[Archbishop] William King (1650-1729)

b. 1 May 1650, Co. Antrim; son of Presbyterian settlers from Aberdeen; first sent to school under a schoolmistress 1655, and again later when his father removed to Co. Tyrone - which was ‘beginning to be cultivated after the war’ in 1658 - though he hated education (Quaediam Vitae Meae Insigniora [?oria]); entered Dungannon Royal College, Co. Tyrone; grad. BA TCD, 1671 [var. 1670]; converted to Anglicanism and became a strenuous opponent of Presbyterianism;
ordained, 1674; appt. rector of St. Werburgh’s, 1679; fndr. member of Dublin Philosophical Society, 1683 [later RDS], communicating with the Royal Society in London; issued ‘Of the Bogs and Loughs of Ireland’, in Philosophical Transactions of the Dublin Philosophical Society (1685); Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, 1688; joint head of Church of Ireland (with Anthony Dopping), 1688-90; twice imprisoned as ‘spy’ and held for two years during the war; appt. bishop of Derry on death of Walker, 1691;
issued State of the Protestants of Ireland under the Late King James’ Government (1691; 4 edns. to 1692; 10 edns. to 1768); prominent in House of Lords, where he resisted the penal acts which set at nought the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, regarding them as a breach of honour; resisted the commercial regime of the English Wool Acts restricting Irish trade and strongly supported his friend William Molyneux’s position in The Case of Ireland being bound by the acts of parliament in England stated (1698);
engaged in dispute over church land and fisheries with Irish Society of London, a legal victory of 1697 being overturned by the House of Lords in 1698, with subsequent loss of appeal jurisdiction by the Lords; published De Origine Mali (1702), examining the phenomenon of evil, was critiqued by Bayle and Leibnitz for its assumptions on free will and liberty of choice; succeeded Narcissus Marsh as Archbishop of Dublin, March 1703; encouraged teaching of Irish at TCD; acted as a prime mover in penal legislation against Catholics of Ireland;
issued political, theological and scientific writings; came round to support for an act of legislative union, following the union of England and Scotland in 1707; served with other Lords Justice deputising for the Lord Lieutenant on four occasions from 1714; provoked British Declaratory Act (8 March 1720) by his intervention in Sherlock v. Annesley in 1719 and subsequently attacked it in asserting right of English Parliament to ‘make laws and statures of sufficient force and validity to bind the Kingdom and People of Ireland’, denouncing the Whig administration that enacted it;
opposed national bank proposal, 1721, and Wood’s halfpence, 1724-25, enjoying a troubled friendship with Jonathan Swift, whom he encouraged in his agitation; friend of Vanessa, who advised her to sell the house at Turnstile Alley, adjacent to College Green, when she was in financial difficulties; d. 8 May, Dublin; 20 vols. of correspondence held in TCD Library and BL; chiefly from his time as bishop of Derry and of Dublin; left a library of 7,000 books. RR CAB ODNB OCEL FDA DUB OCIL

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Theological works
  • De Origine Mali (Dublin 1702), translated into English as An Essay on the Origin of Evil, with notes by Edmund Law (London 1731).
  • Predestination and Foreknowledge Consistent with the Freedom of Man’s Will: in a Sermon (Dublin 1709) [see details]
Political commentary
The State of the Protestants in Ireland (London: Robert Clavell [sic] 1691) [Wing K538; copy in Marsh’s Library, Stillingfleet Coll.].
  • ‘Of the Bogs and Loughs of Ireland’, in Philosophical Transactions of the Dublin Philosophical Society, XV (London 1685).
  • Letters to Francis Annesley in 1725-26 (cited in Ann Cruikshank & the Knight of Glin, Irish Portraits 1600-1860 [Ulster Mus. Cat. Portrait Exhibition Catalogue] (1969), p.14.

See also Patrick Kelly, ‘A Pamphlet Attributed to John Toland and an Unpublished Reply by Archbishop William King, in Topoi, 4 (1985), pp.81-90.

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Bibliographical details
Predestination and Foreknowledge Consistent with the Freedom of Man’s Will: in a Sermon (Dublin 1709); Do., reprinted with notes by Archbishop Whateley (London 1821); and Do., as Archbishop King’s Sermon on Predestination, being the Forth Volume of Irish Writings from the Age of Swift, intro. by David Berman [TCD] with edited by Andrew Carpenter [UCD] (Dublin: Cadenus Press 1976), with facsimile title page, as follows: Predestination and Free Knowledge consistent with the Freedom of Man’s Will: a Sermon preached at Christ Church, Dublin, May 15. 1709, Before his Excellency Thomas Earl of Wharton, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Right Hon. of the House of Lords, by his Grace, William Lord Arch Bifhop of Dublin Third Edition revifed and corrected by his GRACE/Dublin printed by and for J. Gowan at the Spinning Wheel in Back-Lane, 1727 [p.29].

