Co. Galway


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Number of registered freeholders:

33,014 in 1829; 2,052 in 1830

Number of voters:

at least 7,500 in 1826; 1,422 in 1830


1 Apr. 1820JAMES DALY 
6 July 1826JAMES DALY6206
 James Staunton Lambert3635
 John Kirwan81
11 Apr. 1827LAMBERT vice Martin, on petition, 11 Apr. 1827 
 James Daly666
 John D`Arcy216

Main Article

The extensive and populous county of Galway was one of the poorest and most agriculturally backward in the country. East of Lough Corrib, which divided it into two contrasting halves, the mainly productive ground provided reasonable returns on the small estates of the gentry, but its western half formed the inaccessible and lawless region of mountain and bog known as Connemara, which was largely dependent on its maritime resources. Apart from the disfranchised boroughs of Athenry and Tuam, and a few other market towns, the only major settlement was the eponymous county town, which returned one Member.1 At the county’s geographical centre, the borough was the venue for parliamentary elections and the battleground, not least through its several newspapers, of the endemic hereditary feuding which characterized the semi-barbarous nature of Galway society. No one personified this more than the warm hearted and hard headed Richard Martin of Ballynahinch, who, on being asked who would win a severe Galway election, ribbed his friend the prince regent by replying, ‘The survivor, Sire’.2 The so-called ‘Member for Connemara’, who thrived on the honour of a popular return, and other landowners no doubt inflated the enormous number of potential electors by manufacturing dubious freeholds. Hudson Gurney* later recorded:

One gentleman in the county of Galway (not Martin) had 270 tenants joined in one lease, jointly and severally bound to the payment of the rent of 5s. p.a., all being thereby Irish freeholders and voting both for the town and county of Galway, the land being between land and water - too solid for boating and too fluid to walk upon - the 40s. they swear to being [the] value of peat dug in the bog.3

Catholics, who formed the bulk of the population and held up to a third of properties, were credited with the largest electoral influence, and all parliamentary aspirants had at least to pay lip service to advancing their cause.4 According to Oldfield, there was ‘no commanding territorial interest’; rather, as had happened in the eighteenth century, the principal Protestant families of the Blakes, Dalys, D’Arcys, Eyres, Frenches, Lynches, Martins and St. Georges, with several others, disputed the representation among themselves.5 The authority of the leading noblemen was temporarily diminished in the early nineteenth century by the fact that the 14th earl of Clanricarde of Portumna, who succeeded in 1808, was only a child; while the Tory 6th earl of Clancarty of Garbally (brother of Power Le Poer Trench, archbishop of Tuam), a former Member who was governor, custos rotulorum and militia colonel of the county and had a seat in the House of Lords, was ambassador at The Hague from 1813 to 1823. Of the handful of resident Irish peers, the only significant one was the former Limerick Member, the 2nd Viscount Gort of Loughcutra Castle, another governor and representative peer; among the others were the 1st Baron Ashtown of Woodlawn, the 2nd and 3rd Barons Clonbrock of Clonbrock, the 3rd Baron Ffrench of Castle Ffrench and the 3rd Baron Wallscourt of Ardfry. Other respectable inhabitants of the county included the baronets Sir John Blake of Menlough Castle, Sir John Burke of Marble Hill, Sir John Ignatius Burke of Glinsk, Sir George Shee of Dunmore House and Sir Ross Mahon* of Castlegar.6

In the decades before the Union, Martin and the Dalys, who usually controlled the representation of Galway borough, gradually came to dominate the county seats. Martin, a genuine advocate of Catholic claims, and James Daly of Dunsandle, whose sympathies really lay with the Protestant ascendancy, were again returned after a contest at the general election of 1818 as supporters of Lord Liverpool’s administration. For Martin, who had been out of the House since 1812, defeating Daly’s Whig cousin Denis Bowes Daly of Dalystown allowed him to pursue his irregular interest in animal welfare, but neither he nor Daly, who was sick of electioneering and expected a peerage, was especially active on local business in the Commons.7 In the winter of 1819-20 there was a murderous outbreak of ribbonism, which the civil authorities were at first unable to quell, and repeated calls were made by the magistrates for recourse to the Insurrection Act, which the Irish secretary Charles Grant* resisted.8 The disturbances continued during the general election of 1820, when Denis Bowes Daly, John D’Arcy of Kiltulla and Clifden Castle, Arthur French St. George of Tyrone and the past candidate Giles Eyre of Eyrecourt were all mentioned, as was the Irish under-secretary William Gregory of Coole, Clancarty’s brother-in-law.9 As expected, in the event neither Daly, who busied himself with restoring order, nor Martin, who was said to have very little backing in the eastern half of the county, was opposed. The former was proposed by Robert French of Monivea and the Catholic John Donnellan of Ballydonnellan, and the latter was nominated by the Catholics Christopher Dillon Bellew of Mount Bellew and John Browne of Moyne (whose nephew Edward had been assassinated in January).10

