Thomas Spring Rice

Reference Code: IE 2135 P4
Title: The Thomas Spring Rice Papers
Dates of Creation: c. 1812-1859
Extent and Medium: 1 box (63 files)

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Name of Creator: Spring Rice, Thomas, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon (1790-1866).

Biographical History: Thomas Spring Rice was born in Limerick on 8 February 1790, the only son in a family of three.  His parents were Stephen Edward Rice of Mount Trenchard, county Limerick, and Catherine Spring, only child and heiress of Thomas Spring of Castlemain, county Kerry.  He had a distinguished career as a politician, representing Limerick in Parliament from 1820 to 1832, and the borough of Cambridge from 1832 to 1839.  He was made Under Secretary of State for the Home Department in 1827, and served as joint Secretary to the Treasury from 1830 to 1834 under Lord Grey.  His other appointments included Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1835 to 1839, and Comptroller of the Exchequer from 1835 until his death in 1866.  He was raised to the peerage as first Baron Monteagle of Brandon in the county of Kerry on 5 September 1839.  In his role as politician, Thomas Spring Rice was instrumental in the authorisation of the ordnance survey of Ireland at six inches to a mile in 1824, and the establishment of the Irish National School system in 1832.

Thomas Spring Rice married twice, firstly (in 1811) Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of the first Earl of Limerick, by whom he had eight children.  In 1841, following the death of his first wife in 1839, Lord Monteagle married Mary Anne Marshall.  There were no children from the second marriage.  Following Lord Monteagle’s death on 7 February 1866, the title passed to his grandson and namesake, Thomas Spring Rice (1849-1926).

Thomas Spring Rice enjoyed great popularity in his native city of Limerick.  In 1820, he was invited to stand as an election candidate against Charles Vereker in an attempt to free the borough from the corruption of its Corporation and the tight control exercised by the Vereker family.  When defeated, Thomas Spring Rice appealed to parliament to have the election result overturned on grounds that many of the Vereker voters were non-resident in the city.  The enquiry which followed his petition resulted in the imprisonment of the city Recorder for prevarication and the declaration of Thomas Spring Rice as MP for Limerick.  In parliament, he instigated an investigation into the affairs of the old Corporation of Limerick, which resulted in the passing of the Limerick Regulation Act of 1823.

In 1832, Thomas Spring Rice declared that he would not be seeking re-election in the city, mainly owing to his opposition to the proposed Repeal of the Act of Union.  From 1832 to 1839, he represented the borough of Cambridge in the parliament.  His many contributions to Limerick city are commemorated in the painting The Chairing of Thomas Spring Rice, MP, by William Turner, commissioned by the Limerick Chamber of Commerce in 1822, and a statue by Thomas Kirk, erected by the Barrington family at Pery Square in 1829 on top of a monument designed by Henry Aaron Baker.

Archival History: Unknown.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: Donated to the University of Limerick on 21 December 2004.


Content and Structure

Scope and Content: The material contains primarily correspondence, petitions and resolutions created and generated by Thomas Spring Rice during his political career.

Appraisal, Destruction and Scheduling Information: All records have been retained.

Accruals: No accruals are expected.

System of Arrangement: The material has been divided into five.  The first four series reflect the major activities of Thomas Spring Rice over the years.  Series 1 comprises material relating to general elections and Series 2 to judicial matters.  Series 3 comprises petitions and resolutions from organizations and individuals; and Series 4 contains material relating to civic building activities, most notably Limerick Gaol, Kilrush Harbour and Sarsfield Bridge.  Series 5 comprises miscellaneous items, mainly correspondence, pamphlets and ephemera of general political nature.


Conditions of Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access: Unrestricted access to all items.

Conditions Governing Reproduction: Standard copyright regulations apply to all items.  For photocopying or reproducing material, please consult with the staff.

Language/ Scripts of Material: English.

Physical characteristics: Paper documents in good condition. Some fragile items require conservation treatment and may not be available for consultation.  These items have been identified in the descriptive catalogue.

Finding Aids: A hard copy of the descriptive catalogue is available at the University of Limerick Special Collections.


Allied Materials

Related Units of Description: An extensive collection of Monteagle Papers relating to the Spring Rice family of Mount Trenchard is held in the National Library, Dublin.  Additional material relating to Thomas Spring Rice can also be found at Limerick Archives and the Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum, Limerick.


Description Control

Archivist’s Note: Papers arranged and described by Anna-Maria Hajba.

Rules or Conventions: Rules or Conventions: This description follows guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd edition, 2000, Irish Guidelines for Archival Description, 2009, National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997, and EAP Guidance on Data Protection for Archive Services, 2018.

Date of Description: November 2009.  Revised February 2023.