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  • C. S. King, A Great Archbishop of Dublin: William King, His Autobiography ... and ... Correspondence (Longmans 1906).
  • Andrew Carpenter, ‘Archbishop King and Dean Swift’ [doct. diss.] (UCD 1970).
  • David Berman, ‘Berkeley and King’ in Notes & Queries 29, 6 (Dec. 1982), pp.528-30.
  • A. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Harvard UP 1936), Chap. VII.
  • K. Theodore Hoppen, The Common Scientist in the Seventeenth Century: A Study of the Dublin Philosophical Society 1683-1708 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1970), c.p.153.
  • Joseph Johnston, ‘Archbishop King’s diagnosis’, in Bishop Berkeley’s Querist in Historical Perspective (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press 1970), pp.20-35.
  • R. S. Matteson, ‘Francis Le Jau’s Letters to William King, 1695-1704’, in Long Room, Nos. 16 & 17 (Spring-Autumn 1978), pp.13-25; with Le Jau’s letter to King (19 Jan. 1695) from Lyons Collection, No. 395, as frontis.
  • Patrick Kelly, ‘Archbishop William King and Colonial Nationalism’, in Worsted in the Game: Losers in Irish History, ed. Ciaran Brady (Dublin 1989) [q.pp.].
  • Robert Matteson, ‘Archbishop King and the Conception of His Library’, in Library [6th ser.] 13 (1991), pp.238-54.
  • Raymond Gillespie [on King], in Taking Sides?: Colonial and Confessional Mentalités in Early Modern Ireland, ed. Vincent Carey & Ute Lotz-Heumann (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2003) [q.pp.].

See also Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.352-54 and Irvin Ehrenpreis’s Swift: The Man, His Works, and His Age, Harvard, 3 vols. (1967-83).

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Archbishop [Wm.] King: ‘The whole fit of madness is owing to the resentments of a single ecclesiastical grandee [Archbishop King]; who feeling himself to sink in the esteem of his late associates in power, resolv’d to make himself considerable by an after-game with the mob; whose darling he how is, as amply as he was (a few months ago) their aversion. The Angel of St. Patrick’s [presum. Swift] is now the Guardian of the Kingdom.’ (Bishop Wm. Nicholson, to Archbishop of Canterbury, 31 Oct. 1719; BL, Add. MS 6116 ff 94-5; quoted in Patrick MacNally, ‘Irish and English Interests’: national conflict within the Church of Ireland episcopate in the reign of George I’, in Irish Historical Studies, xxix, no.115, May 1995, pp.295-314; cited in Rosinne Aubertine, MADip 1996.

Note MacNally’s further remarks: ‘Nicolson singled out Archbishop King, supported by Jonathan Swift, as the leader of what he called the ‘new sect of State-Independents’ (p.302.) Nicholson also tells a correspondent that he ‘and other English foreigners’ were ‘being treated by friends and foes, Whigs and Tories, as enemies to the public interests of this kingdom’, and blamed Irish-born bishops; he also comments that ‘many of theme seem exceedingly afraid of provoking our Roman neighbours.’ (BL [&c.] ff 127; McNally, 303.

William Hamilton, Letters Concerning the Northern Coast of the County of Antrim in Ireland (1786), cites William King, who relates that the military wasting of Connaught by Tyrone on the way to Kinsale made a bog of ploughed land, and argues that that since ‘want of industry has in our remembrance made one bog, no wonder if a country famous for laziness, as Ireland now is, abound with them’ (p.41; copy in Library of Herbert Bell.)

W. B. Yeats, ‘Berkeley must have been familiar with Archbishop King’s De Origine Mali which makes all joy depend “upon the act of the agent itself, and his election”; not upon an external object’ (Essays and Introductions, ftn. 408).

Frank O’Connor, The Backward Look (1967), quotes extensively from exchanges between King and Swift, incl. King’s reply to a snub from Swift: ‘As to the first thing, that it is impossible for the two Kingdoms to proceed long upon a different scheme of politicks I believe it is true, but withal I think it impossible to set the two parties on the same foot in Ireland as in England, for our division is founded on the right of our Estates which are all claimed by the forfeiters and nothing can restore them but the Pretender nor any thing take them from us but bringing him in, whereas all your contests so farr as I understand them have no other foundation, but who shall have the ministry and employments the gaining these has no connexion with the Pretender, you may have them without him or under him. But you see the case is widely different with us and here is the true source of the zeal and violence of the Protestants of Ireland. Remove the fear of the Pretender, and you may lead them life a dog on a string.’ (Harold Williams, ed., Swift’s Letters, II, 3, Oxford 1963.) Also quotes Swift to Pope 9 [nine] years later: ‘I ought to let you know that the Thing we call a Whig in England is a creature altogether different from those of the same denomination here [...]’

