Estate and political papers of the Crawford, Sharman and Sharman-Crawford families of Co. Down, c.1717-1920. Of particular significance are the papers of William Sharman-Crawford (1781-1861), MP for Dundalk, 1835-1837, and Rochdale, 1841-1852. Consisting of correspondence and memoranda, 1830-61, this section of the collection charts the development and progress of Crawford’s political career and interests. A keen supporter of Catholic Emancipation and later a federalist solution to the Irish Question, he is chiefly reknowned for his work in support of the tenant farmers of Ireland and, in particular securing the legal recognition of the Ulster custom of Tenant Right. His papers also demonstrate his radical approach to such issues as the Franchise and the Corn Laws. The papers are rich in correspondence on these and other important issues of the day. His correspondents include major figures such as Grey, Peel, Russell, Stanley, Graham, Hume, Cobden, Bright, Napier, Cardwell, Sheil, O'Connell and Smith O'Brien. There are also a large number of informative memoranda written by Sharman-Crawford on a wide range of issues such as the economic position of Ireland and, in particular, the drain on the economy (estimated at £1.5 million per annum) caused by absenteeism. The collection also includes a series of devotional memoranda reflecting Crawford’s later preoccupation (after 1852) with religion, which illustrate, for example, his reasons for withdrawing from the Established Church of Ireland in favour of Unitarianism. The second major constituent of the collection comprises rentals, accounts, leases, maps and correspondence for the several estates which came into the hands of the Sharman-Crawford family, at Rademon, Crawfordsburn and Banbridge in Co. Down, and at Stalleen in Co. Meath. These cover the years c.1830-1900. A group of testamentary and trust papers relating to the clients of Arthur Sharman-Crawford, solicitor, includes such families as Gordon, Angerstein, Bellingham, Holmes-Houston, Adams, Forbes and Burr, c.1800-1900.
The principal strength of the collection centres on the important political correspondence included, much of it emanating from leading political figures.
c.2,500 items comprising correspondence, volumes, maps, testamentary papers, etc., occupying the space of 23 PRONI boxes.
See PRONI calender reference D/856 for list of the collection. The catalogues are available in PRONI's Public SearchRoom.