Pennefather, Richard (DNB00)

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PENNEFATHER, RICHARD (1773–1859), Irish judge, born in 1773, was eldest son of Major William Pennefather of Knockevan, Tipperary. He went to school with his brother Edward [q. v.], and graduated B.A. at Dublin University in 1794, after a distinguished career there. He was called to the Irish bar in the following year. About ten years later he enjoyed a reputation both on the Munster circuit and as a junior in the court of chancery. He was seldom employed as leading counsel, being overshadowed by Plunket and Saurin. In February 1821 he was appointed chief baron of the Irish exchequer court, and sat on the bench for thirty-eight years. He was a sound, able, and upright judge, skilled in the digestion and elucidation of evidence, courteous in his bearing, and in criminal cases lenient. Though well versed in every department of jurisprudence, he was not a great jurist; and as he seldom wrote his judgments they had no pretensions to style. He died suddenly at his residence near Clonmel on 7 Aug. 1859. By his wife Jane, daughter of Mr. Justice John Bennet of Dublin, he left two surviving sons and three married daughters. Two sons predeceased him. His youngest son, William, is noticed below.

The eldest son, Richard Pennefather (1808–1849), matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford, on 24 June 1824, and graduated B.A. in 1828. In 1826 he entered at Lincoln's Inn. On 21 Aug. 1845 he was appointed under-secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland. He was high sheriff of Tipperary in 1848, and in that capacity arranged for the state trials of William Smith O'Brien and other prisoners at Clonmel. He died on 26 July 1849, at Newtown-Anner, Tipperary, the seat of Colonel Osborne, M.P. By his wife, Lady Emily Butler, daughter of Richard, first earl of Glengall, he left a son and a daughter; the latter married Arthur, sixth earl Stanhope.

The judge's second son, John Pennefather (1815–1855), a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, became Q.C. and a bencher of King's Inns, Dublin.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, 7th ed.; Walford's County Families, 1893; Dublin University Mag. November 1859; Law Times, 12 Nov. 1859; Ann. Reg. 1849 App. to Chron. pp. 256–7, 1855 pp. 264–5, 1859 p. 468 (App.); Cat. of Dublin Graduates and Alumni Oxon. 1714–1886.]

G. Le G. N.