Papers of John Dillon, MP, (1851-1927), leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party

Repository: Trinity College Dublin

Identity Statement

TitlePapers of John Dillon, MP, (1851-1927), leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party
Archive ReferenceIE TCD MSS/6455-6909
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1830-1926
Extent Medium93 Boxes


Creator(s): Dillon, John, 1851-1927, Irish nationalist Dillon, John Blake, 1816-1866, Irish Politician

  • Administrative History ↴

    John Dillon, son of John Blake Dillon, was an Irish nationalist and land reform advocate, and member of the British House of Parliament. He was born in Dublin in 1851, and was educated at the Catholic University School, Trinity College Dublin, the Catholic University of Louvain, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, where he qualified in surgery. He joined Isaac Butt's Home Rule League in 1873, but later supported Parnell on the issue of Butt's handling of the campaign for Irish Home Rule. He was also a member of the National Land League and a friend of Michael Davitt. He was elected as MP for Tipperary in 1880, but in 1883 resigned his seat. He was elected as MP for East Mayo in 1885, and retained his seat there until 1918. The Plan of Campaign, which was conceived by Timothy Healy, was organised by Timothy Harrington, William O'Brien and Dillon. After the scandal of Parnell's divorce case Dillon joined the anti-Parnellites with O'Brien, and joined the Irish National Federation (INF). John Redmond meanwhile established the pro-Parnell Irish National League (INL). The INF and INL came together in 1900 to form the United Party, whose chairman was John Redmond, and whose deputy leader was Dillon. The campaign to secure Home Rule for Ireland re-emerged in the period 1910-14, but Dillon remained uncompromising on the question of the ceding of the Ulster counties to Great Britain. In July 1916 he was involved in an abortive attempt to bring in Home Rule by agreement; this failed on the Ulster question. The Easter Rising had taken Dillon and the party by surprise, and marked the beginning of the upsurge in national support for Sinn Féin. His resistance of the imposition of conscription on Irishmen in 1918 did not prevent his defeat at the general election of the same year, and he lost his East Mayo seat. He withdrew from public life, and died in 1927. Dillon travelled extensively in the US, Canada, South Africa Australia and New Zealand on fund-raising and other political campaigns, and used his powers of oratory to great effect through the speeches and addresses he gave there. He maintained contact with many of those he associated with in these countries. His interest in education is displayed in his involvement in the establishment of a National University in 1908. Dillon married Elizabeth Mathew in November 1895, and they had six children together.
  • Archival History ↴

  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Dillon, John, 1851-1927, Irish nationalist Dillon, John Blake, 1816-1866, Irish Politician ↴

    This collection is dominated by the papers of John Dillon, but also includes some papers of his father John Blake Dillon, comprising mainly of correspondence from the 1830s to the 1880s (TCD MSS 6455-57, 6457a-n). Amongst the latter is also the correspondence of JB Dillon’s wife Adelaide, and the Hart O’Hara family. There are also papers about JB Dillon, and other members of the Dillon family (TCD MSS 6458-75).
    The bulk of the papers relating to John Dillon himself consists of correspondence. This includes correspondence with other Irish contemporaries (including politicians and MPs), including Isaac Butt, John Devoy, Michael Davitt, Joseph Devlin, Timothy Harrington, William O’Brien, Justin McCarthy, Charles Stuart Parnell, Horace Plunkett, John Redmond and others (TCD MSS 6727-60), correspondence with Irish civil servants and law officers (TCD MSS 6800-02), Irish Catholic clergy (TCD MSS 6764-70), Irish Chief Secretaries and Lords Lieutenant (TCD MSS 6797-99), British Prime Ministers, including Asquith, Campbell-Bannerman, Lloyd George and Gladstone (TCD MS 6796). Other areas covered by the papers include the various organisations and political parties with which Dillon was associated, including the Irish Parliamentary Party, the Irish National Federation, the United Irish League, the Irish National League, the Irish Tenants Defence Association, the Evicted Tenants Committee (TCD MSS 6500-34, 6646-66, 6761-63). These papers included correspondence, financial papers, memoranda, meeting minutes, resolutions etc. There are sections of papers relating to Evicted Tenants (mainly correspondence) (TCD MSS 6806-22), the Paris Fund (TCD MSS 6823-24), the Swinford Union Board of Guardians (TCD MS 6803), the Freeman’s Journal (TCD MSS 6804-05), the Anti-Conscription Campaign and the Mansion House conference (TCD MS 6835), the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (TCD MS 6836) and Parliamentary Papers (TCD MS 6855). Dillon’s interest in education is reflected in papers relating to primary, secondary and university education, as well as Conradh na Gaeilge (TCD MSS 6825-34). Other material includes personal journals, diaries, accounts (TCD MSS 6535-6618, 6667-6726), scrapbooks and address books (TCD MSS 6628-45), speech notes and reading notes (TCD MSS 6856-8). Additionally there is family correspondence: Dillon’s correspondence with his brothers, wife, mother-in-law, cousin and uncle (Anne Deane and Charles H. Hart) (TCD MSS 6868-6906), and papers created by or belonging to Elizabeth Dillon, including diaries, housekeeping accounts, address books etc. (TCD MSS 6667-6726). There is also a section of photographs of Dillon, his family, colleagues, clergy etc. (TCD MS 6861).

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged as follows:
    6455-6457 Correspondence of John Blake Dillon, early family correspondence and miscellanea
    6458-6726 Volumes
    6727-6909 Correspondence and loose papers

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Please contact in advance of your visit
Conditions Governing ReproductionPlease contact for guidance
Creation Dates1830-1926
Extent Medium93 Boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A full descriptive list is available online Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials


NoteTrinity College Library legacy numbering system applied multiple numbers to single fonds

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteAdapted by Natalie Milne
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 Descriptions41699