The Lord Emly
President of the Board of Health
In office
9 February 1857 – 24 September 1857
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Palmerston
Preceded byHon. William Cowper
Succeeded byHon. William Cowper
Paymaster General and
Vice-President of the Board of Trade
In office
12 March 1866 – 26 June 1866
Prime MinisterThe Earl Russell
Preceded byGeorge Goschen
Succeeded byStephen Cave
Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
10 December 1868 – 14 January 1871
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byCharles Adderley
Succeeded byEdward Knatchbull-Hugessen
Postmaster General
In office
14 January 1871 – 18 November 1873
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byMarquess of Hartington
Succeeded byLyon Playfair
Personal details
Born(1812-09-21)21 September 1812
Died20 April 1894(1894-04-20) (aged 81)
Political partyLiberal
Lady Anna Wyndham-Quin
(m. 1836; died 1855)
Bertha de Montigny Boulainvilliers
(m. 1857; died 1890)
Alma materOriel College, Oxford

William Monsell, 1st Baron Emly, PC (21 September 1812 – 20 April 1894)[1][2] was an Anglo-Irish landowner and Liberal politician. He held a number of ministerial positions between 1852 and 1873, notably as President of the Board of Health in 1857 and as Postmaster General between 1871 and 1873.

Background and education

Monsell was born to William Monsell (1778–1822), of Tervoe, Clarina, County Limerick,[2] and Olivia, daughter of Sir John Johnson-Walsh, 1st Baronet, of Ballykilcavan. He was educated at Winchester (1826–1830) and Oriel College, Oxford, but he left the university without proceeding to a degree in 1831.[1][2] As his father had died in 1824, he succeeded to the family estates on coming of age and was a popular landlord, the more so as he was resident.[1] In 1843 he helped found St Columba's College in Whitechurch, now part of Dublin.

Political career

"The painstaking Irishman"
As depicted by "Ape" (Carlo Pellegrini) in Vanity Fair, 11 February 1871

Monsell served as the Sheriff of County Limerick in 1835.[2] In 1847, he was elected Member of Parliament for County Limerick as a Liberal, and represented the constituency until 1874. In 1850, he became a Catholic and thereafter took a prominent part in Catholic affairs, especially in Parliament. As a friend of Wiseman, Newman, Montalambert, W. G. Ward, and other eminent Catholics, he was intimately acquainted with the various interests of the Church, and his parliamentary position was often of great advantage to the Church.[1]

In 1852 Monsell was appointed Clerk of the Ordnance by Lord Aberdeen, a post he retained until 1857, the last two years under the premiership of Lord Palmerston. In 1855 he was sworn of the Privy Council.[3] He was briefly President of the Board of Health under Palmerston in 1857 and later served under Lord Russell as Paymaster General and Vice-President of the Board of Trade in 1866 and under William Ewart Gladstone as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies between 1868 and 1871 and as Postmaster-General between January 1871 and November 1873.[1] He was also Lord Lieutenant of County Limerick between 1871 and 1894 and Vice-Chancellor of the Royal University of Ireland between 1885 and 1894.[2]

On 12 January 1874 Monsell was raised to the peerage as Baron Emly, of Tervoe in the County of Limerick.[4][1][2] He lost much of his popularity in Ireland during his later years, because of his opposition to the Irish National Land League and to the home rule movement in Ireland. His work being chiefly parliamentary, he wrote little, but published some articles in the Home and Foreign Review and a "Lecture on the Roman Question" (1860).[1]


Lord Emly was twice married. He married firstly Lady Anna Maria Charlotte Wyndham-Quin (1814–1855), only daughter of Windham Quin, 2nd Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, in August 1836,[1] with whom he had two sons, both of whom died in infancy. After her death on 7 January 1855,[2] he married Bertha (1835–1890), youngest daughter the Comte de Montigny of the house of Montigny de Perreux, in 1857, by whom he had one son Gaston (1858–1932), later the second Lord Emly, and one daughter Mary Olivia (1860–1942).[1][2] Lord Emly died in April 1894, aged 81.


Coat of arms of William Monsell, 1st Baron Emly
Confirmed 18 December 1873 by Sir John Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms.[5]
A lion rampant Proper holding between his paws a mullet Sable.
Argent on a chevron between three mullets Sable a trefoil slipped Or.
Mone Sale


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "William Monsell, Baron Emly". Catholic Encyclopedia (1 ed.). 1913.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h National Archives of Ireland. Papers of William Monsell, 1817–1899 (PDF). pp. 2–4. Retrieved 4 April 2006.
  3. ^ "No. 21762". The London Gazette. 14 August 1855. p. 3082.
  4. ^ "No. 24050". The London Gazette. 2 January 1874. p. 1.
  5. ^ "Grants and Confirmations of Arms, Vol. G". National Archives of Ireland. 1863. p. 297. Retrieved 2 February 2023.


Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byWilliam Smith O'Brien Caleb Powell Member of Parliament for County Limerick 18471874 With: William Smith O'Brien 1847–1849Samuel Dickson 1849–1850Wyndham Goold 1850–1854Stephen Edward de Vere 1854–1859Samuel Auchmuty Dickson 1859–1865Edward John Synan 1865–1874 Succeeded byEdward John Synan William Henry O'Sullivan Political offices Preceded byHon. William Cowper President of the Board of Health 1857 Succeeded byHon. William Cowper Preceded byGeorge Goschen Paymaster General 1866 Succeeded byStephen Cave Vice-President of the Board of Trade 1866 Preceded byCharles Adderley Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies 1868–1871 Succeeded byEdward Knatchbull-Hugessen Preceded byMarquess of Hartington Postmaster-General 1871–1873 Succeeded byLyon Playfair Military offices Preceded byFrancis Plunkett Dunne Clerk of the Ordnance 1852–1857 Office abolished Honorary titles Preceded byThe Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl Lord Lieutenant of Limerick 1871–1894 Succeeded byThomas Enraght O'Brien Peerage of the United Kingdom New creation Baron Emly 1874–1894 Succeeded byGaston Monsell