Linegar, John (c.1671–1757), archbishop of Dublin, was a native of Dublin whose family, of English extraction, lived at Broadstone close to the city ten years before his birth. After early studies with the Jesuits of Chancery Place, he went in 1691 to the Irish College at Lisbon, where he was ordained in 1694 and remained until his return to Ireland in 1697. At once he became a curate in St Michan's parish, resident at ‘Widow Linegar's’, perhaps his mother's house, in Church St. In practice he served St Michan's until 1729, although registered in 1704 as parish priest of the new parish of St Mary's, to which he was collated in 1707. For want of a parochial chapel in St Mary's he said public masses and gave instruction in a room in Mary St. All baptisms and marriages were entered, however, in the registers of St Michan's. Finally, in 1729, he opened a chapel in Liffey St. dedicated to the Conception of the Blessed Virgin. By 1718 he was a member of the diocesan chapter, and by 1733 vicar general of the diocese. On the death of Archbishop Luke Fagan (qv), Linegar was elected vicar capitular; both chapter and clergy postulated him as archbishop, and he was duly provided to the see of Dublin in March 1734, retaining St Mary's as a mensal parish.
During his first eight years as archbishop, he tried with little success to correct abuses in two foreign colleges: at Bordeaux, which had been taken over by Munstermen, and in Paris where the superiors refused to admit candidates who were not already priests. At Dublin, two parochial problems dominated this early period. Henry O'Kelly, one of the newly revived canons regular, appeared in 1736 as abbot of St Thomas, St Catherine, and St James, laying claim in consequence to the pastoral care of much of the city. The difficulty required repeated recourse to Rome, which had created the problem in the first place. The second problem concerned the parish of St Nicholas, Francis St., where a new parish priest, duly collated, was rejected by some assistant priests because his appointment lacked ‘the consent of the people’. The rebel leader had an ‘apostate’ brother who availed of a penal law to take possession of the chapel. Thus the archbishop, while not pursued by the government, could be threatened with the penal laws by his own clergy. Despite such distractions, he consecrated several bishops at Dublin between 1736 and 1745, usually in the chapel of the Dominican nuns. He also commissioned the necessary texts for the liturgical celebration of the feasts of Irish saints, which led to the printing at Dublin of Officia propria sanctorum Hiberniae in 1751.
From 1742 he began to experience opposition from three of his suffragans who claimed he was too old and too greatly influenced by Patrick Fitzsimons (qv), his vicar general and alter ego. The true cause of complaint was that he accepted appeals from their subjects to his metropolitan court. From 1738 he had been, very secretly, one of a small party seeking to reform the Irish church. John Kent (qv), the papal emissary sent to Ireland in 1742 to report on the mission, wrote of the archbishop in glowing terms. In that same year he applied for a coadjutor, but since Rome would not appoint his vicar Patrick Fitzsimons, he never repeated the request. The process of reform was delayed at home by the general persecution of the clergy (1743–4) and abroad by the War of the Austrian Succession. After the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) he sent the energetic Canon John Murphy to Rome and almost at once obtained two sets of decrees, one each for the secular and regular clergy. These included a total ban on novitiates in Ireland and gave bishops tighter control of the friars. The decrees of 1751 mark the summit of his achievement; fittingly he sat for his portrait in the same year (for details of the portrait, see Kelly & Keogh, Catholic diocese, 193). Thereafter came swift physical decline and the appointment of Richard Lincoln (qv) as coadjutor with right of succession in November 1755.
He died in Abbey St., Dublin on 21 June 1757 at the age of 86 after an episcopate of twenty-three years and was laid to rest in St Michan's churchyard. If he made a will, it is not known to survive, nor does any inscription mark his grave.