Frank O’Connor, The Backward Look (1967) - further (quoting): ‘I was discoursing some years ago with a certain minister about that whiggish or fanatical Genius so prevalent among the English of this Kingdom, his Lordship accounted for it by that number of Cromwell’s soldiers, adventurers establish’d here, who were all of the sourest Leven, and the meanest birth, and whose posterity are now in possession of their lands and their principles.’ (Ibid, II, p.371).

[King to Swift on the Convocation:] ‘We shall, I believe, have some considerations of methods to convert the natives; but I do not find, that it is desired by all, that they should be converted. There is a party amongst us, that have little sense of religion, and heartily hate the Church, these would have the natives made Protestants; but such as themselves are deadly afraid they should come into the Church, because, say they, this would strengthen the Church too much. Others would have them come in, but can’t approve of the methods proposed, which are to preach to them in their own language, and have the service in Irish, as our own canons require.’ (Ibid., 1, 244).

Frank O’Connor, The Backward Look (1967) - quotes further: ‘I reckon, that every chief governor who is sent here comes with a design to serve first those who sent him; and that our good only must be so far considered, as it is subservient to the main design. The only difference between governors, as to us, is to have a good-natured man, that has some interest in our prosperity, and that will not oppress us unnecessarily; and such is his Grace. But I doubt, whether even that will not be an objection against him on your side of the water, for I have doubt, that those governors, that gained most on the liberties of the kingdom, are reckoned the best; and therefore it concerns us to be on our guard against all governors, and to provoke as little as we can. For he, that cannot revenge himself, acts the wise part, when he dissembles, and passes over injuries.’ (Ibid., 1, 243). [All the foregoing quoted in O’Connor, op. cit., 1967, pp.115-18].

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A. N. Jeffares (Anglo-Irish Literature, 1982) cites lively attack on Tyrconnell entitled State of the Protestants &c.; also a vigorous assertion of a particular Irish point of view; seen best in his letters, as with Swift; strong views about Church of Ireland’s role but more politic than to express them; quotes letter to William Smyth about marriage to ‘sweet-tempered girl of very good sense’, advising him to measure what displeases him in her since the things ‘which cause coldness between married people are commonly trifles’, and to let her know in the ‘softest and most pleasant interval’ [i.e. after] what has displeased him; Irish claims should count most in Irish appointments; uneasy relationship with Swift based on common loyalty to the Protestant Church in Ireland [24-5]; quotes “The Shamrock”, a poem attributed to King: ‘Mountown! thou sweet retreat from Dublin cares, / Be famous long for Apples and for Pears; / For Turnips,. Carrots, Lettuces, and Peas, / For Peggy’s Butter and for Peggy’s Cheese / May fat geese gaggle round thy cramm’d Barn Door ... &c’ [52].

Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and His Age, Vol. III (London: Methuen 1983): ‘We must recall how Archbishop King, in 1716, had warned Swift that the exiled Bolingbroke might turn informer, receive a pardon, come home from France, and tell some “ill story” about Swift. In reply, the archbishop had got a furious defence of the exile. After reviewing Bolingbroke's relations with the French court and identifying himself with his friend's destiny, Swift had said, “But whether I am mistaken or no in other men, I beg your grace to believe, that I am not mistaken in myself; I always professed to be against the Pretender, and am So still.” [22 Dec. 1716.]’ (p.447.) Note also that King had occasion to rebuke Swift by letter for failing to appear before the ecclesiastic Registrar as he ought have done in his capacity as a schoolmaster (ibid., p.597).

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989): Archbishop King, an enthusiastic supporter of the enforcement of the [penal] laws, had to confess in 1720, ‘I find the papists with their mobs and insolence too hard for all our laws.’ [24] Archbishop King, in 1718, ‘I may further observe that the papists being made incapable to purchase lands, have turned themselves to trade, and already have engrossed almost all the trade of the kingdom.’ (Letter to Archb. of Canterbury, 6 Feb.; in A Great Archbishop of Dublin, William King DD, ed. Sir CS King, p.208.) [idem, 80] Wall later comments that this was alarmist since Protestants still controlled commerce in Dublin, Derry, and Belfast, if not in Waterford, Cork, Galway and Limerick. [idem, 86] Agrarian disturbances in Munster treated as popish rebellion, ignoring similar troubles from the Steelboys in Ulster; edition of Sir John Temple’s Irish Rebellion and Archb. King’s State of the Protestants of Ireland printed in Clonmel in 1766 for sectarian reasons. The publishers J and P Bagnell’s brother played a significant role as a magistrate in the events in Tipperary. [119-20]

Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster (1992), John Richardson, preached and published in Irish, Proposal for the Conversion of the Popish Natives of Ireland (1712), won approval of William King, who imported Gaelic speaking clergy to minister to Island Scots in Inishowen and Antrim. (Bardon, op. cit., p.170.)