The Members, who had differed on the hustings and in the House on the subject, again argued over the necessity of re-enacting the insurrection bill at a county meeting in Loughrea, 19 Aug. 1820, when Martin, who called for an amnesty for the ribbonmen, forced St. George to withdraw his proposed vote of thanks to Daly. Nothing came of plans to call another meeting that autumn to rectify this omission, nor of Martin’s initiative, stifled by Daly, Burke of Marble Hill and St. George, to promote an address to George IV over the Queen Caroline affair early the following year.11 An uncontroversial loyal address to the king, on his visit to Ireland, was agreed in August 1821, and in February 1822, despite Daly’s apparent absence, another was approved, at the instigation of Martin and with St. George and Burke’s support, for presentation to the newly appointed pro-Catholic lord lieutenant, Lord Wellesley.12 Following a severe famine that autumn, notably in the Aran Islands, on 23 Nov. 1822 there was a thinly attended county meeting, which the Members were criticized for missing; its petition was brought up by Daly, 27 Feb. 1823.13 Both Members signed the requisition for another gathering, 10 Jan. 1823, when it was agreed to present Wellesley with Martin’s proposed address congratulating him on escaping unharmed from the Dublin theatre riot.14 In January 1824 dinners to celebrate Clanricarde’s coming of age were held in Loughrea, with Daly presiding, and in Galway, in the presence of Martin, who supported the efforts made to free the borough from the domination of his colleague.15 Clanricarde attended the meeting of the county’s Catholics in Galway, 31 Mar., when, as Daniel O’Connell* told his wife

we defeated the lousy aristocracy here in great style. I beat them fairly out of their opposition and at length everything was carried unanimously. I spoke for nearly two hours and gave both Members a great dressing. Daly had the full benefit of the sermon as he was present in the chapel, although I affected not to know he was in the room.16

The ensuing petitions were brought up in the Lords by Lord Grey, 9 June, and in the Commons by James Grattan, Member for Wicklow, 10 June 1824.17

Amid successful calls for increased registration of Catholics that summer, there was speculation about the emergence of more sympathetic candidates, for instance Dr. Henry Blake of Renvyle, who promised to stand at the next election. Daly was thought secure with the backing of Protestants like Clancarty and Gort, but James Staunton Lambert of Creg Clare was considered a dangerous challenger under the patronage of Clanricarde, who was also eyeing Daly’s borough seat, and it was unclear with whom Martin, having a legion of freeholders at his disposal, would attempt to coalesce.18 In the autumn of 1824 Lambert, suspect as the only Protestant gentleman who had declined to sign the county’s pro-Catholic petition in 1812, confirmed that he was strongly favourable to relief, and St. George, who had a significant interest on the registers, offered as another liberal, but Martin remained hopeful that he would be left in undisturbed possession with Daly. He indignantly declined the compromise offered by Daly of bringing in his eldest son Thomas Barnewall Martin†, who managed the Ballynahinch estates on his father’s behalf, for the borough in exchange for uniting their county interests in mutual defence; and he urged his friend Canning, the foreign secretary, to give Clanricarde ‘a hint not to hurry this Roman Catholic county into all the horrors of a contested election’.19 Canning, while wishing Martin a ‘quiet time’, declined to intervene with Clanricarde, but privately observed that Martin voted against the Irish unlawful societies bill in February 1825 because he was ‘running a race with him for Galway and popularity’ and was ‘in alarm lest Lord C[lanricarde] should set up a candidate for that county and ... therefore seeks to fortify himself with the aid of the priests and of O’Connell’.20 A petition from the Catholics against the suppression of the Catholic Association was secured by Burke and Walter Joyce of Merview on 28 Feb., and presented to the Lords by Lord Lansdowne, 7 Mar., while one from the Protestant nobility and gentry for Catholic relief, promoted by Martin and Lambert, was brought up in the Commons, 10 May, and the Lords, 16 May.21 The Catholics, under Ffrench’s chairmanship, and the Protestants, under Daly’s, again met to forward the Catholic cause in August 1825.22

In May 1825 it had been believed that the next election would be settled by an examination of the registries, without the need for a contest, yet by September Henry Goulburn*, the Irish secretary, feared the sitting Members would lose.23 That month Canning warned Clanricarde, who had married his daughter earlier in the year, against overtly interfering in the way he had been accused of doing by the Whig Morning Chronicle, whose proprietor William Innell Clement was reported to be a candidate.24 In October Canning told him that ‘I have no wish but that you should make your own choice’, and in December 1825, when Martin again enquired about his rival’s intentions in county Galway politics, he wrote in reply that ‘I abhor all such discussions and if I had my way, I should get him [Clanricarde] out of them, instead of getting myself into them’.25 Unlike Lambert, who was stigmatized by Clanricarde’s increasingly apparent electoral connection with Daly, and St. George, whose withdrawal to avoid damaging other interests was regretted, the Members were criticized for not signing the county’s pro-Catholic petition the following spring; it was eventually presented by Daly, 19 May 1826.26 Martin, who was bluntly informed by Canning on 2 Mar. that he was ‘determined not to know the rights of the questions (whatever they may be) which may grow up’ out of his son-in-law’s activities, replied in a hurt tone that day that ‘Clanricarde may not be able now to dismiss the evil spirit he called up. Perhaps he now ought not. If thus I will give way. But pride must have the sanction of your desire’; he received the cutting response that ‘I am afraid, you still misunderstand me. I have not the slightest wish of any kind about G[alway]. I never talk to Lord C[lanricarde] about his county politics, nor allow him to talk to me about them’.27 Nevertheless, Martin denied reports that he would retire and strove to exploit the growing fears about the independence of the county which arose out of Daly’s desire to sanction the return of Lambert with himself and to seat Clanricarde’s nominee Thomas Gisborne Burke of Greenfield in the town, a combination revealed by Tom Martin in a devastating speech at a crucial borough meeting, 24 May 1826.28

