Foster/Massereene Papers

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) | D/207, D/562, D/1739, D/2681, D/3711, D/4084, |

The Foster/Massereene papers comprise over 26,000 documents and volumes, 1590-1935, deriving from the Clotworthy and Skeffington families, Viscounts Massereene, and the Foster family, Viscounts Ferrard of Collon, Co. Louth. The papers relate to the family estates, mainly in Counties Antrim and Louth; to the lives and political careers of individual family members, most notably John (Speaker) Foster (1740-1828), MP for Co. Louth 1768-1821. Prominent in both Irish and national politics, he was Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer 1884-85, Speaker of the House of Commons, 1785-1800, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer at Westminster 1804-6 and 1807-11, among other offices. His papers touch on politics, trade and revenue, customs and excise, agriculture, free trade, commercial credit, transport; of particular importance are the papers relating to the Irish linen industry.

The archive includes all the Massereene family papers and correspondence from 1590 to 1935 comprising a wealth of information on social mores, family life, financial details and management of the Massereene estates in Antrim (including the Antrim Castle Gardens), Monaghan, Kerry, Dublin and Derbyshire; deeds and estate papers for the Foster and Massereene estates; good runs of leases for Antrim town and for the Massereene estate in Co. Fermanagh from the 17th century; account books for the Collon estate, Co. Louth, and for the Massereene estates in Co. Monaghan. Also included are almost all the legal case papers of Anthony Foster (1705-79) as barrister and judge; almost all papers and correspondence of Anthony and John Foster dealing with Louth elections, politics, patronage and local affairs.

The bulk of the archive relates to the period before 1816; the Massereene element represents a small proportion of it (2,300 items). The archive is divided into 7 sections plus two from different provenances reflecting the date of deposit at the PRONI.


Almost every facet of Irish history is touched upon, particularly in politics, for the period 1750-1810. The Massereene papers are a very fine collection of family correspondence running from the 1690s to 1830.

Physical characteristics

Approx. 26,000 documents and volumes occupying 162 PRONI boxes.

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI references D/207, D/562, D/1739, D/2681, D/3711, D/4084, T/2519/4, MIC/611 and MIC/618 for individual catalogues of the papers. These catalogues are available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room. A more detailed introduction to the collection can be accessed on


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Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 25 August 2018