William Monsell, first Baron Emly, was born in 1812 in Ireland.
From 1847 Emly entered into politics representing the county of Limerick as a moderate Liberal. He held this post until 1874.
During his political life, Emly held many appointments but never reached the cabinet. From 1852 he was appointed Clerk of the Ordnance until the office was abolished. From 1857 he was President of the Board of Health, from 1866 Vice-President of the Board of Trade and Paymaster-General. He served as Under-Secretary for the Colonies from December 1868 to the end of 1870, and then Postmaster General from January 1871 to November 1873.
Gladstone raised him to the peerage as Baron Emly in 1874. With the rise of the Land League and his opposition to Home Rule, Emly’s popularity declined and he lost his seat. Emly was made Lord Lieutenant of the county of Limerick from 1871 and also Vice-Chancellor of the Royal University of Ireland.
Emly died at Tervoe in 1894.