Speakers in the 17th-Century Irish Parliament




In Ireland in the 17th century before the Battle of the Boyne, there were only five parliaments held. For these parliaments there was a total of 16 different individuals who acted as Speaker or made an attempt to become Speaker in the Commons or the Lords. This article will attempt to consider the possible criteria that may have been important in assessing the suitability of the candidates and also to see how many of those 16 are found to be suitable according to these conditions. We can be assured that the vast majority of those appointed and selected were politically reliable and that other issues such as legal training and legal experience are also common among most. However, ethnicity, religion (including attitudes to others' religion), family and marriage contacts, and administrative experience show that the Speakers did not always share a common background. To a certain extent, it may be deduced that these differences may be reflective of the changing political scene in Ireland over the course of this short 17th century. The performance and attributes of those who failed to become Speaker can also be useful in a study that attempts to understand the qualifications deemed desirable in a Speaker in 17th-century Ireland.