John Ireland

John Ireland was Dean of Westminster from 1816-1842 and is buried in the south transept of the Abbey in the grave of his lifelong friend William Gifford (d.1826). The gravestone just says "John Ireland, Dean", after Gifford’s short inscription. A white marble bust, by sculptor John Ternouth, is in the south aisle of the nave and the Latin inscription can be translated:

Sacred to the memory of John Ireland, professor of sacred theology, from Ashburton, Devon, who was placed as a student at Oriel [college] in the university of Oxford, then in the year 1802 made one of the Prebendaries of this Church. Subsequently in the year 1816 he was installed Dean of this same Church. A man most famous for knowledge of sacred literature and praised for his well-expressed doctrine. Of upright life and total faith in God. Mindful of the benefits offered to him by Divine grave as a youth, in later years he wished to do good while still among the living by encouraging the studies of youths by means of substantial prizes offered every year at Oxford and Westminster School, and munificently bequeathed money, some to institute a Professor of Theology at Oxford, some to be given to poor scholars of letters at Oriel College, and some that help should be provided so that his compatriots of Ashburton should be fitly educated. He lived 80 years, 11 months and 28 days. He died 2nd September 1842. Hail and farewell in peace.

Ireland was born on 8th September 1761 at Ashburton, a son of butcher Thomas and his wife Elizabeth. After being educated in the town he went onto Oxford. While vicar of Croydon in Surrey and chaplain to the Earl of Liverpool he obtained an appointment as Canon of Westminster. He became sub-dean in 1806 and Dean in 1816 and was also rector of Islip in Oxfordshire (an Abbey living) from 1816-1835. He married Susannah Short (d.1826) but they had no children.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


8th September 1761


2nd September 1842


Dean; priest/minister


Nave; South Transept

Memorial Type

Grave; bust

Material Type


John Ireland
John Ireland memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

John Ireland
William Gifford and John Ireland grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster