Pigot, David Richard (1797–1873), lawyer, politician, and chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland, was born in Kilworth, Co. Cork, the only son of John Pigot, a physician, and his wife, Margaret (née Nagle), also of Kilworth. He was educated in Fermoy before entering TCD in July 1814 and graduating BA (1819) and MA (1832). Following a brief stint studying medicine in Edinburgh, he decided to pursue a legal career, and entered the King's Inns (1817) and the Middle Temple (1818). He was called to the Irish bar in 1826 and went on the Munster circuit, where his pronounced ability quickly gained him considerable professional standing and a wide practice. In 1835 he was made a king's counsel and in February 1839 was appointed solicitor-general.
Pigot's professional success was soon complemented by a burgeoning political career. He sat as liberal MP for Clonmel, Co. Tipperary (1839–46), forming a close friendship with Daniel O'Connell (qv). Politically aligned with the whigs, he voted against the Corn Laws and supported female suffrage, though his political ambition was limited and he rarely attended parliament when his party was in opposition. In 1840 he became attorney-general and an Irish privy councillor, resigning the following year when Lord Melbourne's (qv) administration collapsed. In 1846 he was the first catholic to be appointed chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland, a position he held until his death. He also served as a commissioner of national education (1861–73), a visitor of Maynooth college, and a member of the senate of the Queen's University in Ireland.
Alongside his legal and political occupations, Pigot was keenly interested in the arts, and was proficient in music, drawing, and writing. He reputedly wrote some of the Irish sketches published by Thomas Crofton Croker (qv). A member of the RIA (1845) and of the Celtic Society from its inception (1847), he was also one of the founders of the NGI. He received an honorary doctorate from Dublin University in 1870. Pigot died 22 December 1873 at his home in Merrion Square, Dublin, and was buried in the family plot at Kilworth, Co. Cork. Meticulous and scrupulous in his profession, many of his judgments continue to be highly regarded. Collections of his correspondence are held in the British Library, London, the National Archives (Kew), and PRONI.
In 1821 he married Catherine, the eldest daughter of Walter Page of Araglinmills, Co. Cork. They had several children, including the Young Irelander John Edward Pigot (qv); David Pigot, master of the court of the exchequer (who married Christina, daughter of an eminent Dublin doctor, Sir James Murray (qv); their son was the noted Jesuit astronomer and seismologist Edward Francis Pigot (1858–1929)); and Maria (who married Dr Robert Spencer Dyer Lyons (qv) in 1856).