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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/84

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of 219l. Early in 1608 Loftus was a member of the Irish privy council. He seems to have worked well with Lord-deputy Chichester, who praised his conduct in the marshal court. In 1610 he had a bitter dispute with Lord Thomond, which Salisbury decided against him. In 1611 he became constable of Maryborough, Queen's County, which was already a virtual sinecure.

Loftus was returned, along with Sir Francis Rushe, as member for the King's County in the parliament of 1613, more apparently by the act of the sheriff than by the choice of the freeholders, and he was one of the protestant majority who made Sir John Davies speaker. In the following year he had a grant of forfeited lands in Wexford. In the summer of 1618 Loftus went to England, carrying with him a commendatory letter from Lord-deputy St. John and his council, and in the following year he was made one of the commissioners of the court of wards. Archbishop Jones died on 10 April 1619, and on the 23rd Loftus was appointed lord chancellor in his stead.

On the recall of St. John in May 1622, Loftus was one of the lords justices, and he was at the same time created Viscount Loftus of Ely. In the privy seal directing this creation James I said he had bestowed this hereditary honour on him ‘that his virtues may be recorded to future ages, so long as there shall remain an heir male to his house.’ As chancellor Loftus was included in the commissions which inquired into the state of the church and completed the Ulster settlement. With St. John he had always agreed well, and he was at first on good terms with the new lord deputy, Henry Cary, first viscount Falkland [q. v.] But in 1624 they were at open war. The chancellor refused to affix the great seal to certain licenses for tanning and distilling, but offered to submit their legality to the decision of the judges. Falkland, as the king's representative, claimed practically to overrule all legal scruples. The dispute lasted long, Loftus complaining bitterly that his thirty years' service was despised, that his dues were not paid, and that he had but 300l. a year to support the dignity of his great place. These complaints appeared well founded, and half the fines of and for chancery writs were granted to him in 1625. The accession of Charles I made no difference in the relations between Falkland and his chancellor, and in May 1627 the latter was summoned to England, the great seal being placed in commission. After a long inquiry Charles I declared Loftus quite innocent of all charges made against him as a judge, and in May 1628 Falkland was ordered to reinstate him fully, and to treat him with the respect due to himself and to his office. In 1629 the king granted Loftus the unusual favour of a general license to visit England when he pleased, leaving the great seal in the hands of the commissioners last appointed, of whom his cousin, Sir Adam Loftus of Rathfarnham, co. Dublin, was one (Morrin, p. 463). Falkland left Ireland in August 1629, and the chancellor became lord justice along with Sir Richard Boyle, afterwards Earl of Cork. In 1632 Loftus took an active part in forcing William Newman, afterwards his chaplain, upon Trinity College as a fellow (Elrington, Life of Ussher, p. 150; Stubbs, p. 64).

Wentworth did not reach Ireland till the summer of 1633, but Loftus wrote him a congratulatory letter as soon as his appointment was known. He thanked him for some former services, deplored his own differences with the late deputy, and promised to deserve the favour of one ‘whose fame had outrun his presence’ (Strafford Letters, i. 64). When Wentworth arrived he had to deal with a chancellor who had been acting viceroy for four years. Until 1636 the two men seem to have got on pretty well together, but on 23 April in that year Wentworth wrote to Bramhall of Loftus and of ‘that fury his lady’ (Rawdon Papers) in disparaging terms.

In 1621 the chancellor's eldest son, Sir Robert, married Eleanor, daughter of Sir Francis Rushe, whose sisters, Mary and Anne respectively, married Sir Charles Coote and Sir George Wentworth, the lord deputy's brother. Rushe died in 1629, leaving his three daughters coheiresses. Sir Robert Loftus and his wife lived in the chancellor's house, and mainly at his expense, until the beginning of 1637, when the lady's half-brother, Sir John Gifford, petitioned the king, as her next friend, for specific performance of her father-in-law's alleged promise as to a post-nuptial settlement. The consideration set up was that she had brought with her a portion of 1,750l. As the chancellor could scarcely be judge in her own case, the matter was referred to the lord deputy and council, who decided, upon the evidence of a single witness, who testified to words spoken nearly twenty years before, that Loftus must settle upon Sir Robert Loftus and the children by Eleanor Rushe his house at Monasterevan, co. Kildare, furnished, and 1,200l. a year in land. The promise, if promise there was, had been purely verbal, and it was not pretended that there was anything to bind the chancellor in law. He declared that all his land was not worth