Abercorn Papers

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleAbercorn Papers
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D623
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/abercorn-papers
Creation Dates1219-1990
Extent Mediumc 29,300 individually numbered documents, 759 volumes, 88 bundles + 40 boxes


Creator(s): Hamilton, family, Dukes of Abercorn, Baronscourt Castle, County Tyrone

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Abercorn family are the senior surviving branch of the Scottish House of Hamilton in the male line, the dukedom of Hamilton having passed through a female in the mid-seventeenth century. The direct male ancestor of the Abercorns was Lord Claud Hamilton, fourth son of James, 2nd Earl of Arran, Regent of Scotland during the minority of Queen Mary. He was created Duke of Chatelherault in the kingdom of France. Lord Claud was distinguished for his attachment to Mary Queen of Scots, and at an early age was appointed commendator of the abbey of Paisley. The extensive lands of this abbey were after the Reformation erected into a temporal lordship, and he was elevated to the peerage under the title of Lord Paisley. He had four sons, of whom James, the eldest, was created Baron of Abercorn, 1603, and in 1606 advanced to the dignity of Earl of Abercorn, Baron of Paisley, Hamilton, Mountcastle and Kilpatrick. The estate of Abercorn, from which this title is derived, is in Linlithgowshire. The 1st Earl of Abercorn was one of the promoters of the Plantation of Ulster, and had a very great estate granted out of the escheated lands in Co. Tyrone. He died in 1618, and was succeeded by his son, James, who during his father's lifetime had been created a peer of Ireland in 1616, by the title of Baron of Strabane. James, the 2nd Earl, was a loyal supporter of Charles I. He was succeeded by his son George, 3rd Earl, at whose death, without issue, the title devolved upon Claud, grandson of Claud, 2nd Lord Strabane. Claud, 4th Earl, was outlawed for supporting James II, but his brother, on succeeding as 5th Earl, had the outlawry reversed. His kinsman, the 6th Earl, prior to succeeding to the earldom in 1701, was a colonel of regiment to James, but assisted in raising the siege of Londonderry for William. The 7th Earl, who succeeded in 1734, was a fellow of the Royal Society, and wrote treatises on harmony and loadstones; his younger brother, the Hon. Charles Hamilton, was a noted horticulturist. The 8th Earl was a patron of the arts, a builder, and the consolidator of the family's property and influence. In 1745 he bought the Duddingston estate, outside Edinburgh, where Sir William Chambers built a mansion for him in the 1760s. At Paisley in Renfrewshire, the family's former property, which he re-acquired in 1764, he built the Place of Paisley and laid out a new town in the 1770s. His successor, the 9th Earl, created 1st Marquess in 1790, was another great patron of architects, a leader of fashion, a friend of Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister, 1783-1801 and 1804-1806), and the first considerable political figure in the family. His grandson, the 2nd Marquess, created 1st Duke in 1868, was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland twice, 1866-1868 and 1874-1876. The 2nd Duke was a friend of Edward VII's and held various Household appointments, 1866-1901. The 3rd Duke was the first Governor of Northern Ireland, 1922-1945. The dukedom of Abercorn is Ulster's only dukedom, Ireland's second and Britain's second-last. - Extracted from a full account of the Abercorn Papers in the PRONI catalogue: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni
  • Archival History ↴

  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Hamilton, family, Dukes of Abercorn, Baronscourt Castle, County Tyrone ↴

    The Abercorn Papers are a huge collection documenting the history of the Hamilton family and Abercorn estates.
    The title deeds naturally reflect the complicated processes by which the family acquired, lost or sold, and sometimes re-acquired, their estates in various parts of the British Isles. The section of Irish estate papers contains rentals, vouchers and accounts; The most obvious feature of the extant estate papers is the presence of long and sometimes virtually unbroken runs of accounts of various kinds. These include: rentals for the two-century period 1777-1963; estate, demesne and home farm accounts, 1787-1966; household accounts, 1779-1963 (with many intermissions); and maps, surveys, plans and architectural drawings, c.1710-1959. Correspondence includes estate related papers and political correspondence of various family members. There are also papers relating to their Scottish and English estates.

    – Extracted from a full account of the Abercorn Papers and their contents in the PRONI catalogue: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged as follows:
    D623/A Correspondence
    D623/B Title deeds and leases
    D623/C Rentals, accounts and vouchers
    D623/D Maps, plans, surveys, inventories and valuations
    D623/E Photographs, illuminations, addresses and albums
    D623/F Material still at Baronscourt
    D623/G Miscellaneous

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Please contact PRONI for guidance.
Conditions Governing ReproductionIf a researcher wishes to publish any documents from this collection, a request must be submitted in writing to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
Creation Dates1219-1990
Extent Mediumc 29,300 individually numbered documents, 759 volumes, 88 bundles + 40 boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A descriptive list is available to search online at: http://www.proni.gov.uk/ Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NotePRONI Archivist
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997. UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT)
Date of Descriptions41699