Hugh O'Neill, 1st Baron Rathcavan

For other people named Hugh O'Neill, see Hugh O'Neill (disambiguation).

Robert William Hugh O'Neill, 1st Baron Rathcavan PC PC DL (8 June 1883 – 28 November 1982), known as Sir Hugh O'Neill, Bt, from 1929 to 1953, was an Ulster Unionist member of both the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

Background and education

O'Neill was the third son of Edward O'Neill, 2nd Baron O'Neill, and the uncle of Terence O'Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford, Hugh O'Neill was subsequently called to the Bar at Inner Temple. He served as a Major in the British Army.

Political career

Although O'Neill contested the constituency of Stockport in 1906, he was first elected to the Westminster Parliament for Mid-Antrim in 1915, he later represented Antrim and then North Antrim.

O'Neill was also elected to represent Antrim in the Northern Ireland House of Commons in 1921 and served as its first Speaker, before standing down from his seat in 1929. The latter year he was created a Baronet, of Cleggan in the County of Antrim. In 1934, he was appointed High Sheriff of Antrim.[1]

From 1933 to 1939, O'Neill was the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. He sat on the Privy Council of Ireland, and was the sole surviving member of that body immediately prior to his death in 1982. He was also a member of its northern relation, the Privy Council of Northern Ireland and the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. From 1939 to 1940, he was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for India and Burma, and was the Lord Lieutenant of Antrim from 1949 to 1959.

O'Neill retired from the Westminster Parliament in 1952, having become the Father of the House the previous year, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Rathcavan, of The Braid in the County of Antrim, in 1953.

Personal life

Lord Rathcavan died in 1982 at the age of 99 and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Phelim.

See also


  1. The Belfast Gazette: no. 656. p. 21. 19 January 1934. Retrieved 19 June 2009.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Edward Bruce O'Neill
Member of Parliament for Mid Antrim
1915 1922
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Antrim
1922 1950
With: Charles Curtis Craig 1922-1929
Sir Joseph McConnell 1929-1942
John Dermot Campbell 1943-1945
Samuel Gillmor Haughton 1945-1950
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for North Antrim
1950 1952
Succeeded by
Phelim O'Neill
Preceded by
Earl Winterton
Father of the House
1951 1952
Succeeded by
David Grenfell
Political offices
Preceded by
New position
Speaker of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
1921 1929
Succeeded by
Harry Mulholland
Preceded by
Anthony Muirhead
Under-Secretary of State for India and Burma
1939 1940
Succeeded by
Duke of Devonshire
Honorary titles
Preceded by
James Graham Leslie
Lord Lieutenant of Antrim
1949 1959
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Dobbs
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Rathcavan
1953 1982
Succeeded by
Phelim Robert Hugh O'Neill
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