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W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984): William King, Archbishop of Dublin, left account of his studies at Dungannon Royal School in the 1660s [23. Bibl., King, Quaedam Meae Vite Insignoria, ed. J. W. Stubbs, EHR xiii (1898), 309-23; cf. CS King, A Great Archbishop of Dublin (London 1906), pp.5-6. [42]

Further: King also mentioned that he read a work by Mathurin Cordier, probably his Scholastic Colloquies (1568), of which 100 eds. are listed. [23]. A pupil of Alexander Lynch called Butler popularised a new textbook in Ireland by translating the Book of Phrases by Maturinius Corderius from Latin to English, Corder being a Hugenot [20].

Joseph Th. Leerssen (Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael, 1986), writes: ‘Archbishop King of Dublin, a radical not preferred [i.e. raised in office] to Armagh, attacked the English interest in the Church of Ireland.’ (p.356.)

Muriel McCarthy & Caroline Sherwood Smith, Hibernia Resurgens: Marsh’s Irish Books [Catalogue of 1994 Exhibition] (Dublin: Marsh’s Library 1994), remark that his treatise The State of the protestants of Ireland ‘was sometimes published in a joint edition with Sir John Temple’s horrifying account of the atrocities of the 1641 rebellion,’, and that for many protestants it was their justification for transfering their allegience from King James to King William (&c., as supra.)

Terry Eagleton, ‘Homage to Francis Hutcheson’, in Heathcliff and the Great Hunger (London: Verso 1995): ‘In his De Origine Mali (1702), King claims that God has ordained that not everyone can be in a superior position, and that to fall from such a position implies some folly on the part of the agent. This case may not be wholly unconnected with the fact that King was an Ascendancy bishop confronted with a Gaelic population who believed they had been usurped.’ (p.109, ftn. 12). Eagleton makes one other passing reference to King in connection with Browne and others (p.50-51.)

Terry Eagleton, Crazy John and the Bishop (Cork UP 1998), p.65: remarks on King’s theology, comparing our knowledge of God to a map in relation to the terrain it depicts, or colour to a blind man; also cites his remark on native Americans: ‘were we to describe to an ignorant American what we mean by writing, and told him, that it is a way of making words visible and permanent, so that persons, at any distance of time and place, may be able to see and understand them’, this would seems strange to him, so that he ‘might object, that the thing must be impossible, for words are not to be seen, but heard, they pass in speaking, and it is impossible that they should affect the absent, much less those that live in distant ages’ (Divine Predestination, 1709). Also styles him a ‘doughty apologist for the Ascendancy’, with ftn. (p.65); n.123]: ‘See for King’s latter role his The State of the Protestants in Ireland (1691) and his Of the Bogs and Loughs of Ireland (Dublin 1685), which offers the bogs of Ireland as testimony of Irish indolence’;

Note that Eagleton proceeds to recommend David Greenwood, William King: Tory and Jacobite (Oxford 1969) - a work on another man, and refers to the ‘Loughs and Bogs’ as a Dublin printing but does not refer to The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing extract from it (idem).

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Joseph Johnston, Bishop Berkeley’s Querist in Historical Perspective (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press 1970): ‘The Archbishop was one of those rare high ecclesiastics who did not owe his advancement to having held a chaplaincy to the Lord Lieutenant or being on friendly terms with a Court favourite, male or female. He provides an outstanding example of sterling honesty of Christian character in an age and an environment which was not conducive to the development of such qualities, still less to the advancement of their possessor to high office in Church or State. A stout defender of the Protestant interest and the Hanoverian Succession, he was also a good Irishman who sought the material welfare of all his countrymen and, since he could do little to advance it, exerted himself to the utmost of his power to protect it from injury. […; 18]

Johnston (Bishop Berkeley’s Querist in Historical Perspective, 1970) […] As a member of the Irish House of Lords, King was one of those few honest Protestants in high places who protested against the proposed violation of the Articles of the Treaty of Limerick, and did all in his power to resist it. If he had succeeded he would have altered the subsequent history of Anglo-Irish relations immeasurably for the better. Writing to the Bishop of Waterford on the 5th October, 1697, he said: “As to the matter of the articles of Limerick we were for confirming them, but in the Act presented to that purpose no one article was confirmed; such partially as were presented to be confirmed were changed in the essentials, and the people put in a much worse position than before the confirmation, contrary to the King’s express letters patent. This, we thought, did not consist with his honour, and supposed he had been imposed on by the title, which was specious, for the confirmation of articles made at Limerick, but in earnest was to destroy them contrary to the publick faith. I supposed your Lordship would never have consented to this, the whole mystery being no more than to make a few more forfeitures to gratify courtiers. I am sure persons that believe any obligation on men to keep their words are of our opinion, but alas how few think it necessary.” In a subsequent letter, dated October 9th, 1697, addressed to Lord Clifford, he discussed the same matter: “The second thing of moment was the bill for confirmation of articles made at the surrender of Limerick. I understand an account of that matter and our protest have been sent to your Lordship. It seemed a little strange that men should endeavour to persuade us his Majesty would not have those articles otherwise confirmed, and at the same time persuade his Majesty that we would not confirm them in any other manner, and we found this to be the case, and we could not reconcile it to the King’s honour or the publick faith if under pretence of confirming articles granted on valuable consideration, [18] we should have consented to an act that broke them, and I verily believe by the tendency I observe constantly in your Lordship to natural justice that you would have been of the same opinion.” (pp.17-19.) [Cont.]

