Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Conolly, William

CONOLLY, WILLIAM (d. 1729), speaker of the Irish House of Commons, was the son of a publican, or, as some say, of a blacksmith. Having been called to the bar, he soon made way in his profession; but he distinguished himself more particularly in the Irish House of Commons, of which he was chosen speaker 12 Nov. 1715. He continued to hold this post until his resignation through failure of health, 12 Oct. 1729, only a few days before he died. He was likewise a member of the privy council; was ten times appointed to the exalted office of a lord justice of Ireland between 1710 and 1729, during the absence of successive viceroys; and was chief commissioner of the Irish revenues. Swift says that Wharton, when lord-lieutenant, sold this place to Conolly for 3,000l. He married Catherine, daughter of Sir Albert Conyngham, knt., lieutenant-general of the ordnance in Ireland, and sister of Henry, first earl Conyngham; and dying without issue 30 Oct. 1729, he was buried in Celbridge church, co. Kildare, being succeeded in his large estates by his nephew, the Right Hon. William Conolly, M.P., of Stratton Hall, Staffordshire. Archbishop Boulter, in a letter from Dublin of the above date, thus refers to Conolly's death, and to the consequent official changes: 'After his death being expected for several days, Mr. Conolly died this morning about one o'clock. He has left behind him a very great fortune, some talk of 17,000l. per ann. As his death makes a vacancy among the commissioners of the revenue, my lord chancellor and I have been talking with my lord-lieutenant on that subject, and we all agree it will be for his majesty's service that a native succeed him; and as Sir Ralph Gore, the new speaker, does not care to quit the post of chancellor of the exchequer, which he is already possessed of, and which by an addition made to the place by his late majesty is worth better than 800l. per ann., and is for life, to be made one of the commissioners, we join in our opinion that the most proper person here to succeed Mr. Conolly is Dr. Coghill, who is already a person of weight, and has done service in the parliament. It is worthy of note that the plan which still prevails in Ireland of wearing linen scarfs at funerals, established with the view of encouraging the linen manufacture, was observed for the first time at Conolly's funeral.

[Noble's continuation of Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, iii. 188; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland (Archdall), vii. 184; Archbishop Boulter's Letters, i. 334; Warburton, Whitelaw, and Walsh's Hist. of Dublin, i. 37; Gilbert's Hist. of Dublin, iii. 370; Swift's Works (Scott), ii. 27, 179, 467, iv. 28. xviii. 251.]

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