Dillon, Lucas (DNB01)

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DILLON, Sir LUCAS (d. 1593), chief baron of the Irish exchequer, was the eldest son and heir of Sir Robert Dillon (1500?–1580) [q. v. Suppl.] of Newtown, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Barne- wall of Crickstown. Lucas naturally followed his father's profession, and on 17 April 1565 was appointed solicitor-general for Ireland. He was promoted to be attorney-general on 8 Nov. 1566, and sat in the parliament of 1569, for which no returns have been discovered. On 17 May 1570 he was made chief baron of the Irish court of exchequer, in succession to James Bathe, whose daughter he had married, and sworn of the privy council. Dillon was the ablest of the Irish judges of his time, and was excepted from the condemnation pronounced by an English visitor on the others as being 'little better accounted than junior barristers in the court of chancery' (Bagwell, ii. 297). He enjoyed the full confidence of Sir Henry Sidney [q. v.], the lord deputy, whom he accompanied on his tour through Connaught in 1576, and by whom he was knighted at Drogheda in the same year. In May 1581 it was proposed to make him lord-chancellor (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1574-85, p. 302), and in 1583 chief justice of the queen's bench (Lodge, Peerage, ed. Archdall, iv. 155-6), but neither of these proposals was carried out, and as some compensation Dillon was, on 5 June 1583, made seneschal of Kilkenny West. The reason for his failure to obtain promotion may possibly be found in a letter from Loftus to the home government dated 15 Jan. 1581-2, in which Dillon was denounced as 'very corrupt.'

Meanwhile Sir Lucas and his cousin Sir Robert Dillon, the chief justice, had been congenially engaged in ruining their hereditary enemies the Nugents [see Nugent, Sir Christopher; Nugent, Nicholas; and Nugent, William]. They were thanked by the government on 14 Jan. 1581-2 for their diligence in discovering and examining into the N agents' conspiracy ; but their efforts were probably more due to private animosity than to public zeal ; and the execution of Nicholas Nugent involved both the Dillons in an unpopularity which was increased by their being largely responsible for the exaction of the 'cess' from the gentlemen of the Pale. On Grey's departure in 1584 Sir Lucas Dillon was one of the lords justices appointed to administer the government pending the arrival of Sir John Perrot [q.v.], and in this capacity he assisted in arranging the scandalous trial by battle between various O'Connors in the hope that they might kill each other off (Bagwell, iii. 121). During Perrot's administration Dillon was one of the party in the council which supported the lord deputy against the constant appeals to the home government, and on 26 April 1587 he was one of the commissioners appointed for the plantation of Munster.

In 1592 Sir Lucas was implicated in the charges brought against Sir Robert Dillon (d. 1597) [q. v. Suppl.], of having instigated Sir Brian-na-murtha O'Rourke [q. v.] to rebel, out of hostility to the president of Connaught, Sir Richard Bingham [q. v.] The accusations were probably inspired by the Nugents, but Sir Lucas Dillon died early in 1593, before they came to a head; his successor, Sir Robert Napier (d. 1615) [q. v.], was appointed on 10 April 1593. Dillon was buried in Newtown church, and the inscription on his tomb is printed by Lodge (Peerage, ed. Archdall, iv. 156). He married Jane, daughter of James Bathe (d. 1570), chief baron of the exchequer, and by her, who died before 1581, left issue seven sons and five daughters. The eldest son, James, was granted livery of his father's lands on 8 April 1594 (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 5920), was created Baron Dillon on 24 Jan. 1619-1620, and Earl of Roscommon on 5 April 1622 ; he was great-grandfather of Wentworth Dillon, fourth earl of Roscommon [q. v.]

[Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1509-96 ; Cal. Carew MSS. ; Cal. Fiants, Ireland, Elizabeth ; Lascelles's Liber Muuerum Hib. ; Hist. MSS. Comm. 15th Rep. App. iii.; Smyth's Law Officers of Ireland ; O'Sullivan's Chancellors of Ireland; Eyan's Biographia Hibernica, 1821, ii. 93-5; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, iv. 154-6 ; Burke's Extinct Peerage, where Dillon is erroneously stated to have been speaker of the Irish House of Commons.]

A. F. P.