Johnston (Bishop Berkeley’s Querist in Historical Perspective, 1970) - cont.: Under chap.-title, ‘Archbishop King’s diagnosis’: ‘Writing on April 16, 1698 to Mr. Annesley, King expressed the opinion that Molyneux [in The Case of Ireland, 1698]. conceded too much in this book which in other respects, was written from an Irish point of view. “Mr Molyneux’s book concerns the present debates about the subordination of Ireland to England in point of being obliged by English Acts. There are very material omissions in it, particularly in his owning that the Act for Adventurers, the Wool Act, the Navigation Act and Tobacco Act obliged the subjects of Ireland, which in earnest they no more did than they obliged the subjects of France ... The Navigation Act concerned only the plantations, and the people of England, having the power there, might have hindered Ireland absolutely from trading there as well as they do the French, the Irish therefore submitting to the conditions imposed on them in order to be allowed to traffick in those plantations is no more an argument for their subjection to the Parliament of England than the Dutch [22] ships paying custom in our ports is an argument of Holland’s subjection ... . I understand no liberty but being governed by our own laws.” Thus King regarded the Wool Act of 1660, which forbade the export of Irish wool to any foreign country, and of course, the Woollen Goods Export Prohibition Act of 1699 as an unconstitutional usurpation by the English Parliament of a power of direct legislation for Ireland.
  In a letter written to the Bishop of Sarum on 29th January, 1697 he expresses his mind more fully on the same subject and illustrates the normal working of the Irish legislative machine:

“I understand that your Lordship is much offended with me [...] for voting against a Bill that had a very good title ‘the better security of the King’s person.’ My Lord, had that bill answered the title ... not one of us but would have been zealous for it ... but my Lord in our apprehension it was against the honour as well as the life of his Majesty, and we take it ill that such a bill should be offered to us and worse that we should be censured for rejecting it. We have no other liberty left us in our parliaments as to bills, and therefore must be cautious how we suffer ill things to pass us for sake of what is good in any bill. If we could emend a bill we had been to blame for rejecting this [...] I confess I never heard one argument for the bill but the title, and all the excuse made for the abominable things in it was that it was never designed to be executed, but we have too many such laws already [...]  
Your Lordship knows that Ireland is a province and, generally speaking, it has been the fate of all provinces to be under governors who had no interest or concern to seek their welfare. On the contrary every step they made to trample on the liberty of the people made them more grateful to such as imployed them, and every rapine and oppression of which they were guilty was a step to their own wealth … hence the wise man tells us, Eccl. 5, 8: ‘If thou seest oppression of the poor and violent perverting of judgement and Justice in a province marvell not at the matter,’ for this is generally the case of all provinces and particularly of Ireland. Our governments that have most oppressed our liberty and robbed us most are yet by many counted the best, witness Poynings and Strafford; the one enslaved the parliament of Ireland, and the other got to himself and followers above 10m per annum in five years. Sir John Davis [for Davies] further tells us [23] that the covetousness and ambition of the chief governors of Ireland kept it in continual worry and bloodshed for 400 years, and would have done so to the end of the world in all likelyhood, had not King James I stopped it by chance, having admitted the Irish to the benefit of the laws.’ (pp.22-24.)

Johnston (Bishop Berkeley’s Querist in Historical Perspective, 1970) - cont.: quotes letter to Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘The Protestants of Ireland are sensible that they have no other security for their estates, religion and lives but their union with England and their dependence on the Crown thereof … Whoever has any right notion of the State of Ireland must be satisfied that nothing can be so like to divide Ireland from [31] England as weakening the Protestant interest in it, and it is plain that some Acts passed in England have greatly weakened that interest, particularly the woollen and Trustee Acts which have driven great numbers of the nobility and gentry out of tis Kingdom [...] and with them almost all manufacturers, and thrown the manufacture of woollen almost entirely into papists’ hands and in truth the greatest part of the trade of the Kingdom.’ (5 March 1719; pp.31-32.)

