John Hely-Hutchinson

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Hely-Hutchinson, John, an eminent lawyer, and Provost of Trinity College (son of Francis Hely of Gertrough), was born about 1715. On his marriage to an heiress in 1751 he assumed the name of Hutchinson. A man of commanding abilities, he was called to the Bar in 1748; returned to Parliament for Lanesborough in 1759, and for Cork in 1761; appointed Prime-Sergeant in 1762; Provost of Trinity College in 1774; Secretary of State for Ireland, and Keeper of the Privy Seal in 1777. In 1783 he obtained a peerage for his wife, as Baroness of Donoughmore. He was a noted pluralist, being at one and the same time Secretary of State, Major of Horse, Provost of Trinity College, and Searcher, Packer, and Gauger of the Port of Strangford.

Lord Guildford once remarked, "if England and Ireland were given to this man, he would solicit the Isle of Man for a potato garden." His appointment as Provost created some turmoil; as a layman he was considered unsuitable for the post, and he became involved in constant disputes with the Fellows and students. Dr. Duigenan wrote a book in opposition to his appointment; a series of satirical publications appeared against him under the title of Pranceriana; and he was also involved in several duels. Full particulars of these proceedings will be found in the Gentleman's Magazine noticing his death, which took place at Buxton, 4th September 1794; he was aged 79. He wrote an excellent treatise on the Commercial Restraints of Ireland. In Grattan's Life it is stated that he supported nearly every good measure — the Claim of Right, Free Trade, the Catholics, Reform. "As a speaker he was good; he possessed, perhaps, greater powers of satire than any other man; it was incomparable; nothing could be better; it was the finest and severest style, adapted to the highest order of matter, and in its effects it was fatal."

He was considered to have sensibly elevated the style of speaking in the House of Commons. Mr. Taylor, in his History of the University of Dublin, whilst admitting that his appointment to the provostship was ill-advised, considers that his government conferred great benefits on the University, and that "he was a man of an enlightened mind and extended views." One of his sons became an earl, another a baron; and others of his numerous descendants were distinguished in the senate, the Church, and the army. [His eldest son, Richard, created Earl of Donoughmore, was the untiring advocate of Catholic Emancipation. At his death in 1825, the title devolved upon his brother John, a distinguished general, who succeeded Abercrombie in the command of the British army in Egypt; he sat in the Irish Parliament in 1800, and voted for the Union, and was created Baron Hutchinson, with a pension of £2,000 per annum. He died in 1832.]

The present Earl of Donoughmore (1877) is fourth in line of descent from the founder of the family.

Sources

54. Burke, Sir Bernard: Peerage and Baronetage.

146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.

154. Grattan Henry, his Life and Times: Henry Grattan. 5 vols. London, 1839-'46.

332. University of Dublin; History, with Biographical Notices. William B. S. Taylor. London, 1845.

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