Ireland in the Stuart Papers. Correspondence and Documents of Irish Interest from the Stuart Papers in the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle. Volume I: 1719-1742, and Volume II: 1743-1765. Edited by Patrick Fagan. (Dublin: Four Courts Press.1995. Pp. vii, 341; v,303.)
Ireland in the Stuart Papers consists of Patrick Fagan's edition of the Irish items of the 80,000-item collection of the correspondence of the court-in-exile of James Frances Edward Stuart, which the British government acquired after the death of the last of the Stuarts, the Cardinal of York, in 1807.The whole collection is now available on microfilm in the British Library Document Center. In his introduction Dr. Fagan notes that as a source of Irish history the Stuart Papers "have been largely neglected by historians" (I, 5), with the exception of those specializing in Catholic Church history. A superficial examination of the correspondence may seem to justify its limited use since much of it deals with the nomination and appointment of the Irish Catholic hierarchy, an area in which James Stuart had major responsibility. However, a closer reading of the correspondence provides valuable insights into several areas of early modern Irish history which have been neglected by historians. One finds, for example, specific information about the Catholic middle class and gentry who remained active during the Age of the Penal Laws. The correspondence reveals the intense rivalry between the regular and the diocesan clergy and the degree to which the latter protested the number of Dominicans and Franciscans appointed to the hierarchy.We get a firsthand knowledge of the Irish Colleges on the continent, especially as they debate the issue of whether to accept ordained Irish priests or to restrict membership to young men in the early stages of preparation for the priesthood.
The papers reveal, as Fagan puts it, "a hierarchy, in a predominant degree, intensely loyal to James and virulently opposed to any accommodation with the Hanoverian Succession and ready to nip in the bud any movement in that direction" (1, 3).The papers also reveal a Catholic hierarchy who greatly exaggerate the prospects for a Jacobite restoration. A number of the letters from Ireland throw light on the workings of the Protestant-dominated Irish Parliament, especially when that body was considering anti-Catholic legislation. One of the many letters of Sylvester Lloyd, Bishop of Killaloe, contains a sophisticated analysis of the fall, 1729, session of the Irish Parliament. Referring to that body as "our Parliament" and "that great assembly," he intelligently discusses the Lord Lieutenant's revenue requests. …