The Unwitting Dining Companions, 1784

From the Dublin Morning Register, 23 February 1838, an interesting account of barrister-solicitor relations from the previous century, involving John Scott, Lord Clonmell (‘Copperface Jack’), John Fitzgibbon, Earl of Clare (‘Black Fitzgibbon’) and an unnamed impoverished solicitor:

“An anecdote of Fitzgibbon and Scott was related to the writer by a gentleman who knew the fact. After the elevation of these men to their new dignities, they were invited to dine with an attorney, who first brought them into money in the Four Courts, by giving them briefs, they accepted the invitation, not wishing to discard their old friend; but as he lived in an unfashionable street they did not like to have noticed the ‘lowly means by which they did ascend’.

Fitzgibbon drove to an adjacent street, and then alighted from his carriage, and walking sneakingly to the house, he met Scott; they passed without recognition, to avoid detection they walked to the end of the street in opposite directions, and turned, both met again, but finding they were engaged to the same host, Scott said to Fitzgibbon – “Ah! Mr Attorney General. I see we are engaged to the same place, do not be ashamed, pray let me show you the way.”

They entered the alley which led to their old benefactor’s house, which their new-born vanity wished to conceal.”

The positions to which Scott and Fitzgibbon had been elevated were Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench (Scott) and Attorney-General, later Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Fitzgibbon).

Were these august figures guilty of snobbery, loyalty or both?

Come to think of it, would any of our humble abodes pass the test of their public recognition?

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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