules (Rice) 2nd Azure a lion rampant Or (Meredyth) 3rd Argent on a chevron between three mascles Gules as many cinquefoils Argent.
Fides Non Timet [19]


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  2. Boucherett, Emilia (April 1872). "Art. IX – Events of the Quarter". Englishwoman's Review (No. X): 111. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  3. Janet Egleson Dunleavy, Gareth W. Dunleavy, Douglas Hyde: A Maker of Modern Ireland (University of California Press, 20 February 1991), 248.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. SSISI website, 'History' (Accessed 30 September 2014)
  6. National Library of Ireland, Monteagle Papers (Collection List No. 122), p6.
  7. Thomas Hennessey, Dividing Ireland: World War One and Partition (Routledge, 20 June 2005), 186.
  8. Donald Harman Akenson, Conor: A Biography of Conor Cruise O'Brien, Volume I, 'Narrative' (McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP, 7 September 1994), 58.
  9. Bruce Nelson, Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race (Princeton University Press, 13 May 2012), 300.
  10. D. George Boyce, Alan O'Day, Defenders of the Union: A Survey of British and Irish Unionism Since 1801 (Routledge, 4 January 2002 ), 142.
  11. The Spectator (14 February 1920), page 10
  12. John Kendle, Ireland and the Federal Solution: The Debate over the United Kingdom Constitution, 1870–1920 (McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP, 1 January 1989), 231.
  13. John Turner, Lloyd George's Secretariat (CUP Archive, 1980), 98.
  14. Hansard (House of Lords, 1 July 1920, vol 40 cc1113-62)
  15. Hansard (House of Lords, 1 July 1920, vol 40 cc1113-62)
  16. The Spectator (14 February 1920), page 10
  17. Rayment, Leigh. "Knights of the Order of St Patrick" . Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  18. Timothy G. McMahon, Grand Opportunity: The Gaelic Revival and Irish Society, 1893–1910 (Syracuse University Press, 2008), 172.
  19. Burke's Peerage. 1949.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Spring Rice
Baron Monteagle of Brandon
Succeeded by
Thomas Spring Rice