Theophilus Bolton

Life
?1678-1744; b. Borisool, Co. Mayo; grandson of Sir Richard Bolton, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, ed. TCD, schol. 1695; grad. 1698; Prebendary of Monmahenock and Stagonil, 1706; Rector of S. Nicholas Without, 1713; Chancellor of S. Patrick’s Cathedral, 1714; vicarage of Finglas by faculty, 4 Dec. 1740; skilled in Canon Law, being considered the leading ecclesiastical lawyer of his period; Vicar Gen. of the diocese [of Dublin]; preferred to Bishopric of Clonfert, 3 April 1724; Bishop of Elphin, 1724; succeeded Narcissus Marsh as Archbishop of Cashel, 1730; repaired the cathedral on the Rock of Cashel and commissioned Sir Edward Lovett Pearse to built the episc. palace, in a wing of which he fnd. the Bolton Library consisting of 11,000 items incl. 6,000 from the library of Archb. William King; buried at St. Werburgh, 29 Feb. 1744, ‘an honour to his Church and country, and a great improver in husbandry’ (Dublin Journal); port. in College Hall. [No ODNB.]

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Commentary
Mary Leland, ‘Between a rock and a hard place’, in The Irish Times (12 Dec. 2007): [...] Bolton had served as a canon of St Patrick’s Cathedral when Jonathan Swift was dean. “Who but Lord Bolton was mitred for merit?” asked Swift in acknowledgment of his former canon’s deserved elevation. But rather like Lord Nelson in leaving Emma Hamilton as a bequest to the nation, Bolton was a little too trusting in his successors when bequeathing the library in his will. It was to be kept in the diocese “for ever”, for the use of the see and the clergy, but he left no endowment to ensure its survival. [...] At Cashel, the new archbishop was following in the notable footsteps of his predecessor, Narcissus Marsh, founder of Marsh’s Library in Dublin. And Bolton had served as a canon of St Patrick’s Cathedral when Jonathan Swift was dean. “Who but Lord Bolton was mitred for merit?” asked Swift in acknowledgment of his former canon’s deserved elevation. But rather like Lord Nelson in leaving Emma Hamilton as a bequest to the nation, Bolton was a little too trusting in his successors when bequeathing the library in his will. It was to be kept in the diocese “for ever” , for the use of the see and the clergy, but he left no endowment to ensure its survival. (For full text, see RICORSO Library, “Reviews” [infra].

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References
S. C. Hughes, The Church of S. Werburgh Dublin (1899), supplied information [as supra] and remarks that Swift wrote without irony, ‘For who but Lord Bolton was mitred for merit?’, and further quotes a couplet written by Swift, ranging arising from a bill regarding division of church livings, ‘So God bless the Church, and three of our mitres, / And God bless the Commons for biting the biters.’ (p.59-60).

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Notes
Bolton’s Library contains a catechism printed in Weisenberg for the prince of Transylvania in the early 17th c..; 13th-c. MS on vellum, bound in deerskin; mathematical and metereological treatises; drawings from Vitruvius; commentaries; histories; geographies; maps by Abraham Ortelius, cartographer to Philip II of Spain; works of Chaucer, Dante, Machiavelli, and Shakespeare; the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 and specimens of 17th-c. Irish printing; three different editions of The History of the World, Diodorus Siculus (fl.50bc.); the Romulus version of Aesop’s Fables; Hebrew translation of the Irish Book of Common Prayer (Dublin 1717); MS copy of Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (1716); first edition of Philippi O Sullevani Bearri Iberni [Philip O'Sullivan Beare], Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium (Lisbon 1621); also Parliamentary debates; the Intelligencer, and books bearing the signatures or symbols of previous owners such as Catherine of Aragon or Francis Bacon. (See Mary Leland, ‘Between a rock and a hard place’, in The Irish Times (12 Dec. 2007), as infra).

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