James Kelly, ‘The Act of Union: its origin and background’, in Dáire Keogh & Kevin Whelan, eds., Acts of Union: The Causes, Contexts and Consequences of the Act of Union, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2001, remarks that William King, bishop of Derry, was among the earliest to maintain that a union would be mutually advantageous, claiming in 1697 that it would enable both kingdoms to ‘flourish effectively’. (King to Southwell, 19 July 1697, cited in Moody & Vaughen, eds., A New History of Ireland, Vol. IV: Ireland 1692-1800, OUP 1986, p.7; here p.52.)

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How he learned to read: ‘[I]t happened on a certain Lord’s day that I was walking about with a woman in the garden and we entered the wood and sat down together; she was reading the Holy Scriptures, and whilst reading sleep stole over her, I took the book falling from her hands and by enumerating the letters, according to my habit I pronounced the words in its beginning and immediately perceived it to contain sense, which I had never before observed. Much captivated with the novelty I earnestly aspired to read and ran through the first three chapters while she was sleeping, sticking fast in a very few places.’ (Autobiographical account quoted in C. S. King, ed., A Great Archbishop, 1908, p.3; cited in Bernadette Cunningham and Máire Kennedy, eds., The Experience of Reading: Irish Historical Perspectives, Dublin: Rare Books Group 1999, p.12.)

The State of the Protestants of Ireland (1691): ‘There is no wordly thing more valuable to Man than Liberty. Many prefer it to life; and few can live long without it. ‘tis the Darling of our Laws, and there is nothing of which they are more tender. But the Protestants of Ireland from the very beginning of King James’s Reign, had their Liberties invaded, and at last entirely destroyed. [868; ...]; Upon this account Perjuries became so common, that if a Tenant owed his Protestant landlord his Rent, he paid him by swearing him into a Plot [869; …] very few Country Gentlemen escaped being accused [...] Sir Thomas Hackett, whilst Lord Mayor Dublin, did so many Brutish and barbarous things of this nature, that it were endless to recount them’; taking example from the Lord Tyrconnel, who made him Mayor, he treated everybody with Oaths, Curses, ill Names, and barbarous Language [869]; [...] it may be thought that these things were unknown to King James, and therefore are not to be imputed to him, but it is certain that if he did not contrive and order them, he yet consented to them; neither did he seem to have the least resentment or pity for their Sufferings ...’ [Chap. III, sec. vii; FDA 868-70.] Note that the epithets ‘barbarous’ and ‘brutish’ are used repeatedly.

Mountown! thou sweet Retreat from Dublin Cares, / Be famous long for Apples and for Pears; / for Turnips, Carrots, Lettuce, Beans and Peas, / For Peggy’s Butter, and for Peggy’s cheese [...] And be thy rukies numerous as they Hens.’ (In Samuel Whyte, ed., Shamrock, 1772, p.5; cited in Russell Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798 (Phil: Pennsylvania UP 1959), p.54.

Of Bogs and Loughs”: ‘We live in an island almost infamous for bogs, yet I do not remember anyone has attempted much concerning them. [967; further attributes their prevalence to native ‘want of industry’]… [Bogs] are a shelter and refuge to tories, and thieves, who can hardly live without them [...] The natives heretofore had [...] some advantage by the woods and bogs; by them they were preserved from the conquest of the English; and I believe it is a little remembrance of this, makes them still build near bogs [...] I know not if it will be worth the observing, that a turf bog preserves things strangely, a corps will lye entire in one for several years [...].’ (‘Of the Bogs and Loughs of Ireland’, rep. in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Literature, 1992, Vol. 1, pp.969-70; quoted in Luke Gibbons, “Some Hysterical Hatred”: History, Hysteria and the Literary Revival, in Irish University Review, Spring/Summer 1997, p.14, stating the fact that King is cited as an authority by the character Dick Sutherland, and remarking that we find here ‘the most succinct expression of the subversive associations of bogs in the colonial imagination.’ [p.14])

Note that Gibbons’ quotation omits much of the material in the full column on p.969, including remarks as follows: ‘it was an advantage for them to have their country unpassable, and the fewer strangers came near them, they lived the easier; for they had no inns, every house where you came was your inn; and you said no more, but put off your brogues and sat down by the fire; and since the natural Irish hate to mend highways, and will frequently shut them up, and change them (being unwilling strangers should come and burthen them;) Tho’ they are very inconvenient to us, yet they are of some use; for most of Ireland have their firing from them; turf is accounted a tolerable sweet fire, and we having very impolitickly destroyed our wood, and not as yet found stone coal, save in few places, we could hardly live without bogs: I have seen turf charc’d, it serves to work iron [969], and as I have been informed, will serve to make it in a bloomery or iron-work […] I know not if it will be worth the observing, that the turf preserves things strangely … leather … butter … trees … supposed by the ignorant vulgar to have lain there since the flood’ (pp.969-70.)

