Ball, Nicholas (DNB00)

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BALL, NICHOLAS (1791–1865), Irish judge, son of John Ball, silk mercer of Dublin, was educated at Stonyhurst and Trinity College, Dublin, where his fellow students were Richard Shell and W. H. Curran. He was called to the Irish bar in 1814, and afterwards passed two winters in Rome with Mr. (afterwards Sir Thomas) Wyse. The two young men saw much of Cardinal Gonsalvi, secretary of state. They were vehemently denounced and defended in the Irish press, because it was supposed that they used their influence to support a scheme for catholic emancipation, by which the pope should appoint Irish catholic bishops, subject to the veto of the English government. Ball obtained silk in 1830, and was admitted a bencher of the King's Inn in 1836. His success at the bar was not brilliant, but he soon obtained a very lucrative practice in the rolls court and in the court of chancery, where his reputation was that of an acute, clear, and ready advocate. In 1835 he was elected member of parliament for Clonmel, and in 1837 was appointed attorney-general and privy councillor for Ireland. He disliked parliamentary life, and spoke seldom and briefly, but in terse and lucid language. He was glad to take refuge in a judgeship of the common pleas (Ireland), to which he was preferred in 1839, and which he held till his death. He was the second Roman catholic barrister promoted to a judgeship after the passing of the Emancipation Act. He was a sound and able lawyer, and some of his charges are said to have been unsurpassed in his day. A silly story was current about him that 'he had ordered a mill to cease clacking until otherwise ordered by the court, and forgetting the withdrawal of the order before he left Cork, the owner had brought against him an action for damages.' Justice Ball was a sincere Roman catholic, but no ultramontanist, a zealous Irish liberal, but strongly opposed to the disintegration of the empire. His literary acquirements were extensive and accurate. He married in 1817 Jane, daughter of Thomas Sherlock, of Butlerstown Castle, co. Waterford, by whom he had several children, his eldest son, John, being under-secretary of state for the colonies under Lord Palmerston's first administration. Justice Ball died at his residence in Stephen's Green, and was buried in the family vault under the chancel of the Roman catholic cathedral, Dublin.

[Freeman's Journal. 16 and 20 Jan. 1865; Dublin Daily Express, 16 and 19 Jan. 1865; Gent. Mag. 3rd series, xviii. 389; Tablet, 21 Jan. 1865.]

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