Carson papers

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleCarson papers
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D1507
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1799-1975
Extent Medium17 boxes (c3,000 items)


Creator(s): Carson, Sir Edward, 1854-1935, barrister

  • Administrative History ↴

    Sir Edward Carson, Lord Carson of Duncairn (1854-1935) was a barrister, Law Officer and Law Lord, MP successively for Dublin University and for North Belfast (Duncairn), First Lord of the Admiralty, and Dublin-born leader of the Ulster Unionists in opposition to the Third Home Rule Bill. The following are extracts from the (hagiographic) DNB entry on Carson, written by the late Sir Douglas Savory, who was of Huguenot descent and, clearly, regarded Carson as the best thing that had happened since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes: 'Carson ... was born in Dublin [on] 9 February 1854, the second son of Edward Henry Carson, a civil engineer ... . He was educated at Portarlington School and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied law ... . After taking his degree, he was called to the Irish bar ... in 1877 ... . In 1887 he became Jnr counsel to the Attorney-General ... until, in 1889, he took silk. At the instance of A.J. Balfour ..., he was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland in June 1892 ... . In July he was returned to parliament as one of the members for Dublin University, a seat which he continued to hold for 26 years. ... He was called to the English bar ... in 1893, becoming QC the following year ... . Carson's first success at the English bar was in the libel action brought in 1895 by Oscar Wilde against the Marquess of Queensberry, which caused him to be acknowledged by common consent as one of the foremost advocates at the bar. Although he was invited to take office when the Unionists gained power in 1895, Carson refused: he was at the height of his powers as an advocate, and he felt it necessary to devote himself to his professional career. In 1900, however, having been sworn of the Irish Privy Council in 1896, he became Solicitor-General for England, an office which involved a knighthood and which he held until the fall of the Unionist administration in December 1905, when he was sworn of the [British] Privy Council. In January 1910 he was chosen as leader of the Irish Unionists in the House of Commons on the retirement of W.H. (afterwards Viscount) Long from that position. On the resignation of Balfour himself from the leadership of the opposition in the next year, Carson was one of the four men canvassed as possible successors, but he refused to allow his name to go forward, preferring to devote all his energies to the service of Irish Unionism ... -Extracted from a full account of the Carson Papers in the PRONI catalogue:
  • Archival History ↴

    This collection was purchased by PRONI
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Carson, Sir Edward, 1854-1935, barrister ↴

    The Carson papers comprise c 3,000 documents, 1861-1947, mainly letters and papers deriving from Sir Edward Carson but also including the personal diaries of his wife Lady Ruby Carson.
    The archive is arranged in seven sections of very uneven size, of which the first and largest relates to Ireland. The papers in this section run from 1899 (with a few earlier items) to 1936 and, in addition to material of exclusively Irish relevance, include First World War papers about the Ulster Division, recruitment, conscription, Ulster’s contribution to the War Loan, etc.
    Carson’s papers about non-Irish affairs constitute the second and second-largest section of the archive, and run from 1899 to 1935. They include Carson’s papers as a Cabinet Minister from 25 September 1915 to 20 November 1917.
    The other, smaller sections of the papers comprise; personal diaries of Ruby, Lady Carson (nee Frewen, Carson’s second wife), 1915-1929, which throw much light on his political career as well as their social and personal lives; letters and papers, 1891-1947, of Carson and his two wives about personal and financial matters, including papers about Cleve Court, Minster-in-Thanet, Kent, and their other houses, and papers relating to the early life of the Hon. Edward Carson, Carson’s son by his second marriage; obituary and biographical letters and papers, 1911-1935, addressed to or kept by Lord or Lady Carson, including correspondence with his biographers, Edward Majoribanks and Ian D. Colvin, and letters of condolence to Lady Carson on Carson’s death; photographs and newspaper cuttings, 1861-1936, relating to Carson’s private life and political and legal career; and superseded PRONI calendars of the Carson papers, 1973-1975.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    No further accruals expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    D1507/A Letters and papers relating to Ireland
    D1507/B Letters and papers of Lord Carson about non-Irish politics, Carson’s legal career, the First World War, the Admiralty etc.
    D1507/C Personal diaries of Lady (Ruby) Carson
    D1507/D Letters and papers of Lord and Lady Carson about personal and financial matters, including papers about Cleve Court, Minster-On-Thanet, Kent, and their other houses. Also included are papers relating to the early life of their son, Hon. Edward Carson
    D1507/E Obituary and biographical letters and papers addressed to or kept by Lord and Lady Carson, including correspondence with Carson’s biographers, Edward Majoribanks and Ian D. Colvin. Also included are letters of condolence to Lady Carson on Lord Carson’s death
    D1507/F Photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to the private life and political and legal careers of Lord Carson
    D1507/G Superseded calendars of the Carson papers

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Access to the original documents is restricted, but the collection is available on microfilm at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland under the reference MIC665.
Creation Dates1799-1975
Extent Medium17 boxes (c3,000 items)
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A full descriptive list is available to search online at: Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Originals InformationThe originals are closed - please consult microfilm copy (PRONI Reference MIC665)
Copies InformationMIC665 - Carson Papers

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteIAR 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