The Northern Ireland Senate, 1921-72

The Northern Ireland Senate was the upper house of the Northern Ireland Parliament (usually referred to as Stormont though that is only really accurate from 1932). It had 26 members in total. 24 were elected by Single Transferable Vote by members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons in blocks of twelve for eight-year terms; the other two were the Lord Mayor of Belfast and the Mayor of Londonderry. Note that after the Londonderry Corporation was replaced by a Development Commission in 1969, the Mayor's place in the Senate was not filled and there were thus only 25 Senators rather than 26 for the last few years of its existence. The Senate Chamber in Stormont could seat twice that number without much discomfort and they must have fairly rattled around when in session. In contrast to the abortive Southern Ireland Senate it was not designed to be a check on the legislature, but rather a place for reflection and revision of government bills - an additional means of finding parliamentary time. Of course it developed into a sinecure for politicians who couldn't or wouldn't get into the lower house. There was also a Governor of Northern Ireland, who mattered even less than the Senate.

The Senate has been largely ignored by historians of the period, and there are practically no references to it on the Internet apart from a 1926 Irish News article calling for its abolition, and my own account of the 1925 Senate elections on both sides of the border. I cannot really blame historians for ignoring it. However as it is pretty easy to get hard-copy details of those elected to the Northern Ireland House of Commons between 1921 and 1972 (see in particular Brian Walker's book, details on the front page), I felt that the Senate should not be completely left in darkness.

The list below gives details of Northern Ireland Senators; their terms of office in the Senate, including if they died or resigned (otherwise they retired at the quadrennial elections, or when their terms of office as Mayor expired, or when the Senate was abolished in 1972); also noted are holders of the posts of Speaker, Leader of the Senate, Deputy Speaker (two at any given time), and Deputy Leader of the Senate (until 1961 when that post seems to have been dropped). I am very grateful to Lord Alderdice (the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly) and the Northern Ireland Assembly Research Department for making this information available to me. I have added details of Senators who also sat in Westminster or in the other Northern Ireland regional bodies. Thanks also to Louis Epstein and Anne Carville for clarifying a couple of details. If you have any comments, please let me know.

Altogether 142 individuals sat as members of the Northern Ireland Senate, 141 men and 2 women. 114 of these were elected by the members of the House of Commons, 14 became Senators by virtue of being Lord Mayor of Belfast, 13 were Mayors of Londonderry, and one (Sir W.F. Coates) was at different times an elected Senator and a Lord Mayor of Belfast.

9 Senators were or became peers of the realm at the time of their membership of the Senate. These were two Dukes of Abercorn, Lord Bangor, Lord Charlemont, Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Lord Glentoran, Marquess of Londonderry, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and Lord Pirrie. Lord Bangor and Lord Charlemont held Irish titles only; Lord Charlemont had been elected as an Irish Representative Peer and so sat in the House of Lords, Lord Bangor however did not. At least another 3 Senators subsequently became members of the House of Lords by different routes. Lord R.G. Grosvenor inherited the title of Duke of Westminster, Sir Basil Brooke was created Viscount Brookeborough and Victor Cooke was created as a life peer Baron Cooke of Islandreagh - he is the only former Senator who is still politically active at the time of writing.

7 Senators also sat in the Westminster House of Commons; H.B.W. Armstrong (Mid-Armagh, 1921-22), H.T. Barrie (North Londonderry, 1908-18 and 1919-22), Lord R.G. Grosvenor (Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 1955-64), W.F. Neill (North Belfast, 1945-50), R.G. Sharman-Crawford (East Belfast, 1914-18), Sir Frederick J. Simmons (Mid Down, 1921-22) and Thomas Sinclair (Queen's University of Belfast, 1923-1940). Four of these (Armstrong, Barrie, Neill and Sinclair) were members of both bodies simultaneously. T.J. Campbell and H.S.C. Richardson both contested Westminster elections unsuccessfully.