Illustrating the fluctuating allegiances of the candidates and the complex interplay of county and borough concerns, as well as the cost of purchasing a pivotal minor interest, Gisborne Burke anxiously reported to Clanricarde from Galway, 27 May 1826:

I believe Daly and James Lambert were to have given each other their second votes. From this Daly is evidently flinching, and [is] writing to his friends that his second votes are totally disengaged [and] is trying all he can to render himself independent of your co-operation. If he succeeds in this, we have nothing to trust to in our hopes of the town but his unbiased honour and I need say no more. Besides (odd as it may appear) there are symptoms of an understanding between him and Martin lately, witness Martin’s parliamentary gentleness of late and the remarkable difference between the ways in which Tom Martin always speaks of Daly and Lambert as to the next election. In short, everybody remarks it and if you have nothing but a conversation with Daly to depend upon, he can easily pretend that you were the first to break any bargain and turn on you for he hates your politics here. All this James Lambert is slow to acknowledge for it frightens him, and his only anxiety is to see Martin beat out of the way by direct means, in co-operation with Daly. For the purpose he wants you and Daly to join to purchase D’Arcy of Kiltulla, as it is universally allowed (I believe even by Tom Martin) that his declaring against Martin would prevent his standing. This might save you a contest in the county, but it leaves you at Daly’s mercy as to the town and as you value that (unless you have some really good pledge) you should take care how you destroy Martin, as he is the weapon with which you threaten Daly. What I want you to do is to secure D’Arcy for yourself and then both town and county are safe: the town by having to threaten Daly with [sic] and the county by crushing Martin with him. A particular calculation of the economy of this plan I have not experience enough to enable me to enter into, but [Blake’s heir, the former independent borough Member] Val Blake ... says a contest in the county would cost at least four or five thousand pounds and he has ascertained from D’Arcy at my request, that £500 now down, and £1,000 if James Lambert be returned is about his price. If we can consider this as money which will prevent a contest and all people agree it would (I mean the decision of D’Arcy) I think it were well laid out as you are in the frying pan ... However you do it, if you wish to secure my return for the town, clinch Daly, for he is trimming this minute and will pretend to find fault with something I do to break with you.29

In June 1826 Martin complained about the patronage promised by Clanricarde, now an under-secretary at the foreign office (including presentation of a government living of £400 to one of the sons of D’Arcy, who reportedly had over 600 votes), as ministerial interference which Canning ‘would reprobate if exerted against William Cobbett†’. The foreign secretary again told Martin he was indifferent, but privately implored Clanricarde, who had received an Irish marquessate the previous year and was promised an English peerage, ‘not to incur new obligations ... and if you can, by any compromise not dishonourable [to] get rid of both [county and town] contests, yielding one’.30

Martin, who won the backing of the Catholic Association and proposed a renewal of his pledge (first made in 1812) that no candidate should accept official patronage until emancipation had been granted, offered with Daly, who created a sensation by unexpectedly inserting his loyal supporter James O’Hara of West Lodge in the concurrent borough contest, and Lambert at the general election of 1826, when there were at least 16,406 registered electors (95 per cent of whom were 40s. freeholders).31 On the hustings, 19 June, Daly, proposed by Richard James Mansergh St. George of Headford Castle and Donnellan, asserted his neutral and pro-Catholic stance; Martin, nominated by Michael Dillon Bellew (the late Christopher’s heir) and John James Bodkin* (son of Major Thomas Bodkin of Rahoon), condemned the intrigues of Clanricarde and Lambert and employed Canning’s name in his favour, and Lambert, introduced by Burke and Robert Joseph French of Rahasane, explained that he had not wished to yield to duress in signing the 1812 petition and vindicated his subsequent conduct. On 5 July Major John Kirwan of Castle Hackett was put up as a security for Martin, who trailed for most of the two-week poll. The contest was rapidly allowed to descend into the most violent disorder, which included the inciting of mob attacks to force back groups of opponents’ electors and the torching of taverns harbouring them, which the town’s mayor, Daly, and the county sheriff, Martin’s kinsman James Martin (son of Robert Martin of Ross), did little to mitigate, while Lambert’s brother Thomas was arrested for mistakenly shooting dead a rioter called Jeremiah Sullivan.32 Martin informed Canning, 25 June, that

many lives have been lost and Mr. Lambert’s was twice saved by my son. Lord Clanricarde, who up to the moment of this election was almost deified, is now detested. His armorial bearings in which the people prided have been torn down from every house and burned in the streets.

