John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury PC, KC (3 December 1745 – 27 July 1831), known as The Lord Norbury between 1800 and 1827, was an Irish lawyer, politician and judge. A greatly controversial figure in his time, and was considered to be one of the most corrupt legal figures in Irish history. He was born in Tipperary in 1745 as the son of a Cromwellian soldier. Before he earned his nickname Lord Norbury the “Hanging Judge”, Toler gained an education at Trinity University within Dublin. After receiving his degree he entered Parliament and started his journey into politics. In 1803, Toler presided over Robert Emmet’s court case (who was on trial for his involvement in a failed rebellion). It is reported he interrupted and abused Emmet multiple times throughout the trial before finally sentencing him to death. Even before the trial, Toler had few friends as he was known to be ruthless and hold a disorganized courtroom.
He supposedly fell asleep during trials and then dished out death sentences to dozens of potential offenders without even hearing portions of the defense. A myth began to circulate a few years after Emmet’s trial that Toler had been murdered while walking back to his house as an attempt at revenge for the hanging. However, this was a fabrication. It was only in 1831 that Toler finally died and was buried on the South side of the St. Mary’s Church building. Towards the end of your self-guided tour that begins at the front door of the restaurant, you can catch a view of Wolfe Tone Park from the second story of the Church where Norbury, as well as many others, were once laid to rest. These bodies have since been excavated but a stone slabs still mark the location of former graves.
For more information on Lord Norbury, feel free to visit Library Ireland.