Title: Dunraven Papers
Dates: 1574; 1614-1930
Extent: c.120 Boxes

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Please note: This collection is not fully catalogued yet.

Collection Summary

The Dunraven Papers comprise c.15, 150 documents and c.225 volumes, 1574 and 1614-1930s, deriving from the Wyndham-Quin family of Adare Manor, Adare, Co. Limerick, Earls of Dunraven. The original patronymic of the Earls of Dunraven was Quin. The Wyndham half of the double barrel derives from the Wyndham family of Dunraven Castle, Glamorganshire, and Clearwell Court, Gloucestershire, whose heiress the future 2nd Earl of Dunraven married in 1810. Thus, the title of Dunraven, though it is an Irish tipe and sounds straight out of Maria Edgeworth, is actually taken from a castle in Wales. This is the more inappropriate in view of the fact that the Quins are one of the few families in the whole peerage of Ireland which is of unbroken Gaelic descent in the male line. Their unbroken descent, however, is not matched by continuity of habitation. They did not come to rest in the one place, Adare, Co. Limerick, until (probably) the first half of the 17th century, although they had been living nearby, and in the same county, since (probably) the late 15th century. Presumably because their earlier history was unsettled and far from untroubled, their papers, disappointingly, go no further back than those of the average ‘Ascendancy’ family in Ireland – the group to which socially, though not ethnically, they belonged.

The earliest document in the Dunraven archive is dated 1574, but it related to Middlesex. There is no concentration of material until the late 17th century; there is virtually no correspondence prior to 1800 ; and although other forms of estate material are fairly abundant, there are actually no rentals of earlier date than 1855. The other major disappointment about the archive relates to the very modem period: there are few surviving papers of the 4th Earl of Dunraven (1841-1926), the Conservative devolutionist, and politically far and away the most significant member of the farriily. In the preface to his reminiscences – Past Times and pastimes (2 Vols., London, 1922) – the 4th Earl explains that his diary and other papers were lost when his yacht Valkyrie II, sank in 1894. But this does not explain the absence of papers subsequent to that event, notably to the documentation of the years 1903-1904, when he was Chairman of the Land Conference, and the centre of the storm over Sir Anthony MacDonnell which lead to the resignation as Chief Secretary of his kinsman George Wyndham.

In compensation for these disappointments; there is a remarkable concentration of varied material for the middle fifty years of the 19th century, particularly for the period 1830-1870. These dates roughly coincide with the construction of a new family seat in Ireland, Adare Manor, a building which reflects the personalities of the two generations and three members of the Wyndham-Quin family concerned in it, even more strikingly than it does the Gothic architecture of which it is a revival. The papers for this period – family correspondence, diaries, spiritual reflections, architectural drawings, building accounts, letters from historians, antiquarians and genealogists – all combine to give an extraordinarily full and vivid account of the Dunravens and their house. As John Cornforth wrote, in his three part Country Life article on Adare Manor (IS, 22, 29 May 1969), appropos of the celebrated long gallery at Adare: it is’ … as if the Dunravens were trying to create 250 years and more of history overnight’. The house was sold in 1982 and its contents to a considerable extent dispersed; but the papers still constitute a fascinating evocation of early Victorianism.

