James Dillon, 3rd Earl of Roscommon

Sir James Dillon, 3rd Earl of Roscommon (c. 1605 – 1649) was an Irish magnate and politician. He was born a Catholic but converted as a young age to the Church of Ireland. He supported Strafford during his term as governor of Ireland. In the Confederate Wars and the Cromwellian conquest he was a royalist. He died in 1649, but was nevertheless included as the fifth on the list of people that were excluded from pardon in Cromwell's 1652 Act of Settlement.

James Dillon
Earl of Roscommon
PredecessorRobert, 2nd Earl of Roscommon
SuccessorWentworth, 4th Earl of Roscommon
Bornc. 1605
DiedOctober 1649
Limerick, Ireland
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Wentworth
FatherRobert, 2nd Earl of Roscommon
MotherMargaret Barry

Birth and originEdit

James was born about 1605[1] in Ireland, the eldest son of Robert Dillon and his first wife Margaret Barry. His father was the second Earl of Roscommon. His family was Old English and descended from Sir Henry Dillon who came to Ireland with Prince John in 1185.[2] His family held substantial lands in Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Roscommon.

James's mother was a daughter of David de Barry, 5th Viscount Buttevant. Her family, the de Barry family is another Old English family. Her ancestor John Barry was created Viscount Buttevant by Richard II in 1385.[3]

Family tree
James Dillon with wife, parents, and other selected relatives.[a]
1st Earl

d. 1641

d. 1628
2nd Earl
d. 1642
3rd Earl
c. 1605 – 1649
5th Earl
4th Earl
6th Earl
d. 1715
7th Earl
d. 1721
8th Earl
d. 1746
XXXSubject of
the article
XXXEarls of

James was one of five brothers including two half-brothers, one from each of the two other marriages of his father.

Nothing seems to be known about his sisters.

Early lifeEdit

His father's family were traditionally Roman Catholic, which is why his father, despite his record of loyalty to the Crown, was never fully trusted by King Charles I of England. James, however, was converted to the Church of Ireland by James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh.[9]

On 24 January 1620 his grandfather was raised to the peerage with the title of Baron Dillon of Kilkenny-West, in the Peerage of Ireland.[10] in a ceremony performed by the Lord Deputy Oliver St. John in the Presence Chamber of Dublin Castle on 25 January.[11]

On 5 August 1622 James's grandfather was further honoured by being created Earl of Roscommon.[12] In consequence of this advancement, Robert, the heir apparent, James's father, was styled Lord Kilkenny-West, as a courtesy title from 1622 to 1641.

Marriage and childrenEdit

In late September or early October 1636 James Dillon married Elizabeth Wentworth, daughter of Sir William Wentworth and Anne Atkins at Lowton Hall, Essex.[13] She was a sister of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, the formidable and (for a while), all-powerful Lord Deputy of Ireland. James's father was a staunch supporter and a personal friend of Strafford, and the marriage was clearly intended to strengthen English rule in Ireland through family alliances between leading English and Anglo-Irish families.[14]

James and Elizabeth had a son:


Dillon was knighted before or in 1639 and thus became Sir James Dillon.[17][18] The same year he stood as MP, or "knight of the shire" as county MPs were then still called, for County Longford in the Parliament of 1640–1649,[b] the second of Charles I. Sir James was elected as one of the two members for Longford County on 28 February 1640.

Parliament met on 16 March 1640.[20] In its first session the parliament unanimously voted four subsidies of £45,000[21] to raise an Irish army of 9,000[22] for use by the king against the Scots in the Bishops' Wars. Dillon must have voted in favour. On 31 March 1640 Wentworth prorogued parliament until the first week of June.[23][24]

On 3 April 1640, Strafford (i.e. Wentworth) left Ireland,[25] called to England by the king to help him manage the Bishops war against the Scots. Strafford appointed Christopher Wandesford as Lord Deputy to govern Ireland in his absence. Wandesford opened the second parliamentary session on 1 June 1640.[26][27] News from England was the Short Parliament had refused subsidies to the king.[28] The Irish MPs regretted having voted subsidies and wanted to sabotage their action by changing how the subsidies would be evaluated and collected.[29] After two weeks of inconclusive discussions, Wandesford prorogued parliament on 17 June.[30]

Parliament reconvened for the third session on 1 October.[31] The House of Commons formed a committee for grievances that compiled a remonstrance (complaint) against Strafford. The remonstrance was then approved by the House of Commons.[32] Sir James must have voted against it in order to support Strafford. Wandesford prorogued parliament on 12 November,[33] a day after Strafford's impeachment in Westminster by the Long Parliament.

