BERNARD, James, Visct. Bernard (1785-1856), of Castle Bernard, Bandon, co. Cork.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 1807
1807 - 1818
1818 - 1820
1820 - 1826
1830 - 26 Nov. 1830

Family and Education

b. 14 June 1785, 1st s. of Francis, 1st Earl of Bandon [I], by Lady Catherine Henrietta Boyle, da. of Richard, 2nd Earl of Shannon [I]; bro. of Hon. Richard Boyle Bernard*. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1804. m. 13 Mar. 1809, Mary Susan Albinia, da. of Most Rev. the Hon. Charles Brodrick, abp. of Cashel, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Bandon [I] 26 Nov. 1830.

Offices Held

Rep. peer [I] 1835-d.; ld. lt. co. Cork 1842-d.

Capt. Bandon Legion inf. 1810.


Viscount Bernard sat for three Irish constituencies on the interest of his grandfather and uncle, the 2nd and 3rd Earls of Shannon, and usually followed their political line. Thus on 24 Oct. 1806 he wrote to his uncle:

I feel very much obliged to you for letting me into your way of thinking with respect to politics and I perfectly agree with you that in the present moment, the country stands more in need of a strong government than at almost any other period. I beg you will be assured that if my conduct in Parliament does not in every instance perfectly agree with your sentiments it can only be occasioned by my ignorance of them, and I hope you will inform me if any circumstances should hereafter induce to change them.1

Bernard was recorded in December 1806 as being a supporter of ministers, though at first thought doubtful. He was reported to have voted with opposition for Brand’s motion, 9 Apr. 1807, and the Portland ministry were prepared to see in him a ‘determined opponent’, but he was listed in an Irish newspaper as ‘government’ and the confusion probably arose from uncertainty as to his uncle’s line.2 Lord Shannon came out in favour of the new ministers and Bernard followed suit.

His maiden and only known speech was made on 23 Jan. 1810, when he moved the address: ‘miserably’, according to William Lamb, and the prime minister was inclined to agree.3 He was in the government divisions of 5 and 30 Mar. 1810 on the Scheldt inquiry and voted with them on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and on McMahon’s paymastership, 24 Feb. 1812; he also voted with the government minority of 21 May on Stuart Wortley’s motion. He does not appear to have been a reliable attender, but voted against Catholic relief regularly, 1811-1819. Occasional minority votes attributed to ‘Viscount Bernard’ should in all probability have been recorded as given by Viscount Barnard. Government regarded Bernard as one of their Irish friends to be invited to conferences and dinners.4

In November 1817, after Lord Shannon had formed a coalition with an opposition interest in county Cork, Bernard made known his intention to give it up and at the general election retreated to a borough seat. Somewhat to the surprise of ministers, he continued to support them.5 He died 31 Oct. 1856.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. NLI, Shannon mss.
  • 2. NLS mss 12911, Elliot to Fremantle, 25 Dec. 1806; Morning Chron. 14 Apr., 22 June; Dublin Evening Post, 23 Apr. 1807; Portland mss PwF 10520, 10522.
  • 3. Lady Bessborough and her Family Circle, 151; Geo. III Corresp. v. 4074.
  • 4. Add. 38366, ff. 133, 135; 40292, f. 149.
  • 5. Add. 40298, f. 45.