Thomas de Burley

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Thomas de Burley (died c.1371) was an English-born judge and monk in fourteenth century Ireland. He held office twice as Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was the Irish Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, whose Dublin house was at Kilmainham, from 1356 till his death. He had a bad reputation for corruption and vindictiveness towards his opponents.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

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.

Dublin Capital city of Ireland

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, it lies within the province of Leinster. It is bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of the Wicklow Mountains range. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region as of 2016 was 1,347,359. The population of the Greater Dublin Area was 1,904,806 per the 2016 census.

Little is known of his life before 1356, when he was appointed both Prior of Kilmainham and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. [1] except that he was English by birth, and entered the Order of St. John in England. He was superseded in both offices by John Frowyk, but later regained them. D'Alton tells us that he was Prior for "many years". [2] It has been suggested that he was an unwelcome choice as Prior, but this may simply reflect his later unsavoury reputation.

John Frowyk was an English-born cleric and judge in fourteenth-century Ireland.

He clashed with many of his judicial colleagues, notably Richard White, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, and numerous complaints were made against him of maladministration and corruption. He was removed as Lord Chancellor in 1364, after the Irish House of Commons sent a powerful delegation, including White and Maurice Fitzgerald, 4th Earl of Kildare, to England to complain of his misconduct; the precise complaint being that he had seriously misrepresented to King Edward III the state of affairs in Ireland. The King gave an order that the delegation should not be "troubled" for their mission on their return to Ireland; this suggests that they were afraid of reprisals from Burley or his allies, which in turn suggests that Burley had a name for being vindictive. [3]

Richard White was an Irish judge who held office as Lord Chief Justice of Ireland; he is remembered mainly for his complaints to the English Crown about the corruption and inefficiency of his judicial colleagues.

Lord Chief Justice of Ireland

The Court of King's Bench was one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror of the Court of King's Bench in England. The Lord Chief Justice was the most senior judge in the court, and the second most senior Irish judge under English rule and later when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom. Additionally, for a brief period between 1922 and 1924, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland was the most senior judge in the Irish Free State.

Irish House of Commons lower house of the irish parliament (until 1800)

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.

He was also preceptor of the Order's house in Shropshire. [4]

A preceptor is a teacher responsible to uphold a certain law or tradition, a precept.

Shropshire County of England

Shropshire is a county in England, bordering Wales to the west, Cheshire to the north, Staffordshire to the east, and Worcestershire and Herefordshire to the south. Shropshire Council was created in 2009, a unitary authority taking over from the previous county council and five district councils. The borough of Telford and Wrekin has been a separate unitary authority since 1998 but continues to be included in the ceremonial county.

In 1367 it was proposed to reappoint him Lord Chancellor in place of the quarrelsome and unpopular Thomas le Reve, Bishop of Lismore and Waterford. A brief power struggle developed, from which Burley emerged the victor. The same year he complained that the Order's manor at Leixlip was being wrongfully distrained for debts it did not owe.

Thomas le Reve was the first Bishop of Waterford and Lismore following the unification of the two sees in 1363, and was also Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was a strong minded and combative individual, who was not afraid to clash with his superiors.

Leixlip Town in County Kildare, near Dublin, Ireland

Leixlip is a town in north-east County Kildare, Ireland, near Dublin. Its location on the confluence of the River Liffey and the Rye Water has marked it as a frontier town historically: on the border between the ancient kingdoms of Leinster and Brega, as an outpost of The Pale, and on Kildare's border with County Dublin.

Distraint seizure of property to obtain payments

Distraint or distress is "the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed", especially in common law countries. Distraint is the act or process "whereby a person, traditionally even without prior court approval, seizes the personal property of another located upon the distrainor's land in satisfaction of a claim, as a pledge for performance of a duty, or in reparation of an injury." Distraint typically involves the seizure of goods (chattels) belonging to the tenant by the landlord to sell the goods for the payment of the rent. In the past, distress was often carried out without court approval. Today, some kind of court action is usually required,inappropriate tertiary source the main exception being certain tax authorities, such as HM Revenue and Customs in the United Kingdom and, in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service—agencies that retain the legal power to levy assets without a court order.

In 1367-8 the Bermingham family and their retainers began a private war in County Meath. Burley was appointed to negotiate a treaty with them, together with John Fitzrichard, High Sheriff of Meath, and Robert Tyrrel, Baron of Castleknock. A parley was arranged at Carbury but the Berminghams, in breach of the agreed terms, took the commissioners captive. Burley was quickly released in exchange for James Bermingham, then a prisoner in Trim Castle; the others were required to pay a ransom. He does not seem to have been ill-treated by his captors. [5]

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.

The High Sheriff of Meath was the British Crown's judicial representative in County Meath, Ireland from the conquest until 1922, when the office was abolished in the new Free State and replaced by the office of Meath County Sheriff.

The barony of Castleknock is a feudal title of nobility and one of the baronies of Ireland. Originally part of the Lordship of Meath, it was then constituted as part of the old county of Dublin. Today, it lies in the modern county of Fingal. The barony was created by Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath as his own feudal barony, held directly from himself in capite. His vassals were commonly called "De Lacy's Barons". The first vassal was Hugh Tyrrel. At the heart of the barony is the civil parish of the same name - Castleknock - which is one of eight civil parishes in the barony. In the townland of Castleknock itself is the location of the eponymous "Cnucha's Castle" - Castleknock Castle. The town with the biggest population in the barony is Blanchardstown.

He probably died in 1371, when William Tany succeeded him as Prior.

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  1. Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol. 1 p.83
  2. D'Alton, John History of the County of Dublin Hodges and Smith Dublin 1836 p.615
  3. Crooks, Peter "Hobbes", "Dogs" and politics in the Ireland of Lionel of Clarence c. 1361-6 The Denis Bethell Prize Essay 2005
  4. Ball p.83
  5. D'Alton p. 616