Hugh Law, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Hugh Law PC (Ire), QC (19 June 1818 – 10 September 1883) was an Irish lawyer, politician and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Born in County Down, son of John Law of Woodlawn and Margaret Crawley of Cullaville, Law was educated at the Royal School Dungannon and thereafter at Trinity College, Dublin where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1839. He became a Barrister in 1840 and a Queen’s Counsel in 1860, practicing mainly in Dublin and specialising in equity.

In politics, he started as a Conservative, but quickly turned to the Liberals. He drafted the Irish Church Act 1869 which disestablished the Church of Ireland: the drafting has been called “a monument to his skill and learning”. He was also largely responsible for the drafting of the first Irish Land Act of 1870; and during the passage of the Irish Land Act of 1881 was noted for his conciliatory approach and willingness to accept amendments.

He became Law Advisor to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Spencer in 1868. He became a Bencher of the King’s Inn in 1870 and was appointed in turn Soloicitor – General for Ireland in 1872, Attorney General for Ireland in 1873, and a member of the Irish Privy Council on 24 February 1874. His promotion was regarded as a proper reward for his services to the Liberals, despite the practical problem that until 1874 he did not have a seat in Parliament and therefore could not speak for the Government. In 1874 he was elected a Member of Parliament for Londonderry. He was appointed Attorney-General by the Liberal Prime Minister Gladstone in 1880, before becoming Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1881. As Attorney General he prosecuted Charles Stewart Parnell and other leading members of the Irish National Land League for conspiracy.

Hugh Law died suddenly on 10 September 1883, from inflammation of the lungs, at Rathmullan, County Donegal. He was remembered as a judge whose decisions commanded universal respect.

He married Ellen White of Dublin in 1863: she died in 1875. One of his sons, Hugh Law, bought the historic Ardbraccan House, former palace of the Lord Bishop of Meath, from the Church of Ireland in 1885. His second son, also called Hugh Law, sat initially as a Nationalist MP in the House of Commons and later served in Dail Eireann as a Cumann na nGaedheal TD from June 1927 until 1932.