[Sir] John Thomas Gilbert (1829-98)

Commentary


Life
[J. T. Gilbert, Esq.; Sir John Gilbert]; b. Dublin, ed. Bective Coll., established Public Records Office, in Dublin, 1867, but was involved in contention with Samuel Ferguson over the post of Keeper of the Records, and said to be irascible; author of History of the City of Dublin (1854-59), compiled from notebooks and organised by streets, which was awarded RIA Gold Medal; History of the Viceroys of Ireland (1865) [see note, infra]; arranged Muniment Room, 1866; corresponded with the Aryan and Celtic philologist Ernest Windisch;
 
bequeathed his large library to Dublin Central Library, Pearse St., where it forms a large part of the collection; a printed catalogue was compiled by Douglas Hyde and D. J. O’Donoghue (the latter amending the work of the former); there is a biog. by Rosa Mulholland (Lady Gilbert), whom he married in 1891; d. suddenly 23 May 1898; centenary commemorations took the form of a lecture series hosted by the Dublin Corporation Public Libraries, commencing with Douglas Bennett on ‘The Streets of Dublin Revisited’ (Mansion House, Feb. 1998). CAB ODNB JMC DIW DIB DIL OCIL

[ top ]

Works
  • ‘The Streets of Dublin’, in Irish Quarterly Review, 2 (June 1852), cp.290-91;
  • Documents relating to Ireland, 1795-1804 (Dublin: J Dollard 1893);
  • History of the City of Dublin, 3 vols. (Dublin: McGlashan & Gill; London: William S. Orr 1854-59), xvi, 437pp., vi, 335, viiipp, iv, 382pp., ill. [map, fold.]; Do., 3 vols. (Dublin: James Duffy 1861) [preface inscribed ‘Villanova, Black Rock, Dublin, 9th Dec. 1854’; see details]; Do., 1 vol. ( Dublin: Quaritch; London: Dollard, 1903) [selected & condensed by the author from his History of the City of Dublin, 1861] and Do. [facs. rep. of 1861 edn.], introduced by F. E. Dixon, with an index by Diarmuid Breathnach (Shannon: IUP 1972);
  • History of the Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin: James Duffy 1865) [details];
  • Historic & Municipal Documents of Ireland 1172-1320, from the archives of the City of Dublin (1870);
  • History of the Irish Confederation and the War in Ireland, 1641-49, 7 vols. (Dublin 1882-1891) [cited in Cat. of Bradshaw Coll. of Irish Books, Cambridge, 1916];
  • Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin (Dublin Corp. 1889). [Check dates of 1st edns. and early reps. of his History of the City of Dublin, 3 vols., ?1854, 1859, 1861.]
[ top ]
Related material
  • Catalogue of the Books & Manuscripts Comprising the Library of the Late Sir John T. Gilbert, compiled by Douglas Hyde & D. J. O'Donoghue for the Corporation of the City of Dublin (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1918), xxiii, 962pp., 26cm.
 
Also ill. Elizabeth Hely Walshe, Cedar Creek: From the Shanty to the Settlement - A Tale of Canadian Life (London: RTS 1864 & edns.), 15 ills.

[ top ]

