Co. Louth


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

about 600 in 1815


22 July 1802JOHN FOSTER
6 Aug. 1804 FOSTER re-elected after appointment to office
18 Nov. 1806JOHN FOSTER
 ROBERT JOCELYN, Visct. Jocelyn
19 May 1807JOHN FOSTER
10 Feb. 1810 ROBERT JOCELYN, Visct. Jocelyn, vice Jocelyn, appointed to office
20 Apr. 1812 JOCELYN re-elected after appointment to office
16 Oct. 1812JOHN FOSTER
 ROBERT JOCELYN, Visct. Jocelyn
27 June 1818JOHN FOSTER
 ROBERT JOCELYN, Visct. Jocelyn

Main Article

Since 1761 a tripartite alliance had dominated Louth elections. John Foster of Collon was its mainstay and he retained his seat unquestioned throughout this period: had he chosen to contest another seat, it was regarded as a foregone conclusion that his son and heir Thomas Henry Foster* would have replaced him, which he eventually did. The other parties were the Fortescues of Dromiskin, created earls of Clermont, who supplied the other Member from 1768 until 1806 when William Fortescue succeeded to the peerage; and the Hamiltons of Dundalk, created earls of Clanbrassill, whose estates passed in 1798 to the Jocelyns, earls of Roden. The Jocelyns, who were already patrons of Dundalk, but sold that seat, supplied the other Member from 1806.

The only snag to this arrangement was the fact that Viscount Jocelyn, returned in 1806, was a minor. At first one of the Fortescues was to have been his locum tenens. Blayney Balfour of Townley Hall, ‘a gentleman of considerable property’ who had stood for the county in 1767, put forward his pretensions that year on the grounds of Jocelyn’s ineligibility to act in Parliament until he was of age. Foster discouraged him, admitting the snag, but supposing it likely that Jocelyn’s uncle John Jocelyn would replace him as candidate. A county meeting in Balfour’s favour was therefore abandoned and he did not persevere. Once this was clear, Viscount Jocelyn was returned, although, as the chief secretary reminded the premier, ‘by the law on this side of the water, the return of a minor cannot be sustained, if it is challenged’.1 Meanwhile, Lord Roden arranged with government that John Jocelyn should give up his place on the customs board until Viscount Jocelyn came of age, so as to act as locum for his nephew.2 Jocelyn made way for his uncle in 1807, which prevented Robert Clements (Lord Leitrim’s brother), who had threatened to stand, from giving any trouble. In 1810 Jocelyn duly replaced his uncle.3

John Foster’s arrangement of county politics was threatened after 1809 by a quarrel with Lord Clermont over county patronage, by the weakening of his links with government and by the growth of Catholic opinion, but there was no contest until 1826.4

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Spencer mss, Roden to Bedford, 19 Oct.; NLS mss 12909, Elliot to Bedford, 11 Oct.; PRO NI, Foster mss 207, Balfour to Foster, 28 Oct., Brabazon to same, 28 Oct., 2 Nov., Foster to Balfour, 2 Nov. 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 422.
  • 2. Wellington mss, Wellesley to Roden, 20 Apr. 1808.
  • 3. Dublin Evening Post, 2 May 1807; NLI, Melville mss, Saxton to Saunders Dundas, 30 June 1809.
  • 4. A. P. W. Malcomson, John Foster, ch. 3.