28th February 1783. The Irish Order.

Ireland was part of the United Kingdom until 1921, and it was in 1868 that Edward, Prince of Wales was installed in the Protestant Cathedral, Dublin, as a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick.

Insignia of the Knight of St Patrick.

Insignia of the Knight of St Patrick. Pic. Ref. below.

In 1907, Edward now King, was undoubtedly miffed to be told, when in Ireland, by the Viceroy Lord Aberdeen, that the Crown Jewels of the Order of St. Patrick had been stolen a month earlier from Dublin Castle. They were never recovered and the Ulster-King-at Arms, Sir Arthur Vicars was sacked as negligent.

It was Today in 1783 that the Order of St. Patrick was instituted. ‘It was prompted,’ wrote one historian, ‘by the recent appearances of a National Irish spirit which would no longer sit patiently under neglect and mismanagement.’

The Irish Peers were given a new Order complete with ceremonial dress and insignias on similar lines to the Order of the Garter.

The Hall of Dublin Castle re-named St. Patrick’s Hall, became their meeting place, which was adorned with the principal symbols of the Order of the Cross of St. Patrick, a golden harp and a shamrock.

The Peerage of Ireland had been created by monarchs as Lords and Kings of Ireland, later of the UK of Great britain and Ireland, but the creations ended in the 19th century.

An Irish Protestant Parliament, independent of Westminster, had been created in 1782, which had given Catholics a chance to air grievances against the ruling Protestant oligarchy of Dublin Castle.

However rebellion was in the air, and Prime Minister Pitt saw trouble could only be averted by making concessions to the majority Catholics, resulting in The Act of Union of 1800, the Parliament meeting for the first time on February 2nd 1801.

Many English peers had originally held Irish peerages, as the Lumley family of Lumley Castle in Durham. Richard in 1628 was created a Viscount and another Richard acquired an Earldom of Scarborough in 1689 which is still extant.

Palmerston, later Prime-Minister, succeeded to his Irish ‘potato peerage’ in 1802.

Another who had inherited an Irish peerage was the 12th Baron Farnham who died in 2001. He had tried over the years to establish the rights of descendants of the last Irish Peers to play a full part in the Lords, based on  the King’s summons by writ to attend the Upper House, rights which had not been nullified.

However The Committee for Privileges found against him, despite his grandfather the 11th baron having been elected in 1908 to sit in the Lords, as one of the 28 representative Irish peers elected under the terms of the Act of Union.

After the partition of Ireland in 1922 peers already elected were allowed to remain, but they were only entitled to sit on the steps the throne, a position Farnham ‘found uncomfortable.’

There have been no new elections to the Order of St. Patrick since 1924, apart from 3 Royals, and the institution must rank in history as another ‘Great Idea’ for solving the Irish problem.

Attempts to revive the Order was raised in the 1940s by King George VI with Prime Minister Attlee, but nothing came of it. Time had moved on.

The Order of St. Patrick still technically survives and the Queen remains Sovereign of the Order. The last Knight, Prince Henry of Gloucester, died in 1974

Ref: telegraph.co.uk/lord-farnham. Article 2.4.2001.

Ref wikipedia.org/peerages_of_ireland. Also Pic.Ref.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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