Bibliographical details

History of the City of Dublin, 3 vols. ([Dublin:] James Duffy, 7 Wellington-Quay, & London: 22 Paternoster Row 1861), Vol. I, [i]-xiv [Preface], 1-428pp. [Chaps. I-X], 403-28pp. [Appendices]. Vol II, 1-335pp. [Chaps. I-V], [i]-xix [Appendices]. Vol III, 1-382pp. [Authorities, pp.375-82], Gen. Index, [i]-xii. APPENDICES - Vol. I, App. I: The Genealogy of Ua n-Donchadha from the Book of Leinster MS TCD 42, 18 fol.245; App. II: Documents relating to water conduits of the City … from Charter Book of the Corporation of Dublin [11 items in Latin]; App. III: De Fundatione Ecclesiae Cath. Sanctum Trinitatis, Dublin et Capellarum ad eam pertinentium; App. IV: De Obstructionibus a muro civitatis Dublin, Amovendis [ad 1313]; App. V. Pro Fundando Cappelam super pontem Dublinii [ad 1348]; App. VI: Roland Fitz Eustace; App. VII: Statutum pro fundatione Gildae Mercatorum … [ad 1480-81]; VIII: Concordatum to Thomas Smith, Apothecary … [ad 1566]. Vol. II, App. I: Possessions of the Dissolved Monastery of Augustianian Hermits, Dublin, ad 1540 [State Paper Office, London]; App. II: Transactions of the Dublin Philosophical Society, ad 1683-86 [incls. W. Molyneux, Dr Allan Mullen [on Huygens]; Lord Mountjoy [Air Gun]; Sir Wm. Petty [var.]; Mr. St. George Ashe; Bulkelly; Dr Smith; Mr Tollett; Mr Walkington; Dr Foley; Mr King; Narcissus Marsh [Radii reflecti & refracti; magnetical observations; classification of insects]; Dr Willoughby [Hermaphroditism]; Dr Houlaghan [acidity; dissection of a monstrous child with 2 heads and 3 arms]. App. III: Engravings [by] John Brooks, Cork-Hill [incls. REv. John Abernethy, MA, J. Latham pinxit; James Annesley, Stevens pinxit; [Bishop] Berkeley; Hugh Boulter [after] F. Bindon]; Henry Boyle; Cornelius Callaghan; Samuel Madden, inscr. quique sui memores alios fecere merendo; Sun hic etiam sua praemia laudi (Vergil); John Winstanley, 1742. App. IV: Engravings by Michael Ford [incls. Hugh Boulter, S. Slaughter pinxit; Henry Boyle, Speaker of House of Commons, ad vivam, 1755. App. V: Memorial relative to the Govt. allowance to the Theatre Royal circa ad 1799 [former property of R. T. Jones, Esq.]. App. VI: Subject painted by Marani on boxes [at] Crow St Theatre Royal, ad 1810 [Mr Jones’s box: Aeneas carrying his father on the night of the destruction of Troy]. App. VII: Works of William Mossop [medals]. App. VIII: Works of William Mossop, Jnr. [medals]. Vol. III, App. I: Possessions of the Dissolved Nunnery of Hogges, Dublin, ad 1540; App. II: An Account of the Rights of St Andrew’s Church to part of Dammes St in the controversy between the two parishes of St Warburgh [sic] and St Andrews. App. III: Schedule of part of the possessions of the Dissolved Nunnery at Hogges, Dublin, ad 1550. App. IV: Engravings [by] Andrew Miller [incls. James Annesley, claimant of the Angelesey Peerage, Laurence pinxit]; Sir Edward Coke; Garrick as Richard III, W. Hogarth pinxit; William King, archb. of Dublin; John Lawson, Librarian, TCD; Charles Lucas, whole-length; Cornelius Nary, DD; Eaton Stannard, recorder of Dublin 1755, J. Latham pinxit; Jonathan Swift, F. Bindon pinxit; Margaret Woffington, Eccard pinxit. App. V: Catalogue of Pictures, Sculptures [&c.], exhibited by the Society of Artists … at … George’s Lane, Dublin, 12 Feb. 1765. App. VI: Do., William St, 8 May 1780 [incls. Thomas Hickey, Bath; Mr Alexander Pope, Jr., Bolton St, small ports. in crayon; Mr West, Exchequer St.; Mr Wheatley, Stephen’s Green, “A Vew of .. Volunteers, 4 Nov. 1779”]. App. VII: Speakers of the House of Commons. App. VIII: Annuities granted to officers of both Houses at the Union [Lord Clare, £3,978.3.4; Lord Mayo, £1,443.6.0; var. clerks, messengers, doorkeepers, housemaids, et al.]

[ top ]