The best, short account of the family appears in the Knight of Glin’s introduction to the 1982 sale catalogue. A great-grandson, in the female line, of the 4th Earl of Dunraven, the Knight of Glin draws on his personal knowledge of Adare Manor and on the evidence of the Dunraven archive, which he was instrumental in getting sorted and listed by PRONT. According to this source (which is here quoted in much abbreviated form), the Quins descend from the O’Quins of Inchiquin, Co. Clare. The first definite name in the family records is one James Quin, whose brother was Bishop of Limerick up to 1551. Adare eventually came into the possession of his great-great-grandson, Thady (1645-1725), a clever lawyer during the turbulent upheaval of the Jacobite and Williamite wars of the late 17th century. His son, Valentine (c.1692-1744), built the old house at Adare in about 1730 and conformed to Protestantism in 1739. Its surroundings were an obvious location for a house, the river flowing nearby and the ruins of a Franciscan Abbey and ‘The Desmond Castle’ in the background. Formal avenues of trees were planted by Valentine and extensive further planting was done by his son, Windham (1717-1789). Their successors made the ornamentation of the demesne, the restoration of some of the ruins, laying out the village and re-building the manor itself, their life’s work over many generations. Windham Quin (his Christian name is a contraction of his mother’s surname, ‘Widenham’, and is quite distinct from, the’ Wyndham’ which was later double-barrelled with Quin) was the first of the family to become a member of parliament and he was also a great patron of the Turf. Arthur Young visited Adare during his time in 1776 and wrote enthusiastically about the woods and agriculture and, unusually for him, described some of the picture collection in the old house. He particularly admired the Pompeo Batonis of Lord Dartrey and ‘Mr Quin Junior’, the latter of whom was Valentine Richard Quin, later 1st Earl of Dunraven (1752-1824), who was on the Grand Tour in the 1770s and recorded as being in Florence in 1773. Judging from his portrait he was a glamorous figure and he made a fashionable English marriage in 1777 to Lady Frances Fox-Strangways, daughter of the 1st Earl of Ilchester. Valentine Richard gained a Union peerage as Baron Adare in 1800. In 1810 his son, Windham (1782-1850), married Caroline, daughter and sole heir to Thomas Wyndham of Dunraven Castle, Glamorganshire. She was a remarkable lady: immensely energetic, ambitious and good humoured, she was also extremely sensible and careful about money. Architecture was an interest she shared with her husband, Windham, who was also a prudent and practical man. In 1822, just before his death, Lord Adare was advanced to an earldom and it is significant that he took the title from his daughter-in-Iaw’s property, Dunraven. It was the Welsh inheritance which enabled Windham and Caroline to embark on a grandiloquent building programme at Adare; but it was also typical of their economical management that it took over forty years to finish.

The first building at Adare was the family mausoleum constructed by James Pain of Limerick in 1825, a year after the 1st Earl’s death. The demolition of the old house started in the late 1830s (a watercolour of 1837 shows it still there with the new entrance tower designed by Pain incongruously towering over the relatively modest Georgian house)l and the decoration in the new, long gallery was going apace early in 1840. In March 1840 the 2nd Earl went to England on an extensive tour of English buildings and this indicates a break with Pain. On his trip we went to Warwick Castle, Hardwick Hall, looked at Fonthill, vastly admired Wyatville’s work at Windsor and raved ecstatically about Haddon Hall’s ‘graceful irregularities’. In March he spent much time with Thomas Willement, the stained-glass artist, in London, and there met and fell under the influence of the architect, Lewis Nockalls Cottingham. It was probably his son, the future 3rd Earl, who contacted Augustus Welby Pugin for interior details in 1846. These included the hall ceiling, the staircase, and plans for the dining room, library and terrace. Pugin’s work was never fully executed but many of his chimney pieces and interior detailing were complete by 1850.

The 3rd Earl (1812-1871) and his wife Augusta, despite an early foray into expensive, fashionable London life, came back to Adare and carried on the good work. He was a distinguished archaeologist and much concerned in educational matters, becoming a Roman Catholic convert and dabbling very seriously in spiritualism. He and Pugin would have had much in common, but Pugin was already a sick man and died in 1852. The 3rd Earl therefore turned to P.c. Hardwick to complete the house in the Pugin manner from 1850 to 1862. The family were now richer than they had ever been, on account of the discovery of coal on the Glamorganshire property. The 4th Earl (1841-1926) succeeded in 1871, but his interests were on a broader scale than any of his ancestors and he was not particularly interested in building.

A famous yachtsman, politician, traveller and a big game hunter, he was also a man of considerable political vision. He perhaps followed too many courses and never actually succeeded in anyone of them – including his two bids to win the America’s Cup with his yachts Valkyrie II and lll. He had no son, and at his death in 1926 the property and title were inherited by his cousin, the 5th Earl, who moved to Adare Manor and lived there until the venerable age of ninety-five. In view of the importance of these topics in the Dunraven archive, and the fact that material on them straddles the generations, papers on architecture and building have been artificially assembled into one section, and papers on archaeology, antiquarianism and genealogy into another.

