The Marquess of Sligo Archive

Repository: Maynooth University Library

Identity Statement

TitleThe Marquess of Sligo Archive
Archive ReferenceIE MU/PP/33
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1809-1841
Level of DescriptionFonds (The whole of the records, regardless of form or medium, organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family, or corporate body in the course of that creator's activities and functions). (Often, but not always, contiguous with an archives ‘collection’ ).
Extent Medium155 items


Creator(s): Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo

  • Administrative History ↴

    Howe Peter Browne (1788-1845), Lord Westport and 2nd Marquess of Sligo was born in 1788 to John Denis Browne (1756-1809), 1st Marquess of Sligo and Lady Louisa Catherine Howe (1767-1817). The Browne family were responsible for the building of Westport house and town and Sligo’s father owned a 200,000 acre estate in Mayo and Galway and a plantation in Jamaica. Howe Peter Brown was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where his main interest was the Classics, particularly Greek history, and architecture. He became the 2nd Marquess of Sligo in January 1809 with an estate estimated to be worth £30,000 a year but heavily encumbered with legacies, jointures, and duties. He agreed to live abroad for a period, and in December of 1809 he embarked on a Grand Tour of the Continent. He travelled to Gibraltar, Sicily, Palermo and Malta, where he hired his own ship, The Pylades, and made preparations to take it to sea with the assistance of the Royal Navy. Sligo convinced some of the navy’s enlisted men to join his crew, hiding them on board when it was boarded and searched by Naval officers. Arriving in Greece in June 1810 he began his own excavations at Athens, discovering large collections of pottery and small artefacts. He transported his finds back to Ireland, sending 1,059 vases, 100 marble fragments, a sarcophagus, and the columns of the Treasury of Atreus, which he excavated at Mycenae. From Athens, Sligo visited Corinth, Morea, Mount Parnassus, Delphi and Constantinople. In March 1811 he received word that the Admiralty had issued proceedings against him regarding the missing navy seamen. On the 16th of December 1812 the public trial of Lord Sligo began at the Old Bailey in London. He was found guilty of enticing and persuading seamen to desert and of concealing them on his ship, fined £5000, and sentenced to four months in Newgate Prison. In October 1813 Sligo began a second expedition. He visited the site of the Battle of Leipzig, following Napoleon’s defeat. From there he proceeded to Frankfurt, Heidelburg, Stuttgart and Munich before reaching Vienna in January 1814. On hearing that the allies had finally reached Paris, Sligo set off immediately, arriving in the city on the 11th of April, only days after Napoleon’s abdication. While there he witnessed the restoration of King Louis XVIII. Sligo then left for Florence where he met the Princess of Wales, the estranged wife of the Prince Regent. Knowing that the Prince was eager to divorce his wife, Sligo offered to send reports home regarding her activities including her alleged affair. The Princess and Sligo met again in Rome and in Naples, at the court of Joachim Murat. Sligo quickly became enamoured with Naples society and made requests to be appointed British minister to the region. Political unrest and news of his mother’s ill health convinced Sligo that he should return home and he arrived in Ireland in June 1815. The following year he married Lady Hester Catherine de Burgh, eldest daughter of John Thomas de Burgh, the 13th Earl of Clanricard. In 1834 Sligo was appointed Governor and Vice-Admiral of Jamaica. As Governor, Sligo attempted to implement the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, freeing all the slaves from his own estate and leasing land to former slaves. Before returning to Ireland, he met with abolitionists in New York, Boston and Quebec, and he continued to campaign for the full emancipation of slaves for the remainder of his life. He died at Tunbridge Wells on the 26th of January 1845. For more please see our finding aid
  • Archival History ↴

    The Marquess of Sligo archive was acquired by Maynooth University Library in 2018
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo ↴

    The Marquis of Sligo archive is a historically significant collection covering a turbulent period on the European continent. It is also a reflection of the close relationship between mother and son and includes a great deal of information on society, the upper classes, and the life of a wealthy young regency buck.

    Topics covered by the letters include everyday estate matters such as the purchase and sale of  horses, staffing, local elections, and family disputes. Personal topics including his mother’s health, her second marriage, Sligo’s relationship with his mistress Pauline and his hopes for the future. International matters include the excavations of the Parthenon, the fall of Napoleon, the restoration of the French monarchy and on-going political unrest. Also included are the more frivolous topics of French fashion and ideals of beauty, gossip from the fashionable houses of Europe, romance, and the indiscretions of the Princess of Wales.

