Edward Carson (1854-1935)

This famous orator and politician began his career as a barrister. He was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, before entering the King’s Inns where he was called to the Bar in 1877. After winning a national reputation with his powerful speaking and analytical ability, he was made a QC (Queen’s Counsel) in 1887. In 1892 he was appointed Solicitor General for Ireland and in the same year he entered the British House of Commons as MP for the University of Dublin, which he represented until 1918. When he successfully defended the Marquis of Queensberry in 1895 on a libel charge, he destroyed the reputation of Oscar Wilde with his devastating style of cross-examining. As a reward for his years of service he was knighted in 1900.

Opposed to the attempts to secure Home Rule for Ireland, in 1910 he became leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party. Although today Carson is closely identified with Ulster Unionism, at the beginning he was a committed Southern Unionist, who only used Ulster tactically in an attempt to wreck Home Rule for the entire 32 counties. In 1914 he and the Ulster Volunteers threatened armed resistance, thus derailing the third Home Rule Bill. After the outbreak of World War I he threw his support behind the British military effort and moved steadily away from controversy. In 1921 he resigned as Unionist party leader and was appointed Lord of Appeal and created Baron Carson of Duncairn.

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