The Esmonde Papers

Repository: National Museum of Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleThe Esmonde Papers
Archive ReferenceIE NMIAS/PP01
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1862-1935
Extent Medium6 boxes and 51 files


Creator(s): Esmonde, Sir Thomas Henry Grattan, 1862-1935, 11th Baronet MP Esmonde, Lady Anna Frances Levins, d 1941

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Esmonde family are an old County Wexford catholic family, descended in the female line from the 18th century protestant patriot Henry Grattan. This collection centres on Sir Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde 11th baronet who was also descended from the United Irishman John Esmonde hanged in 1798. The family were of Anglo-Norman descent whom arrived in England around the same time as William the Conqueror in the 13th century and the baronetcy dates back to 1628 in County Wexford. In 1876 they owned over 8000 acres in Wexford, Wicklow, Offaly, Tipperary, Longford, Kilkenny, and Waterford Sir Thomas and his wife had five children, two sons and three daughters. Sir Thomas was an MP for Kerry South 1886-1900 and for Wexford North 1900-1918. He held a number of different positions locally and nationally: he was appointed chamberlain of the Vatican household in 1899, he was the first chairman of Wexford County Council (1899-1909) and the first chairman of the General Council of County Councils. He was also a director of the National Bank, a co-founder and financial backer of the Enniscorthy Echo. The family home at Ballynastragh was burned down during the Civil War in 1923 due to his position as senator in the new free state government. Sir Thomas Esmonde was a published author, his most notable work being Gentlemen! The Queen! An Irish Reverie which is a literary account of the history of his family. Sir Thomas’ eldest son Osmond inherited the baronetcy after his father’s death in 1935 but died a year later from a heart attack at the age of 40. He served as a politician like his father before him and led a colourful and interesting life. One notable episode involved him being refused entry into Australia in March 1921, following his refusal to swear allegiance and loyalty to the crown. In 1927 he became estranged from his father, who complained that he had taken to drink. They did not reconcile until shortly before his father’s death eight years later. As he was unmarried, the baronetcy passed to his uncle, Sir Laurence Grattan Esmonde, thirteenth baronet (1863–1943). Source: Patrick Maume, ‘Esmonde, Sir Thomas Henry Grattan, eleventh baronet (1862–1935)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2007; online edn, Jan 2010 []
  • Archival History ↴

    Lady Esmonde donated many items and objects to the museum after her husband passed away in 1936. Administrative files held in the museum's archive reveal that much of this material was handed over in 1937. The files in box A1/57/024 contain an inventory for all items received by the museum from that particular donation. 6 chests were part of the accession, two of which were metal deed types of chest. The file also reveal that two of these chests contained private papers belonging to Sir Thomas Esmonde. This corresponds with the fact that the papers were found by a curator inadvertently many years later in two metal deed boxes held in the museum's object collection. They were then transferred to the National Museum's Archive in Block 10 of the Collins Barracks site and were accessioned by the museum's archivist Emer Ni Cheallaigh on 18 May 2011. Transferred by curatorial staff from the the Art & Industrial Division of the National Museum of Ireland.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Esmonde, Sir Thomas Henry Grattan, 1862-1935, 11th Baronet MP Esmonde, Lady Anna Frances Levins, d 1941 ↴

    The collection is composed mainly of records that were created during Sir Thomas’ lifetime, circa 1880s up until his death in 1935. The papers contain legal documents and correspondence, financial records, unfinished manuscripts, newspaper extracts, passports, personal letters, political documents, unpublished portrait illustrations, photographs, postcards, diaries and notebooks. As the family patriarch Sir Thomas is the principal protagonist of the collection. His children and two wives also feature in the collection, particularly his second wife Anna Frances Levin. Some notable items in the collection include two notebooks belonging to John D’Alton, a well-known historian and genealogist in Ireland during the 1800s.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    The items in box 6 have been appraised and have been shredded as they have been deemed unsuitable and unnecessary to be kept for use by researchers/users. All other items are to be retained permanently.
  • Accruals ↴

    No further accruals are expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection has been processed and box listed by Archive Assistants. The documents and other materials have been arranged according to their type.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Available only by appointment with the Archivist
Conditions Governing ReproductionReproduction is at the discretion of the Archivist
Creation Dates1862-1935
Extent Medium6 boxes and 51 files
Material Language ScriptEnglish, Latin and French
Finding Aids An item-level catalogue is available at the National Museum of Ireland Archives Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Originals InformationSome of the records survive in their original form, others are transcripts. The transcripts are handwritten, printed and typed.
Related MaterialFurther material relating to the Esmonde Family is available at the National Archives of Ireland ref. accession 981. This material consists of genealogical information about the family as well as documents and letters regarding the burning of Ballynastragh.
Publication NoteA. Norman [T. Esmonde], Gentlemen! the queen! an Irish reverie (Dublin, 1926) T. Esmonde, Around the world with the Irish delegates (Dublin, 1892) T. Esmonde, Hunting memories of many lands (Dublin, 1925) T. Esmonde, More hunting memories (Dublin, 1930) Burke, Peerage (1939)

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteBrian McGrath, revised by Emer Ni Cheallaigh
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: 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.
Date of Descriptions2014