Mervyn Archdall

Life
1723-1791 [var. Archdale]; b. Dublin, 23 April; ed. TCD; domestic chaplain to Pocock, bishop of Ossory; presented to living at Attanagh, and prepend of Cloneamery, 1762; prependary of Slane, Co. Meath, 1764 [chk, err. Mayne]; MRIA; his encyclopaedic work Monasticon Hibernicum (1786), representing 40 years work, published with 128 subscriptions, and commonly called “The Irish Monasticon” in comparison to Sir William Dugdale’s Monasticon Anglicanum, to which it is greatly inferior though valued for the plates; many errors were subsequently noticed and corrected by John Lanigan in his Ecclesiastical History (1822); a new edition was prepared by Rev. Patrick F. Moran and others in 1871; Archdall also edited Lodge’s Peerage of Ireland (7 vols., 1789); d. 6 Aug.; bur. ancient churchyard in Slane. RR ODNB DIB DIW OCIL

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Works
Monasticon Hibernicum: An History of the Abbeys, Priories and Other Religious Houses in Ireland, Interspersed with Memoirs of their Several Founders and Benefactors [ ...] Likewise an Account of the Manner in which the Possessions Belonging to These Foundations were Disposed of, the Present State of Their Ruins (Dublin: printed for RIA by Luke White 1786), ), xxiii, 820pp. [vii errata], 4o., ill. ports [18 pls.]; Do. (London: C. C. & J. Robinson 1786), xxiii, 820pp.; also P[atrick F[rancis] Moran, ed., Monasticon Hibernicum, with many additional notes, Vols. 1 & 2 (Dublin: W. B. Kelly 1873, 1876).

The Peerage of Ireland, or, A Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of that Kingdom. With Engravings of their paternal Coats of Arms. Collected from the public Records - authentic Manuscripts; approved Historians well-attested Pedigrees; and Personal Information. Revised, Enlarged and Continued to the Present Time by Mervyn Archdall, Rector of Slane, 7 vols. (Dublin: Moore; London: printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson 1789).

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Criticism
Monasticon Anglicanum, produced under direction of Sir William Dugdale, 3 vols. (Vol. 1, with Roger Dodsworth, 1655; 2nd Vol., 1661; third Vol., 1673); Richard Ryan’s Biog. Hibernica, Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. I, pp.17-19 [var. Archdale used]; George A Little, Dublin Before the Vikings: An Adventure in Discovery (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son 1957), pp.105-06; R. E. Ward and C. Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare (Washington: Cath. Univ. of America Press 1988) [infra].

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Commentary
R. E. & C. Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare (Washington: Cath. Univ. of America Press 1988): ‘I am very thankful ... for the copy you sent me of our friend Mr Archdall’s proposals for an Irish Monasticon he is equal to the work and to my knowledge has been long collecting and digesting the best materials for it [...] I shall order Mr White to put down my name for one of his subscribers.’ [Letter, Charles O’Conor to Joseph C. Walker, 22 Dec. 1784, p.451]; ‘The extent of his oriental learning and skill in modern languages is vast. In my last to him I ventured to predict that his last performance [Monasticon] will draw on him the attention of all the academics in Europe ... it is from the conflict and collision of authorities and opinions that the truth will come out at last on every question [echoing Augustine, cited in Latin in a previous letter] [Letter, Charles O’Conor to Joseph C. Walker, 15 Aug. 1786; p.471]; reports to Thomas O’Gorman that ' I once had a good drawing of the arms and inscriptitons of the monument of O'Conor of Sligo in the Dominican Abbey of that town. It is now in the hand of the Reverend Mr. Mervin [sic] Archdall, author of the Irish monasticon, and if that gentleman has not mislaid it, he can furnish you with a copy of it.’ [Letter, Charles O’Conor to Thomas O'Gorman, 26 May 1789; p.495] [See also under O’Conor for details given by Ward of the O’Conor monument.]

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Quotations
Kilmallock: ‘formerly a town of great note, being walled, and the houses beautifully and elegantly built of hewn stone; it is now in ruins, yet has a greater share of magnificence even in that miserable state than any town in Ireland.’ [Cited in Brian De Breffny, ed., The Irish World: The History and Cultural Achievements of the Irish People, London: Thames and Hudson 1977, p.90.)

