Dobbs Papers

c.160 letters, petitions, notebooks, diaries, pamphlets and other documents, c.1568-1917, principally of Arthur Dobbs (1689-1765), governor of North Carolina, 1754-1765, and well-known eighteenth century Irish author and statesman. Dobbs was high sheriff of Antrim in 1720 and in 1727 was returned for Carrickfergus in the Irish Parliament of 1727-30. He was appointed engineer-in-chief and surveyor-general in Ireland. He had a lifelong interest in America and, in 1754, was appointed governor of North Carolina where he adopted a conciliatory policy with the Indian tribes. The main interest of the collection is Canadian. Of prime importance is the earliest volume called 'Henry Kelsey, his Book; being the gift of James Hubbud in the year of our Lord 1693'. It covers the life of an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1683 to 1722. There is also an anonymous diary (about 8,000 words in length) apparently kept by an officer of Major-General James Wolfe's (1727-59) staff and relating to the Quebec campaign. It commences on June 27th, 1759, with the landing at the St Lawrence River, and closes with the fall of Quebec giving a vivid account of Wolfe's death. Other Canadian and North American related material includes a number of letters concerned with Dobbs' dispensation of his patronage in Canada, letters focussing on the role of the Hudson's Bay Company and manuscript notebooks pertaining to the Quebec campaign of the Seven Years' War, 1754-65. Dobbs was particularly interested in increasing commerce between Britain and Ireland and America and he corresponded on this subject with senior figures in the British administration, including Sir Robert Walpole and the 1st Earl Granville, 1727-31. Other notable items to be found within the collection includes a 90 page manuscript volume, c.1568-c.1689, containing information about Carrickfergus Corporation, and a bound manuscript copy of a translation of the Carrickfergus charter, 14 Dec. 1612, a rental of Carrickfergus, 1680 and a Council Order, 1 Feb. 1637. In relation to the 1798 Rebellion of the United Irishmen, there is a list of officers and men serving in the rebel army and depositions, 1798, taken at Newtownards and Saintfield against various persons alleged to have been at the battles of Antrim and Ballynahinch. There is a statistical account of the Parish of Carrickfergus for 1822 which is full of valuable information about the area and various leases and title deeds, 1739-1917. The rent roll of Viscount Dungannon's Estate for 1768 gives some interesting particulars as to the tenants in the district lying between Holywood and the vicinity of Shaw's Bridge, Co. Down.


The collection is an important research tool for those interested in the early development of Canada and trade between the British Isles and North America.

Physical characteristics

Approx. 160 items, c.1568-1917, comprising a range of documents, volumes, diaries, title deeds etc. and occupying five PRONI boxes.

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI reference D/162 and MIC/533 for catalogues of the papers. The catalogues are available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.


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Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 09 February 2018