Brodrick, Alan (DNB00)


BRODRICK, ALAN, Lord Midleton (1660?–1728), Irish statesman and lord chancellor of Ireland, came of a family which for several generations had been settled in Surrey. He was the second son of St. John Brodrick by Alice, daughter of Sir Randal Clayton of Thelwall, Cheshire, and was born about 1660. The family of Brodrick had greatly profited by the forfeitures in Ireland. Alan, eldest brother of St. John, was on 19 March 1660 appointed one of the commissioners for settling the affairs of Ireland, and shortly afterwards received a grant of 10,759 acres. St. John, who had taken an active part in the civil wars beginning in 1641, received in 1653 a large grant of lands in the barony of Barrymore, Cork, which was supplemented, under the Act of Settlement in 1670, by an additional grant of lands in the baronies of Barrymore, Fermoy, and Orrery, the whole being erected into the manor of Midleton. The wealth, ability, and political activity of the Brodricks gave them an influence in Ireland almost equal to that of the Boyles. Brodrick adopted the profession of law. Having taken an active part in behalf of William of Orange, he was, along with his brother, attainted by the Irish parliament of James II, a circumstance which probably assisted his early promotion under William. On 19 Feb. 1690-1 he was made king's serjeant, and on 6 June 1695 he was appointed solicitor-general for Ireland, an office in which he was continued after the accession of Queen Anne. He entered the Irish House of Commons in 1692 as member for the city of Cork, and on 24 Sept. 1703 he was chosen speaker. On account of his liberal views in regard to 'Toleration,' and of his opposition to the Sacramental Test Act, he lost the favour of the government, and when the house refused to pass some bills promoted by the lord-lieutenant he was removed from the office of solicitor-general. When, however, the appointment of Earl Pembroke to the viceroyalty was determined on, he was, 12 June 1707, appointed attorney-general for Ireland. As Lord Pembroke deemed it impossible to obtain the repeal of the Test Act in the Irish parliament, Brodrick went to England to persuade the government to propose its repeal in the English parliament, but without success. In May 1710 he was called to the upper house as chief justice of the queen's bench, but his attachment to the principles of the revolution caused his dismissal in 1711. In 1713 he re-entered the Irish parliament as member for the city of Cork, and notwithstanding the opposition of the government he was chosen speaker by a majority of four votes. Having been the principal adviser in the measures taken by the Irish House of Commons to secure the protestant succession, he was appointed by George I, 1 Oct. 1714, lord chancellor of Ireland, and on 13 April 1715 was raised to the peerage as Baron Brodrick of Midleton. On 5 Aug. 1717 he was advanced to the dignity of Viscount Midleton. In the same year that he was made lord chancellor he entered the British parliament as member for Midhurst, Sussex, which he continued to represent till his death. Although he attached himself to the party of Sunderland, he strenuously opposed the Peerage Bill, resisting with equal firmness the solicitations and menaces of Sunderland, and turning a deaf ear even to the urgent requests of the sovereign. Although possibly chargeable with opiniativeness, his sterling honesty, bold independence, and sincere patriotism, entitle him to the highest praise. On the death of Sunderland he attached himself to Carteret in opposition to Townshend and Walpole, against the latter of whom he ultimately cherished a violent antipathy. By his conduct in the famous case, Sherlock v. Annesley, Midleton incurred the serious displeasure of the Irish lords, and as by his opposition to Wood's coinage patent he had rendered himself specially obnoxious to the Duke of Grafton, the lord-lieutenant, Grafton connived at a resolution of the lords 'that through the absence of the lord high chancellor there has been a failure of justice in this kingdom by the great delay in the high court of chancery and in the exchequer chamber.' The resolution was, however, robbed of its sting by a counter resolution in the House of Commons, and Walpole, to win if possible the all-essential support of Midleton for the patent, appointed Carteret lord-lieutenant. Carteret, dreading dismissal from office, exerted all his personal influence on Midleton, but in vain. The result was a personal breach between them, and Midleton, disgusted with his cold reception at the castle, resigned office 25 May 1725. Notwithstanding his strenuous opposition to the patent, Midleton not only refused to accept the dedication to him of Swift's 'Drapier's Letters,' but supported the prosecution of their author, on the ground that they tended to 'create jealousies between the king and the people of Ireland.' He died at his country seat, Ballyanan, Cork, in 1728. He was thrice married: first to Catherine, second daughter of Redmond Barry of Rathcormack, by whom he had one son and one daughter; secondly, to Alice, daughter of Sir Peter Courthorpe of the Little Island, Cork, by whom he had two sons and a daughter; and thirdly, to Anne, daughter of Sir John Trevor, master of the rolls, by whom he had no issue.

[Pedigree in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, ii. 359-60; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, v. 164-70; Le Neve's Knights, 102; Coxe's Life of Sir Robert Walpole, i. 215-30, and ii. 170-219, containing letters, correspondence, and papers on the Peerage Bill and on Wood's Coinage Patent; Manning and Bray's History of Surrey, ii. 33-4; O'Flanagan's Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland, ii. 1-38.]

T. F. H.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.37
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
383 ii 22-21f.e. Brodrick, Alan, Lord Midleton: for king's-serjeant read second serjeant
8f.e. for Earl Pembroke read Earl of Pembroke