King Sitric, following a pilgrimage to Rome, granted in 1038 a.d. certain voltae or cells to Donat, first Danish archb. of Dublin, upon which he built his cathedral, ‘these vaults or crypts still remain, but embellished by subsequent archbishops. [...] For the practice of those ages we know, that it was usual to build small oratories, and to arch that part in which the shrine of the Saint, or other sacred deposit, was placed. The stone roofing prevented accidents from fire, and at the same time preserved a reference to those cryptical monastic cells, then held in general veneration. When a large edifice was constructed, as was particularly the case in Cashel, these ancient vaulted oratories were religiously preserved, and were looked on as indubitable proof of the antiquity and holiness of the church. For this explanation an instance, a doubt cannot be entertained of these arches being the foundation of an ancient oratory, which the donations of Sitric enlarged and furnished with convenient and necessary offices; for so the words sufficienter ad aedificandam ecclesiam cum tota cura are to be interpreted.’ ((Monasticon Hibernicum, ed. Carey, Vol. VI, p.1148; also Archdall, Monasticon Hibernicum, 1873, ed. [Patrick] Moran, Dublin Vol. 1, p.324-25; quoted in George A Little, Dublin Before the Vikings : An Adventure in Discovery, Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son 1957, pp.105-06.).

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References
British Library holds Monasticon [sic] Hibernicum (London: C. C. & J. Robinson 1786), xxiii, 820pp.; also P[atrick F[rancis] Moran, ed., [Monasticon Hibernicum], with many add. notes, vols. 1, 2 (Dublin: W. B. Kelly 1873, 1876) [no further volumes]; also Monasticon Hibernicum, or the Monastical History of Ireland, &c. [by John Stevens.] (London: W. Mears 1722), 416pp., 8o. [See note on John Stevens, infra.]

University Libraries: TCD Library holds [Monasticon Hibernicum], An History of the Abbeys, priories and other religious houses in Ireland, interspersed with memoirs of their several founders and benefactors ... likewise an account of the manner in which the possessions belonging to these foundations were disposed of, the present state of their ruins. (Dublin; printed for Luke White 1786), 827pp. ill. ports [18 pls.]. University of Ulster Library ( Morris Collection), holds Monasticon Hibernicum (1786).

De Burca Catalogue (1977) lists Mervyn Archdall, Monasticon Hibernicum; or, An History of the Abbies [... &c] Suppression. With engravings of the several religious orders and military habits and a map illustrating the history (Dublin: Luke White 1786), xxiii, 820pp., vii errata 4to. (Bradshaw item 2150; Gilbert, Hist. of Dublin, p.30); The Peerage of Ireland, or, A Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of that Kingdom. With Engravings of their paternal Coats of Arms. Collected from the public Records - authentic Manuscripts; approved Historians well-attested Pedigrees; and personal Information. Revised, enlarged and continued to the present time by Mervyn Archdall, Rector of Slane. With list of subscribers. Seven volumes. (Dublin: Moore 1789)

Hyland Catalogue [No. 214] lists John Stevens, trans. and enlarged, Monasticon Hibernicum, or the Monastical History of Ireland; 1st English language ed., 1722; Moll map, 7 pls., [8 called for in Bradshaw 7301; contemp. calf blind panelled front & rear.]

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Notes
Monasticon Anglicanum, the model for Archdall’s book, was produced under direction of Sir William Dugdale in (Vol. 1, with Roger Dodsworth, 1655; 2nd Vol., 1661; Vol. 3, 1673). It’s authoritative status is indicated by the fact that it was admitted as circumstantial evidence in the courts at Westminster in 1677 (see ODNB, under Dugdale.)

John Stevens: The Library also holds Monasticon Anglicanum, transl by John Stevens, with additional material, viz., Memoirs of the Antiquities of Great-Britain, Relating to the Reformation, &c. [...] To Which is Prefix’d a Preface, with Some Remarks on Mr. Stevens’s First Additional Volume to Sir William Dugdale’s Monastichon Anglicanum, in defence of the late Bishop Burnet London: H. Tracy 1723), xii, 139pp, 12o. [BL]. John Stevens is also accredited with a volume dealing with Irish monasteries, Monasticon Hibernicum, or the Monastical History of Ireland, &c. (London: W. Mears 1722), 416pp., 8o., a copy of which is held in the British Library.

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