Hart Papers

Estate, family and military papers of the Hart family of Ballynagard, Londonderry, 1607-1987. The Hart family have lived on the Londonderry/Donegal border since the late sixteenth century. The great bulk of the documentation in the collection - apart from the estate material - relates to comparatively recent members of the family: to General George Vaughan Hart of Kilderry, near Muff, Co. Donegal (d. 1832), and to his fourth son but ultimate successor, another George Vaughan Hart, who inherited all the family property in 1850, and died in 1895. The collection includes estate papers relating to all the various family estates in Counties Donegal and Londonderry; wills and testamentary papers; material relating to history and genealogy.

Correspondence, which is by far the most important part of the Hart papers, relates mainly to the two successive G.V. Harts, General G.V. Hart and G.V. Hart Junior. The father and elder brother of the first G.V. Hart are also represented by some correspondence, 1775-1815, but most of it relates to General Hart, his career and business affairs. General Hart saw service in America, the West Indies, and India (three times) where at one stage he was paymaster of troops at a time of significant adjustment between the Crown and the East India Company, finally holding successive commands in the Northern District of Ireland, and was MP for Co. Donegal, 1812-32. Papers from Hart’s military service are also available in abundance, although only a small quantity of papers covering the years after his retirement from the army, and, in particular, his long years of service as an MP, have survived.

The papers of Hart’s successor to the family lands in Donegal, G.V. Hart Junior, include letters from his younger brother William, 1833-93, describing his varied career as an Indian civil servant, many of them discussing his personal finances, and are interesting as a reflection on the Indian lifestyle; and after his retirement he discusses the problems of the Lough Swilly Oyster Company he had established at Fahan. There are also letters from Hart's older brothers, Capt. John Hart of Doe Castle and Capt. Henry Hart of the East India Company Army.

The collection also includes the papers of Col John George Vaughan Hart (1879-1946), grandson of G.V. Hart Jr who inherited the family property in 1919. The archive contains glassplate negatives taken and developed by him, 1900-05, while on military service in West Africa. There are volumes of out letters dealing with estate and financial business, improvements to the properties at Kilderry and Ballynagard, family history and local occurrences which present a detailed picture of the life of a Protestant landowner after Partition.


Of interest to military researchers particularly in relation to India, West Africa and Ireland; and to researchers of landlordism in north-west Ulster.

Physical characteristics

Approx. 6,500 documents, volumes and glass-plate negatives, 1607-1987, occupying c.40 PRONI boxes

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI reference D/3077 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.

See http://www.proni.gov.uk/records/private/hart.htm for a more detailed introduction to the collection.


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Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 21 May 2018