    The collection begins in 1806 at the start of Sligo’s grand tour. Letters of note from this period include one to his former tutor and family friend George Caldwell, on the 17th of June 1810, in which he writes that he is ‘up to his eyes in delight’ and that ‘the Parthenon of course the first object that strikes the eye of the traveller has been despoiled. There still remains a whole bass relief on the front of the temple and I hope to make a prize of myself’ (PP/33/2/4).

    There is a gap in the correspondence after Sligo’s return home and there are none covering the period of his trial and imprisonment. The letters begin again at the commencement of his second  trip in late 1813. Regarding the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy he writes to his mother that the ‘White Cockade has been hoisted at Lyons’ and that the ‘cry is now up for the Bourbons everywhere’ (22 January 1814, PP/33/1/33). This letter also includes a small sketch of the battlefield at Leipzig, which includes details of ‘Bridge blown up by Bonaparte, Their First Position’ and ‘Greatest Carnage’.

    Sligo’s letters from Vienna and Paris during this period are full of gossip from the homes of society’s elite. On the 30th of April he writes to his mother that French women are, ‘so incomparably ugly that a plain English woman is a perfect Venus here’ (PP/33/1/57).

    Also of note from this period are his letters written during his travels in Italy, featuring Florence, Rome, Naples and the court of Murat and the activities of the Princess of Wales. He writes to William Lowther, the Earl of Lonsdale regarding entertainment at the court at Naples, a boar hunt at Garditella, the Princess’s conduct toward the King and Queen and her alleged romantic entanglements. Sligo himself is very taken with the King and writes to Lowther that ‘England would find in him a most constant & faithful ally…I am sure he would consent to any terms in order to procure her alliance’ (PP33/3/3).

    The letters by the Marquess of Sligo in this collection end in December 1814.  The remaining letters are from 1841 and the majority are written by Sligo’s solicitor, J. William Brown. These letters, 19 in total, concern business matters, including the leasing and purchasing of land, borrowing of money, searches for and the execution of deeds. This series also includes two significant letters from Irish Quaker, abolitionist Jacob Harvey, who was a New-York merchant, dated January and March 1841. He writes regarding the slave trade, the disputes between the British and American Merchant classes as well as advances made by the abolitionists.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent retention
  • Accruals ↴

    None expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    The letters have been arranged by recipient and in chronological order. The first three series consist of letters by Howe Peter Brown. The other series consist of letters to Sligo from others, PP33/5 and letters to George Hildebrand, PP33/6. The spelling of family names has been standardised, but place names have been left as they appear in the letters.

    1. MU/PP/33/1 Letter to the Louisa Catherine Howe, Marchioness of Sligo
    2. MU/PP/33/2 Letters to George Caldwell
    3. MU/PP/33/3 Letters to Viscount Lowther
    4. MU/PP/33/4 Letters to other people
    5. MU/PP/33/5 Letters to Howe Peter Browne, Marquess of Sligo
    6. MU/PP/33/6 Letters to George Hildebrand

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open to students of Maynooth University and Saint Patrick's College Maynooth. Open to external readers by appointment. Please contact: Please see our website for Reading Room opening hours.
Conditions Governing ReproductionFor details please contact Maynooth University Library at
Creation Dates1809-1841
Level of DescriptionFonds (The whole of the records, regardless of form or medium, organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family, or corporate body in the course of that creator's activities and functions). (Often, but not always, contiguous with an archives ‘collection’ ).
Extent Medium155 items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive List Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteSources: Chambers, Anne, ‘The Great Leviathan, The Life of Howe Peter Browne 2nd Marquess of Sligo 1788-1845’, New Island Books, 2017 Chambers, Anne, ‘Champion of the Slaves’—Howe Peter Browne, 2nd marquess of Sligo (1788–1845), History Ireland, Vol. 21, No. 1, (January/February 2018) Burke’s Landed Gentry : Burke’s Irish Family Records. 5th ed. (reprint of 1976 edition). Burke’s Peerage and Gentry, 2008. Print.
Rules/Conventions ISAD(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.
Date of DescriptionsJune 2021