Parliament met again on 26 January 1641.[33] Lord Deputy Wandesford had died on 3 December 1640 and the Irish government had devolved to the Lords Justice, Parsons and Borlase.

Earl of RoscommonEdit

In March 1641 James's grandfather died[39] and his father succeeded as the 2nd Earl. His tenure was, however, a short one as he died on 27 August 1642 in Oxmantown, a residential quarter in Dublin's Northside.[40] James succeeded as the 3rd Earl of Roscommon.[41] He had to abandon his seat in the lower house and gained a seat in the House of Lords, which he took on the 17 November 1642.[42]

Roscommon was in Dublin when Ormond handed the town over to the English Parliament and was given as hostage to the English Parliament by Ormond.[43]

Death and timelineEdit

He died at Limerick in October 1649, at the house of the Anglican Bishop Bramhall, of an accidental fall down a flight of stairs.[44] According to legend, his son, then in exile at Caen, knew of his death at the moment it happened, although the official news did not reach him until two weeks later.[45]

Notes, citations, and sourcesEdit


  1. ^ This family tree is partly derived from the Roscommon pedigree in Cokayne.[4] Also see the lists of siblings and children in the text.
  2. ^ Also called the "Parliament 1639–1649" because it opened on 2 March 1640, which date was still in the year 1639 according to the Old Style (O.S.) calendar, in force in Ireland at the time, as the year started on 25 March in O.S.[19]