Much of the visually pleasing material on architecture and building has been retained by Lord and Lady Dunraven. The deposited material includes: correspondence, 1827-1871, of the 2nd and 3rd Earls and Caroline, Countess of Dunraven, including the 2nd Earl’s correspondence with Sir William Betham, Thomas Willement and James Pain; six account books, 1832-1845, relating to purchases of rough stone and to stonemasons’ work; letters and one bill, 1836-1840, to the 2nd Earl from the painter, Thomas Phillips, relating to Phillips’s portraits of the 2nd Earl and Caroline for the long gallery at Adare Manor; letters, with one estimate, 1846-1853, from Augustus Welby Pugin and his son, Edward; much more voluminous series of letters and accounts, 1850-1870, from P.C. Hardwick; numerous estimates and accounts, 1850-1871, for Adare Manor; and estimates and accounts, 1856-c.1900, for buildings other than the Manor itself, including the Adare Courthouse and cottages on the Wyndham-Quin property at Derrynane, Co. Kerry.

The material on archaeology, antiquarianism and genealogy includes: letters, 1827-1864, to Dr George Petrie, the celebrated Irish antiquary (apparently present in the Dunraven archive because the 3rd Earl was associated in a project to publish a posthumous edition of Petrie’s correspondence), from miscellaneous correspondents, particularly Sir Frederick Burton and Thomas Larcom; originals of a series of letters, c.1830-1856, from Petrie to John O’Donovan (of Ordnance Survey Lelfers fame), together with some letters from O’Donovan to Petrie; originals of letters, 1836-1844, from Petrie to Larcom, Eugene Curry, etc; letters, 1839-1859, to the 3rd Earl from O’Donovan; letters, 1851-1865, to the 3rd Earl from Petrie; letters, 1863-1869, to the 3rd Earl from William Reeves, later Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore; letters, 1864-1871, to the 3rd Earl from William Stokes and Miss Margaret Stokes, together with other Stokes and Petrie material; miscellaneous archaeological and antiquarian correspondence of the 3rd Earl, 1842-1867; and voluminous working papers, thank-you letters, etc, of the 3rd Earl and his mother, Caroline, Countess of Dunraven, in connection with their jointly written book The Memorials of Adore (Dublin, 1866).

The letters and papers of the Wyndham family of Dunraven and Clearwell, and the letters and papers of the Wyndham-Quin family which relate to Glamorganshire and Gloucestershire alone, include: a run of over 20 diaries from 1783-1814, kept by Thomas Wyndham, father of Caroline, Countess of Dunraven; letters to Wyndham’s mother, Mrs Charles Edwin (whose husband had changed his name), 1772 and 1789-1814; letters to Wyndham’s wife, Anna Maria, 1792-1839, many of them from their daughter Caroline, Countess of Dunraven; a quantity of letters and papers, 1829-1860, of the 2nd and 3rd Earls and Caroline, Countess of Dunraven, about the Glamorganshire and Gloucestershire estates, mainly letters from John Randall, agent at Bridgend, Glamorganshire; letters, 1837-1838 and c.1849-1850 and 1857, about Glamorganshire elections and politics (the future 3rd Earl sat for the county, 1837-1841); letters, 1837-1854, about Glamorganshire estate business; letters and papers, 1895-1908, of the 4th Earl and his cousin and successor as 5th Earl, Colonel W.H. Wyndham-Quin, about elections for Glamorganshire South (which Wyndham-Quinn represented), the Glamorganshire Primrose League, the Glamorganshire Imperial Yeomanry , in the Boer War, etc, etc. The vast majority of the Dunraven Castle archive was not, however, transferred to Ireland, and is now deposited in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, and the former Glamorganshire Record Office, Swansea, principally the former.

Some non-Irish material is included among the title deeds present in PRONI. There is the already-mentioned title deed to a ‘mystery’ property in Middlesex, 1574, and some settlements and mortgages affecting the Wyndham estates in Glamorganshire and Gloucestershire, 1810, 1812, 1836 and 1860. However, the bulk of the title deeds, marriage and other settlements and mortgages (c. 100 documents) relate to the Widenham, Quin and Wyndham-Quin estates in Co. Limerick, 1655-1864, a few to Quin property in Co. Clare, c.1710-1717, and a few to Wyndham-Quin property in Co. Kerry (Aghamore, Derrynane, etc), 1786 and 1826-1863.