The following day Canning, who fretted about Clanricarde’s £5,000 plus expenses, sarcastically rebuked his son-in-law for involving himself in criminal ‘battles and sieges’, and on the 30th, having been forced to issue a statement disavowing the use of his name, he replied to Martin that he had all along advised Clanricarde ‘to spare himself so unprofitable a waste of time, trouble and expenditure’, and had never authorized the inducements allegedly held out by government.33 Daly, who finished well ahead of the field, and Martin, who on almost the last day of the poll overtook Lambert by only 84 votes, were declared elected, although in the case of Martin, who had already paid £1,000 as his share of the sheriff’s expenses, victory was only achieved by incurring crippling debts. Lambert, whose friends prepared a petition, blamed his defeat in part on the desertion of St. George, who insisted that he had only allowed his 300-odd tenants to return home because of the bloody assaults inflicted on them by supporters of Martin, who likewise quarrelled bitterly with his relation D’Arcy for polling his interest in Lambert’s favour.34 Wellesley’s private secretary wrote to Canning’s that ‘the election fever ... abated wonderfully’ on the quite proper acquittal of Thomas Lambert and his naive accessories at the assizes in July, though he judged that their imprudence had been the chief cause of Martin’s miraculous success. He confessed that ‘the politics of the county of Galway on that occasion are a mystery to me. I have little doubt however that Lord Clanricarde’s natural influence must ultimately prevail, with proper management. I am sure it will if he consults Sir John Burke’, his uncle and former guardian.35 The calm which was evident at the gathering of Catholics to advance their claims, 30 July, was also shown at the Protestants’ county meeting for the same purpose, 4 Sept. 1826.36

The petition from Lambert and others, which was presented on 4 Dec. 1826, alleged that the sheriff, acting with open partiality towards his relation, and the assessor, O’Hara, had combined with Daly to secure Martin’s return; that good Lambert votes had been refused but personated and fraudulent Martin ones allowed; that little had been done to prevent disturbances, including several onslaughts on Lambert’s committee room, and especially that extreme intimidation had been repeatedly employed against D’Arcy’s tenants, whose own petition to this effect was presented that day.37 Again unsuccessfully applying to Canning on the 12th, Martin asked, in relation to Clanricarde’s office:

Would it be seemly, that Mr. [Stephen Rumbold] Lushington* or Mr. [Robert Wilmot] Horton* should be seen openly canvassing, regulating the tallys, retaining and paying agents to oppose the return of a tried and undeviating supporter of the government? Such an interference by a peer and an under-secretary of state would I humbly submit to you be a formidable ground for complaint even by Mr. Hume*.38

In January 1827 Martin issued an address confirming that he would continue to resist the use of unconstitutional influence, and in March he restated his case in correspondence with Peel, the home secretary, who declined to interfere.39 Martin raised Clanricarde’s illegal activities in the Commons, 26 Feb., 5 Mar., and gave notice of a motion censuring him, 8, 13 Mar., but did not pursue it on the 15th. His partisan Martin Ffrench, a brother of Lord Ffrench, having aggressively abused and jostled Thomas Lambert in the lobby, the latter’s petition complaining of this was brought up, 22 Mar., and Ffrench made a grovelling apology the following day.40 Nothing came of the offer by his counsel to give up the case provided the election was voided in order to be rerun, 24 Mar., and Martin’s request for permission to examine Clanricarde and his brother-in-law, the 2nd marquess of Sligo, which was forwarded to the Lords by the Commons on 6 Apr., went unanswered. The committee, which revised the polling figures (Daly 6,106, Lambert 3,901, Martin 3,450, Kirwan 78), seated Lambert in place of Martin, who fled to France to avoid being arrested for debt, 11 Apr., when it found that ‘an organized system of rioting prevailed throughout the late election’ and that the constituted authorities had neglected their duty in not protecting Lambert’s voters.41 The exiled former Member made one last attempt to bring Clanricarde’s offences before the House when his petition asking to be permitted to produce evidence at the bar was presented by Hume, 13 June 1827.42

