The Meades are a family of Gaelic descent long-established in the city of Cork and its neighbourhood. They can be traced as being resident in that area from the 14th century. The spelling of the name was varied over the years: in earlier times it was spelt Meagh or Miagh, and was changed to Meade during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Meades were prominent in the civic life of Cork, and one of them was Recorder during the rebellion in that city against the proclamation of James I as King of England, and was the leader of that rebellion. In the early 18th century the Meades were created Baronets of Ballintober (near Kinsale), Co. Cork. In 1765 Sir John Meade, 3rd Bt, the grandson of the 1st Baronet of Ballintober, married a rich Co. Down heiress, Theodosia, daughter of Robert Hawkins Magill of Gill Hall, Gilford.
From the time of her father's death in 1747, when she was only three, she was known to be one of the greatest heiresses in Ireland. The famous Married Women's Property Act was passed well over a century later to protect the interests of middle-class women: upper class women had always been protected by elaborate family and marriage settlements. This was especially true of upper class women who were identifiable as heiresses before they married (most heiresses in fact became heiresses as a result of some subsequent accident). Theodosia Magill was very well protected indeed: her landed property, which consisted of the haunted house and estate of Gill Hall, in the Gilford/Dromore area of Co. Down, worth about £2,500 a year in 1747, and the larger but wilder Burrenwood estate, round Rathfriland, then worth apparently £1,500 a year, were entailed by her father's will on the heirs male of her future marriage. The most that her future husband could expect out of them was an income for life.
Sir John Meade, as befitted Theodosia Magill's expectations, was a man of even greater landed wealth than herself. His estates were worth £10,000 a year, and most of them were located, not in Co. Cork, but in the Golden Vale of Co. Tipperary, which is situated in the barony of Clanwilliam. In the following year, 1766, in consideration of this merger of two immense properties, Sir John Meade was created Viscount Clanwilliam and Baron Gilford. This clearly signalled that their eldest son would enjoy his father's Cork and Tipperary acres and his mother's estate at Gill Hall. The rest of the Co. Down estate was to go to a son, according to the entail, but whether to the eldest son remained an open question.
-Extracted from a full account of the Meade family and Clanwilliam papers in the PRONI catalogue: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni
Archival History ↴
After the death of the 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam in 1879 his papers were split, the letter books and the majority of his diaries and loose papers becoming the property of his elder son, the 4th Earl, while the remaining papers, which include the letters to his wife and mother-in-law, some of his diaries and the Woronzow and Thun papers, passed into the possession of his second son, Robert. Those papers which descended down the main line were deposited by the late (6th) Earl, and the rest by Sir Robert Meade's grandson, Mr Simon Meade. The surviving estate papers (D3044/A) were deposited by the late Lord Clanwilliam via his Belfast solicitors, Messrs Crawford & Lockhart. The present (7th) Earl of Clanwilliam also has papers in his possession at Tisbury, Wiltshire.
In spite of this reunification, there are still major gaps in and strays from the archive, only some of which have been supplied. There are virtually no surviving papers of the 1st and 2nd Earls of Clanwilliam.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Meade family, Earls of Clanwilliam ↴
The Clanwilliam/Meade Papers comprise c 90 volumes and c 2,000 documents, 1659-1951, and are the papers of the Meade family, Earls of Clanwilliam, formerly of Gill Hall and Montalto, Co. Down. They consist of estate, diplomatic and family papers, and include material relating to other British and European aristocratic families to whom the Meade’s were related.
There are still major gaps in and strays from the archive, only some of which have been supplied. There are virtually no surviving papers of the 1st and 2nd Earls of Clanwilliam.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The collection is arranged as follows:
D3044/A Estate papers
D3044/B Thun papers
D3044/C Woronzow papers
D3044/D Papers of Theodosia, Countess of Clanwilliam
D3044/E Papers of Richard, 2nd Earl of Clanwilliam
D3044/F Papers of Richard, 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam
D3044/G Papers of Elizabeth, Countess of Clanwilliam
D3044/H Papers of Catherine, Countess of Pembroke
D3044/I Papers of Richard, 4th Earl of Clanwilliam
D3044/J Papers of Sir Robert Henry Meade
D3044/K Papers of Lady Mary Lascelles
D3044/L Papers of Caroline Georgiana Grenfell
D3044/M Papers of Herbert George Philip Meade
D3044/N Papers of Selina Catherine Meade
D3044/O Papers of Miss Mary Elizabeth Blanche Meade
D3044/P Papers of Charles Francis Meade
D3044/Q Papers of Arthur Vessey, 5th Earl of Clanwilliam
Conditions of Access & Use
The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI guidelines.
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Items may be copied for personal research use only. If 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.
c 90 volumes + c 2,000 documents
Material Language Script
A full descriptive list is available to search online at: http://www.proni.gov.uk/
Archive Web Link →
The surviving papers of Theodosia, Lady Clanwilliam, wife of the 1st Earl, descended partly down the line of her adored second son, General Robert Meade, ancestor of the Meades of Bungay, Norfolk. These papers of Lady Clanwilliam were deposited in the Norfolk and Norwich Record Office, and have been photocopied and integrated with her papers in PRONI.
Further related material is held in PRONI:
MIC259 Meade estate papers, Rathfriland, Co. Down
D1629 Magill, Rathfriland, estate papers
D875 Papers of the Meade estate, Rathfriland, Co. Down
D3124 Act and schedule of Sale of lands in the estate of John Earl of Clanwilliam, Co. Cork, Tipperary and Down
T855 Map of Rathfriland estate, Co. Down
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(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)