Thomas Langlois Lefroy

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Lefroy, Thomas Langlois, Chief-Justice of the Queen's Bench, was born in the County of Limerick, 8th January 1776 — descended from an old Huguenot family. He entered Trinity College, 2nd November 1790, and was a member of the old College Historical Society, broken up in 1794. As auditor of the new society established in 1795, he delivered the opening address, and obtained four gold medals for oratory. He was called to the Bar in 1797. Two years afterwards he married at Abergavenny a Miss Paul, a member of one of the many Wexford families that retired to Wales during the Insurrection. In 1806, having risen high in practice, and having, in conjunction with his friend Mr. Schoales, published a valuable series of Reports, he was appointed King's Counsel; two years later he was made King's Sergeant. He was a prominent member of nearly all Protestant religious associations, including the Kildare-place Education Society. In 1830 his resignation of the sergeantcy created some sensation. He was prompted to this step by the Government declining to send him as usual judge of assize on a vacancy occurring. His known Protestant proclivities and his unpopularity with the Catholic party were the causes of this apparent slight.

He sat as member for Dublin University from 1830 to 1841 — taking the Conservative side, and opposing the extension of the Reform Bill to Ireland. In 1841, not without reluctance, seeing that his claims to the Chancellorship had been overlooked, he accepted the post of Baron of the Exchequer. He sat as judge during most of the political trials of 1848, and passed sentence on John Mitchel and other leaders of the Young Ireland movement. In 1852 he became Chief-Justice. "As a judge, he was remarkable for the quickness with which he apprehended the essential features of the cases submitted to him, while his comprehensive grasp of legal principles, and his skill in the application of them, have rarely, if ever, been surpassed."[304] In 1866 unsuccessful efforts were made in Parliament to remove him because of his great age. Later in the same year he resigned, refusing offers of a baronetcy and a seat on the Privy Council for his son. He died at Newcourt, near Bray, 4th May 1869, aged 93 years, retaining his faculties to the end. He was buried at Mount Jerome. Mr. Lefroy was a devoted parent, delighting in home; and was of a deeply religious cast of mind. He left behind a collection of meditations on religious subjects.

Sources

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

213. Lefroy, Chief Justice, Memoir: Thomas Lefroy. Dublin, 1871.

304. Sheil's, Richard Lalor, Sketches Legal and Political: Edited with Notes by M. W. Savage. 2 vols. London, 1855.

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