In February 1827 O’Connell advised that the Members, especially Daly, be warned that unless they backed the pro-Catholic Canning administration they would face future opposition from the Association.43 A poorly attended county meeting calling for Catholic relief took place, 9 Apr., and the county’s Catholics met to press their claims that month and again in August 1827, when Lambert, who voted for them in Parliament, was present.44 In early 1828 Thomas Bodkin chaired the meeting at which William McDermott of Springfield and Francis Blake Foster of Ashfield secured resolutions for the formation of a County Galway Liberal Club, whose target was the increasingly unpopular Daly, about whom rumours of an imminent peerage began to circulate.45 Charles Barclay, Member for Dundalk, obtained leave to bring in a bill for preserving the peace at county Galway elections, 22 Apr., but, after several postponements of its second reading, he reluctantly withdrew it, 4 June; Blake’s petition complaining about this, and calling for the writ to be issued for the vacancy created by Daly’s supposed ennoblement, was brought up by Graham, Member for Carlisle, 25 July.46 By mid-summer Tom Martin, St. George and others, including Valentine Blake and Foster (who bickered in a long exchange of printed addresses), were being discussed as possible candidates. Following the lead of the Catholic Association, where O’Connell called for the return of a liberal Protestant, the county’s Liberal Club, chaired by Martin Ffrench, agreed resolutions for the adoption only of candidates who would oppose any anti-Catholic government and pledge to assist in the liberation of the town franchise, 10 Aug.; at a stormy gathering of the friends of civil and religious liberty, Blake denounced Daly and Martin refused to take the Association’s pledge to oppose ministers, 17 Aug., when, as on other occasions, Martin’s brother Thomas Ffrench protested against the club’s interference as unnecessary.47 O’Connell’s victory in the famous by-election in neighbouring Clare in July led to expectations that a Catholic of similar standing, perhaps Richard Lalor Sheil*, would contest Galway. Daly’s friend Peel, who had resumed the home secretaryship in the duke of Wellington’s administration, and Gregory, who had an informant in the county, were initially dubious, but were then persuaded that Martin, though strapped for cash, might win the seat with the support of the moderate Catholic gentry against an O’Connellite candidate, probably Shee (or, failing him, Dillon Bellew). However, the premier quashed the attempt, not so much because he feared another damaging defeat (although he did), as because he supposed that thwarting the Association would weaken the public case for granting emancipation, to which he was reluctantly coming round. He therefore persuaded Daly, who had already expressed qualms about precipitating such a contest, to accept the deferral of his peerage.48 Controversy continued in the county that autumn, much of it stirred up by the troublesome Blake, whose failure to secure O’Connell’s approval for his candidacy provoked him to offer a plan for invalidating the Clare election to Wellington, who dismissed it. As the Irish secretary Lord Francis Leveson Gower* wrote to the prime minister, 21 Oct. 1828, in relation to the likely maintenance of order despite the establishment of a Galway Brunswick Club under Clancarty’s presidency, ‘the gentlemen in the county always understand each other very well, although nobody understands their position in relation to each other. There may be a duel or two more, but no disturbance of the public peace’.49

Lambert endeavoured to promote a county meeting to address the pro-Catholic lord lieutenant Lord Anglesey on his recall in early 1829, when speculation about Daly’s peerage revived. The passage of the emancipation bill opened the way for the Catholics Burke and Dillon Bellew to stand and, in addition to D’Arcy, John Eyre (only son of Giles), Robert Joseph French, Shee and Martin, who had recently added 800 freeholders to his registers, Clancarty’s anti-Catholic heir Lord Dunlo and O’Connell’s Clare victim William Vesey Fitzgerald were also among those mentioned that summer.50 The related franchise measure, which disfranchised as many as 32,055 40s. freeholders, saw the number of registered electors drop from 33,014 in January 1829 to 2,052, including (950 £10 freeholders) in January 1830.51 That month Martin attempted to bolster his already powerful interest, despite the fact that the family’s estates were heavily indebted, but Clanricarde, who was suspected of agreeing to seat Daly’s eldest son Denis for the town in order to secure the return of Martin’s most serious challenger, Burke, with Lambert, temporarily obstructed his bid to add another 400 tenants to the registers.52 It was also feared that Daly and Burke would combine in order to defeat Lambert, who was active in supporting the independent interest against Daly in Galway borough and was the only Member to sign the requisition for the county meeting against the increased Irish stamp and spirit duties, which took place under the newly appointed Catholic sheriff, Dillon Bellew, 22 June 1830.53

Of the large field of expected candidates at the general election of 1830 (including Foster and Martin, who issued addresses), the only ones to persist were Daly, who managed the victory of O’Hara over Blake in the borough by hinting at opening the corporation, Lambert, who received O’Connell’s endorsement, Burke, who (so Gregory heard) might have withdrawn, and D’Arcy, whose interest was again fought over.54 With the backing of the largest interest (Clancarty’s 274 votes), Daly was at first considered secure, although there was speculation that if Lambert was rendered safe, he would have to beat Burke if he was to prevent Clanricarde gaining entire control of the county; it was reported that Martin, who was said to have ‘been offered £5,000 for his support by Sir J. Burke and by Daly a promise of bringing him in two years hence’, gave his interest to the former.55 On the hustings, 13 Aug., Donnellan and Gonville Ffrench (another of Lord Ffrench’s brothers) proposed Daly, who justified his allegiance to ministers; Robert Joseph French and John James Bodkin nominated Lambert, who, unlike Daly, subscribed to the nine pledges put to him by his seconder (for parliamentary reform, alteration of the Irish Subletting and Vestry Acts, keeping down Irish taxes, economies and retrenchment, the liberty of the press, a more extensive franchise, national education, reform of the grand jury laws, and civil and religious liberty); and William Henry Handcock of Carantrila and Thomas Bodkin introduced Burke, who, attacked by Foster but praised by McDermott, advocated many advanced Whig principles short of repeal of the Union. Polling began the following day and by the 16th, when D’Arcy was nominated, Lambert and Burke had taken a decisive lead.56 With respectively 53 and 49 per cent of the total number of voters, they finished 89 and 34 ahead of Daly (47 per cent), while D’Arcy (15 per cent) came fourth in the mainly peaceful week-long contest; the fact that Lambert and Daly’s scores amounted to nearly the entire number polled (1,422) suggests that the winning candidates probably shared almost all their votes as splits.57 Daly, whose defeat was counted as a gain for opposition, threatened to petition and provoked another round of competitive registration, but the Members celebrated at a dinner attended by Clanricarde in Loughrea, 8 Sept. 1830, and were prominent in the establishment of the county’s Election Club the following day.58

