Alan Broderick, Lord Midleton

Broderick, Alan, Lord Midleton, an eminent Lord-Chancellor, born about 1660. His father, Sir John Broderick, took an active part in the Irish civil wars, and received in 1653, as his share of the forfeited lands, large estates in the County of Cork. Alan early displayed remarkable intelligence, studied law, sided with his brother Protestants in the War of 1689-'91, soon afterwards was made a Sergeant-at-Law, and five years later became Solicitor-General. In 1703, returned to Parliament for Cork, he was elected Speaker.

He was a friend of toleration, as far as the Presbyterians were concerned, and advocated the repeal of the Test Act — therein opposed by Dean Swift, as well as by his own son. In 1709 he was appointed Chief-Justice of the Queen's Bench, and on the accession of George I. (1714), was made Lord-Chancellor, and raised to the peerage as Baron Broderick of Midleton. During his tenure of office the famous cause of "Sherlock v. Annesley" grew into national importance. Hester Sherlock appealed against an order of the Barons of the Exchequer, and was by the Irish House of Lords put in possession of an estate in Kildare, until such time as the sum of £1,507 should be paid her. Maurice Annesley appealed to the English Lords, who directed possession to be given to him. A special meeting of the Irish Lords was held, 23rd September 1717, and they ordered the Sheriff of Kildare to give Sherlock possession. The Barons of the Exchequer, whose decision the English Lords had upheld, threatened him with dire penalties if he complied. The Sheriff, thinking the Irish Lords the stronger party, declined to obey, was fined, and concealed himself to avoid arrest.

On 27th July 1719, the Irish Lords summoned the Barons before them and complimented the Sheriff on his integrity and courage in not yielding to them. Lord Midleton opposed these proceedings of his colleagues, but his party was in a minority of thirty-four. The Barons were now ordered into custody for their contempt of the Irish Lords, who drew up an elaborate representation to the King. The English Lords resolved that the Barons had acted with " courage and fidelity to the Crown of Great Britain," and that His Majesty be requested to confer some mark of his royal favour upon them. The 6 Geo. I. cap. 5, declaring the dependency of Ireland upon the Parliament of Great Britain was then passed — an Act nullified in 1782. Lord Campbell thinks that the action of the English Lords was unwarranted. Lord Midleton was now an object of hatred to his brother peers; he was censured for absence in England, and consequent neglect of the duties of his court, and in 1725 resigned his seal as Chancellor. Various offices of trust were conferred on him by the Government. In 1728 he died at his seat, Ballyannan, County of Cork, aged about 68. He was thrice married.


76. Chancellors of Ireland, and Keepers of the Great Seal: J. Roderick O'Flaherty. 2 vols. London, 1870.