Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Loghlen, Michael

O'LOGHLEN, Sir MICHAEL (1789–1842), Irish judge, born in October 1789, was the third son of Colman O'Loghlen of Port, Co. Clare, by his second wife, Susannah, daughter of Michael Finucane, M.D., of Ennis. He was educated at the Erasmus Smith school at Ennis and Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated B.A. in 1809 (Todd, Dublin Graduates, s.v.' O'Loughlin'), and he was called to the Irish bar in Michaelmas term 1811. His first distinction was gained in 1815, in a case involving important questions of law, in which he was O'Connell's junior. The case came on for argument in the king's bench the day after the fatal duel between O'Connell and D'Esterre, and O'Connell was in consequence absent. O'Loghlen asked for a postponement, but, the other side objecting, he argued the case alone, obtained judgment in his favour, and was specially complimented by the court on the ability and learning of his argument. He became a favourite with O'Connell, was constantly employed as his junior, and succeeded to a large part of his practice when O'Connell became absorbed in politics. In a 'Sketch' by Shell, written in 1828, he is described as an excellent lawyer, a master of the practice of the courts, in receipt of an immense income, and a great favourite with the judges because of the brevity, simplicity, and clearness with which his points were put. His custom was on receipt of a fee to take the shilling from each guinea and put it in a box for his wife, and at the end of one term Mrs. O'Loghlen is said to have received fifteen hundred shillings (O'Flanagan, The Irish Bar), On the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act (April 1829), the leading catholic barristers expected to be made king's counsel. The honour was somewhat unfairly deferred till Trinity term 1830, when, at the instance of Lord Francis Leveson-Gower (afterwards Lord Francis Egerton), then chief secretary, O'Loghlen, Shell, and two other catholics were called within the bar (McCullagh, Memoirs of Sheil, 1855, vol. ii. p. 53).

In January 1831 O'Loghlen was appointed third Serjeant, and in 1832 he was elected a bencher of the King's Inns. In the same year he unsuccessfully contested the representation of the city of Dublin in parliament. For a few months in 1834 he was solicitor-general for Ireland in Lord Melbourne's first government. At the general election in January 1835 he was returned for Dungarvan, and, on the formation of Lord Melbourne's second government in that year, became again solicitor-general for Ireland, and in August of the same year attorney-general. In November 1836 he was appointed a baron of the court of exchequer in Ireland, and in the following January he succeeded Sir William McMahon [q. v.] as master of the rolls. He was the first catholic law officer and the first catholic judge in Ireland since the reign of James II. In 1838, on the coronation of the queen, he was created a baronet. He died in George Street, Hanover Square, London, on 28 Sept. 1842 (Dublin Evening Post, 1 Oct. 1842; Times, 3 Oct. 1842).

Both at the bar and on the bench O'Loghlen enjoyed a high reputation. O'Connell, writing to Lord Duncannon in October 1834, says: 'Than O'Loghlen, a more amiable man never lived—a more learned lawyer, a more sensible, discreet, and, at the same time, a more powerful advocate never belonged to the Irish bar. He never made an enemy, he never lost a friend He possesses in an eminent degree all the best judicial qualities' (Correspondence of O'Connell, ed. FitzPatrick, i. 490). On the bench he justified O'Connell's forecast of his judicial powers. 'There never was a judge who gave more entire satisfaction to both the suitors and the profession; perhaps never one sitting alone and deciding so many cases of whose decisions there were fewer reversals' (Irish Equity Reports, v. 130). He was so industrious, and so anxious to save the suitors of his court from unnecessary costs, that he frequently undertook work which might properly have been referred to the master. He was very courteous, carried patience almost to a fault, and was especially kind and considerate to young men appearing before him. His statue, by McDowell, is in the hall of the Four Courts, Dublin; and another, by Kirke, in the Court House, Ennis.

He married, 3 Sept. 1817, Bidelia, daughter of Daniel Kelly of Dublin. His eldest son, Colman Michael (second baronet), is separately noticed; his third son, Bryan (third baronet), called to the Irish bar in 1856, admitted to the Victoria bar in 1863, has been twice attorney-general of Victoria, and premier of that colony 1881-3.

[Annual Register, 1842, p. 292; O'Flanagan's Irish Bar, 1879; Sheil's Sketches, Legal and Political, 1855; Times, 3 Oct. 1842; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 1894; Debrett's Baronetage, 1894; Smyth's Law Officers of Ireland.]

J. D. F.