Kenmare Papers

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleKenmare Papers
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D4151
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1587-1973
Extent Mediumc 475 volumes and files (53 of them of huge proportions) + c 3,520 documents (of which over 400 are outsize maps, plans and surveys)


Creator(s): Browne, family, Earls of Kenmare, County Kerry

  • Administrative History ↴

    '... The connection of the family with Ireland dates back as far as the first year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth: Sir Valentine Browne was appointed Surveyor General in 1559, and after spending forty years in this country as an important official of the Crown found his last resting place in Dublin. The sons of his second marriage became landed proprietors in Munster but, unlike most of the English settlers since the Reformation, the Brownes soon reverted to the old religion, and though they can hardly be said to have become Gaelicised they were at least sufficiently identified with the old Gaelic aristocracy to be coupled with the great Irish families in a 17th-century Irish poem eulogising the old order. Beginning with this Sir Valentine's eldest son Nicholas, who married the daughter of OSullivan Beare, in the next few generations the Brownes made matches with the leading Catholic families in Munster and Leinster - OSullivan Mór, Fitzgerald of Desmond, MacCarthys, Butlers, O'Briens, Plunketts and many others, details of which will be found in a pedigree held among the Kenmare Papers in PRONI. By these marriages they consolidated their position as undisputed members of the Catholic aristocracy and at the same time as the possessors of the vast estate which they had in various ways obtained. As this estate was one of the largest in Ireland, and was held during the severest period of the Penal Laws without the smallest compromise being made in matters of religion, a brief summary of the ... means by which it was acquired and retained may be given here. It began with a simple mortgage of some lands in Co. Kerry belonging to that MacCarthy who was for a time Earl of Clancare, till he relinquished the title and went into open hostility to Queen Elizabeth. (... [The earldom of Clancare], which was created by Elizabeth in 1565 and was renounced and became extinct in 1597, is sometimes confused with the earldom of Clancarty, conferred on another branch of the MacCarthy family by Charles II in 1658) ... The title to this estate was in 1588 confirmed by a grant from the Crown, and a further patent of James I covered all the lands they had acquired in Co. Kerry up to 1620. The grantee in this case was the grandson of the first Sir Valentine [another Valentine, of Molahiffe, Co. Kerry, who was created a baronet in 1622. The 1620 patent gave him the right to hold fairs at Killarney - he already could hold fairs at Molahiffe under a patent of 1613.] Meanwhile, his younger son, Thomas, had come into possession of the Hospital estate, i.e. the lands confiscated on the dissolution of the monasteries, two generations before his time, from the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. He did this by his marriage [in 1603] with Mary Apsley, the heiress of the estate which, it must be explained, included a considerable area of Counties Cork and Kerry as well as ... [the Manor of Hospital, Kilteely], Co. Limerick. Mary Apsley was herself Irish on her mother's side, for ... [she] was the daughter of John Browne, known as the Master of Awney, and her mother was an O'Ryan. ... This lady ... was co-heiress of the Hospital estate with her sister Joan, the wife of Richard, 1st Earl of Cork. Joan dying without surviving issue, and her niece Barbara Boyle having married Mary's son, John Browne, the whole of this estate passed finally into that branch of the Browne family. In the two succeeding generations Browne heiresses of Hospital married Kerry cousins, and by the marriage in 1684 of Helen Browne and Nicholas, 2nd Viscount Kenmare, both branches of the Browne family were united and their estates combined. ... The settlements made at the time of these marriages sowed the seeds of protracted and expensive lawsuits, which were not finally disposed of for almost 100years..' – Source: Dr Edward MacLysaght, The Kenmare Manuscripts (IMC, Dublin, 1942)
  • Archival History ↴

    Deposited by E W Dawnay
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Browne, family, Earls of Kenmare, County Kerry ↴

    The papers include – in the description provided by Dr Edward MacLysaght in The Kenmare Manuscripts (IMC, Dublin, 1942) ‘…a remarkably full series of rental ledgers and estate account books, a considerable volume of correspondence, many hundreds of Chancery bills, briefs and other legal documents, a very large number of conveyances, leases, etc, together with various interesting miscellaneous items, the majority but not all of them relating to the Browne family and the Kenmare estate … [in Counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork, and, to a lesser extent, Co.s Carlow, Kilkenny and Queen’s County]’.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged as follows:
    D4151/A Title deeds and deeds of settlement, etc
    D4151/B Leases
    D4151/C Legal case papers
    D4151/D Wills and testamentary papers
    D4151/E Irish Land Commission sale papers
    D4151/F Correspondence
    D4151/G Letter-books
    D4151/H Rentals of the Kenmare estate in Cos Kerry, Limerick and Cork
    D4151/J Separate rentals for Limerick and Cork, ‘Leinster’, Clare and Tipperary
    D4151/K Several series of Kenmare estate daybooks and ledgers, comprising (1-39) daybooks, 1751-1908, and (40-112) rent and account ledgers, 1741-1936
    D4151/L Killarney estate office journals
    D4151/M Killarney estate office cash books
    D4151/N Wages and labour books
    D4151/P Shooting and fishing records
    D4151/Q Lord Castlerosse’s estate, 1883-1909
    D4151/R Miscellaneous rentals, account books and accounts
    D4151/S Maps, plans, surveys and valuations
    D4151/T Tithe applotments and valuation records
    D4151/U Five boxes of volumes, letters and papers relating to Killarney and its vicinity. [NB. This is essentially an artificial assemblage: all the main series of rentals, account books (of various kinds), maps, plans and surveys, etc, etc, include frequent references to Killarney and vicinity and often to the specific matters documented in the present section. The present section is therefore best regarded as a kind of index to Killarney references elsewhere, and certainly not as something complete in itself.]
    D4151/V Miscellaneous

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI guidelines.
Conditions Governing ReproductionItems 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.
Creation Dates1587-1973
Extent Mediumc 475 volumes and files (53 of them of huge proportions) + c 3,520 documents (of which over 400 are outsize maps, plans and surveys)
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A descriptive list is available to search online at: 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