The title to most of the Co. Limerick estate, in and around Adare and elsewhere in the county, is piecemeal and exceedingly complicated, and no doubt had to be made deliberately obscure after the passing of the Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery, with its swingeing restrictions on Catholic landownership, in 1704. The 18th Earl of Kildare, whose tenant or more probably under-tenant Thady Quin was, obtained a private Act of Parliament, c.1692, enabling him to sell his estates in Co. Limerick, as a result of which they passed to the 1st Duke of Richmond, one of Lord Kildare’s principal creditors. Richmond’s own financial affairs became seriously involved, and he appears to have borrowed from, among others, Valentine Quin. In 1721, the Richmond estate was surveyed and valued as containing 6783 (Irish) acres at a rental of£1450 capable of being raised to £3408; prominent among the tenants named was Valentine Quin, who, among other interests in the estate, held a three-life lease of ‘the Castle ploughland of Adare’. Many of the other townlands itemised also feature in the subsequent Wyndham-Quin estate. This was a sale valuation, the sale price being calculated at £43,965 English; and much of the Richmond estate was in fact sold at about this time, to Valentine Quin and others. In addition to his purchase of Richmond land, Valentine Quin acquired land near Adare and elsewhere in the county from other sources – particularly from the Widenham family of Court, Co. Limerick, whose co-heiress, Mary Widenham, he had married in 1709.The title deeds to these small units of land in Co. Limerick (not more than two townlands at a time) have been arranged on this basis, and in approximate alphabetical order, as follows: the impropriate tithes of Adare, 1713, and the advowson of Adare, 1840; Ballycasey and Kilcurly, 1686, 1841 and 1844; Ballyc10gh, 1727 and 1802; Ballyegny, 1614-1699; Ballygiele and Liscoo1nabehy, 1718-1729; Ballyliddance and Lispane, 1696 and 1699; Beabus, 1699-1796; Carrigeen, 1728-1730 and 1825-1837; Castleroberts and Philisteen, 1837-1863; Edenard and Edenishall, 1698; Gortfadda, 1672; Graigue, Garranard and Shanaclogh, 1674-1702; Ki1begg, 1672; Kilgobbin and Lismureen, 1718-1729; Kilknockan, 1765; Limerick city and Bealnacurra, 1699-1837; Morenanes, 1722; Mountwilliam, 1783; Poor Abbey, Adare, 1781-1859; Reedeen, 1827; and Whiteabbey, Adare, 1759-1761. There are also c.200 leases relating to these and other Co. Limerick town lands, 1712-1873.

The archive is rich in pre-1858 wills, deriving from the Quin, Widenham and other families who feature in the title to the future Wyndham-Quin estate in Co. Limerick, as follows: copy of the will (1704) of John, 18th Earl of Kildare; attested copy of the will (1719) of Henry Widenham of Court, Co. Limerick; probate (1761) of the will (1724) of Thady Quin of Adare; attested copy of the probate (1744) of the will of Valentine Quin of Adare; extract from the probate (1829) of the will (1829) of Rev. Standish Grade etc, etc., Other estate papers (excluding correspondence) include a small number of surveys, maps and valuations of all or part of the Co. Limerick estate, 1697-1891; rentals for the entire Co. Limerick estate, 1855-1902 (with gaps); Adare town rent-books, 1902-1937; account books recording the household, personal and estate expenses of Caroline and Augusta, successive Countesses of Dunraven, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls of Dunraven, 1830-1909; and a series of c.30 bundles of tradesmen’s accounts and receipts, mainly for Adare Manor, but including some for a town house at 94 Eaton Square, London, 1845-1907 (mainly 1845-1870).

