John MacDermott, Baron MacDermott

John Clarke MacDermott, Baron MacDermott, MC, PC, PC (NI) (12 April 1896 – 13 July 1979), was a Northern Irish politician and lawyer who was Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland from 1951 to 1971.

Born in 1896, MacDermott was educated at Campbell College, Belfast, and the Queen's University of Belfast. After serving with the Machine Guns Corps in France, Belgium and Germany during the First World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross and reached the rank of Lieutenant, MacDermott was called to the Irish bar in 1921.[citation needed]

Eight years later he was appointed to determine industrial assurance disputes in Northern Ireland, and in 1931 he became a lecturer in Jurisprudence at Queen's University, teaching for four years.[citation needed]

In 1936 he was made a King's Counsel, and two years later he was elected to the Northern Ireland House of Commons as an Ulster Unionist member for Queen's University.[citation needed]

In 1940, MacDermott was appointed Minister of Public Security in the Government of Northern Ireland, and the following year became the Attorney General for Northern Ireland. He was succeeded in this post by William Lowry, whose son, Lord Lowry, would eventually succeed MacDermott as Lord Chief Justice.[citation needed] In 1944 he resigned his parliamentary seat on appointment as a High Court Judge for Northern Ireland, and three years later, on 23 April 1947 was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, effectively becoming a life peer as Baron MacDermott, of Belmont in the City of Belfast.[1]

Lord MacDermott returned from the House of Lords to take up his appointment as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland; his successors to the latter office have become Law Lords subsequently. Whilst LCJ he was affectionately known as "the baron".

In 1977, aged over eighty, Lord MacDermott offered to redeliver a lecture at the Ulster College, which had been interrupted by a bomb meant for him and which had severely wounded him.[2]

Having been made a Northern Ireland Privy Counsellor seven years earlier, Lord MacDermott was admitted to the British Privy Council in 1947.[citation needed]

Four years later, in 1951, he was appointed Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, a post he held for twenty years. He was also Pro-Chancellor of his alma mater from 1951 to 1969. In 1958, he chaired the commission on the Isle of Man Constitution. He died in 1979.[citation needed]

In 1926, he wed Louise Palmer Johnston, later Lady MacDermott. Their son, Sir John MacDermott, was also sworn into the UK Privy Council in 1987, as a Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland. He later became a Surveillance Commissioner for Northern Ireland.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "No. 37940". The London Gazette. 25 April 1947. p. 1825.
  2. ^ The Stormont Papers; biography; accessed 20 February 2020.
  3. ^ » Surveillance - Commissioner for Northern Ireland Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Robert Corkey
John Hanna Robb
Robert James Johnstone
Arthur Brownlow Mitchell
Member of Parliament for Queen's University of Belfast
With: Robert Corkey to 1943
Robert James Johnstone to 1938
Arthur Brownlow Mitchell to 1942
Howard Stevenson from 1938
William Lyle from 1942
John W. Renshaw from 1943
Succeeded by
Herbert Quin
Howard Stevenson
William Lyle
John W. Renshaw
Political offices
New office Minister of Public Security
Succeeded by
William Grant
Preceded by
Arthur Black
Attorney General for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
William Lowry
Legal offices
Preceded by
James Andrews
Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Robert Lowry