IRELAND, George (d.1596), of The Hutt, in Halewood, Lancs.
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Family and Education
s. of Thomas Ireland of The Hutt by Margaret, da. of Sir Richard Bold. educ. G. Inn 1552 or 1555. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. and h. of Ralph Birkenhead of Crowton, Cheshire, 4s. 4da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Edward Colwich of Colwich, Staffs., wid. of Peter Leicester of Tabley, Cheshire, s.p. suc. fa. 27 Aug. 1546.1
In company with his kinsman, Laurence Ireland of Lydiate, George Ireland of Hale or The Hutt was fined in 1560 for refusing to be a collector of the subsidy.2 The two branches of the Ireland family were prominent in Elizabethan Lancashire, and both were connected with the Stanleys, earls of Derby. One of Laurence Ireland’s daughters married Henry Stanley, ‘a younger son of an Earl of Derby’; George Ireland is named among guests received by the Derby household in 1587 and 1588; and a Thomas Ireland of Gray’s Inn, probably one of George’s sons, occurs as servant and lawyer to the 5th Earl of Derby from 1596 onwards.3
This association with the Stanleys explains George Ireland’s return for the Earl of Cumberland’s borough of Appleby in 1584, for the 4th Countess of Derby was a Clifford, daughter to the 2nd Earl of Cumberland and half-sister to the 3rd Earl. Ireland’s earlier return for Great Bedwyn—there can be no doubt that the man who served on committees in the 1572 and 1584 Parliaments, and who spoke so feelingly (and with embellishments from Demosthenes) on the great issues of the day, the state of religion, the menace of the Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth’s disregard for her own safety, was one and the same—may likewise have been due to a connexion with the borough’s patron, in this instance the Earl of Hertford, for in 6 and 7 Eliz. there are references to one Ireland, the Earl’s servant.4 If the servant was indeed the Member, there remains the puzzle as to how Ireland, a minor at his father’s death, and a Lancashire gentleman intimate with the Stanleys, became attached in the earlier part of his career to the Earl of Hertford. It may or may not be significant that a branch of the Earl of Cumberland’s family was established in Wiltshire, and that Henry Clifford, a former Member for Great Bedwyn, was one of Hertford’s followers in the county.
Considering now Ireland’s parliamentary activities, on 21 May 1572 he urged the renewal of an Act of Henry VIII’s reign, to make all papists traitors. That ‘would keep them under’. Two days later he regretted the fate of the bill of attainder against Mary Queen of Scots, saying:
As we are all most bounden to her Majesty to think so well of us, so can we not but justly lament she hath so small regard unto herself.
On 24 May he spoke on the bill against vagabonds. During the 1576 session he was on the committee of the bill about parish registers (10 Feb.), and on 18 Feb. he spoke on the bill concerning lands without covin and was appointed to the committee. He was appointed to two other committees in 1576 concerning actions upon the case (15 Feb.) and letters patent (25 Feb.) and also to one in 1581 concerning land reclamation (8 Mar.).
In 1584 he was appointed to the committee concerning the oath of association (18 Dec.), and made three speeches, the dates of which have not been ascertained. One recommended that public bills should be given priority over private. Another was on the Queen’s safety:
It makes my heart leap for joy to think we have such a jewel. It makes all my joints tremble for fear when I consider the loss of such a jewel.
The third was on the deadlock in the negotiations over Mary Queen of Scots:
We were very hot a while, but now ... cold again. Our petitions are not looked to, we do nothing. ... I would have her [Mary] hopeless to reign and headless to live.5
There is little more to say about Ireland. After the subsidy incident of 1560, his name next occurs in the 1574 and 1587 levies of arms and armour. His will has not been traced, but he himself appears in the wills of others, as in that of Robert Ireland, wherein he is called ‘the right worshipful my singular good master’.6 One view of him—not necessarily complete or accurate—emerges from two documents relating to a dispute about tithes in the Cheshire lordship of Deresbury. The first, tentatively dated 1571, shows that Ireland, having obtained possession of the tithes from a certain John Daniel, granted them to his brother-in-law William Aston, who in turn leased them back to Daniel for 21 years. Then, according to Daniel’s complaint, Ireland and Aston conspired together to defraud Daniel both of his money and his bargain, to defeat the lease, and so to arrange matters as to prevent Daniel recovering the penalties to which he was entitled. The result of this complaint is not known, though from the second document, a letter sent by the Privy Council to the Earl of Derby more than 20 years later, on 12 Aug. 1593, it appears that Daniel had recovered the tithes but was being subjected to vexatious litigation by Ireland, who was trying to defeat and ruin him in the Exchequer court at Chester. In the preceding January the Earl, at the Council’s request and presumably by virtue of his authority as chamberlain of Chester, had ordered a stay of proceedings and had placed the issue before the justices of the common pleas. Now, the Council had heard, Ireland was again pressing his case in the Exchequer at Chester, ‘meaning with some extraordinary favour in that court to prevail against the suppliant’ and to ‘weary and impoverish’ Daniel ‘by multiplicity of suits in several courts’. The Council therefore required Derby to continue his earlier order staying all process in the Exchequer at Chester pending the decision of the justices, and to allow Daniel to enjoy the tithes without interruption.7 The outcome is again unknown. Derby’s death a month later may not have been without effect on Ireland’s fortunes, and for him too there was little time left for litigation. He died 15 July 1596, ‘lord of Hutt, Hale, Crowton, part of Bebington, Kingsley, Chester, etc.’, leaving as heir his son John, the last Elizabethan sheriff of Lancashire.8
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Genealogist, n.s. xxxiv. 8; Chester 3/77/24.
- 2. C33/21, f. 331.
- 3. Vis. Lancs. 1664-5 (Chetham Soc. lxxxviii), 287; Stanley Pprs. (Chetham Soc. xxxi), 41, 57; HMC Hatfield, vi. 187 etc.; Lansd. 86, f. 26.
- 4. HMC Bath, iv. 150; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 237.
- 5. D’Ewes, 247, 249, 341; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. ff. 33, 36, 44; Lansd. 43, anon. jnl. ff. 168, 169; CJ, i. 105, 106, 108, 132.
- 6. Lancs. Lieutenancy (Chetham Soc. xlix, l), 37, 191; Lancs. Wills (Chetham Soc. n.s. iii), 216.
- 7. CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 375; APC, xxiv. 45.
- 8. Chester 3/84/16; Genealogist, n.s. xxxiv. 9.