John Beresford

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Beresford, John (1738–1805). Irish politician. Beresford was a pillar of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy and strongly opposed to concessions to the catholics. The second son of the earl of Tyrone, he was elected to the Irish Parliament in 1760 for Waterford, which he represented until his death, first at Dublin and from 1801 at Westminster. He held office as a commissioner of revenue and from 1780 as first commissioner and was the centre of a powerful family interest. His position was threatened in 1795 by Fitzwilliam, the new lord-lieutenant, who described Beresford as ‘virtually king of Ireland’ and dismissed him. ‘An old rotten, stinking jobber’ was Fitzwilliam's private opinion to Burke. Beresford fought back and Fitzwilliam told Pitt he must choose between them. Pitt did so and Fitzwilliam was recalled. A duel between him and Beresford was averted by the dramatic intervention of a magistrate. Beresford resumed office and gave strong support to the Act of Union. His brother became archbishop of Tuam in 1794.

J. A. Cannon

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John Beresford (bĕr´Ĭzfərd, –Ĭs–), 1738–1805, Anglo-Irish Protestant politician. He entered the Irish Parliament in 1760, became a privy councillor (1768), a commissioner of revenue (1770), and chief revenue commissioner (1780). Committed to the continued political dominance of his own class in Ireland, he was a strong supporter of and chief adviser on Irish affairs to William Pitt. He advocated both a commercial treaty that emphasized economic dependence on England and the parliamentary union of England and Ireland, the eventual passage (1800) of which he steered through the Irish Parliament. The extent of his personal power and patronage provoked his brief dismissal (1795) by the 2d earl of Fitzwilliam, who was attempting to reassert the role of the lord lieutenant, but Fitzwilliam was recalled and Beresford reinstated. He sat in the united British Parliament until 1802.