Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Naish, John

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NAISH, JOHN (1841–1890), lord chancellor of Ireland, son of Carrol Naish of Ballycullen, co. Limerick, was born in 1841. He was educated at the Jesuit school of Clongowes Wood in Kildare, and, on leaving school, entered Dublin University, where he obtained numerous distinctions, including a non-foundation scholarship in science in 1861 (scholarships on the foundation being at that time open to none but members of the then established church), the Lloyd exhibition for proficiency in mathematics and physics (1862), and a senior moderatorship both in mathematical science and in experimental and natural science (1863). After graduating B.A., he entered the law school of the university, and was first prizeman in civil law in 1863, and in feudal and English law in 1864; also winning the single competitive studentship then given by the London Inns of Court. Called to the Irish bar in Michaelmas term of 1865, he joined the Munster circuit. His industry and knowledge soon brought him into good practice, and in 1870 he was retained in the important case of O'Keefe v. Cullen. In 1871, in conjunction with Mr. (now Judge) Bewley, he published a treatise on the Common Law Procedure Acts, which is still much used in Ireland. In 1880 he took silk, and became law adviser to the Castle, a post since abolished. In those troublous times the office entailed extremely arduous labours, and he was credited by his political opponents with having unearthed the now familiar statute of Edward III, which was put in force against the supporters of the Land League. He was appointed by Mr. Gladstone solicitor-general for Ireland in 1883, and in the same year stood as a liberal for Mallow, where he was beaten by Mr. William O'Brien, the nationalist candidate. In December of the next year he was promoted to be attorney-general, and was sworn of the Irish privy council in the January following. In May 1885, at the early age of forty-four, he was made by Mr. Gladstone's government lord chancellor of Ireland, in succession to Sir Edward Sullivan, being the second catholic chancellor since the Reformation; but he held the seals only until July, in which month the liberal government resigned office. He was appointed a lord justice of appeal in August of the same year, and became again lord chancellor when Mr. Gladstone returned to office in February 1886. But in June the government again resigned, and Naish with them. He thereupon resumed the duties of lord justice of appeal. In the summer of 1890 he went to Ems for his health, and he died there on 17 Aug. 1890, at the age of forty-nine. He was buried at Ems.

He married in 1884 Maud, daughter of James Arthur Dease of Turbotston, Westmeath, and had by her three children.

Naish was by no means a brilliant advocate, being naturally nervous and retiring; but he was probably the most eminent lawyer of his time in Ireland. His clear judgment and his immense learning gave great weight to his decisions in the court of appeal.

An engraving of him was published in London.

[Irish Law Times, 23 Aug. 1890; Times, 19 Aug. 1890; Freeman's Journal, 19 Aug. 1890; Dublin University Calendar.]

P. L. N.