However, the surviving papers of the day, Valentine and Windham Quin of Adare, 1678-1769, and of Valentine Richard Quin, later 1st Earl obdurate, 1770-1824, are all really estate papers, consisting of bonds, case papers, schedules of deeds, accounts, receipts, tenants’ proposals (particularly for the period 1804-1814). Such correspondence as survives for these generations of the family relates almost exclusively to estate and financial affairs except, in the 1st Earl’s case, for some references to building work at Adare and to Adare parish church.

Noteworthy among the papers of this period are a copy of the report, 1699, of the Attorney General on a petition presented by Thady Quin to the King in which Thady argues with considerable wiliness and ingenuity the case for his inclusion within the Articles of Limerick; and the burlesque correspondence, 1817-1819, of the 1st Earl of Dunraven about the financial terms of his separation from his second wife, including wild allegations about his ‘most barbarous intrusion upon her repose’, his ‘infernal and atrocious machinations’, etc, etc. The correspondence of Windham Wyndham-Quin, 2nd Earl of Dunraven, also contains a great deal of material on estate and financial affairs. Correspondence with wider bearings includes: letters from his father, the 1st Earl, 1799-1822, mostly giving him paternal advice (with a Polonius-like ring) about the social accomplishments he must acquire, his education etc; poems by local bards about the 2nd Earl’s successive elections for Co. Limerick, 1807-1812, his support of Catholic Emancipation etc; printed matter, 1819, about his alleged trafficking in the clerkship of the peace for Limerick and the ensuing parliamentary enquiry into this affair; letters to him from the 2nd Viscount Gort, 1822-1825, mainly about Limerick City affairs; letters to him about the progress of the general election in Limerick City and County, 1832; and letters, c.181 0-1850, from various correspondents, including Thomas Spring-Rice, later 1st Lord Monteagle, Serjeant Thomas Goold (whose daughter Augusta, married the future 3rd Earl) and Sir Aubrey de Vere, 2nd Bt, of Currah Chase, Co. Limerick, about Limerick politics, estate affairs, impressions of Sir Robert Gore-Booth’s new house at Lissadell, Co. Sligo, in 1833, emigration, the Great Famine, the plight of St Columba’s College, Dublin, etc, etc.

The papers and correspondence of Caroline, Countess of Dunraven (wife of the 2nd Earl), are by contrast almost entirely social and personal in character. These include a series of end-of-year ‘Reflections’, 1808-1851, and diaries, 1808-1870 (with gaps), recording her social round, family events, building plans and operations etc. There are also voluminous letters to Lady Dunraven from members of her family, as follows: her husband, the 2nd Earl, 1810-1850; her mother, Anna Maria Wyndham, c.1850-1854; her son, the future 3rd Earl, and daughter-in-law, Augusta (nee Goold), 1821-1857; her second son, Windham Henry of Clearwell Court, c.1840-1866; and her daughter, Anna Maria, and son-in-law, William Monsell of Tervoe, Co. Limerick, later 1st Lord Emly, 1824-1855. Other friends and family members who wrote to Lady Dunraven, c.181 0-1870, include: her father, Thomas Wyndham; Augustus Stafford O’Brien of Cratloe, Co. Limerick, and Blatherwycke, Northamptonshire, MP for Northamptonshire North (a good run of letters, 1839-1858); William Sewell (Warden of St Columba’s); Professor James Henthorn Todd of Trinity College, Dublin, etc, etc.

