The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland, that existed from 1297 until 1800. The upper house was the House of Lords. The membership of the House of Commons was directly elected, but on a highly restrictive franchise: in counties forty shilling freeholders were enfranchised whilst in most boroughs it was either only the members of self electing corporations or a highly restricted body of freemen that were able to vote for the borough's representatives. Most notably, Roman Catholics were disqualified from sitting in the Irish parliament from 1691, even though they comprised the vast majority of the Irish population. From 1728 until 1793 they were also disfranchised. Most of the population of all religions had no vote.
The British-appointed Irish executive, under the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was not answerable to the House of Commons but to the British government. However, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was usually a member of the Irish parliament. In the Commons, business was presided over by the Speaker who, in the absence of a government chosen from and answerable to the Commons, was the dominant political figure in the parliament. The House of Commons was abolished when the Irish parliament merged with its British counterpart in 1801 under the Act of Union.
Henry Grattan - went on to serve as an Irish member of the United Kingdom House of Commons.
Boyle Roche - the "father" of Irish bulls
Hon. Arthur Wellesley - later became Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He represented his family borough of Trim, County Meath from 1790-1796.
William Conolly - a past Speaker, Conolly remains today one of the most widely known figures ever to be produced by the Irish parliament. He is famous not just for his role in parliament but also for his great wealth that allowed him to build one of Ireland's greatest Georgian houses, Castletown House.
Nathaniel Clements, 1705-1777 Government and Treasury Official, Managed extensive financial functions from 1720 - 1777 on behalf of the Government, de facto Minister for Finance 1740 - 1777, extensive property owner and developer. major influence on the architecture of Georgian Dublin and the Irish Palladian Country house.
John Philpot Curran - orator and wit, originator of the quotation "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
1557, 1560 & 1568: James Stanyhurst
1661-1666: Sir Audley Mervyn, Tyrone
1661-1662: Sir John Temple for nine months in the absence of Audley Mervyn
1689-1692: Sir Richard Nagle
1692-1695: Sir Robert Levinge
1695-1703: Robert Rochfort
1703-1710: Alan Brodrick
1710-1713: John Forster
1713-1715: Alan Brodrick
1715-1729: William Conolly
1729-1733: Sir Ralph Gore
1733-1756: Henry Boyle
1756-1771: John Ponsonby
1771-1785: Edmund Sexton Pery
1785-1800: John Foster
The House was elected in the same way as the British House of Commons. By the time of the Union, the shape of the House had been fixed with two members elected for each of the 32 Counties of Ireland, two members for each of 117 Boroughs, and two members for Dublin University, a total of 300 members. The number of Boroughs invited to return members had originally been small (only 55 Boroughs existed in 1603) but was doubled by the Stuart monarchs.
Until 1793 members could not resign their seats. They could cease to be a member of the House only by one of four ways:
taking Holy Orders
being awarded a peerage and so a seat in the Irish House of Lords.
In 1793 a methodology for resignation was created, equivalent to the Chiltern Hundreds in the British House of Commons. Irish members could now be appointed to either the Escheatorship of Munster, the Escheatorship of Leinster, the Escheatorship of Connaught or the Escheatorship of Ulster. Possession of one of these Crown offices, with entailed a 30/ (30 shilling) salary, automatically terminated one's membership of the House of Commons.