Ball, Nicholas (1791–1865), lawyer and politician, was born on 6 July 1791 in Dublin, only son of John Ball (qv), a wealthy catholic silk merchant of Eccles St., Dublin, and his second wife, Mabel Bennett, of Eyrecourt, Co. Galway; he had four sisters. Educated at the Jesuit college of Stonyhurst, Lancashire, and at TCD, where Thomas Wyse (qv) and Richard Sheil (qv) were among his fellow students, he was a gold medallist and graduated BA in 1812. He entered Lincoln's Inn (1812), was called to the Irish bar (1814), and spent almost two years in Rome (1815–16) with Wyse, apparently seeking Vatican support for a scheme of catholic emancipation that was to include a government veto on episcopal appointments.
A moderate liberal in politics, he gave passive support to the campaign for catholic emancipation, but opposed repeal of the union. Recognised as one of the leading catholic lawyers of the day, he became a KC (1830) and built up a lucrative practice in the rolls court and court of chancery. In 1836 he was elected liberal MP for Clonmel (1836–9), but he disliked political life and rarely spoke in the commons. Partly because of the whig government's policy of admitting catholics to the Irish administration to conciliate Daniel O'Connell (qv), he was appointed third serjeant-at-law (1836) and attorney general (11 July 1838). In February 1839, when appointed judge of the common pleas, he became only the second catholic to sit on the judicial bench since the reign of James II (qv). He was an able and popular judge, free from religious prejudice, who presented the legal points of a case to a jury in clear, concise, layman's language. In 1846 he was spoken of as a possible lord chancellor of Ireland, but the post went to Maziere Brady (qv), his successor as attorney general. Ball died in Dublin 15 January 1865 and was buried in the family vault at the pro-cathedral, Dublin.
In 1817 he married Jane, daughter of Thomas Sherlock of Butlerstown Castle, Co. Waterford; their eldest son John Ball (qv) was a noted naturalist and politician. Nicholas's eldest sister Cecilia Ball (1784–1854) was superior of the Ursuline convent in Cork; his second sister Anna Maria Ball (qv) was a noted philanthropist; and his youngest sister Mary Teresa (Frances) Ball (qv) introduced the Loreto order to Ireland.