Ulster emigration: ‘no papists stir [...] The papists being already 6 to 1, and being a breeding people, you may imagine in what condition we are like to be in.’ (R. J. Dickson, Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1966, p.2).

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Dictionary of National Biography calls him an ardent Whig; bishop of Derry, 1691; State of the Protestants is a powerful vindication of the principles of the revolution; his magnum opus, De Origini Male (1702); archbishop of Dublin, 1703; fnd. King lectureship in divinity at TCD. OCEL has four-line entry and titles only. [Beware confusion with other William Kings incl. Jacobite prelate.]

Charles A. Read, The Cabinet of Irish Literature (London, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast & Edinburgh: Blackie & Son [1876-78]); b. 1 May, Antrim; ed. Dungannon Grammar, from 12; TCD sizar; deacon, 1674; holy order, 1675; chaplain of Archbishop Parker of Tuam, prebend and precentorship of Tuam Cathedral; controversy with Peter Manby, dean of Londonderry, who had gone over to Catholicism, writing An Answer (1687), A Vindication of An Answer (1688); A vindication of the Christian Religion and Reformation [n.d.]; confined in Dublin Castle, 1689; released, and imprisoned again; DD 1689, notwithstanding; bishopric of Derry on retreat of James [i.e., after death of Walker], Jan. 1691; The State of the Protestants in Ireland (1691); opposed Presbyterians in his diocese with A Discourse Concerning The Inventions of Men in the Worship of God (1694); reply by Mr Joseph Boyce answered in An Admonition to the dissenting Inhabitants of the Diocese of Derry (1695), followed by his next retort, A Second Admonition &c.; De Origine Mali (1702), reprinted in London May and June 1703; abridgement in Nouvelles de la Republiques des Lettres, over which arose discussion betwen Bayle and Bernard, and Leibniz [Theodicée, 1710; Monadologie, 1714] wrote three volumes of Remarks opposing the work, though recognising it to be ‘full of elegance and learning’; King produced manuscript vindications of points of criticism raised, which he carefully noted; these afterwards placed in hands of Edward Law, who had translated the work into English; incorporated the notes in 2nd ed., as An Essay on the Origin of Evil, by Dr William King, late Lord Archbishop of Dublin; translated from the Latin, with Notes and a Dissertation concerning the Principles and Criterion of Virtue and the Origin of the Passions [...] To which are added Two Sermons by the same Author (1732); 3rd ed. 1739; other eds.; Archbishop of Dublin, 1702; lord-justice of Ireland in 1717, 1721, and 1723; d. 8 May in his palace in Dublin; among minor works, mostly sermons, is Divine Predestination and Foreknowledge consistent with the Freedom of Man’s Will (1709), fiercely attacked by John Edwards and Anthony Collins; Swift’s high opinion of [no quotation]; Harris speaks glowingly of his private life and wise and liberal administrations; patronage of Ambrose Phillips and Thomas Parnell. ‘Discourse on Predestination preached to text Romans 8.29-30. ‘We ought to remember, that the descriptions which we have framed to ourselves of God, or of the divine attributes, are not taken form any direct or immediate perceptions that we have of him or the; but from some observations we have made of his works, and from the consideration of those qualifications that we conceive would enable us to perform the like. Thus in observing great order, conveniency and harmony in all the several parts of the world, and perceiving that everything is adapted and tends to the preservation an advantage of the whole, we are apt to consider that we could not contrive and settle things in so excellent and proper a manner without great wisdom; and having then ascribed to him wisdom because we see its effects and results of it in his works we proceed and conclude that he has likewise foresight and understanding, because we cannot conceive wisdom without these, and because if we were to do what we see he had done we would not expect to perform it without the exercise of these faculties.’ From Essay on the Origin of Evil, CAB selects ‘Hunger, thirst, and Labour’, ‘A terrestrial animal must, as we have said, necessarily consist of mixed and heterogeneous parts; its fluids are also in a perpetual flux and ferment. Now it’s plain that this cannot be without the expense of those fluids and attrition of solids, and hence follows death and dissolution except those be repaired, a new accession of matter is therefore necessary to supply what flies off and is worn away, and much more so for the growth of animals [...] labour becomes necessary to provide vituals in this present state of things ... [On evil] ‘mankind believes, indeed, from the light of nature, that God will translate good men into a better state; but it is necessary that they should be prepared here, as plants in a nursery, before they be removed into the garden where they are to bear fruit. god has therefore devised this life to be, as it were, the passage to a better.’ See also Irish Book Lover 4. King is covered by CAB and FDA but not JMC; QRY, acc. some source he was raised a Presbyterian.

