Fitzgibbon, John

, earl of Clare, and lord high chancellor of Ireland, the son of John Fitzgibbon, esq. an eminent lawyer at the Irish bar, who died in 1780, was born in 1749, educated at the universities of Dublin and Oxford, and afterwards entered upon the study of the law, of which profession he became the great ornament in his native country. In 1784 he was appointed attorney-general on the elevation of Mr. Scott to the bench, and on the decease of lord chancellor Lifford in 1789, his lordship received the seals, and was raised to the dignity of the peerage by the title of baron Fitzgibbon of Lower Connello. To these dignities were added the titles of viscount Clare, Dec. 20, 1793, and earl of Clare, June 10, 1795; and the English barony of Fitzgibbon of Sidbury, in Devonshire, Sept. 24, 1799. In 1802 his health appeared to be so seriously affected, that his physicians thought proper to recommend a more genial climate; and he had arrived at Dublin from his country seat at Mountshannon, designing to proceed immediately to Bath, or if his strength permitted to the south of France. The immediate cause of his death was the loss of a great quantity of blood, while at Mountshannon, which was followed by such extreme | weakness, that upon his arrival at Dublin on the 25th, there was reason to fear he could not survive the ensuing day; on Wednesday these alarming appearances increased so much, that upon a consultation of physicians, he was given over. On being made acquainted with this melancholy truth, the firmness of his lordship’s mind did not forsake him. To prevent any impediment to the public business, he directed the new law officers to be called, and from his bed administered to them the necessary oaths. Soon after, his lordship fell into a lethargic slumber, and continued motionless until Thursday Jan. 28, 1802, when he ceased to breathe.

His lordship married July 1, 1786, Miss Whaley, daughter of Richard Chapel Whaley, esq. of Whaley abbey, in Ireland, by whom he had issue, John, the present peer, and another son and two daughters. At his death his lordship was a privy-counsellor, a lord of trade and plantations, vice-chancellor of the university of Dublin, and LL. D. In the elevated and arduous situation of lord chancellor, during a very eventful period, he uniformly acted with a manly decision and ability that extorted applause even from his political adversaries. He banished chicanery and artificial delay from the court where he presided; and was on every emergent occasion the firm and undaunted supporter of the constitution of the British realms, at a time when it was every where assailed by secret machinations, and in his own country by open rebellion. For such emergencies he was peculiarly fitted by a dauntless spirit, joined to great ability, virtue, and patriotism in its true sense. The only printed document of his composition is his “Speech on the Union.1


Gent. Mag. 180 12. Park’s edit, of Royal and Noble Authors. Collins’s Peerage, by sir E. Brydges.