The letters and papers of Edwin Wyndham-Quin, 3rd Earl of Dunraven, include general correspondence of the period c.1840-1870 about Co. Limerick politics and elections, the Crimean War (including a proposal to send socks to Florence Nightingale), Fenian outrages in Co. Limerick, the Land Act of 1870 etc. However, they are dominated by the 3rd Earl’s interest in science, spiritualism and the Roman Catholic religion (to which he converted c.1850). The earliest letters consist of a voluminous correspondence, 1829-1860, between Lord Adare (as he then was) and Professor Sir William Rowan Hamilton of The Observatory, Dublin, under whom Adare studied astronomy while at TCD, 1830-1833; some of these letters were (very selectively) published in the third volume of Rev. Robert Perceval Graves’s Life of Hamilton (Dublin, 1882), and the whole run of letters was made available to Hamilton’s most recent biographer, Professor Thomas L Hankins of the University of Washington. The papers on spiritualism include Lord Adare’s ‘Mesmeric Journal’, 1844, and letters to him (and the future 4th Earl) from D.O. Home, Mr and Mrs S.C. Hall, etc, etc, 1844-1870. The rest of the 3rd Earl’s correspondence – apart from that on estate and business affairs – includes letters from Augustus Stafford (as Augustus Stafford O’Brien had become), Stephen E and Aubrey de Vere, William Monsell (the 3rd Earl’s brother-in-law, who describes dramatically the events of his own reception into the Roman Catholic Church at Gracedieu Manor, Ashby-de-Ia-Zouch, Leicestershire, in 1850), E.B .Pusey, W.E. Gladstone, Cardinals Manning and Newman, George Butler and David Moriarty (Roman Catholic Bishops of Limerick and Kerry respectively), Dean Stanislas Flanagan, originally of The Oratory, Birmingham, and subsequently (1865) appointed parish priest of Adare in succession to Thomas O’Grady (with whom the 3rd Earl had been in conflict) etc, etc. There is a strong theological element in all of this correspondence – Puseyism, the attitude of the conscientious Protestant to the Oath of Supremacy (1846), etc, etc. – and also a domestic element, because the 3rd Earl’s wife and son, the future 4th Earl, resisted a considerable degree of pressure put upon them to convert to Roman Catholicism. There arc also some flashes of humour, including Monsell’s relation (1848) of the view of William Smith O’Brien’s family that the Lord Lieutenant was’ … a monster of cruelty on account of prosecuting William at all for high treason’ .

The letters and papers of Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, 4th Earl of Dunraven, include a considerable quantity of letters on estate and business affairs during the period 1850-1904, mainly addressed to the Irish agent, Peter Fitzgerald, George Street, Limerick. There is also family correspondence, 1860-1871, about the re-settlement of the family estates in 1862 and the 4th Earl’s charge that his father took advantage of this to penalise him for refusing to convert. Political letters and papers include: routine correspondence of 1889-1903 deriving from the 4th Earl’s office of Lieutenant of Co. Limerick; a significant letter of 1889 from his political mentor, Lord Randolph Churchill; drafts or copies of a series of a speeches which the 4th Earl made early in 1885 (never once mentioning Horne Rule); two volumes of newspaper cuttings, 1878-1921, containing further speeches; two volumes about the controversy surrounding the 4th Earl’s election to the Croom division of the Limerick County Council in 1899; and a small collection of newspaper cuttings about the Sir Anthony McDonnell controversy, 1906. There are also correspondence and newspaper cuttings, 1889-1895, about the America’s Cup. ,The letters and papers of the 4th Earl’s first cousin, Colonel W.H. Wyndham-Quin, later 5th Earl of Dunraven, include: diaries, 1885-1907, kept by his wife, Lady Eva, among other things documenting Wyndham-Quin’s period of service as military secretary to the Governor of Madras, 1886-1889; and correspondence of the 5th Earl in the 1930s about politics in the Irish Free State, with particular reference to the Fine Gael party and including half a dozen letters from WT. Cosgrave.

Among scrapbooks and other miscellaneous material is one important autograph album containing material, 1640-c.1860, collected by Caroline, Countess of Dunraven. In addition to bits and pieces of Wyndham-Quin provenance, this includes some letters to the de Veres of Currah Chase, one of them from Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, dated 1798, and another of the same year from R. Owenson, father of Lady Morgan, discussing his losses in the 1798 Rebellion and his desire for military employment. There is also a short run of letters, 1774-1807, to Sir Ralph Payne, Lord Lavington (into whose family Lady Harriet Quin, only daughter of the 1st Earl of Dunraven, married), including letters from Lords Dartmouth, Mansfield, North and Northington, the Emperor Joseph II, Charles James Fox, the Prince of Wales (later George IV), Lady Elizabeth Foster, the Countess of Albany (widow of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) and Admiral Lord Nelson. Another curiosity of this autograph album is a letter of 1825 from the composer, Karl Maria von Weber, to Dr Heinrich Lichtenstein about the terms on which Weber’s opera Oberon is to be performed in London.


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