Estate and personal papers of the MacDonnell family, the Earls of Antrim, comprising the administrative records dating from 1603 of an estate which at one time included the four northern baronies of Co. Antrim.
The collection includes: personal papers of the 17th and 18th century Earls; a genealogy in Irish and English of the 4th Earl prepared in 1704 which traces the family back to a 4th century Irish monarch; papers of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, relating to agricultural improvement, schools, conditions during the Famine and the building of Garron Tower; estate papers in the form of rentals, rent books, accounts, receipts, maps and surveys; documents relating to the exploitation of mineral resources; papers relating to harbours, roads and railways. The bulk of the archive relates to the leasing of land for agricultural use, and there are leases for several Co. Antrim towns. The 1st Earl obtained a patent from James I to hold Manorial Courts and the papers deal with disputes, regulation of fairs etc. In the 19th century the Earls built schools: papers relate to schools management and buildings.
There are also a number of very small deposits from the same provenance under a miscellany of PRONI reference numbers including a cache of 5 letters, 1645-1663, from Charles 1 and Queen Henrietta Maria to, or on behalf of, the Marquis of Antrim (D/4041 & MIC/591).
Of interest to those researching the management of large estates, agricultural improvements, early mining and quarrying ventures, ownership of leases and connections of the landed gentry. One of the largest collections of privately owned papers to be deposited in PRONI, the Antrim Papers contain a detailed record of the day to day running of the estate and its related businesses during the 19th and 20th Centuries, including important earlier material and documents which throw light on the lives not only of the Earls but of their tenants and employees.
c. 50,000 documents and c.500 volumes, c.1600-c.1940, occupying c.220 PRONI boxes.
See PRONI references D/2977 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search room. A full introduction to the collection is also available on http://www.proni.gov.uk/records/private/antrim.htm.
The vast bulk of the records have been acquired as an indefinite loan. However, a few items in the form of the letters under D/4041 (see, above) have been purchased.