History of the Viceroys of Ireland [by] J. T. Gilbert, Esq., with notices of the Castle of Dublin and its chief occupants in former times (Dublin: James Duffy 15 Wellington-Quay 1865) 613pp.; 12 chaps. covering history from 1166 ad., deposal of Dermod, to 1509, close of reign of Henry VII. The introductory chapter, dealing with relevant pre-conquest history of Ireland, begins, ‘From the earliest period of our authentic history, Ireland was divided into five provinces …’ [as given under Quotations, infra]. Back-page details [2nd ser.]: History of Ireland from the earliest period to the Union, derived from our Native Annals, from the most recent researches of Eminent Irish Scholars and Antiquaries, and from all the resources of Irish History now available, by M. HAVERTY. Ecclesiastical history of Ireland, by Rev. M. J. Brenan, OSF, new edn. JOHN MacHALE, Evidences and Doctrines of the Catholic Church, new edn.; same, Letters including those publ. under the respective signatures of Hierophilus, Bishop of Maronia, Bishop of Killala, and Archbishop of Tuam; same, An Irish Translation of the Holy Bible from the Latin Vulgate with a corresponding English Version, chiefly from the Douay [Douai], with Notes from the most distinguished commentators, vol. 1 (Gen. to Josue.); same, the first six books of Homer’s Iliad, translated into verse on corr. pages the Original Greek and Irish translation; same, Moore’s Melodies, translated into Irish. Also noticed: Essays on the Origin, Doctrines, and Discipline of the Early Irish Church, by Rev. Dr. Moran, Vice-rector Irish Coll., Rome; Dissertations on Irish History, by Rev. Matthew Kelly, ed. Rev. Dr. McCarthy. Also incls. enthusiastic notices on Gilbert’s Viceroys from Athenaeum, Dublin Review, Fortnightly Review, Dublin Univ. Mag., London Review, Tablet, Dublin’s Freeman’s Journal, Saunder’s Newsletter, Dublin Evening Mail, and Irish Times, attached. Note: History of the Viceroys (1865), first series, ‘an attempt to embody in narrative form the results of a collation of printed and unpublished documents and chronicles bearing upon the chief adminstrators of the English Govt., in Ireland from its establishment to the termination of the reign of Henry VII in 1509 … to be resumed in the next series [never issued].’

[ top ]

Criticism
  • Mary Clark, Yvonne, Desmond & Nodlaig P. Hardiman, eds., Sir John Gilbert, 1829-1898: Historian Archivist and Librarian: Papers and Letters Delivered during the Centenary Year [1998] (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1999), 157pp. [Contains Commemorative Lecture by Douglas Bennett; also contribs. from Deirdre Ellis-King [Dublin City Librarian]; Nodlaig P. Hardiman [Irish Collection, idem], Greagoir O Duill, Siobhan O’Rafferty [RIA Librarian], Máire Kennedy [Dublin Corp. Senior Librarian]; Mary Clark [archivist], Toby Barnard [Hertford]; Appendix: NLI MS Gilbert Catalogue of books, c.1850, ed. Máire Kennedy. See also Irish Book Lover, Vols. 2, 3, 4.

[ top ]

Commentary
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, 18 Vols. (190721), Vol. XIV:  ‘Historians, Biographers and Political Orators’ - The Victorian Age, Pt. 2, §38: “Sir John Gilbert”: ‘Sir John Thomas Gilbert was of English descent, but born in Dublin and brought up as a strict Catholic. In addition to papers on the antiquities of his native city and country, his researches, which made a generally acknowledged mark on the progress of the studies to which he was devoted, include The History of the Viceroys of Ireland (1865) and The History of the Irish Confederation and the War in Ireland, 16419 (188291), with a great body of work on the documents of Irish history from ancient times to the early years of the nineteenth century.’ [See Cambridge History [... &c.] at Bartleby.com, online; accessed 01.07.2010.]

[ top ]

George A. Little, Dublin Before the Vikings (1957): Little cites Gilbert’s critical reflections on Worsaae’s description of the ‘independent Norwegian town’ and ‘city within a city’ at Oxmanstown on the north side of Liffey in a critique of the Account of the Danes which he [Gilbert] published in Irish Quarterly Review, April 1852, p.917ff. [quoting]: ‘that Oxmanstown was not an extensive settlement is sufficiently attested by the fact that until after the sixteenth century the only buildings of importance on the North side of Dublin were two monastic institutions.’ Little also refers to Worsaae’s ‘Account of the Danes’ in Dublin Review (No. LXLLL, April 1852, p.204), as the source of remarks on Irish roadways in English from Angelsea to London.

Bibl., J. A. A. Worsaae, Royal Commission for the Preservation of National Monuments of Denmark, trans. as An Account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland and Ireland (London: John Murray 1852).