A petition from St. George and others, which alleged gross partisanship towards Lambert and Burke by the sheriff and other election officials, and the use of violence and intimidation against Daly’s voters, was presented, 15 Nov., and one from Daly, to the same effect, was brought up, 19 Nov. 1830. Daly failed to enter into his recognizances, but the first petition was considered by an election committee, which on 3 Mar. 1831 ruled in favour of the sitting Members, much to the surprise of Anglesey, the reinstated lord lieutenant, who had feared another contest.59 Following a respectably signed requisition, a county meeting in favour of parliamentary reform was held, 24 Jan., when Burke, Thomas Bodkin and others spoke in favour of the proposed petition for wide-ranging changes and the ballot; Burke, who presented the county petition for the equalization of Galway town’s franchise, 10 Feb., brought up the ensuing petition, 26 Feb.60 Like his colleague, he voted for the Grey ministry’s reform bill and signed the requisition for a second county meeting, at which it was agreed to address William IV in the bill’s favour, not least because of the provision in the Irish measure of a second seat for the now liberated borough, 3 Apr. Anglesey was presented with an address from the county on his visit early that month, when the continuing unrest, which included an attack on Marble Hill, led to concerted calls for relief from agricultural distress.61 Petitions from the magistrates and the landed proprietors of the western half of the county for reduction of the barilla duties in order to protect kelp manufacturers were brought up on 15 Feb. and 24 June in the Lords, and on 17 Feb. and 9 Mar. in the Commons, where Burke presented another petition from the county and town complaining of distress, 17 Aug. 1831.62

There were 3,008 registered electors, including 1,812 £10 freeholders, at the general election of 1831, when nothing came of rumours that Lambert would retire, that Martin would offer or that Daly, who blamed delays in processing his newly registered voters, would regain his electoral supremacy. Instead, Lambert, proposed by John James Bodkin, the new borough Member, and Joyce, and Burke, nominated by Dudley Persse of Roxborough and Thomas Bodkin, were returned unopposed as reformers.63 Clanricarde, who had been appointed captain of the yeomen of the guard the previous year and was already deemed to hold ‘considerable influence’ in the return of the county and town Members, consolidated his interest by being appointed lord lieutenant of the county (and of the county of the town) that autumn; he voted for the second reading of the reform bill in the Lords, 7 Oct., and was made a knight of St. Patrick, 18 Oct.64 Petitions from Tuam for it to be enfranchised were brought up by Bodkin, 12 July 1831, and by the Irish secretary Edward Smith Stanley, 6 July 1832. Another county petition for Galway borough’s peculiar franchise to be preserved was presented, 8 May, while Dominick Browne, Member for Mayo, unsuccessfully argued that Galway was one of the counties which merited an additional seat, 9 July 1832.65

Doubting the likelihood of a compromise to divide the representation between Clanricarde and Clancarty, who each had 250 registered voters, the liberal Connaught Journal listed the other major interests that year as Martin (350), D’Arcy (100), St. George (100), Daly (80), Burke (80) and Lambert (60). In the contest at the general election of 1832, when there were 3,061 registered electors, the Liberal Martin exerted his predominating interest to head the poll and the Conservative Daly came second, defeating Burke by only 12 votes. Neither Burke, who in December 1830 had admitted in the Commons that his opposition to repeal of the Union had damaged his standing with his constituents, nor Lambert, whose retirement on the grounds of fatigue induced by his parliamentary exertions had been expected, ever sat again, while Daly, who had to wait till 1845 for his peerage, retired in 1834.66 Tom Martin, who, like Bodkin (Member for the county from 1835), continued until 1847, thrived on the frequently violent contests of the period and his half-sister Harriet’s novel Canvassing illustrated the ‘noise and confusion of an Irish election’:

The whole town was alive at the dawn of day; crowds of partisans of all ages and ranks gathering around the committee rooms of the opposing candidates; electioneering agents, oratorizing, explaining or mystifying, as suited their purpose; looking over certificates and ‘making Pat Conny sensible he was only to be Pat Conny for the first time he voted, but Dennis Sleevan the second time, in regard of poor Dennis not being convenient just then, because he was buried last week’. And reminding Martin Donovan he mustn’t forget to slip a flea inside his lease, that he might swear with a safe conscience that the life in it was still in existence, and other trifling, though necessary, arrangements for the proper carrying on of their employer’s interests. And voters were eating, drinking, shouting and whirling their ferrals [ferules] to give ‘the raal fighting touch’.

