Edward Ledwich (1738-1823)


Life
son of a Dublin merchant; entered TCD, 22 Nov. 1755; BA 1760, and LLB, 1763; vicar of Aghaboe, Queen’s Co. from 1772-97; published The History of Antiquities of Irishtown and Kilkenny, as No. IX of Charles Vallancey’s Collectanea (1781); issued Antiquities of Ireland (Dublin 1790), based on the plates prepared by Francis Grose who had ‘written and printed but seven pages of description’ before the latter’s death; the whole completed by Ledwich with additional plates by W. Beauford, A. Cooper, A. Chearnley, Geo. Holmes, S. Hayes, W. L., and R. G., depicting castles, abbeys, and round towers, all engraved by J. Ford, and dedicated to the Rev. Charles Coote;
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a 2-vol. edition of Antiquities was printed in London in 1791 and ded. to the Right Hon. William Conyingham, with introductory essays on ‘Pagan Antiquities’ and ‘Military Antiquities of Ireland’ as well as ‘An introduction to Ancient Irish architecture’ (Pref., Vol. 2); a new edition was published in Dublin in 1808, ded. to the Earl of Ossory with a preface forebearing to apologise for errors in such an undertaking; the list of subscribers is virtual almanack of intellectual society of all parties (commencing with the Viceroy Duke of Yorke); in it Ledwich attempts to demolish the ‘bardic inventions’ and ‘bardic ficitons’ which are ‘the oral records of every barbarous society’ (p.1; cf. ‘bardic figments’, p.5); generally depreciates pre-Norman Irish (i.e., Gaelic) society and culture; though ignorant of Irish, he advanced hypotheses refuted in the Irish annals about the builders of Irish ecclesiatical monuments; issued another edition of Antiquities in 1804, appending his earlier History of ... Irishtown and Kilkenny;
 
the work was attacked by Dr. Lanigan in his Ecclestical History, sometimes called a correction to the former in view of the 95 references to errors in the other [but see under Archdall, q.v.], and is valued now only for its plates; also issued A Statistical Account of the Parish of Aghaboe (1796) entailing an interesting description of the agricultural economy on ‘the main road from Dublin to Limerick’; his theory of the Scandanavian origin of the Irish harp in a letter printed as an appendix to J. C. Walker’s Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards (1786) was disputed by Sydney Owenson [afterwards Lady Morgan] in The Wild Irish Girl (1806); d. at his home in York St., 8 Aug. 1823. ODNB DIW RAF [FDA] OCIL
 
Works
  • Antiquitates Sarisburienses [by E.L.] (Salisbury: E. Easton 1770-1771), 15, 28, 247pp., ill. [2 fold. pls], 8°. [see details];
  • Antiquities of Ireland (Dublin: Printed for the author by Arthur Grueber [No. 59 Dame Street] 1790), 473pp., ill. [39 pls. (i.e., 526pp.) [ded. to Rev. Charles Coote]; Do., 2 vols. (London: S. Hooper MDCCXCI-MDCCXCV [1791 & 1795]), var. pag.; ill. [247 lvs. of colour-washed pls., 4°;
  • Do. (Printed for S. Hooper & Wigstead, No 212, High Holborn [MDCCXCVII] 1797), 235 pls., 24 plans; 4o. [Pref. dated 1794; setting as in 1791 edn.];
  • Do. as Antiquities of Ireland / Second edition, / with / Additions and Corrections. / To which is added, / A Collection of Miscellaneous Antiquities. / by / Edward Ledwich L.L.D. / and member of many learned societies (Dublin: Printed by and for J. Jones 90, Bride-street / 1804), ill. [40 pls. - 1 folded; 2 maps., 2 plans], add. engrav. t.p. [see title-page details; and note];
  • A Statistical Account of the Parish of Aghadoe in the Queen’s County, Ireland (Dublin: G. Bonham & J. Archer 1796), vi, 95pp., 3pp., ill. [pls., map], 8°.
  • Sermons (London: printed for W. Miller 1793), [6], 154pp.
Query: An essay on the study of Irish Antiquities - A Dissertation on the Round Towers in Ireland. Memoirs of Dunamase and Shean Castle, in the Queen’s County. History and antiquities of Irishtown and Kilkenny. [With an appendix.];
Also contrib. appendix to Joseph Cooper Walker, Historical memoirs of the Irish bards [… &c.] (London: T. Payne & Son 1786).
Miscellaneous
  • Contrib. to Collectanea de rebus hibernicus, ed. Charles Vallancey (Dublin: Luke White 1786- 1786-1790) - viz., An essay on the study of Irish antiquities;
  • Contrib. to J. C. Walker, Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards (Dublin: Luke White 1786), viz., Appendix II: A letter to Joseph C. Walker ... on the style of the ancient Irish music, from Edward Ledwich.
Related texts
  • Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh, for a period of 1373 years; comprising a considerable portion of the general history of Ireland, a refutation of the opinions of Dr. Ledwich, respecting the non-existence of St. Patrick; and an appendix on the learning, antiquities, and religion of the Irish Nation, with addenda and plates (Newry 1819), 651pp., 8o.
 
