Malone, Anthony (1700–76), lawyer and politician, was eldest son of Richard Malone (1674–1745), a noted lawyer, of Baronstown, Co. Westmeath, and his wife Marcella, daughter of Redmond Molady, nephew and heir of Sir Patrick Molady of Robertstown. The family were originally catholic but Richard Malone enjoyed the support of the huguenot Henry de Massue de Ruvigny (qv), earl of Galway, who used him on diplomatic missions, which gained him the favour of William III (qv). He was called to the Irish bar about 1700 and was considered ‘one of the most eminent barristers that have ever appeared in Ireland, no one of his own time coming into competition with him, except his son Anthony who was thought by many to have surpassed him’ (HIP, v, 187).
Anthony was educated at Mr Young's school in Dublin, before proceeding to TCD in November 1717. He does not seem to have taken a degree at this time, though he later received an honorary LLD (1737). Instead he entered the Middle Temple in 1720, and in the same year matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1726 he was called to the Irish bar, and in 1727 he was elected MP for Co. Westmeath. He was also returned for Blessington, but chose to sit for his native county. Malone also built up a successful legal practice during his early years in parliament, and was reputed to earn over £3,000 a year from the law. His legal skills were recognised in 1740, when he was appointed prime serjeant, a position he held until 1754.
As a parliamentarian concerned for the rights of the Irish parliament, he is the bridge between Alan Brodrick (qv) and Henry Flood (qv). Primate George Stone (qv), who feared his parliamentary abilities with some cause, wrote to the chief secretary Edward Weston (1703–70) in the late 1740s, when Malone was at the height of his powers, that ‘Mr Malone, the king's prime serjeant, is by his abilities the most considerable man here, and the most useful to the government; at the same time, he is of all those in the service of government the most independent and the least importunate for favours. I should be very glad if there could be an opportunity before your coming over hither of showing some mark of my lord lieutenant's attention to him, as I think that it would be of use to the service’ (quoted in HIP, v, 184). Malone also had the great asset of a very attractive speaking voice.
After the end of the war of Austrian succession there was a surplus in the Irish treasury. There was general agreement that it should be used to diminish the national debt. But how? The surplus was in the hereditary revenue – certain taxes that had been granted to the monarch in perpetuity at the restoration and had usually required to be topped up from the additional revenue – extra taxes voted biennially by parliament. Parliament was exceedingly jealous of its control over the revenue. The question was whether the king or parliament should allocate the surplus. Did the ‘prior consent’ belong to the royal prerogative or to parliament? It was considered that Anthony Malone was the ‘prime mover’ in declaring the rights of parliament to initiate the disposal of the surplus; that he possessed a dominant influence over the speaker, and was the real leader of the opposition in parliament. At the height of the crisis in December 1753 Stone (who envisaged for himself a role similar to that of the late Primate Hugh Boulter (qv) as the undisputed manager for the crown) wrote to the duke of Newcastle: ‘I will be so candid as to own that the prime serjeant, Mr Malone, is by far the most able man in that house; and if his dispositions were as good as his talents, the government could not pay too much for his support . . . [but] . . . the constitutional dependency of England is the object on which the prime serjeant's eye is constantly fixed’ (ibid., 184). Malone and the other leaders of the opposition were dismissed from office in 1754.
The lord lieutenant, the duke of Dorset (qv), was replaced by the marquess of Hartington (qv) and the storm abated. Malone was reconciled with the ministry, first being given a patent as first counsel (giving him precedence at the bar), and then offered the post of chancellor of the exchequer, which he at first declined, pointing out ‘that he should be a great loser by quitting the bar’ (ibid., 185). He eventually accepted and, taking the legal responsibilities of his position seriously, presided over the court of the exchequer with equity and general satisfaction. Nevertheless, he was again dismissed in 1760 because he refused to join those who certified a money bill as one of the bills required under Poynings’ law for the calling of a new parliament on the accession of George III. It may have suited him to go back to the profits of the bar, as he had been a partner in the short-lived banking firm of Malone, Clements, & Gore which was a victim of the financial crisis of the late 1750s, collapsing in 1758 and tarnishing the reputations of all three partners.
After 1761 Malone did not hold office again but became a senior counsellor (he remained his majesty's first counsel at law) to the government, whose advice was asked for in times of crisis. In 1769 the under-secretary, Thomas Waite (1718–80), wrote to the lord lieutenant's secretary in England that ‘now and then Mr Malone was taken into the cabinet’ (ibid., 186) – for instance he was among the eight, and the only non-office holder whom Lord Lieutenant Townshend (qv) summoned to the Castle when he wished to reintroduce a bill for the augmentation of the army in 1769. In 1775 he was an old man but still considered to be ‘of great weight in the house of commons . . . the honour and effect which the king's government derives from his disinterested support and great abilities . . . make it necessary to say a word but that he wants for his nephew £200 p.a.’ (ibid., 186). At the time of his death he was chairman of the committee of supply, possibly the most important committee in the house. He died 8 May 1776, on the eve of a general election, at his home on Sackville St., Dublin.
Malone married (1733) Rose (d. 1773), daughter of Sir Ralph Gore (qv), speaker of the house of commons; they had no children. In a will made in 1774 he left all his property in Co. Westmeath, Co. Longford, Co. Roscommon, and Co. Cavan to his nephew Richard Malone (afterwards Lord Sunderlin) (d. 1816), eldest son of his brother Edmund (1704–74). A portrait of Malone, painted (1759) by Joshua Reynolds, is in the NGI.