Sir William Cusack Smith

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Smith, Sir William Cusack, Bart., Baron of the Court of Exchequer, was born in Ireland, 23rd January 1766. He studied at the University of Oxford, spending his vacations with his friend, Edmund Burke, at Beaconsfield, or at his house in London. He was called to the Irish Bar in 1788; in 1795, obtained the rank of King's Counsel; and the same year was returned to Parliament for the borough of Donegal. He gave his firm support to all government measures, including the Union, and in 1800 was appointed Solicitor-General. Two years afterwards, on his father's appointment as Master of the Rolls, he took his place as a Baron of the Exchequer; and on his father's death in 1808, succeeded to a baronetcy. In 1834, on account of the expression of some strong political sentiments while on the Bench, an unsuccessful attempt was made in Parliament to have him removed.

He died at Newtown, near Tullamore, 21st August 1836, aged 70, and was buried at Geashill. The Gentleman's Magazine observes: "His decisions were distinguished by clearness, vigour, and promptitude... In a refined and classical taste, and in a chaste and graceful style of oratory, Baron Smith peculiarly excelled. It was not on the Bench alone that he shone forth as one of the brightest luminaries of his age and country. As a political and philosophical writer, he was equally distinguished... In private life he was equally admirable... In politics he leaned to the constitutional doctrines of the old Whigs, and throughout his life was the consistent advocate of Roman Catholic Emancipation." Amongst his writings may be mentioned pamphlets on the Union, the Slave Trade, and Catholic Claims; and a work on the Law of Evidence, published in 1811.

Sources

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

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

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