A Compendium of Irish Biography/Yelverton, Barry, Viscount Avonmore

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A Compendium of Irish Biography by Alfred Webb
Yelverton, Barry, Viscount Avonmore

Yelverton, Barry, Viscount Avonmore, a distinguished lawyer, was born at Newmarket, County of Cork, 28th May 1736. He studied at Trinity College, where he took his degree of B.A. in 1757; LL.B., 1761; and LL.D., 1774. A contemporary writer says: "He was called to the Bar in 1764; but many years passed away before he was at all distinguished, so as to attract the notice of the public; but he at length found his way into Parliament, where he joined the patriots of the day in procuring an enlargement of commercial privileges, and the establishment of legislative independence. Mr. Yelverton soon afterwards embraced the opposite side, and lent his aid to the Court, by resisting reform in the representation; … hence his professional advancement." He was made Attorney-General in 1782, Baron of the Exchequer in 1784, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Avonmore in 1795. He supported the Union Bill in the House of Lords in more than one masterly speech, and was created Viscount Avonmore in 1800. Lord Cornwallis's promise; of this advance in the peerage in return for his vote was one of those to which the Duke of Portland most strongly objected. Lord Avonmore died 19th August 1805, aged 69. Barrington says: "A vigorous, commanding, undaunted eloquence burst from his lips—not a word was lost. … In the common transactions of the world he was an infant; in the varieties of right and wrong, of propriety and error, a frail mortal; in the senate and at the Bar a mighty giant. It was on the bench that, unconscious of his errors, and in his home, unconscious of his virtues, both were most conspicuous. … A patriot by nature, yet susceptible of seduction—a partisan by temper, yet capable of instability—the commencement and the conclusion of his political career were as distinct as the poles, and as dissimilar as the elements. … As a judge he had certainly some of those marked imperfections too frequently observable in judicial officers. … A scholar, a poet, a statesman, a lawyer—in elevated society he was a brilliant wit, at lower tables, a vulgar humorist. … He was a friend, ardent, but indiscriminate even to blindness. … On the question of the Union, the radiance of his public character was obscured for ever—the laurels of his early achievements fell withered from his brow; and after having with zeal and sincerity laboured to attain independence for his country in 1782, he became one of its salesmasters in 1800. … In the midst of his greatest errors and most reprehensible moments, it was difficult not to respect, and impossible not to regard him." [1]   [2] [3] [4]

Authorities
  1. Barrington, Sir Jonah. Historic Memoirs of Ireland. 2 vols. London, 1835.
  2. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1869-'71.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard: Peerage and Baronetage.
  4. Cornwallis, Marquis, Correspondence: Charles Ross. 3 vols. London, 1859.