Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bolton, Richard

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BOLTON, Sir RICHARD (1570?–1648), lawyer, son of John Bolton, of Fenton, Staffordshire, was born about 1570. He practised for a time as a barrister in England, which he left for Ireland with the object, it has been alleged, of avoiding the results of a censure passed on him by the court of Star-chamber. At the close of 1604 he obtained employment as temporary recorder of Dublin. In the following year he was appointed recorder of that city, 'during good behaviour,' at an annual salary of 25l. Bolton was despatched in 1608 to London as law-agent to the municipality of Dublin in connection with suits relating to their customs and privileges. Sir Arthur Chichester, lord-deputy of Ireland, in a letter dated 15 Oct. 1608, commended Bolton to the Earl of Salisbury. Bolton was admitted to the Society of King's Inns, Dublin, in 1610. Through government influence he was elected in 1613, in opposition to the I Roman catholic candidate, one of the representatives of the city of Dublin in the parliament of which the noted Sir John Davies became the speaker. He resigned the recordership of Dublin in the same year. Bolton received knighthood in 1618 from Sir Oliver St. John, lord-deputy for Ireland. Under privy seal dated Westminster 31 Dec. 1618, and patent of the 10th of the ensuing February, Bolton was appointed solicitor-general for Ireland. In 1621 Bolton published at Dublin, in a folio volume, a selection of statutes passed in parliaments held in Ireland, under the title 'The Statutes of Ireland, beginning the third year of King Edward the Second, and continuing untill the end of the Parliament begunne in the eleventh year of the reign of our most gratious Soveraigne Lord King James and ended in the thirteenth year of his raigne of England, France, and Ireland. Newly perused and examined with the Parliament rolls; and divers statutes imprinted in this booke which were not formerly printed in the old booke.' Bolton dedicated this work to his benefactor, Lord-deputy Sir Oliver St. John, who had encouraged him to undertake it. Bolton became attorney-general to the Court of Wards at Dublin in 1622, and was appointed chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland in 1625. To his printed volume of the statutes an addition containing those of the tenth and eleventh year of Charles I was published in 1635. Bolton published in 1638, at Dublin, a folio volume with the following title: 'A Justice of the Peace for Ireland, consisting of two bookes. The first declaring th' exercise of that office by one or more Justices of Peace out of Session. The second setting forth the forme of proceeding in sessions and the matters to be enquired of and handled therein. Composed by Sir Richard Bolton, Knight, Chief Baron of His Majesties Court of Exchequer in Ireland. Whereunto are added many presidents of indictments of treasons, felonies, misprisons, praemunires and finable offences of force, fraud, omission and other misdemeanors of severall sorts more than ever heretofore have been published in print.'