D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); lists ‘Mully of Mountown’, a poem [by Dr. W. King] in a volume with James Ward’s Phoenix Park (Dublin 1718), but does not list any W. King separately. NOTE that the same is cited as one of the poems in Samuel Whyte, The Shamrock (1772; edns. 1774), rep. as Collection of Poems (1792-94), and discussed in Russell Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798 (Phil: Pennsylvania UP 1959), p.54.

Roy Foster, Modern Ireland (London: Allen Lane 1988), p.118, b. Antrim, ed. TCD; Dean of St. Patrick’s, 1689; imprisoned as Williamite, 1689-90; published State [ ... &c.] (1691); opposed Presbyterianism; Archb. of Dublin, 1903; leader of opposition to English interest (‘to a ridiculous extravagance, national’, according to the Viceroy); supported Swift against Wood’s ha’pence.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1. David Berman & Andrew Carpenter, eds., select extracts from Summary of the Chief Principles of De Origine Mali [772-75] Predestination and Foreknowledge [7775-77]; The State of the Protestants of Ireland under the late King James’s Government [868-70]; Letter to the Reverend Edward Nicolson [877-79].

FDA BIOG [804]: spent [...] his life striving to improve the Church of Ireland and to minimise the destructive effects of English rule in Ireland. ‘became archbishop of Dublin in 1703 and spent his life trying to improve the Church of Ireland and minimise the destructive effects of English rule in Ireland’; ‘universally lamented’. Note the editorial comment in introducing an excerpt from The State of the Protestants (1691): ‘King’s method was to collect many thousands of detailed incidences of unlawful, aggressive, or threatening behaviour by catholics towards protestants during the previous for years and to draw general conclusions from his examples.’ (p.868). (See references to the Field Day reprint in John Wilson Foster, ‘Encountering Traditions’, in Nature in Ireland: A Scientific and Cultural History, ed. Foster & Helena C. G. Chesney, ed., Dublin: Lilliput 1997, pp.23-71, p.26-27.)

FDA REFS & REMS: When the Union of England and Scotland was effected in 1707, Swift, who strongly opposed it, reminded his audience of the inherently unstable order in Ireland, and when it was planned to establish a bank in Dublin in 1720, he praised Archbishop King for his opposition to it [Bryan Coleborne, ed., 474; do. 477]; one the theological conservatives taking up the cudgels against Toland’s rationalism, 760; God’s attributes beyond our understanding, and God known only indirectly, 762; best known for his treatise on the origin of evil, De Origine Mali (1702), influenced Leibniz and Bayle et al.; Alexander Pope read King’s theories in the work of Bolingbroke, who had read them in Leibniz, and used them in Essay on Man [David Berman, ed.], 763-64; fideism of King, et al., 770; William King’s account of the bogs of Ireland vacillates between the expressed wish to make them useful and implicit suspicion that they are somehow, in their implacability and inconvenience, emblematic of all that is troublesome and strange about Ireland, [eds. Carpenter & Deane] 961; Archbishop King’s listing of [Catholic] atrocities during the reign of James II in State of the Protestants ... could lead to harsh enforcement of the Penal Laws, 963;

FDA prints a sycophantic letter of 1691 from Nahum Tate in London, a college acquaintance 20 years before, 984-85. Note also Bishop [Gilbert] Burnet called King a ‘State Whig and a Church [?Tory], while A. Lovejoy referred to him as ‘perhaps the most influential of 18th century theodicies,’ in The Great Chain of Being (Mass. 1936)..

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Library Catalogues
Belfast Public Library holds A Discourse Concerning The Inventions of Men in the Worship of God [against Presbyterians] [1694]; also, The State of the Protestants of Ireland under the late King James’ Government (1691, 1692, 1730 edns.)

Ulster Univ. Library (Morris Collection) holds A Great Archbishop of Dublin, William King D.D., 1650-1729, His Autobiography, family and a selection of his Correspondence (London 1906), 300p. [ed. Sir C. S. King].

Belfast Linen Hall Library holds Letters etc. 1) ‘concerning a book by J. Boyce’, 2) ‘second admonition’ 3) ‘versus Peter Manby’ 4) Original Works, 2 vols. (1776)

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Belfast Catechism: King asserts in letter to Archbishop of Canterbury that editions of the Covenant and Shorter Catechism were both printed in Belfast in 1694 (see Terence Brown, Northern Voices, 1975, p.6; no source.)

Derry & Raphoe Diocesan Lirbary: The Library’s volumes date from between 1480 and 1900. The Library’s core was formed in 1729 by the Archbishop William King, then Bishop of Derry, when he bequeathed to the Lord Bishop of Derry and his successors the books he purchased from the executors of his predecessor, Ezekiel Hopkins. The Diocesan Library was made the object of a £.5 restoration grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2008, to be executed by Univ. of Ulster.

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