Shirley Papers

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleShirley Papers
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D3531
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1576-1952
Extent Mediumc 20,000 volumes + documents


Creator(s): Shirley, family, of Lough Fea County Monaghan

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Shirley estate, with the adjoining Bath estate, were two of the largest in the county. According to The Landowners of Ireland, 1878, the biggest landowner in Co. Monaghan in 1876 was Evelyn Philip Shirley, who owned 26,386 acres, with a valuation of £20,744, all in the barony of Farney. The Shirleys were semi-absentees although E.P. Shirley visited his estates twice a year. The next biggest was the Marquess of Bath Longleat, Wiltshire, with 22,762 acres in Farney, an absentee who seldom if ever visited his estates. The estate's origin was in the grant in 1575 by Elizabeth I to the common ancestor of the Shirleys and the Baths, Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, in consequence of his commission from her. Farney, or Fearn-mhuighe in Gaelic, means the plain of the alder trees. Farney was also known as Donaghmoyne, after the castle established by the Normans. Before the arrival of Essex, the Gaelic lords were the MacMahons and their allies the MacKennas. As Professor P.J. Duffy comments: 'The Shirley and the Bath estates of Farney preserve the 16th century geography of that barony intact. The late 16th century Essex grant was divided in the 1690s between two heiresses. The Brownlow estate represents a ballybetagh in Farney which appears to have been leased in perpetuity in the very early stages of the Essex property. ...' -Extracted from a full account of the Shirley Papers in the PRONI catalogue:
  • Archival History ↴

    Deposited in 1981 by Major J.E. Shirley.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Shirley, family, of Lough Fea County Monaghan ↴

    The Shirley papers comprise volumes and documents relating to the estate and local political affairs ofthe Shirley family of Lough Fea, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan (and Ettington Park, Stratford-upon Avon, Warwickshire).
    What PRONI holds is essentially an estate archive, documenting the history and management of the Shirley estate, with an area of some 40 square miles, in the western half of the barony of Farney, Co. Monaghan, in the period 1576-1960. Other papers derive from the historical, antiquarian and genealogical pursuits of Evelyn Philip Shirley (1812-1882). Scholars are fortunate in having in published form the results of E.P. Shirley’s researches in his books, Some Account of the Territory and Dominion of Farney in the Province and Earldom of Ulster, 1845 and The History of the County of Monaghan, 1877-1878, a copy of the latter is available in the PRONI library.
    The great concentration of the Shirley archive is in the century between 1830 and 1930. This makes it of great interest, not least because the geographical concentration of the estate makes it an ideal focus for a socio-economic case study. This is especially true in relation to the part of the 19th century for which the records are particularly detailed. They yield much information on a period when Monaghan was the cockpit of much that was going on in Ireland in terms of the inter-related questions of land and politics.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged as follows:
    D3531/A Antiquarian compilations (of Evelyn Philip Shirley)
    D3531/C Correspondence (loose and in damp-press letter books)
    D3531/D Title deeds
    D3531/E Election, political and patronage (including Church of Ireland patronage) papers
    D3531/F Formal patents of appointment, warrants, etc
    D3531/G Genealogical and historical papers, mainly of Evelyn Philip Shirley
    D3531/H Household, building and account books
    D3531/I Unsorted Irish Land Commission sale papers for the Shirley estate
    D3531/J Journals and diaries
    D3531/K Kiln account books
    D3531/L Papers about legal actions concerning the Shirley estate
    D3531/M Miscellaneous volumes
    D3531/N The Morning Chronicle
    D3531/O Ordnance survey parish memoir material for part of Co. Londonderry, described in the Analecta list
    D3531/P Petitions to Evelyn John and Evelyn Philip Shirley, and their agents
    D3531/R Rentals
    D3531/S Surveys, maps, plans and evaluations
    D3531/T Tenancy agreements and leases
    D3531/V Vouchers
    D3531/W Wills, settlements, etc

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 Dates1576-1952
Extent Mediumc 20,000 volumes + documents
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A full descriptive list is available to search online at: Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialWarwickshire County Record Office also holds a considerable collection relating to the Shirley family and their estates: ref. CR 464, CR 2131, CR 2485, CR 2747

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