Agar, James (1735–88), 1st Viscount Clifden , MP and landowner, was born 25 March 1735, eldest among four sons and one daughter of Henry Agar (1707–46) of Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, and his wife Anne, daughter of Welbore Ellis (qv), bishop of Meath 1732–4. He was educated at Westminster School before entering Christ Church, Oxford (1752).
Elected MP for Gowran (1753–60, 1776), he was unanimously returned for Co. Kilkenny (1761–76) and was described as ‘a good-humoured man and best of all the Agars, who had not the best of characters’ (HIP, 65). He served as a commissioner of the revenue (1771–85), and commissioner of excise (1776–85). An important office holder, he was a government supporter, and was created Baron Clifden (1776) and Viscount Clifden (1781), the name coming from the renamed townland of Rathgarvan on his Gowran estate. Wielding considerable influence, he became a member of the privy council (1784), held office as clerk of the council, and joint postmaster general of Ireland (1784–9). He worked closely with his brother, Charles Agar (qv), archbishop of Dublin 1801–9, who was created earl of Normanton (1806). James Agar died 29 December 1788 at Gowran where he is buried. He married (1760) Lucinda (Lucia) (d. 1802), eldest daughter of John (or Henry) Martin, and widow of Henry Boyle-Walsingham; they had three sons and one daughter. James Agar (qv) (1713–69) was an uncle.