25 Senators were also members at some time of the Northern Ireland House of Commons. They were A.W. Anderson (Londonderry City, 1968-72), J.L.O. Andrews (Mid Down, 1953-64), Sir Basil S. Brooke (Lisnaskea, 1929-68), T.J. Campbell (Belfast Central 1934-46), Sir George A. Clark (Belfast Dock 1938-45), Robert Corkey (QUB 1929-43), Lord Glentoran (Belfast Bloomfield 1950-61), A.R.G. Gordon (East Down, 1929-49), J.W. Gyle (East Belfast, 1925-29), R.J.R. Harcourt (Belfast Woodvale 1950-55), Sir Alexander W. Hungerford (Belfast Oldpark, 1929-45), R.G.C. Kinahan (Belfast Clifton 1958-9), T.R. Lavery (Down, 1921-29), T.S. McAllister (Antrim 1921-29), Robert McBride (Down/West Down 1921-33), H.I. McClure (QUB, 1962-68), Sir Crawford McCullagh (South Belfast, 1921-25), John McHugh (Fermanagh-Tyrone, 1925-29), William J. Morgan (Belfast Oldpark 1949-58 and Belfast Clifton 1959-69), E.S. Murphy (Londonderry City, 1929-39), Thomas Nelson (Enniskillen 1949-58), J.R. Perceval-Maxwell (Ards, 1945-49), Herbert Quin (QUB, 1944-49), John Hanna Robb (QUB, 1921-37), and Samuel Rodgers (QUB 1949-58). A further 6 Senators unsuccessfully stood for election to the Northern Ireland House of Commons. These were J.F. Cairns, Sir Joseph Davison, Joseph Fisher, William Gibson, J.G. Lennon, and W.C. McKee. It appears that if a member of the lower house was elected as Lord Mayor of Belfast or Mayor of Londonderry he was obliged to give up his seat in the House of Commons - cf Rolston (1955) and Kinahan (1959). There are several instances where a member of one house was elected to the other and resigned from the seat originally held.

William J. Morgan was elected to both the 1973-4 Assembly and the 1975-6 Constitutional Convention from North Belfast (having already been a member of both houses of the old Northern Ireland Parliament). Nelson Elder was elected to the 1973-4 Northern Ireland Assembly from South Belfast. P.F. McGill unsuccessfully contested the 1973 Assembly election. It should be added that McGill had written his MA thesis at Queen's university on "The Senate in Northern Ireland, 1921-1962"; the degree was awarded in 1965, the year he became a Deputy Speaker.

I have attempted to get some idea of the political complexion of the Senate. It is rather difficult to be precise, as party designations have not been recorded. Obviously it was an even more Unionist body than the House of Commons, given that some Nationalists who were members of the latter chose not to participate in Senate elections, and that the Unionists had a bonus of the two Mayors (after the Londonderry gerrymander). A few Senators (Campbell, McAllister, Lennon) can be identified as Nationalists because they also stood for the lower house, and others have what look like Catholic names. Claude Wilton was a member of the Ulster Liberal Party. I have not identified any as NILP members but there must have been some. It is noticeable that Nationalists served as Deputy Speaker on a few occasions. It is also noticeable that they never got to be Speaker and that one Speaker made the switch straight from Leader of the House.

Alphabetical list of Senators

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - Mc - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


3rd Duke of Abercorn
1921-res1922 (elected)
4th Duke of Abercorn
1949-res1962 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1951-53
Albert Wesley Anderson
1963-1968 (ex officio - Londonderry)
MP (NI) for Londonderry City, 1968-72
John Lawson Ormrod Andrews
1964-1972 (elected)
Leader 1964-72
MP (NI) for Mid Down, 1953-64
Henry Bruce Wright Armstrong
1921-1937 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1924-25
Westminster MP for Mid-Armagh, 1921-22
Robert Armstrong
1956-d1961 (elected)


James Bailie
1955-d1967 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1962-63
6th Viscount Bangor
1921-d1950 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1926 and 1928-30; Deputy Leader 1929-30; Speaker 1930-50
Harold Adrian Milne Barbour
1921-1929 (elected)
William Barclay
1925-d1945 (elected)
John Eccles Nixon Barnhill
1962-d1971 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1967-68
Hugh Thom Barrie
1921-d1922 (elected)
Westminster MP for North Londonderry, 1908-18 and 1919-22
William Beatty
1968-1969 (ex officio - Londonderry)
David Bill
1949-res1956 (elected)
George Ruddell Black
1942-d1942 (ex officio - Belfast)
Samuel Wilson Boyd
1955-res1962 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1959-62
John Charters Boyle
1937-d1950 (elected)
Charles Bradley
1951-d1957 (elected)
Sir Basil Stanlake Brooke
1921-res1922 (elected)
MP (NI) for Lisnaskea, 1929-68
Later 1st Viscount Brookeborough
Perceval Brown
1953-1955 (ex officio - Belfast)
Gerald Browne
1942-d1951 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1947-49


Joseph Foster Cairns
1969-1972 (ex officio - Belfast)
William Millar Cameron
1969-1972 (elected)
Thomas Joseph Campbell
1929-res1934 (elected)
MP (NI) for Belfast Central, 1934-46
8th Viscount Charlemont
1925-res1937 (elected)
Leader 1926-37
Sir George Anthony Clark
1951-1969 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1957-59
MP (NI) for Belfast Dock, 1938-45
Sir George Smith Clark
1925-d1935 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1932-34
William Moore Wallis Clark
1946-1961 (elected)
Deputy Leader 1948-60
Sir William Frederick Coates
1921-1923 (ex officio - Belfast), 1924-res1929 (elected), 1929-1931 (ex officio - Belfast)
Deputy Speaker 1921-22
John Gordon Colhoun
1957-1961 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Victor Alexander Cooke
1961-1969 (elected)
Now Lord Cooke of Islandreagh
Very Rev. Professor Robert Corkey
1943-1965 (elected)
Leader 1943-44; Deputy Speaker 1952-53 and 1957-58
MP (NI) for QUB, 1929-43
Lieut-Colonel James Glencairn Cunningham
1957-65 and 1966-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1964-65
Joseph Cunningham
1921-d1965 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1926-27
Samuel Cunningham
1921-res1945 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1923-25


