Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds rich resources for the study of the political, social and cultural history of Ireland. There are substantial collections of manuscript papers relating to the Irish estates of the Temple and Parnell families, particularly in Sligo and Dublin (MS 62 Broadlands Archives and MS 64 Congleton Manuscripts); and much political material in the papers of the first Duke of Wellington (MS 61). The papers of the Earls of Mornington (MS 226, MS 299), and the papers of the family of Richard Wellesley, first Marquis Wellesley (MS 63 Carver Manuscripts) also contain complementary material on estate management.
There are also many printed resources relating to Ireland in Special Collections which may be less well-known. The following examples demonstrate the range of material available:
The Rare Books sequence in Special Collections extends to approximately 4,000 items, ranging in date from the late 15th century to the 20th century. A number of these books were published in Ireland, or provide an insight into Irish history. The title page, above, is from The History and Antiquities of Ireland, Illustrated with Cuts of Ancient Medals, Urns, &c..: With the History of the Writers of Ireland… Written in Latin by Sir James Ware; Newly Translated into English, Revised and Improved… And Continued Down to the Beginning of the Present Century, by Walter Harris, Dublin (1764) Rare Books DA 920.
Irish matters were strongly reflected in the political, social, and economic questions facing Great Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Wellington Pamphlets, which were presented to the first Duke of Wellington by authors and interested individuals, are a valuable source for contemporary views. They date from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century and number more than 3,000 items. Hundreds of these pamphlets relate to Ireland: and they cover a wealth of topics, from agriculture, drainage, and land improvements; to the condition of the Catholic and Protestant churches; Catholic Emancipation; harbours, trade, and industry; schools and education; distress, emigration, dissent and rebellion; reform; elections; government and law; poor law, poor rates and relief; medical relief and reform; and public health – to name a few.
This plan of a model cottage is taken from the Royal Dublin Society Report from the Committee of Agriculture and Planting, 1 March 1832 (Rare Books Wellington Pamphlet 963/9 pp.4-5). The report notes:
“It may assist such landed proprietors as are desirous of providing comfortable habitations for their tenants and cottagers, to refer them to the annexed plan of a cottage (which may be enlarged or reduced as circumstances may require)…the system of allotting small portions of land to the cottages of labourers is making considerable progress in England with a view of diminishing the burthen of the poor rates”
Walter Frank Perkins (1865-1946) gifted the Perkins Agricultural Library of books on agriculture, botany and forestry to the University College of Southampton, and published the bibliography British and Irish Writers On Agriculture in 1929. His collection of some 2,000 books and 40 periodicals, ranges in date from the 17th century to the late 19th century. It includes varied works on the condition of Ireland and Irish farming, for example, on the cultivation of crops such as potatoes, flax, and grasses; concerning Irish peat and turf bogs; Irish manufactures; population; and poor houses. Above is the frontispiece to Alfred Smee’s The Potatoe Plant, Its Uses and Properties: Together with the Cause of the Present Malady.. London (1846) Rare Books Perkins SB 211.P8.
Other interesting printed material relating to Ireland can be found in our manuscript collections, such as this printed map of Ireland, dated 1863, part of the Congleton Manuscripts (MS 64/557/1).
Irish political periodicals feature in the papers of Evelyn Ashley, M.P. (1836-1907) as part of the Broadlands Archives (MS 62 BR61; BR148/12). Evelyn succeeded to Lord Palmerston’s estates at Broadlands and Romsey in Hampshire, and Classiebawn, County Sligo, in 1888. A Liberal M.P., he was defeated in the election for the Isle of Wight in 1885, and joined the Liberal Unionists when Gladstone announced his adoption of the principle of Home Rule in 1886. He unsuccessfully fought seats in a number of later elections and retained a close interest in politics until his death in 1907.
Evelyn’s personal copies of these periodicals are an interesting source for the political questions of the 1880s and 90s. Notes from Ireland “A Record of the Sayings and Doings of the Parnellite Party in the Furtherance of their “Separatist” Policy for Ireland; and of Facts Connected with the Country. For the Information of the Imperial Parliament, the Press, and Public Generally”, survives for the years 1886-1891 (MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR 61/3/4, BR148/12). The newssheet had been established in 1886 and was published by the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union. Evelyn’s copies of The Liberal Unionist survive for the years 1887-1892 (BR61/3/6). The other item pictured here is a printed version of the (second)Home Rule Bill, dating from c.1893.
For details of our related manuscript sources for Ireland see our online guide: Sources about Ireland: Information Sheet.