William Conyngham

(1733—1796) politician and improver

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(1733–96). Born William Burton, the second son of a Co. Clare landowner, he inherited a life interest in the estates in Co. Meath and Donegal of his uncle, the 1st Earl Conyngham. (The title and other lands went to Burton's elder brother, on condition that both legatees changed their name to Conyngham.) He had entered parliament for his uncle's borough of Limavady in 1761 and generally supported government, for which he received appointments to the Barrack Board and elsewhere. In 1785 he began to develop a herring fishery on an island off the Donegal estate, which he renamed Rutland after the 4th duke of Rutland, lord lieutenant (1784–7). He invested in the project £20,000 raised on the Conyngham estate, and £20,000 granted by parliament. The fisheries declined after the first few years, and had collapsed by 1793–4. Also a keen student of antiquities, Conyngham was first treasurer of the Royal Irish Academy.

From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: European History.

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