Sir Joseph Davison
1935-d1948 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1936-37; Deputy Leader 1941-48
James Hill Dickson
1921-d1938 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1931-32
Sir Thomas James Dixon
1924-1949 (elected)
Arthur Frederick Dobbs
1929-1933 (elected), 1937-d1955 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1945-46
Dr. John Patrick Donaghy
1953-1968 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1955-57
Robert Dorman
1925-1933 (elected)
Samuel Sydney Dowds
1954-1957 (ex officio - Londonderry)
John Cherry Drennan
1961-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1962-64
Hugh Duff
1937-d1940 (elected)
3rd Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
1921-d1930 (elected)
Speaker 1921-30
Adam Duffin
1921-d1924 (elected)


Nelson Elder
1966-1972 (elected)
Elected to Northern Ireland Assembly for South Belfast, 1973-74


Joseph Fisher
1957-d1963 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1961-62
Henry Fleming
1945-d1956 (elected)


Major William Duncan Geddis
1966-1969 (ex officio - Belfast)
Archibald Dunlop Gibson
1969-1972 (elected)
Dr. William Gibson
1935-res1942 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1941-43
John Clements Glendinning
1922-1933 (elected), 1934-res1946 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1929-30
2nd Baron Glentoran
1961-1972 (elected)
Leader 1961-64; Speaker 1964-72
MP (NI) for Belfast Bloomfield, 1938-45
Major Gerald Stanley Glover
1950-1952 (ex officio - Londonderry), 1961-1963 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Lieut.-Colonel Alexander Robert Gisborne Gordon
1950-res1964 (elected)
Leader 1951-61; Speaker 1961-64
MP (NI) for East Down, 1929-49
Thomas McGregor Greer
1921-s1928 (elected)
Mrs Marion Janet Greeves
1950-1969 (elected)
Lord Robert George Grosvenor
1964-res1967 (elected)
Westminster MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 1955-64
Later 5th Duke of Westminster
James Woods Gyle
1933-d1935 (elected)
MP (NI) for East Belfast, 1925-29


James Hamilton
1927-1929 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Robert John Rolston Harcourt
1955-1957 (ex officio - Belfast)
MP (NI) for Belfast Woodvale, 1950-55
Sir Emerson Crawford Herdman
1923-d1949 (elected)
Sir Alexander Wilson Hungerford
1948-1957 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1953-56
MP (NI) for Belfast Oldpark, 1929-45



William Jenkins
1963-1966 (ex officio - Belfast)
Sir James Johnston
1921-d1924 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1921-23
John Stewart Johnston
1958-1965 (elected), 1967-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1961-65
William Ernest George Johnston
1949-1951 (ex officio - Belfast)


Norman Kennedy
1965-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1970-71
Robert George Caldwell Kinahan
1959-1961 (ex officio - Belfast)
MP (NI) for Belfast Clifton, 1958-9
Samuel Kinghan
1963-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1965-67 and 1971-72
William Sinclair Kingan
1940-d1946 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1945


Thomas Robert Lavery
1930-d1940 (elected)
MP (NI) for Down, 1925-29
James Gerrard Lennon
1944-1969 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1948-50
James Graham Leslie
1921-d1949 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1932-33
7th Marquess of Londonderry
1921-1929 (elected)
Leader 1921-26
John Andrew Long
1921-d1941 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1927-28; Deputy Leader 1930-41
Louis Dominic Lynch
1949-1957 (elected)
Thaddeus Lynch
1941-1949 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1946-48


