Primate Beresford Papers

Religious, political and family papers of Lord John George de la Poer Beresford (1773-1862), Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, 1822-1862. Comprising a range of doumentary material, this collection reflects all areas of concern to Beresford and charts his career and activities as both churchman and member of the powerful Beresford Family. The collection contains, firstly (under reference D/664), papers illustrating the manipulation of parliamentary seats controlled by the Beresfords especially with regard to the Derry election in 1830; the Primate's involvement in such questions as Catholic Emancipation, the National Education scheme and the Maynooth grant; political correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel and the Archbishop of Canterbury; religious correspondence pertaining to the administration of the archdiocese of Armagh, the management of church lands and the progress of such schemes as the restoration of Armagh Cathedral. Beresford’s role as patron to St Columba's College and Trinity College Dublin is also well documented as is his support of the Clergy Orphan Society and the Society for the Relief of the Irish Society left destitute by the Tithe War. The collection (under D/3279) is also notable for letters and papers, 1823 and 1832-9, about tithe composition and reform and about agitation and protests against the collection of tithe, including an account book of the Clerical Relief Fund, 1832-9, and discussion about the plight of the distressed clergy of the diocese of Elphin; letters and papers, 1825-56, about National Education, conflicts with the Church and Diocesan Education Societies etc., including voluminous correspondence on the subject, occupying most of the first half of June 1845, between Beresford and the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel; letters and papers 1826-44, relating to elections and local politics in the various constituencies dominated by the Beresford family; letters and papers 1830-51, concerning the propagation of the Protestant religion through the Irish language; and letters and papers 1831-5, about Irish Church reform, with particular reference to the Commission of Ecclesiastical Inquiry, the Irish Church Bill of 1833 etc., including draft memoranda by Beresford about the value of Church livings and of archbishoprics and bishoprics. Other notable correspondents include the novelist, William Carleton; the 1st Duke of Wellington and his brother, Richard, Marquis Wellesley; John Wilson Croker; the 14th Earl of Derby; Robert Knox, Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore; Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin; and Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. Other items of note include c.30 documents relating to the Orr family, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, 1739-1827, comprising detailed accounts and correspondence of the family's activities as linen merchants and bleachers, 1765-1804; and c.500 documents, c.1823-1902, relating to the Dunbar family of Woburn, Millisle, Co. Down (one of Beresford's nieces married George Dunbar, DL, of Woburn, who was MP for Belfast, 1835-41). Dunbar's correspondence, slight in political content and chiefly concerned with the management of the family estates at Woburn, with the developing dock area of Belfast and with family and financial affairs is included as are accounts of the Great Famine in the Culdaff area of Co. Donegal, 1846-47, and correspondence with Beresford over the Armagh election of 1855. Attention is also drawn to a miscellaneous collection of Beresford material held at other institutions and copied by PRONI (Reference T/2772). Dating from 1740-1865, these copies cover a wide range of topics and information including politics, patronage, charities, education, tithe composition, special services to be held throughout Ireland in connection with the failure of the potato crop, funds for missionary work in Ceylon, Malta and Turkey and the maintenance of Church buildings and lands. Of interest is a substantial am


The collection provides excellent source material for students of church history (with particular reference to Armagh Cathedral), education, patronage and politics in Ireland for the first half of the nineteenth century.

Physical characteristics

The Beresford Papers consist of c.4,500 items, 1739-1902. They almost all comprise documents and photocopies of documents with a small number of volumes.

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI references D/664, D/3279 and T/2772 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.


Accrual Policy
Accrual Method
Accrual Periodicity

There were various accrual methods for this collection. Firstly, the larger part of the collection (under the reference D/664) was deposited as an indefinite loan. The section of the archive under the reference D/3279 was purchased from two different sources. The accrual of the papers under the reference T/2772 was in the form of making copies of original documents held by five different sources.

Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 08 February 2018