Sir John Pope-Hennessy, KCMG (1880), was born in 1834 in Cork, Ireland. He studied medicine at Queen's College, Cork, and in May 1855 went to London to continue his studies at Charing Cross Hospital. He soon turned his attention to politics and obtained a clerkship in the Privy Council Office, at the same time reading for the Bar. In 1859, 2 years before his call to the Bar, he entered Parliament as Member for King's County in the unique role of being an Irish Catholic and Nationalist who was also a Conservative. He lost his seat in the Election of 1865.
Pope-Hennessy was a protg of Disraeli, and it was through Disraeli's influence that he was appointed Governor of Labuan in 1867. In the following year Pope-Hennessy married Kitty Low, daughter of Hugh Low who was Acting Governor of Labuan when Pope-Hennessy arrived. Pope-Hennessy spent 22 years in the Colonial Service during which time he was Governor not only in Labuan (1867-1871) but also in West Africa (1872-1873), the Bahamas (1873-1874), Barbados (1875-1876), Hong Kong (1877-1882) and Mauritius (1883-1889). On retiring from the Colonial Service he moved to Rostellan Castle, the estate he had bought near Cork. After retirement Pope-Hennessy stood for Parliament again and, after a violent contest, won the seat of North Kilkenny; however his health had suffered greatly, and he died at Rostellan on the 7 October 1891.