Describing the thrill of electoral success, she also evoked the memory of their late father, Dick Martin, in her affirmation that

there is something to our mind so gloriously characteristic of the Irish people in their true, deep-felt, deep-toned, joyous, affectionate, energetic huzza for a popular candidate ... Is there a situation in human life more pardonably intoxicating to human vanity than this? at least to a country gentleman in Ireland, where the desire for popularity, and the sensibility of it, are so strong.67

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. S. Lewis, Top. Dict. of Ireland (1837), i. 639-46.
  • 2. S. Lynam, Humanity Dick, 172.
  • 3. Dublin Weekly Reg. 27 Jan. 1821; Gurney diary, 4 June 1823; The Times, 16 July, 9 Oct. 1824.
  • 4. K.T. Hoppen, Elections, Politics and Society in Ireland, 122; Peep at the Commons (1820), 21.
  • 5. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. (1816), vi. 233; Hist. Irish Parl. ii. 239, 240; J. Kelly, ‘Politics of "Protestant Ascendancy": Co. Galway’, in Galway Hist. and Soc. ed. G. Moran and R. Gillespie, 230-57.
  • 6. Connaught Jnl. 17 June 1830.
  • 7. Add. 40298, ff. 20, 21; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 655-8; Lynam, 179-81; Kelly, 257-61.
  • 8. G. Broeker, Rural Disorder and Police Reform in Ireland, 111-16; B. Jenkins, Era of Emancipation, 146-9.
  • 9. Dublin Weekly Reg. 12, 19 Feb., 11 Mar., 1 Apr. 1820; P. Jupp, British and Irish Elections, 1784-1831, pp. 165, 166.
  • 10. Dublin Evening Post, 20 Jan., 10, 24, 29 Feb., 14, 30 Mar., 1, 4 Apr.; PRO NI, Sligo mss MIC292/2, Daly to Sligo, 5 Mar.; NLI, Vesey Fitzgerald mss 7858, Burke to Vesey Fitzgerald, 15 Mar. 1820.
  • 11. Dublin Evening Post, 31 Aug., 12, 16 Sept. 1820; Dublin Weekly Reg. 27 Jan. 1821.
  • 12. Dublin Evening Post, 4, 14 Aug. 1821, 28 Feb., 2 Mar. 1822.
  • 13. Ibid. 22 June, 19 Sept., 14, 28 Nov. 1822; Jenkins, 94, 96; CJ, lxxviii. 76; The Times, 28 Feb. 1823.
  • 14. Connaught Jnl. 9, 13, 20 Jan. 1823.
  • 15. Ibid. 15, 19 Jan., 23 Feb., 18 Mar. 1824; Lynam, 225, 226.
  • 16. Connaught Jnl. 1, 8 Apr. 1824; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1119.
  • 17. LJ, lvi. 359; CJ, lxxix. 474; The Times, 10, 11 June 1824.
  • 18. Connaught Jnl. 3, 20, 31 May, 17, 24 June; The Times, 16 July 1824.
  • 19. Lynam, 160, 237; Connaught Jnl. 9, 16, 23 Aug., 13, 20, 27 Sept., 7 Oct., 4 Nov.; Harewood mss WYL 250/8/87, Martin to Canning, 25 Sept., 25 Nov. 1824.
  • 20. Harewood mss 8/87, Canning to Martin, 11 Jan., reply 5 Feb. 1825; Canning Official Corresp. i. 242, 246; Lynam, 242, 243.
  • 21. Connaught Jnl. 10 Jan., 10, 14, 24 Feb., 3, 28 Mar.; The Times, 8 Mar. 1825; LJ, lvii. 78, 814; CJ, lxxx. 396.
  • 22. Connaught Jnl. 8, 11, 18 Aug. 1825.
  • 23. Ibid. 12, 16 May; Galway Weekly Advertiser, 14 May 1825; Add. 40331, f. 147; 40381, f. 208.
  • 24. Harewood mss 11/31, Canning to Clanricarde, 21 Sept.; Galway Weekly Advertiser, 22 Oct. 1825.
  • 25. Harewood mss 11/31, Canning to Clanricarde, 23 Oct.; 8/87, Martin to Canning, 21 Dec., reply, 22 Dec. 1825.
  • 26. Connaught Jnl. 16, 20, 23 Feb., 3, 17, 20 Apr., 4, 8, 11, 18, 22 May; The Times, 24 Feb., 20, 30 May 1826; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1304.
  • 27. Harewood mss 8/87.
  • 28. Dublin Evening Post, 9 Mar., 15, 27 Apr., 13, 18 May; Connaught Jnl. 25, 29 May, 1 June 1826.
  • 29. Harewood mss 11/28.
  • 30. Ibid. 8/87, Martin to Canning, 16, 25 June, reply, 19 June; 11/31, Canning to Clanricarde, 17 June 1826; Lynam, 262-4.
  • 31. Dublin Evening Post, 10, 13, 17, 27 June; Connaught Jnl. 12, 19 June 1826; PP (1825), xxii. 105.
  • 32. Connaught Jnl. 22, 29 June, 3, 6 July; Dublin Evening Post, 24, 27, 29 June, 1 July 1826; Lynam, 264, 265; J.A. Reynolds, Catholic Emancipation Crisis in Ireland, 99; J.H. Whyte, ‘Landlord Influence at Elections in Ireland’, EHR, lxxx (1965), 744, 745.
  • 33. Harewood mss 8/87; 11/31; Lady Holland to Son, 44.
  • 34. Harewood mss 8/87, Martin to Canning, 25 June, 5 July; Connaught Jnl. 6, 10, 13, 17, 27, 31 July; Dublin Evening Post, 6, 11, 13 July 1826; Kelly, 261, 262.
  • 35. Harewood mss 8/87a, Shawe to Stapleton, 18 Aug. 1826.
  • 36. Connaught Jnl. 17, 31 July, 17 Aug., 4 Sept.; Dublin Evening Post, 1, 3 Aug., 9 Sept. 1826.
  • 37. CJ, lxxxii. 61-65.
  • 38. Harewood mss 8/87.
  • 39. Dublin Evening Post, 18 Jan. 1827; Add. 40392, ff. 242, 244-7, 250, 251.
  • 40. CJ, lxxxii. 345, 351.
  • 41. Ibid. 394, 407; LJ, lix. 238, 239; Dublin Evening Mail, 6 Apr.; Connaught Jnl. 12, 16 Apr. 1827; PP (1826-7), iv. 953-1080; (1829), xxii. 13; NLI, Smith O’Brien mss 22372, ‘Co. Galway Election 1827’.
  • 42. CJ, lxxxii. 555; Connaught Jnl. 18 June 1827.
  • 43. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1364.
  • 44. Connaught Jnl. 2, 5, 9, 12 Apr., 20 Aug. 1827.
  • 45. Ibid. 4, 25, 28 Feb., 31 Mar., 21 Apr. 1828.
  • 46. CJ, lxxxiii. 260, 400, 557.
  • 47. Connaught Jnl. 26 May, 23 June, 3, 14, 24, 28, 31 July, 4, 14, 26 Aug. 1828.
  • 48. Add. 40334, ff. 228-43; 40397, ff. 91, 113, 131, 246; Wellington mss WP1/938/12; 949/10; 951/47; 953/8; 957/22; 958/29; Parker, Peel, ii. 62-64; Palmerston-Sulivan Corresp. 211-23; Jenkins, 268; N. Gash, Secretary Peel, 534, 535.
  • 49. Connaught Jnl. 22, 29 Sept., 16, 23 Oct.; Dublin Evening Post, 4, 16 Oct. 1828; Wellington mss WP1/960/18; 961/15, 24; 963/52; 964/3.
  • 50. Connaught Jnl. 26 Jan., 26 Feb., 23, 30 Mar., 13, 20, 23 Apr., 14, 28 May, 11, 13 June 1829.
  • 51. PP (1830), xxix. 467; N. Gash, Politics in Age of Peel, 52.
  • 52. Connaught Jnl. 3, 21 Dec. 1829, 21 Jan., 18 Feb., 19 Apr.; Hatherton mss, Clanricarde to Littleton, 9 Jan. 1830.
  • 53. Connaught Jnl. 31 May, 14, 17, 24 June, 5 July; Freeman’s Jnl. 5, 15, 29 June 1830.
  • 54. Connaught Jnl. 24 June, 1, 5, 8, 12, 19, 22, 26 July, 9, 12 Aug. 1830; Add. 40334, f. 323.
  • 55. Dublin Evening Post, 20, 31 July; Connaught Jnl. 9, 12 Aug.; Freeman’s Jnl. 18 Aug. 1830; Add. 40313, f. 17a.
  • 56. Connaught Jnl. 16 Aug.; Dublin Evening Post, 17 Aug. 1830.
  • 57. Connaught Jnl. 19, 23, 26 Aug. 1830; PP (1830-1), x. 202.
  • 58. [H. Brougham], Result of General Election (1830), 13; Connaught Jnl. 2, 9, 13, 23, 27, 30 Sept., 4 Oct. 1830.
  • 59. CJ, lxxxvi. 68-72, 110-14, 136, 149, 300, 338; PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/29B, pp. 70-72.
  • 60. Connaught Jnl. 20, 24, 27 Jan. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 231, 310.
  • 61. Connaught Jnl. 31 Mar., 4, 11, 14 Apr.; Galway Weekly Advertiser, 4, 7 Apr.; Dublin Evening Mail, 6 Apr. 1831.
  • 62. LJ, lxiii. 229, 751; CJ, lxxxvi. 265, 355, 761.
  • 63. PP (1831), xvi. 200; Freeman’s Jnl. 28 Apr., 3, 4, 7 May; Connaught Jnl. 28 Apr., 2, 5, 9, 12 May; Galway Weekly Advertiser, 14 May; Dublin Evening Post, 17 May 1831.
  • 64. [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 195; Derby mss 920 Der (14) 126/5, Browne to Smith Stanley, 12 Oct. 1831.
  • 65. CJ, lxxxvi. 645; lxxxvii. 300, 466.
  • 66. Connaught Jnl. 23 Jan., 6 Aug., 17, 19 Nov., 24, 31 Dec. 1832.
  • 67. [H.L. Martin], Canvassing (1835), chs. 16-21; Lynam, 265.