DILLON, Sir ROBERT (1500?–1580), Irish judge, born about 1500, was third son of James Dillon of Riverston, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Bartholomew Bathe of Dullardstown. His eldest brother, Sir Bartholomew Dillon (d. 1534), was grandfather of Sir Robert Dillon (d. 1597) [q. v. Suppl.] of Riverston, and also, like his great-uncle, chief justice of common pleas.
The elder Robert was bred to the law, and, doubtless through family influence, was on 9 June 1534 appointed attorney-general for Ireland (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vii. 922 ). He held this office for eighteen years, only leaving it on his promotion to the bench, and always accommodating himself to changes of government. He assisted Henry VIII in the dissolution of the Irish monasteries, receiving on 22 Dec. 1538 the site of St. Peter's priory, Newton, co. Westmeath, and on 20 March 1545-6 the site of the Carmelite monastery at Athnecarne in the same county. Dillon made Newton his principal seat, and his family were always called Dillons of Newton to distinguish them from their cousins, the Dillons of Riverston. On 17 Jan. 1553-4 Dillon was appointed second justice of the queen's bench, and during Mary's reign was placed on various commissions for the government of Ireland. His appointment was renewed by Elizabeth on 9 Jan. 1558-9, but on 3 Sept. following he was promoted to be chief justice of the court of common pleas. Dillon is said (Lodge, Peerage, ed. Archdall, iv. 154) to have been speaker of the House of Commons during Elizabeth's reign; but James Stanihurst was speaker in both the parliaments of 1560 and that of 1569. On 1 March 1574-5 Elizabeth expressed her intention of sending over an Englishman to supply Dillon's place, on account of his great age, but the chief justice retained his office until his death in April 1580, being succeeded by his great-nephew Robert.
Dillon married Genet, daughter of Edward Barnewell of Crickstown, and grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Plunket (d. 1471), chief justice of common pleas; by her he had issue four sons and three daughters; the eldest son, Sir Lucas Dillon, is separately noticed.
[Cal. Fiants, Henry VIII to Elizabeth, passim; Cal. State Papers, Ireland; Cal. Carew MSS.; Hist. MSS. Comm. 15th Rep. App. iii.; Lascelles's Liber Mun. Hib.; Smyth's Law Officers of Ireland; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, iv. 154.]
DILLON, Sir ROBERT (d. 1597), Irish judge, was eldest son of Thomas Dillon of Riverston, and his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Luttrell (d. 1554), chief justice of the common pleas. His grandfather, Sir Bartholomew Dillon (d. 1534), eldest brother of Sir Robert Dillon (1500?-1580) [q. v. Suppl.], was appointed chief baron of the exchequer on 1 Feb. 1513-4, and deputy treasurer of Ireland on 2 July 1516; he was knighted soon afterwards, and on 15 Jan. 1532-3 was made chief justice of the king's bench, dying in the next year.
Robert Dillon received his first appointment on 15 June 1569, when he was made second justice of the newly formed presidency of Connaught. In that capacity he favourably impressed the president, Sir Edward Fitton the elder [q. v.], and when Fitton became vice-treasurer Dillon was appointed to the subordinate office of chancellor of the Irish exchequer on 5 June 1572. In the same month Loftus recommended Dillon's appointment to the mastership of the rolls; but Dillon, like his friend Sir Edward Fitton, had incurred the enmity of the lord deputy, Sir William Fitzwilliam (1526-1599) [q. v.], who, according to Loftus, misliked Dillon through malicious information (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1509-75, p. 494). In June 1573 Fitzwilliam committed Fitton to prison, and urged Elizabeth to send Dillon, who was proceeding to London to complain of the lord deputy, to the Fleet (ib. p. 511). Elizabeth, however, sided with Fitton and Dillon and reprimanded Fitzwilliam.
In 1575 Sir Henry Sidney [q. v.] succeeded Fitzwilliam, and on 26 Nov. 1577 Dillon was appointed second justice of the court of common pleas. He was promoted to be chief justice on 28 June 1581 in succession to his great-uncle, Sir Robert Dillon. Sir William Gerard [q. v.] had recommended Nicholas Nugent [q. v.] for the post, and soon afterwards INugent was accused of plotting the assassination of Dillon and his cousin, Sir Lucas, and of being privy to the rebellion of his brother, William Nugent [q. v.] The Dillons took the chief part in investigating these charges against their hereditary enemies, but the jury empanelled to try Nicholas Nugent were inclined to acquit him, until the two Dillons 'compelled them by menace to alter their verdict' (Sloane MS. 4793, f. 130), and popular opinion with some justice attributed Nugent's death to Dillon's malice. Henceforth the Nugents left no stone unturned to procure Dillon's ruin; they found their opportunity in Dillon's alleged complicity in the rebellion of Sir Brian-na-murtha O'Rourke [q. v.] Dillon was accused