BERNARD, James, Visct. Bernard (1785-1856).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1806 - 1807
1807 - 1818
1818 - 1820
1820 - 1826
1830 - 26 Nov. 1830

Family and Education

b. 14 June 1785, 1st s. of Francis, 1st earl of Bandon [I], and Lady Catherine Henrietta Boyle, da. of Richard, 2nd earl of Shannon [I]; bro of Hon. Richard Boyle Bernard†. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1804. m. 13 Mar. 1809, Mary Susan Albinia, da. of Rev. the Hon. Charles Brodrick, abp. of Cashel, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. as 2nd earl of Bandon [I] 26 Nov. 1830. d. 31 Oct. 1856.

Offices Held

Rep. peer [I] 1835-d.; ld. lt. co. Cork 1842-d.

Capt. Bandon Legion inf. 1810.


In 1818 Bernard had retired from county Cork following the defection to the Whigs of his maternal uncle and patron the 3rd earl of Shannon, who provided him with a temporary berth at Youghal.1 At the 1820 general election he was returned for Bandon Bridge by his father, who had alternate control of the representation with the duke of Devonshire.2 A lax attender, whose votes were subject to confusion with those of Thomas Bernard, Tory Member for King’s County, and Viscount Barnard, Whig Member for Tregony, when present he continued to give general support to the Liverpool ministry, by whom he was listed as seeking church preferment for his brother Richard, Member for Bandon Bridge, 1812-15.3 He voted against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825, and brought up a hostile constituency petition, 16 Apr. 1823.4 He voted against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., disqualifying civil officers of the ordnance from voting in parliamentary elections, 12 Apr., and an opposition motion for economy and retrenchment, 27 June 1821. On 11 May 1821 he presented a Bandon Bridge petition against the laws affecting the woollen drapery trade.5 He was listed, almost certainly by mistake, in the minority for Brougham’s motion on the distressed state of the country, 11 Feb., but he voted with ministers against further tax reductions, 21 Feb. 1822.6 He divided against Newport’s amendment to the Irish tithes bill, 19 June 1822, and inquiry into the borough franchise, 20 Feb. 1823. He presented Bandon Bridge petitions for reduced duties on imported bark, 26 May 1823, and against alteration of the corn laws, 28 Apr. 1825.7 He voted for suppression of the Catholic Association, 15, 25 Feb. He was included, probably in error, in the minority for repeal of the window tax, 17 May, and divided for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 10 June 1825.

Bernard retired from Bandon Bridge at the 1826 dissolution, when it was Devonshire’s turn to nominate.8 He was a vice-president of the Bandon Brunswick Club established by his father in December 1828.9 Resuming his seat at the 1830 general election, he was listed by the Wellington ministry as one of their ‘friends’, and voted with them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830.10 On succeeding his father as 2nd earl later that month he returned his eldest son Francis.11 There was speculation that he would break with Devonshire and oppose the return of a reformer at the 1831 general election, but Francis duly made way for Devonshire’s nominee, much to the dismay of the Tory corporation, who at the nomination ‘overthrew’ his decision and re-elected Francis.12 ‘Do you know anything about ... how Lord Bandon is circumstanced’ and ‘whether he could leave the burgesses to themselves [if his son resigns?]’, enquired Thomas Lefroy* of Lord Farnham, 8 June 1831.13 Determined to fulfil his father’s ‘engagement’ with Devonshire ‘upon a motive of honour’, Bandon replaced Francis with the duke’s nominee later that year in a closely fought by-election.14 Although his brother William came in as a Conservative for Bandon Bridge at the 1832 general election, the corporation was ‘no longer willing to accede to his wishes’ concerning the division of ‘political influence in the borough’, and in July 1833 he formally ‘resigned as a burgess’ and withdrew his financial support. The rift, however, was evidently temporary, for by 1837 he was back as recorder.15 He was a founding member of the Conservative Society of Dublin established in June 1832, a vice-president of one started in county Cork in 1835 and one of ‘several first men of the county’ who publicly joined the Orange Order in 1834, citing the necessity of ‘all true Protestants ... uniting more closely together than formerly’ in ‘the circumstances of the times’. He later considered himself fortunate to be appointed lord lieutenant of the county by the Peel administration.16 A ‘resident proprietor’ with the ‘deepest interest’ in local improvements, he died in October 1856 and was succeeded in the earldom by Francis.17

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. I. D’Alton, Protestant Society and Politics in Cork, 125.
  • 2. Dublin Evening Post, 18 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Black Bk. (1823), 140; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 451.
  • 4. The Times, 17 Apr. 1823.
  • 5. Ibid. 12 May 1821.
  • 6. Ibid. 13 Feb. 1822.
  • 7. Ibid. 27 May 1823, 29 Apr. 1825.
  • 8. Southern Reporter, 20 June 1826.
  • 9. Ibid. 23 Dec. 1828.
  • 10. Ibid. 10 Aug. 1830.
  • 11. Cork Constitution, 27, 30 Nov. 1830, 8 Jan. 1831.
  • 12. Ibid. 10, 12 May, 19 July 1831.
  • 13. NLI, Farnham mss 18611 (1).
  • 14. Cork Constitution, 19, 26 July 1831.
  • 15. Ibid. 24 Sept. 1833; PP (1835), xxvii. 208-9; Almanac Dublin Dir. (1837), 260.
  • 16. Farnham mss 18611 (3); D’Alton, 167, 205.
  • 17. Gent. Mag. (1856), ii. 784.