JOCELYN, Robert, Visct. Jocelyn (1788-1870).

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



1806 - 1807
10 Feb. 1810 - 29 June 1820

Family and Education

b. 27 Oct. 1788, 1st s. of Robert, 2nd earl of Roden [I], and 1st w. Frances Theodosia, da. of Very Rev. Robert Bligh, dean of Elphin. educ. Harrow 1801-5. m. (1) 9 Jan. 1813, Maria Frances Catherine Stapleton (d. 25 Feb. 1861), da. of Thomas, 12th Bar. Le Despenser, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.; (2) 16 Aug. 1862, Clementina Janet, da. of Thomas Andrews of Greenknowes, Dumfries, wid. of Capt. Robert Lushington Neilly of Scarva, co. Down, s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd earl of Roden [I] 29 June 1820; cr. Bar. Clanbrassill [UK] 17 July 1821; KP 20 Aug. 1821. d. 20 Mar. 1870.

Offices Held

Jt. auditor-gen. of exch. [I] 1800-20, auditor-gen. 1820-2; PC [GB] 26 Mar. 1812; treas. of household May-July 1812, v.-chamberlain Aug. 1812-Feb. 1821; ld. of bedchamber 1827-31; PC [I] 26 July 1858.

Sheriff, co. Louth 1812-13, custos rot. 1820-49.

Capt. Dundalk inf. 1809; lt.-col. Louth militia 1826-47.


Jocelyn, a steady supporter of the Liverpool ministry and implacable opponent of Catholic relief, was again returned unopposed for county Louth on the family interest in 1820.1 He insisted that all Irish Members should be entitled to sit on the proposed committee on the expenses of returning officers, 3 May, carried an amendment to that effect, and was named to the inquiry.2 On 5 June he was granted three weeks’ leave on account of the death of his sister Frances, Lady Powerscourt. His father’s death later that month removed him from the Commons. He relinquished his household post early in 1821 and received a United Kingdom peerage later that year. In 1822 he was compensated for the abolition of his Irish sinecure with a pension of £2,700 a year for life.

One of his last acts as a Member was to apply successfully to government in February 1820 for his uncle Percy Jocelyn, bishop of Ferns since 1809, to be promoted to the vacant see of Clogher.3 His solicitude was poorly rewarded, for on 19 July 1822 the bishop was caught in an act of gross indecency with one John Moverley, a private soldier, in a Westminster public house. He was arrested and charged, but released on bail of £1,000 the next day. He fled to France to avoid trial and in his absence was deprived of his see, 21 Oct. 1822.4 The affair created ‘a great noise’, particularly as in 1811 the bishop had successfully prosecuted for libel a Dublin domestic servant who had accused him of making an immoral proposition. The man had been flogged almost to death as part of his punishment.5 In 1823 Percy Jocelyn, evidently unrepentant, defiantly returned to Ireland. Ministers implored Roden, who ‘owes it to the government as well as to his own family to prevent the scandal of a public trial’, to impress on his uncle the certain consequences of his remaining in the United Kingdom. Roden, who, though mortified by the scandal, had provided Jocelyn with an annuity, needed no second bidding and prevailed on him to return to the continent. He later lived incognito in Glasgow and Edinburgh where he died and was buried as Thomas Wilson, an ‘unhappy but apparently repentant transgressor’, in 1843.6

The scandal must have been the more galling to Roden as a devout and proselytizing Protestant, whose home at Tollymore Park, county Down, was pervaded by an ‘atmosphere of stern and uncompromising piety’.7 A leading figure in the Evangelical movement within the Irish Church, he actively promoted the formation of Brunswick Clubs in Ireland in 1828 and later became Grand Master of the Orange Society. In 1831 he controversially returned the Scottish Evangelical proselytizer James Edward Gordon, founder of the Protestant Reformation Society (of which Roden was vice-president), for his pocket borough of Dundalk. ‘But that Lord Roden is known to be an inveterate antagonist of reform’, remarked Richard Sheil*, ‘one would be tempted almost to believe that he intended to expose the monstrosities of the Irish borough system by the nomination of a man ... so obnoxious to the Irish people’. He was elected president of the Irish Protestant Conservative Society later that year and was one of the diehard minority of 22 who voted against the third reading of the reform bill in the Lords, 4 June 1832. On Peel’s accession as premier in 1834 he was offered, but declined, the lord stewardship of the household, using the occasion to ‘extract the maximum possible political gain from the endorsement thus given to his earlier activities’.8 Lord Teignmouth wrote of him:

As a politician Lord Roden was steadfastly Conservative. In the support and public advocacy of the Protestant cause, and of institutions formed for the promotion of religion and religious education, he took a prominent part, and his personal example no less than his public and private efforts contributed materially to the growth and improvement of religious feeling amongst both the Irish clergy and laity.9

He expounded his anti-Catholicism and missionary zeal in his publications Observations on Lord Alvanley’s Pamphlet (1841) and Progress of the Reformation in Ireland (1851), which advocated scriptural knowledge of the Bible as ‘the great remedy for the ills of Ireland’. In 1849 he was removed from the commission of the peace of county Louth for alleged partiality in dealing with an Orange procession involved in a fatal affray between Catholics and Protestants at Dolly’s Brae. Thereafter he played little part in public life. Like his wretched uncle, he died in Edinburgh in March 1870. Greville had condemned him as ‘bigoted and obstinate, and virtuous moreover’, but an obituarist wrote:

As a most fearless advocate of a somewhat narrow and antiquated creed ... it is not to be expected that in his public character he had no enemies. On the contrary, he had many. But none ever threw a doubt on the sincerity of his motives, though they often thought them mistaken and absurd, and hence he really secured, together with a character for religious eccentricity, a large amount of personal respect.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Philip Salmon / David R. Fisher


  • 1. Dublin Evening Post, 18 Mar. 1820.
  • 2. The Times, 4 May 1820.
  • 3. Add. 38283, ff. 85, 87.
  • 4. Ann. Reg. (1822), Chron., pp. 126, 432; Von Neumann Diary, i. 98.
  • 5. Greville Mems. i. 125-6; H.M. Hyde, The Other Love, 83-86.
  • 6. Add. 40304, ff. 184, 206; 40329, ff. 237, 249-53, 257, 261; 40359, ff. 266-9; Gent. Mag. (1844), i. 314.
  • 7. Lady Airlie, Lady Palmerston, ii. 48.
  • 8. J. Wolffe, Protestant Crusade, 37, 84; Sketches, Legal and Political ed. M. Savage, ii. 352; Oxford DNB.
  • 9. Teignmouth, Reminiscences, ii. 177.
  • 10. Greville Mems. iii. 184; The Times, 22 Mar. 1870.