Thomas Stanislaus McAllister
1929-d1950 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1930-32 and 1942-44
MP (NI) for Antrim, 1921-29
Robert McBride
1934-d1935 (elected)
MP (NI) for Down, 1921-29, and West Down, 1929-33
David Alexander McClelland
1967-1972 (elected)
Harold Ian McClure
1968-1972 (elected)
MP (NI) for QUB, 1962-68
Alexander McConnell
1956-1961 (elected)
Sir Dudley Evelyn Bruce McCorkell
1929-1935 (ex officio - Londonderry)
John Kennedy McCormick
1947-d1958 (elected)
Sir Crawford McCullagh
1931-1942 (ex officio - Belfast), 1943-1946 (ex officio - Belfast)
Deputy Speaker 1939-41
MP (NI) for South Belfast, 1921-25
Charles McCullough
1968-1972 (elected)
William John McDowell
1921-d1929 (elected)
Sir Basil Alexander Talbot McFarland
1939-1940 (ex officio - Londonderry), 1945-1950 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Patrick Francis McGill
1953-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1965-72
Daniel Ritchie McGladdery
1957-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1958-60; Deputy Speaker 1960-61
John Aloysius McGlade
1958-d1967 (elected)
John McHugh
1929-1945 (elected)
MP (NI) for Fermanagh and Tyrone, 1925-29
William Cecil McKee
1957-1959 (ex officio - Belfast)
Thomas McLaughlin
1933-d1944 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1933-35
James McMahon
1933-d1936 (elected)
John McNally
1950-1953 (elected)


John Gilbert Magee
1925-1927 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Joseph Maguire
1937-d1951 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1939-42
Patrick Francis Mallon
1965-1972 (elected)
12th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
1921-res1929 (elected)
Deputy Leader 1921-29
Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery
1922-d1924 (elected)
Maxwell Scott Moore
1923-1925 (ex officio - Londonderry)
William James Morgan
1969-res1970 (elected)
MP (NI) for Belfast Oldpark, 1949-58, and Belfast Clifton, 1959-69
Elected to Northern Ireland Assembly for North Belfast, 1973-74
Elected to Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention for North Belfast, 1975-76
Edward Sullivan Murphy
1929-res1929 (elected)
MP (NI) for Londonderry City, 1929-39


William Frederick Neill
1946-1949 (ex officio - Belfast)
Westminster MP for North Belfast, 1945-50
Thomas Nelson
1945-res1949 (elected)
MP (NI) for Enniskillen, 1949-58
James Henry Norritt
1951-1953 (ex officio - Belfast)
Sir Roland Thomas Nugent
1936-res1961 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1938-39 and 1944; Leader 1944-50; Speaker 1950-61


Hugh Camillus O'Doherty
1921-1923 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Patrick Joseph O'Hare
1949-1972 (elected)
Sir Samuel Orr
1952-1954 (ex officio - Londonderry)


Hercules Arthur Pakenham
1928-d1937 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1934-36
John Robert Perceval-Maxwell
1935-1941 and 1941-res1945 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1937-39
MP (NI) for Ards, 1945-49
Robert David Perceval-Maxwell
1921-1925 (elected)
1st Viscount Pirrie
1921-d1924 (elected)
James Huey Hamill Pollock
1954-1957 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1956-57
John Porter-Porter
1921-1937 (elected)


Andrew Quigley
1929-d1937 (elected)
Herbert Quin
1950-d1968 (elected)
MP (NI) for QUB, 1944-49


Henry Secheverell Carleton Richardson
1949-res1957 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1953-55
John Hanna Robb
1937-res1943 (elected)
Leader 1937-43
MP (NI) for QUB, 1921-37
Dr. Samuel Rodgers
1962-d1970 (elected)
MP (NI) for QUB, 1949-58


Arnold Peart Schofield
1961-1969 (elected)
Robert Gordon Sharman-Crawford
1921-d1934 (elected)
Westminster MP for East Belfast, 1914-18
Sir Frederick James Simmons
1940-1945 (ex officio - Londonderry)
Westminster MP for Mid Down, 1921-22
Thomas Sinclair
1921-d1940 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1935-37
Westminster MP for QUB, 1923-40
William James Smyth
1945-d1950 (elected)
William Ernest Stevenson
1940-1945 and 1945-res1954 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1943-45 and 1950-52
Kennedy Stewart
1945-res1955 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1949-51
William Stewart
1957-1972 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1960-62


Mrs Edith Ashover Taggart
1968-1972 (elected)
Henry Taylor
1938-d1957 (elected)
Deputy Speaker 1945-47
Sir William George Turner
1923-1929 (ex officio - Belfast)




Martin Kelso Wallace
1961-1963 (ex officio - Belfast)
Albert James Walmsley
1957-res1964 (elected)
George Whaley
1941-1945 (elected)
Patrick Gerard Wilson
1969-1972 (elected)
Major William Wilson
1968-1972 (elected)
Claude James Wilton
1969-1972 (elected)
James McElmunn Wilton
1935-1939 (ex officio - Londonderry)
William McConnell Wilton
1945-1953 (elected)
Joseph Andrew Woods
1921-d1925 (elected)




See also: Westminster elections 1885-1910 | The 1918 election | Dáil elections since 1918 | Westminster elections since 1920 | Senate of Southern Ireland 1921 | Irish Senate elections in 1925 | Northern Ireland House of Commons | Northern Ireland Senate

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Nicholas Whyte, 9 June 2000; last modified 17 February 2002.

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