  1. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 411, line 19: "[James] s. and h. [son and heir] by his 1st wife, b. [born] about 1605;"
  2. ^ Webb 1878, p. 149, line 7: "... [Sir Henry Dillon] came to Ireland in 1185 as secretary to Prince John ..."
  3. ^ Beatson 1806, p. 141"1385 25. John Barry Lord Barry—Viscount Buttevant, in the County of Corke."
  4. ^ Cokayne 1895, p. 414.
  5. ^ Burke 1832, p. 367, left column, line 30: "His Lordship [the 2nd Earl] m. first Margaret, daughter of David Earl of Barrymore, by whom he had JAMES, Lord Dillon, and another son Lucas who d. s.p."
  6. ^ Burke 1832, p. 367, left column, line 33: "The Earl m. secondly Lady Dorothy Hastings, youngest daughter of George, fourth Earl of Huntingdon and widow of Sir James Steuart, by whom he had Henry, who d. unmarried;"
  7. ^ Burke 1832, p. 367, left column, line 37: "... and, thirdly, Anne, daughter of Sir William Stroud, and widow of Lord Folliet, by whom he had a son, Carey, who succeeded as fifth earl."
  8. ^ Pepys 1893, p. 217: "Aug. 8, 1660. We found them very pretty, and Coll. Dillon there, a very merry and witty companion ..."
  9. ^ Burke 1832, p. 367, left column, line 42: "This nobleman says Anthony a Wood, 'was reclaimed, when young, from the superstitions of the Roman church by primate Ussher ..."
  10. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 410, line 21: "... was cr. [created] 24 Jan. 1619/20 Lord Dillon, Baron of Kilkenny-West [I [Ireland]]."
  11. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 158, line 5: "... the ceremony thereof was performed by the L. D. St John in the Presence-Chamber on the 25 ..."
  12. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 410, line 22: "... being subsequently cr. [created] 5 Aug. 1622 Earl of Roscommon [I. [Ireland]]."
  13. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 411: "He m. [married] late in Sep., or early on Oct. 1636, at Lowton Hall, co. Essex, Elizabeth, sister of the Earl of Strafford ..."
  14. ^ Wedgwood 1961, p. 205: "Wentworth arranged the marriage of his sister Elizabeth, of his brother George, of the Lord and Lady Dungarvan;"
  15. ^ Gillespie 2004, p. 226: "... [Wentworth] was born in Dublin, probably in St George's Lane in October 1637."
  16. ^ King 1982, p. 200: "The influence of imitations and translations on the increasing elegance of Restoration verse can be seen from such versified criticism as the Earl of Roscommon's ... translation of Horace's Art of Poetry (1680) and his often-praised An Essay of Translated Verse (1684) ..."
  17. ^ Cokayne 1895, p. 411, line 22: "He was knighted v.p."
  18. ^ a b House of Commons 1878, p. 625: "1639 28 Feb. Sir James Dillon, knt. Moymet Westmeath Longford County"
  19. ^ Gerard 1913, p. 739, right column: "[The year began]... from 1155 till the reform of the calendar in 1752 on 25 March, so that 24 March was the last day ..."
  20. ^ a b c Asch 2004, p. 152, right column, line 18: "... the Irish Parliament which had met on 16 March."
  21. ^ a b Wedgwood 1961, p. 276, line 4: "... they voted four subsidies of £45,000 each without a single negative ..."
  22. ^ Wedgwood 1961, p. 277, line 8: "The Irish Parliament had agreed on the provision of a force of eight thousand foot and a thousand horse."
  23. ^ a b Asch 2004, p. 152, right column, line 43: "The Irish parliament was prorogued on 31 March [1640] ..."
  24. ^ Wedgwood 1961, p. 277, line 4: "... he [Wentworth] prorogued Parliament until the first week in June ..."
  25. ^ Wedgwood 1961, p. 278: "On the evening of Good Friday, April 3rd, he [Wentworth] took leave of his wife and his friend, Wandesford, not knowing ..."
  26. ^ a b Gardiner 1904, p. 155, line 3: "The Parliament of Ireland met for its second session on June 1."
  27. ^ Wedgwood 1961, p. 291, line 12: "... Christopher Wandesford, now Lord Deputy, opened the second session of Parliament in June."
  28. ^ Gardiner 1904, p. 120: "... the refusal of the House of Commons to support him."
  29. ^ Wedgwood 1961, p. 291: "... protests about the subsidies — so vociferously voted three months before. The Commons were resolved first to reorganize the basis of assessment and undo the work ..."
  30. ^ a b c Wedgwood 1961, p. 291, penultimate line: "After an unprofitable fortnight, Wandesford prorogued Parliament until October."
  31. ^ a b Clarke 1976, p. 277: "On the same day, Christopher Wandesford, deputising for the lord lieutenant, prorogued parliament to 1 October."
  32. ^ a b Wedgwood 1961, p. 320: "Poor Christopher Wandesford, as Lord Deputy, exerted no control at all; he had managed to prorogue the house, but not until after the remonstrance had been voted."
  33. ^ a b c d Mountmorres 1792b, p. 40: "... but the parliament was prorogued on that day, to prevent any further proceedings until the 26 of January following."
  34. ^ a b Kearney 1959, p. 209: "The Irish parliament sat from January 26 to March 4, and from May 11 to August 7."
  35. ^ Mountmorres 1792b, p. 44: "From the 28th of February to the 6th of March one thousand six hundred and forty, on which last day the articles of impeachment ..."
  36. ^ Mountmorres 1792a, p. 353: "... prorogation from the 4th of March to the 11th May;"
  37. ^ Bagwell 1909a, p. 328: "Parliament met accordingly on November 9 and immediately adjourned till the 16th ..."
  38. ^ Mountmorres 1792a, p. 354: "The parliament met on the 1st of August one thousand six hundred and forty-two after a long interval during which the rebellion had broken out."
  39. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 411, line 3b: "He [James, 1st Earl] d. March 1641."
  40. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 411, line 17: "He d. at Oxmantown, 27 Aug. 1642, and was bur. 7 Sep. in St Patricks, Dublin."
  41. ^ Burke 1832, p. 367, left column, line 40: "His lordship d. 7th September 1642 and was succeeded by his eldest son, James, third earl."
  42. ^ a b House of Lords 1779, p. 187, left column: "Die Jovis, 17o Novembris, 1642o ... Earl of Roscommon brought in by the Earl of Kildare, and Lord Viscount Moore."
  43. ^ a b Meehan 1882, p. 211: "... his [Ormond's] second son, lord Richard Butler, with the earl of Roscommon, and Sir James Ware, had been sent to England as hostages for his performance of the articles in consideration of which he was to surrender Dublin to the English rebels."
  44. ^ a b Cokayne 1895, p. 411, line 29: "He d. [died] at the house of Bishop Bramhall, Limerick, of a fall down a great pair of stairs."
  45. ^ Aubrey 1696, p. 89: "The Lord Roscomon, being a Boy of Ten Years of age at Caen in Normandy ... he cries out My Father is Dead."
  46. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 44, line 16: "Charles I. ... acc. 27 Mar. 1625 ..."
  47. ^ Asch 2004, p. 146, right column, line 23: "Wentworth was appointed lord deputy on 12 January 1632 ..."
  48. ^ Burke 1866, p. 577, left column, line 3: "He [Strafford] suffered death with characteristic firmness on Tower Hill, 12 May 1641."
  49. ^ Warner 1768, p. 6: "... the twenty-third October [1641] ... seized all the towns, castles, and houses belonging to the Protestants which they had force enough to possess;"
  50. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 44, line 17: "Charles I. ... exec. 30 Jan. 1649 ..."


Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by Earl of Roscommon
Succeeded by