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John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimlestown

John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimlestown

Irish baron
The basics
Occupations Judge
Gender male
Death July 25, 1538
The details

John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimleston (died 25 July 1538), was an Irish nobleman, judge and politician. He was the eldest son of Christopher Barnewall, 2nd Baron Trimlestown and his wife Elizabeth Plunket, daughter of Sir Thomas Fitz-Christopher Plunket of Rathmore, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland, by his second wife Marian Cruise. He succeeded his father as 3rd Baron about 1513.
His ancestors came over originally with Henry II and received large grants of land in County Cork. However, on the first favourable opportunity the old proprietors, the O'Sullivans, rose and murdered the whole family save one young man, who was absent studying law in England. He ultimately returned and settled at Drimnagh, near Dublin.


The subject of our sketch rose to high office in Ireland under Henry VIII; he was knighted around 1513, and received grants of land near Dunleer. He was unusual among the Irish nobility of the time both in his professional legal skills and his willingness to hold judicial office: O'Flanagan suggests that in becoming a judge he wished to follow the distinguished example of his grandfather, Chief Justice Plunket. He was made Attorney General for Ireland in 1504, Solicitor General for Ireland and King's Sergeant shortly after, a justice of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland) in 1514, Deputy Treasurer and then Lord Treasurer of Ireland in 1524 and Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1534. O'Flanagan praises him as an expert on finance as well as law, but adds somewhat cynically that his greatest talent was for looking after his own interests, noting the substantial grants of lands at Dunleer made to him by the English Crown.

In 1536, with the Lord Treasurer, Sir William Brabazon, he made an incursion into Offaly, and drove back the O'Conor clan, who were then ravaging the Anglo-Irish settlements. The next year, commissioned by the Privy Council of Ireland, he negotiated successfully with the O'Neills. During the Rebellion of Silken Thomas, he was one of those nobles whose loyalty to the Crown was considered to be somewhat dubious but it seems that these suspicions were not strong enough for any action to be taken against him.

He died on 25 July 1538.


He was four times married. Only the names of his first and second wives are known for certain: they were Janet (or Genet) Bellew of Bellewstown, and Margaret, daughter of Patrick Fitz Leones, who was three times Lord Mayor of Dublin between 1477 and 1495. He had at least three children-

  • Patrick Barnewall, 4th Baron Trimlestown.
  • Elizabeth Barnewall, who married three times: her husbands were George Plunkett, Christopher Eustace and William Darcy.
  • Catherine Barnewall, who married Patrick Hussey, feudal Baron of Galtrim.

Patrick Barnewall, Solicitor General for Ireland and Master of the Rolls in Ireland, was his nephew, the son of his sister Alison who married their cousin Roger Barnewall of Kingsland.

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