George A. Little, (Dublin Before the Vikings, 1957) - cont: ‘Stanihurst marks the location of Iseult’s Tower in Dublin, saying that it was “near Preston’s Inns’ and that it was apparently “a castle of pleasure for the kings to recreate themselves in” (Descript. Hib. p.23). Gilbert discusses the matter in his History of Dublin (McGlashen 1854, Chap. III, p.98), arriving at the conclusion that the sacred edifice had been “founded and endowed by diverse Irishmen, whose names were unknown, time out of mind, and long before the conquest of Ireland”. An Elizabethan document is cited by Gilbert describing “the saide Issolde’s Tower” as a round towre towe storie hie, eighteen foot square within the wall, and the wall nine foot ticke and forty foote hie from the channell, one timber lofte and a plate forme in the toppe, with three lowps to [e]very rowme.’ (History of the City Dublin, 1859, Vol. 2, p.114) Harris relates that the tower was torn down in 1765 in order to open an additional gate for trade, the name of Arthur, Prince of Essex, being sustituted. (Hist. of the City of Dublin, pp.61-62) [131]

[ top ]

Quotations
Provinces (Gl. cuigí): ‘From the earliest period of our authentic history, Ireland was divided into five provinces - Leinster, Ulster, Connaught, and the two Munsters. Each province was governed by its own king, and from the five provincial rulers was elected a Monarch, or nominal high king of the entire island, enjoying as such the central territory of Meath. The government was that [styled] the clan-system, requiring warlike kings and chiefs to defend the rights of the tribes, which, owning the territories, elected them to rule only so long as they should continue to evince the sagacity and prowess demanded of their position. Under the clan-system the people led mainly a pastoral life, in the interior of the island; but in the course of ages, towns sprang up on portions of the coasts, where the commodities of England, France, and Spain were bartered for the products of Ireland. / Of these towns Dublin became the most important …’ (Opening of History of the Viceroys of Ireland, 1865.)

[ top ]

References
University of Ulster Library
holds History of Dublin, 3 vols. (Irish University Press 1972; facs. rep. edn); Morris Collection holds Account of the Facsimiles of National MSS of Ireland, from the earliest extant specimens to a.d. 1719, 4 vols. (HMSO, 1887); Documents relating to Ireland, 1795-1804 ([Dublin: J. Dollard] 1893); Reports of the Royal Commission on Historical MSS (1877).

Belfast Public Library holds 10 antiquarian titles, incl. his History of the City of Dublin (1854), source for Finnegans Wake, list in Annotations to FW. A Life of Sir Thomas Gilbert (1905) by his son, R. M. Gilbert. Justin McCarthy, Irish Lit., gives ‘The Prince of Dublin Printers’ [George Faulkner], from Hist. of Dublin.

Emerald Isle Books (1995) lists Account of the Facsimiles [&c.], Pat. I (Dublin: Thom 1874), 35pp.; Credi Mihi. the Most Ancient Register Book of the Archbishops of Dublin Before the Reformation (Dublin: Dollard 1897), 4to. [95].

[ top ]

Notes
Source for scholars: Gilbert’s ’The Streets of Dublin’, Irish Quarterly Review, 2 (June 1852), is a recurrent source for information about Sir James Ware, Duald MacFirbis, and other antiquarian matters in R. E. Ward and C. Ward, eds., The Letters of Charles O’Conor (1988).

Theatrical historian? Gilbert’s History of Dublin contains sep. chapters on Smock Alley and Crow St. but omits any of the plays of the Restoration on the pretext that no records are available till the re-opening at the end of the Williamite War. He does not appear to use Hitchcock or Victor as sources.

[ top ]

Act of Union: Gilbert’s History of Dublin (1861) estimates that the book trade in Dublin was reduced by eighty percent after the Act of Union. (Cited in Ricard Cargill Cole, Irish Booksellers and English Writers, 1740-1800, 1986, p.153.)

Namesake: an engraving entitled ‘A tavern brawl’ inspired by the death of Christopher Marlowe, done by Sir John Gilbert [R.A.], appears in Times Literary Supplement (12 June 1992, p.8.) Gilbert, the illustrator, supplied engravings for many works incl. Poems of Longfellow (1876) and Don Quixote (1895). An exhibition of his work was held in London in 1898.

[ top ]