Sarsfield, Dominick (d. 1636), 1st Viscount Sarsfield of Kilmallock , lawyer and judge, was third youngest son of Edmund Sarsfield, a Cork merchant, and Katherine, daughter of Piers Gould of Cork. Dominick entered Middle Temple in London in 1594, and despite his relatively humble origins went on to enjoy a prestigious legal career. The Munster plantation had been overrun during the Nine Years War (1593–1603), forcing many protestant settlers to flee the country, and opening up numerous opportunities for those who remained behind. Shortly after completing his studies, Sarsfield became attorney general of Munster, then chief justice of the province in 1604. He received a knighthood the following year, and in 1607 was one of the founding members of the King's Inns in Dublin. By 1608 Sarsfield was acting lord president of Munster, and had been promoted to a judge of the king's bench. Along with Sir Nicholas Walsh (qv), chief justice of the court of common pleas, he was one of the few men from Ireland to hold senior judicial positions in the country. Apart from his undoubted ability, his religious conformity played a major role in this regard, although many questioned the sincerity of his protestantism, particularly when he allowed his eldest son and heir, William, to become a catholic in 1628. Sarsfield worked the assizes circuit from 1607 to 1614, enjoying a reputation as a tough but honest judge. The lord deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester (qv), recommended him to succeed Walsh as chief justice of common pleas, and he travelled to London the following year to have the patent confirmed. Sarsfield became a leading member of the Dublin administration, sitting on the Irish privy council, which nominated him for the first Irish baronetcy in 1619. On the legal front, apart from common pleas, he was also active in the court of wards and the admiralty court in Munster.
In 1625, on being raised to the peerage, Sarsfield took the title Viscount Kinsale, thus provoking a bitter dispute with John de Courcy, 13th Baron de Courcy of Kinsale. In 1627 a commission heard the case, and found in favour of de Courcy. Sarsfield sat in the 1634 parliament under the title Viscount Sarsfield of Kilmallock (he was frequently called ‘Viscount Kilmallock’), and proved himself sympathetic to the enactment of the royal concessions known as the ‘graces’, a policy championed in the commons by his eldest son Sir William. His family's high profile on this issue may well have earned Sarsfield the hostility of the new lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv), who wished to withhold the most important of the ‘graces’. Already dismissed from office in 1633, Sarsfield was hauled before the Star Chamber in Dublin and accused, along with Sir Henry Bellings, of intimidating a jury to find Philip Bushin guilty of murder, in order to obtain his lands. Convicted of the charge, he was imprisoned for a short while and fined over £7,000. A broken man, he died shortly afterwards in December 1636, and was buried in Christ Church, Cork. Sarsfield married first Joan, daughter of Edmund Terry of Cork; then, after her death, Anne, daughter of Sir Nicholas Bagenal (qv), marshal of Ulster, and widow of Sir Dudley Loftus. His son William succeeded to the title and played an active role in the 1640–41 parliament, in opposition to Wentworth. William's son David suffered attainder in 1691 for supporting the Jacobite cause, at which time the title fell into abeyance.