JOCELYN, Robert, Visct. Jocelyn (1788-1870), of Dundalk House, co. Louth.

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



1806 - 1807
10 Feb. 1810 - 29 June 1820

Family and Education

b. 27 Oct. 1788, 1st s. of Robert Jocelyn, 2nd Earl of Roden [I], by 1st w. Frances Theodosia, da. of Very Rev. Robert Bligh, dean of Elphin. educ. Harrow 1801-5. m. (1) 9 Jan. 1813, Hon. Maria Frances Catherine Stapleton (d. 25 Feb. 1861), da. of Thomas, 12th Baron Le Despenser, 4s. 4da.; (2) 16 Aug. 1862, Clementina Janet, da. of Thomas Andrews of Greenknowes, Dumfries, wid. of Robert Lushington Reilly of Scarva, co. Down, s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Roden [I] 29 June 1820; cr. Baron Clanbrassill [UK] 17 July 1821; KP 20 Aug. 1821.

Offices Held

Jt. auditor gen. of Exchequer [I] Dec. 1800-20, auditor gen. 1820-2; PC [GB] 26 Mar. 1812; treasurer of Household May-July 1812, vice-chamberlain Aug. 1812-1821; ld. of bedchamber 1827-31; PC [I] 26 July 1858.

Sheriff, co. Louth 1812-13; custos rot. 1820-49.

Capt. Dundalk inf. 1809; lt.-col. Louth militia ?1826-47.


Viscount Jocelyn was barely 18 when he was returned at his father’s instigation for county Louth to fill an untimely vacancy on the eve of the election in 1806. As a minor he could be disqualified, and in the following year Lord Roden arranged for his brother John to keep the seat warm till his son, who went abroad, came of age.1 Returned in February 1810, Jocelyn at once dismayed the Irish government by preferring to stay for the assizes, resisting the viceroy’s plea to go over;2 but he was presented to the King on 28 Mar., was in the government majority on the Scheldt inquiry, 30 Mar., spoke against Burdett on 6 Apr., and on 16 Apr. voted against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones. He voted against sinecure reform, 17 May, and on 21 May against parliamentary reform. On 25 May he spoke and on 1 June voted against Catholic relief.3 He had been duly labelled ‘Government’ by the Whigs.

The Regency propositions were a snag. Jocelyn, after speaking in favour of a bill on the subject on 20 Dec., explained to the viceroy next day that ‘the very strict intimacy and friendship that has always existed between my father and the Prince of Wales’ prevented him from voting for them, adding ‘... my political conduct of course shall ever be guided by my father’s wishes’. He was accordingly in the majority against government on 1 Jan. 1811, for which he was labelled a ‘rat’, and had an uncomfortable dinner at the Speaker’s with the ministerialists next day, but he had insisted that he would support government in other respects and was ‘too sincere to be suspected’.4 On 31 May 1811 he spoke against Catholic relief without securities, insisting, with reference to his speech a year before, that absentee landlords were to blame for Ireland’s ills.

Jocelyn was invited to move the address on 7 Jan. 1812, ‘being told at Carlton House it was considered a compliment to the Prince to move the address framed by his minister, and that when he told Perceval he was a friend to the Catholic emancipation, Perceval said he supposed that did not include the support of an Irish parliament’. It would appear from this that Jocelyn was primarily his father’s mouthpiece: he agreed to move the address only after consulting him. Brougham, for opposition, believed it was a move ‘to blind the Catholics’. The occasion turned out farcically, Burdett springing up before Jocelyn to move an inflammatory address, which Jocelyn was then obliged to counter by moving an amendment, duly carried. Perceval thought he extricated himself well from an awkward situation. Next day Jocelyn took issue with Whitbread in debate as to the prospects for peace.5

In the spring of 1812 Jocelyn was appointed to the Regent’s household. He was in the government minority against a stronger administration, 21 May. In the ensuing Parliament he voted against Catholic relief on 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May 1813, 21 May 1816 and 9 May 1817. In other respects, he could be relied on to swell the majority on all critical divisions, though the chief secretary had to warn him not to set a bad example by missing the opening of the session of 1817.6 He seldom spoke, though on 8 July 1814 he warmly defended the Irish insurrection bill and on 23 Feb. 1815 presented a petition in favour of the Corn Laws. On 23 May 1817 he reverted to his favourite theme of absentee landlords being Ireland’s chief scourge. In the Parliament of 1818 he spoke at least three times on Irish matters, blaming ‘a superabundant population’ for defects in Irish public health and calling for more English capital investment in Ireland. On 18 Feb. 1820 he reported to the House George IV’s answer to their address on his accession.

Jocelyn was remarkable for

his lofty stature, stalwart frame, and countenance beaming with honesty, courage, and generosity, rather than with intellectual power, marking him out for influential if not commanding ascendancy ... though undistinguished as an orator, his stature, bearing, and voice contributed to the impressiveness of his earnest and effective speaking.

He died, a ‘staunch Protestant’, 28 Mar. 1870.7

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. HMC Fortescue, viii. 422; Spencer mss, Roden to Bedford, 19 Oct. 1806.
  • 2. NLI, Richmond mss 66/903; 73/1650, 1715.
  • 3. Geo III Corresp. v. 4121, 4126, 4177.
  • 4. Richmond mss 66/904, 905; 73/1650; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 22 Dec. 1810; Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 374.
  • 5. Add. 34458, f. 190; 51534, Grenville to Holland, Wed. [?1 Jan. 1812]; Brougham mss, Brougham to Grey [23 Dec. 1811]; Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3320.
  • 6. Add. 40292, ff. 94, 107.
  • 7. Teignmouth, Reminiscences, i. 174-9.