Papers of M. Frances Teresa Ball, Foundress and First Superior General I.B.V.M. (Irish Branch)

Repository: Loreto Central and Irish Province Archives

Identity Statement

TitlePapers of M. Frances Teresa Ball, Foundress and First Superior General I.B.V.M. (Irish Branch)
Archive ReferenceIE LA/TB
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1814-1861
Extent Medium12 Archival Boxes


Creator(s): M. Frances Teresa Ball and Members of I.B.V.M. (Irish Branch)

  • Administrative History ↴

    M. Frances Teresa Ball (1794 – 1861) was educated at The Bar Convent, York 1803 – 1808, and returned to enter the novitiate there in 1814. M. Frances Teresa Ball was encouraged in her vocation by Dr Daniel Murray, Archbishop of Dublin who was anxious to introduce religious orders dedicated to education and nursing in Ireland to meet the needs of the newly emancipated Irish Catholics. M. Teresa returned to Ireland with only two companions in August 1821 and in November 1822 occupied Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham. A centre of education and a novitiate for the propagation of the Institute in Ireland were established at Rathfarnham. M. Teresa Ball oversaw during her lifetime, the establishment of 13 foundations in Ireland, each with a fee paying boarding school, free school and convent. From 1841 onwards, M. Teresa Ball was invited and persuaded to establish foreign missions. In 1841, the first mission was established in India, and was rapidly followed by Mauritius 1845, Gibraltar 1845, Canada 1874, England 1851, and Spain 1851. Thirty seven Loreto houses had been founded throughout seven countries by her death in 1861.
  • Archival History ↴

    The material in this fonds was created, or received, by M. Teresa Ball from her novitiate in York to her death in Dalkey in 1861. Material was preserved in the Institute Archives from her death in 1861. These papers were deposited in Loreto Archives by M. Teresa Ball during her lifetime and immediately after her death. The Archives was established on the instructions of M. Teresa Ball.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: M. Frances Teresa Ball and Members of I.B.V.M. (Irish Branch) ↴

    The papers produced during M. Teresa Ball’s term of office as Superior General document the foundation of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) in Ireland from 1821 until the death of the foundress in 1861.
    Frances Teresa Ball was born on 6th January 1794, at 63 Eccles Street, Dublin to John Ball (silk merchant and wholesale mercer) and Mable Clare Bennett. She was born into a middle class family of considerable wealth, and in 1803 like her sisters she was sent to be educated at the Bar Convent, York, England. Frances Ball returned from York in 1808, as a companion to her mother following the sudden death of her father. Her eldest sister Cecilia had entered the Ursuline Convent in Cork in 1805, and her older sisters, Anna Maria and Isabella had married advantageously. Anna Maria (Ball) O’Brien was an avid supporter of the Catholic Church in post penal Dublin, and was a friend and supporter of Dr Murray, Archbishop of Dublin; Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Irish Sisters of Charity; her sister M. Teresa Ball, and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ireland.
    A firm advocate and believer in the power of education to relieve the poor, M. Teresa Ball took a keen, personal interest in the foundation and development of Loreto schools. She aimed to provide the best education that she could to Catholic girls, in both fee paying and free schools.
    M. Teresa Ball had no expectations of expanding the Institute beyond Ireland. In spite of this during her lifetime, she oversaw the establishment of 13 foundations throughout Ireland, each with a fee paying boarding school, free school and convent. The houses were to be self sufficient, and were supplied on their establishment with all material and equipment necessary. The foundation and early days of each of the foundations established during the lifetime of M. Teresa Ball in both Ireland and abroad in India, Mauritius, Gibraltar, Canada, England, Spain, are documented in letters from local clergy, founding superiors and communities, accounts and business correspondence addressed to M. Teresa Ball.
    As foundress of the Irish branch of the Institute, M. Teresa was responsible for the development of the Institute and its schools, the instruction and training of novices and administrating Institute properties and finances. In 1913 the office of Provincial Superior was formally established; therefore from 1821 – 1913 the Superior General oversaw the management and administration of all provinces under her jurisdiction. M. Teresa Ball was a shrewd, capable business woman with close family connections and was deeply intent on supporting and encouraging each of newly established foundations. Amongst the administrative records included in this collection, are vows and superiors promises, business correspondence and financial records. Constitutions, custom books and regulations authored by M. Teresa Ball, along with rescripts and decrees obtained in her name are also included.
    A large series of personal correspondence with clergy (based both in Ireland and abroad), sisters in the Bar Convent, York, other religious in Ireland, members of the Ball family provide an insight in the character of M. Teresa Ball. A significant file of letters reveal the warm and parental relationship that existed between M. Teresa and Dr Daniel Murray, Archbishop of Dublin, her close personal friend, mentor and guide.
    M. Teresa Ball, continued to oversee the administration, development and growth of the Institute in Ireland and globally, until her death on 19th May 1861. She suffered a broken hip following a fall on October 17th 1860, which failed to heal, and she was thereafter afflicted with cancer. At her own request, she was moved to Loreto Dalkey on 11th May 1861, and died there on 19 May 1861, after 47 years of religious life.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    Previous arrangement and cataloguing of the papers had been undertaken in the Institute Archives, but a decision was taken in 2011 to update the catalogues in order to bring them to ISAD(G) 2006 standards. The decision was taken to respect some of the original arrangement in maintaining records of the administration of the Institute under the papers of M. Teresa Ball as her roles were not clearly defined and the administration of the Institute was intensely personal.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Generally Open Access; Prior Appointment Only Some access restrictions may apply, and access is at the discretion of the Archivist
Conditions Governing ReproductionReproduction is dependent on the condition of the original item
Creation Dates1814-1861
Extent Medium12 Archival Boxes
Finding Aids Catalogue can be consulted in Loreto Central and Irish Province Archives, Reading Room Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteÁine Mc Hugh
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of DescriptionsSeptember 2011-October 2012