In December 1639 Bolton was appointed to the chancellorship of Ireland, in place of Sir Adam Loftus, with a moiety of the profits derivable from chancery writs, together with 500l. per annum, during his tenure of office. As chancellor, Bolton presided in the parliament commenced at Dublin in March 1639-1640. On 11 Feb. 1640-41 the House of Lords acquitted him from a charge of having endeavoured to prevent the continuance of the existing parliament. With a letter dated the eighteenth of that month Bolton transmitted to the committee of the house attending the king in England a schedule of grievances of Ireland voted by the lords at Dublin on the same day. Bolton was regarded as a chief adviser of Strafford in his attempts to introduce arbitrary government. On27 Feb. 1640-41 a committee was appointed by the House of Commons in Ireland to draw up charges against the chancellor, Bolton; Bramhall, bishop of Derry; Sir Gerard Lowther, chief justice of the common pleas; and Sir George Radcliffe, to impeach them of high treason. The chancellor, as chairman of the house, had to receive the articles against himself. The house, on 1 March 1640-41, ordered that the lord chancellor should enter into recognisances to appear when the articles should be exhibited. After some further debate the peers left it to the lords justices to do as they saw fit, as there were no precedents. They further declared ' the sense of the house that the lord chancellor was not fit to execute that place, nor to sit at the council board, and that they desired a new speaker.' Sir William Ryves, justice of the king's bench, appointed by letters patent speaker of the House of Lords in Ireland, during pleasure, in the absence of the chancellor, entered upon office on 11 May 1641. In the following July the lords justices communicated to the House of Commons the king's desire that they should forbear proceeding further with the impeachment. Bolton, as member of the privy council at Dublin, signed the despatch of 25 Oct. 1641, announcing to the Earl of Leicester, lord-lieutenant, then in England, the commencement of hostile movements in Ireland. He took part in the preparation of an elaborate statement, transmitted to the House of Lords, London, in November 1641, in relation to the English administrative system in Ireland, recently brought to light through the labours of the royal commission on historical manuscripts. By a resolution of 21 June 1642, that no members should sit or vote until they had taken the oath of supremacy, the House of Commons excluded the Roman catholic representatives, among whom were those who had been most active in the proceedings against Bolton and his associates. On the same day Bolton and Lowther petitioned the house, and it was unanimously resolved to proceed no further upon the articles of accusation against them. On the following day Bolton was restored by the lords to his place as chancellor, and oil 2 Aug. 1642 resumed his position in their house. A reproduction of Bolton's autograph as a member of the privy council appears on plate liii. of part iv. sec. 2 of the 'Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland.' Captain William Tucker frequently mentions Bolton in his contemporary journal, recently published for the first time in the second volume of the 'History of the Irish Confederation and War in Ireland.' Bolton was actively engaged in negotiations connected with the cessation of hostilities between England and the Irish in 1643. In 1643-4 Bolton was a principal counsellor of the lord-lieutenant, Ormonde, in negotiating with the Irish confederation concerning peace. His name appears first amongst those of the privy council who signed the proclamation issued at Dublin on 30 July 1646 announcing the conclusion of a treaty of peace between Charles I and his Roman catholic subjects in Ireland. In writings condemnatory of the terms of that peace Bolton was represented as more devoted to the parliament of England than to the king, and much opposed to concessions to the Roman catholics of Ireland. A contemporary answer to some of the allegations against Bolton is extant in an unpublished manuscript in the British Museum. Bolton signed the instructions on 26 Sept. 1646 to those who were commissioned to treat with the English parliament for succours after the peace had been rejected by the Irish. He joined in the statement on the condition of Ireland of 19 Feb. 1646-7 submitted by Ormonde to Charles I, and preserved in the twentieth volume of the Carte Papers in the Bodleian Library. Sir Richard Bolton died in November 1648. By his first wife, Frances, daughter of Richard Walter of Stafford, he left one son, Edward, and several daughters. His second wife was Margaret, daughter of Sir Patrick Barnewall. In 1661 the peers at Dublin ordered that the books of their house for 1640 and 1641 should be expunged 'where they contained anything that did intrench upon the honor of the late Earl of Strafford, the late Bishop [Bramhall] of Derry, the lord chancellor Bolton, and several others.' Sir Richard Bolton was erroneously supposed to have been the author of a brief treatise entitled 'A Declaration setting forth how and by what means the laws and statutes of England from time to time came to be of force in Ireland.' In the archives at Kilkenny Castle is a petition in which Dame Margaret Bolton, widow of Sir Richard Bolton, applied in 1663 to the Duke of Ormonde, then viceroy, for the arrears due to her late husband. Sir Richard Bolton's son Edward succeeded him as solicitor-general in Ireland in 1622, and as chief baron in 1640. On the death of Charles I, Edward Bolton was by Charles II reappointed chief baron. From that office he was removed by the parliamentarian government, which, however, employed him in 1651 as commissioner for the administration of justice in Ireland. A second edition of Bolton's 'Justice of the Peace ' was published at Dublin in 1683, in folio. A unique portrait of Sir Richard Bolton is stated to have been; accidentally destroyed by fire at the residence of one of his descendants, some of whom in the last century held considerable estates in the county of Dublin.

[Archives of the city of Dublin; State Papers, Ireland, 1608; MSS. of Hon. Society of King's Inns, Dublin; Regiminis Anglicani in Hiberuia Defensio, London, 1624; Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, 1772; Patent Rolls, Ireland, James I, Charles I; Letters and Despatches of Earl of Strafford, 1740; Journals of House of Lords, Ireland, vol. i. 1779; Journals of House of Commons, Ireland, vol. i. 1796; Carte's Life of Ormonde, 1736; Reports of Royal Commission on Historical MSS.; Carte MSS.. Bodleian Library, Oxford; Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland, 1641-52, Dublin. 1879; Clarendon Papers, 1646-47. Bodleian Library; Survey of Rejected Peace. Kilkenny, 1646; Additional MSS. 4798, British Museum; Peerage of Ireland, vol. v. 1789; Hibernica, part ii. 1750; Records in office of Ulster King of Arms, Dublin.]

J. T. G.