Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jocelyn, Robert (1688?-1756)

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JOCELYN, ROBERT, first Viscount Jocelyn (1688?–1756), lord chancellor of Ireland, was the only son of Thomas Jocelyn, by his wife Anne, daughter of Thomas Bray of Westminster, and grandson of Sir Robert Jocelyn, bart., of Hyde Hall. Hertfordshire. He appears to have studied English law for some time in the office of an attorney named Salkeld in Brooke Street, Holborn, where he made the acquaintance of Philip Yorke [q. v.], afterwards Lord Hardwicke. Admitted a student of Gray's Inn in 1709, he was called to the Irish bar 27 Jan. 1718–9, and at a by-election in September 1725 was returned to the Irish House of Commons for Granard, co. Longford. He was appointed third serjeant on 28 March 1726, and at the general election in 1727 was elected for Newtown, co. Down. On 4 May 1727 he became solicitor-general. On the accession of George II Jocelyn was confirmed in his office, and on 22 Oct. 1730 was promoted to the post of attorney-general, in the place of Thomas Marlay, appointed lord chief baron. On the resignation of Thomas, lord Wyndham, Jocelyn, through the influence of his old friend Lord Hardwicke, was appointed lord chancellor (7 Sept. 1739), and took his seat as speaker of the Irish House of Lords at the opening of Parliament on 9 Oct. 1739 (Journals of the Irish House of Lords, iii. 439). He was created Baron Newport of Newport in the county of Tipperary by letters patent dated 29 Nov. 1743 (ib. iii. 547), and on 3 Feb. 1744 presided as lord high steward at the trial of Nicholas, fifth viscount Netterville, who was indicted for the murder of Michael Walsh (ib. iii. 576–9). He was created Viscount Jocelyn also in the peerage of Ireland, by letters patent dated 6 Dec. 1755 (ib. iv. 48). In September 1756 the great seal was put in commission during Jocelyn's absence from Ireland for the recovery of his health. He never returned, and, dying in London on 3 Dec. 1756, aged 68, was buried at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.

Jocelyn married, first, in 1720, Charlotte, daughter and coheiress of Charles Anderson of Worcester, his only son by whom, Robert [q. v.], succeeded him as second viscount, and was created Earl of Roden of High Roding in the county of Tipperary on 1 Dec. 1771. His first wife died on 23 Feb. 1747, and on 15 Nov. 1754 he married, secondly, Frances, daughter of Thomas Claxton of Dublin, widow of Richard, first earl of Ross. She survived her second husband, and died on 25 May 1772. Jocelyn is described by Lord Chesterfield as ‘a man of great worth’ (Harris, Life of Lord Hardwicke, ii. 215). He possessed an amiable character, and literary and antiquarian tastes. He served no fewer than nine times as one of the lords justices during the absence of the lord-lieutenant from Ireland, and was president of the Dublin Physico-Historical Society (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pt. i. p. 443 b). Among the Addit. MSS. in the British Museum there is an interesting letter written by Jocelyn (dated Dublin 2 Nov. 1754) to the Duke of Newcastle, calling the duke's attention to ‘the very extraordinary height to which the disputes and animosities here have been unhappily carried’ (32737, f. 245). Two portraits of Jocelyn by Slaughter are in the possession of the present Earl of Roden. A marble bust by Bacon was erected to his memory in Sawbridgeworth Church by his son (Cussans, Hist. of Hertfordshire, ‘Hundred of Braughing,’ p. 98).

[O'Flanagan's Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland, 1870, ii. 74–90; Oliver J. Burke's Hist. of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland, 1879, pp. 121–4; Harris's Life of Lord Hardwicke, 1847, i. 28, 36, 53, 102, 107–8, 117, 148, 201, 436–7, 512, ii. 50–1, 215, iii. 54–5, 108–9, 500, 518, 530; Smyth's Chronicle of the Law Officers of Ireland, 1839; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, 1789, iii. 269; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1851; Clutterbuck's Hist. of Hertfordshire, 1827, iii. 203–205, 218; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 654, 657.]

G. F. R. B.