Cary, Henry (c.1576–1633), 1st Viscount Falkland , lord deputy of Ireland, was the eldest son of the three sons and four daughters of Sir Edward Cary of Aldenham, Hertfordshire, and his wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir Henry Knyvett of Buckenham, Norfolk, and widow of Henry, Lord Paget. Cary was admitted to Gray's Inn on 2 August 1590, and may have entered Exeter College, Oxford, perhaps in 1593. He was knighted on 12 July 1599 by the earl of Essex while on military service in Ireland. He married Elizabeth Cary (qv), daughter of Sir Laurence Tanfield, chief baron of the English exchequer, in 1602; they may have had as many as eleven children. On 21 June 1603 he was made master of the jewel house in association with his father, though he appears to have subsequently undertaken military service in the low countries. Appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber, he purchased the office of comptroller of the household (and with it a seat on the privy council) in 1618. Cary sat as an MP for Hertfordshire in 1601, 1604 and 1621 and was created Viscount Falkland in the Scottish peerage on 14 November 1620. He was appointed lord deputy of Ireland on 4 February 1622 through the influence of the duke of Buckingham, but his departure was delayed by his parlous financial condition, which compelled him to sell his office of comptroller; he was sworn into office in Dublin on 8 September 1622.
Falkland arrived in Ireland as a major investigative commission completed its work, and his term of office was at first shaped by the calls for reform and retrenchment within the Irish government sponsored from London by the lord treasurer, Middlesex, until his fall in 1624. Plantation schemes were restrained, though Falkland soon emerged as a proponent of such initiatives, notably in Connacht and Wicklow, as well as supporting the extension and renovation of earlier plantations, including that in Ulster. He presided over an initiative of January 1624 to banish catholic clergy and enforce recusancy laws but this was curbed a month later, and dropped the following year on instructions from England. The international climate, with war looming against Spain and then France, placed a priority upon the security of Ireland and the resulting costs drove Falkland to impose cess in the summer of 1625. Cool towards Catholic offers to undertake a share of the defence of Ireland, he was drawn into negotiations with leading catholics over possible concessions in return for financial contributions but the great council over which he presided in the spring of 1627 failed to secure an acceptable arrangement. Instead the concessions known as the Graces were agreed, in 1628, in England. Even Falkland's attempt to put the settlement through an Irish parliament proved ineffective, since his failure to observe the requirements of Poynings’ law saw the parliament planned for November 1628 shelved. The implementation of the Graces was thenceforward to be at his discretion. In early 1629 he secured permission to resume a limited campaign against recusancy, issuing a proclamation in April directed against catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction and religious orders.
His tenure of office had been dogged by division, domestic and political: his wife's conversion to catholicism, made open in 1625, led to a bitter separation from her husband, while factional strife was increasingly apparent within the Irish council, with Falkland and his allies at odds with the lord chancellor Adam Loftus (qv), and the vice-treasurer, Sir Francis Annesley (qv). He had pursued various means to remedy his poor financial position, including a share in the profits of the Irish customs, and as early as 1623 he had pressed for the securing of crown title to the lands of the O'Byrnes in Wicklow hoping, without success, to secure a substantial stake in the property. His rivals urged his actions in the case against him, prompting his recall to London in 1629. Falkland retained his supporters and opponents among the Irish council but, though cleared of the charges against him and securing some satisfaction in counter-charges against his critics, he was not to return as deputy. He was readmitted to the English privy council in November 1629, serving until his death, following an accident, and the amputation of his leg, in September 1633. His eldest son Lucius, author and royalist politician, succeeded as 2nd Viscount Falkland. Henry Cary is sometimes reckoned the author of a posthumously published History of . . . Edward II (London, 1680), though this is more usually attributed to his wife; some of his papers are held in the British Library, London, and the National Archives, Dublin.