Note: Antiquities of Ireland [2nd edn.] (Dublin [s.n.] 1803) - listed in Edinburgh UL; prob. error for 1804, otherwise the standard citation for this edn. The 1797 London Edn. is also available in RSI microfilm [Eighteenth Century; Reel 7497, No. 01] (Woodbridge, CT: Research Publs. Inc. 1986), 1 reel, 35mm. The 1804 Edition is available at Google Books online [accessed 27.02.2011 - and note that the text version contains OCR errors in the subscribers’ list].

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Antiquitates Sarisburienses (Salisbury: E. Easton 1770-1771), 15, 28, 247pp., ill. [2 fold. pls], 8°. CONTENTS: I: A dissertation on the antient coins found at Old Sarum; II: The Salisbury ballad. III: The history of Old Sarum. IV: Historical memoirs, relative to the City of New Sarum. V: The lives of the bishops of Old, and New Sarum. VI: The lives of eminent men, natives of Salisbury. See also Appendix to the history and antiquities of Old and New Sarum: containing original records, with observations (Salisbury: printed and sold by E. Easton; London: J. Wilkie, and W. Cater 1777), [2], 249-307, [3]p., 8°.

Antiquities of Ireland / Second edition, / with / Additions and Corrections. / To which is added, / A Collection of Miscellaneous Antiquities. / by / Edward Ledwich L.L.D. / and member of many learned societies (Dublin: Printed by and for J. Jones 90, Bride-street / 1804), ill. [40 pls. - 1 folded; 2 maps., 2 plans], add. engrav. t.p. Ded. To the Right Honourable John Earl of Upper Ossory, and Baron Gowran of Gowran, in Ireland, and in England, Baron Upper Ossory of Ampthill and Lord Lieutenant of the County of Bedford, a Judge and a patron of learning and the polite arts, this work is most respectfully inscribed by the Author [with crest of same]. [Nine double-column pages of subscribers listed alphabetically.]

Preface: The view of society and manners in ancient Ireland is, with little variation, the same as that of the most polished nations of modern Europe in remote periods. England, the bulwark of the civilized world, can behold without emotion, or mauvaise honte, her mental and political degradation at the arrival of the Romans, and smile with contempt at the flattering fables of Geoffry of Monmouth. Scotland, celebrated for talents and accomplishments, and rivalling her illustrious sister in her glorious career, assumes no pride from bardic tales, or the pages of Hector Boethius. No longer is the wild romance of Geoffrey Keating, the heraldic registry of the Irish nation: its leaning, its valour, and fame, are recorded in the more durable monuments of true history. When Hibernians compare their present with their former condition; their just and equal laws, with those that were uncertain and capricious; the happy security of peace with the miseries of barbarous manners, their hearts must overflow to the Author of such blessings, nor will they deny their obligations to the fostering care of Britain, the happy instrument for conferring them. / In a work, embracing such a veriety of topics, errors will be found; the learned and candid can best estimate the difficulty of avoiding them, and the degree of indulgence they are entitled to. The Author declines hacknied apologies; in their place he begs leave to conclude with a life of an eminent poet: En adsum et veniam consessus, crimina, posse. [xi]

[Contents of the Essays page
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.
XXII.
XXIII.
XXIV.
XXV.
XXVI.
XXVII.
XXVIII.
XXIX.
XXX.
XXXI.
XXXII.

On the Romantic History of Ireland
Ancient Notices respecting Ireland, and its Name
Of the Colonization of Ireland
Of the Druids, and their Religion
Of the Pagan State of Ireland, and its Remains
Of the Introduclion of Christianity, and of St. Patrick
Anecdotes of early Christianity in Ireland
Origin and Progress of Monachism in Ireland
Of the Irish Culdees, and Antiquities of Monaincha
State of the Irish Church in the Eleventh Century, and after -
Of the Stone-roofed Churches, and Cormac’s Chapel
Of the Round Towers in Ireland
History and Antiquities of Glendalough
Observations on Saxon and Gothic Architecture
Of ancient Irish Coins
Observations on the Harp, and ancient Irish Music
Of ancient Irish Musical Instruments
Of the ancient Irish Dress
The Military Antiquities of Ireland
Political Constitution and Laws of the ancient Irish
On the Ogham Characters and Alphabetic Elements of the ancient Irish
A Review of Irish Literature in the middle Ages
Giraldus Cambrensis illustrated
History and Antiquities of Irishtown and Kilkenny
Appendix of Records to Irishtown and Kilkenny
Abbey and Church of Aghaboe
Abbey of Athasset
Abbey of Devenish
Chapel at Holy-Cross
Abbey of Knockmoy
Old Leighlin
Miscellaneous Antiquities

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42
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70
88
102
121
138
155
171
187
211
228
242
259
277
301
322
347
365
382
498
509
516
517
518
520
522
524
     
—See Google Books copy of 1804 Dublin Edition online.

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Criticism
Donal Macartney, ‘The Writing of History in Ireland 1800-1830, in Irish Historical Studies, 10, 40 (1957), pp.347-63.

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Commentary
Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986), notes that Ledwich was the anti-Phoenician opponent of Vallancey and his fellow-Gaelic antiquarians [418]. O’Flanagan […] followed in the footsteps of Vallancey, and used every opportunity to denounce Edward Ledwich, Vallancey’s old adversary, as the ‘Anti-Antiquary of Ireland’ whose writings are ‘deliberately designed and barefaced falsehoods’ (O’Flanagan, ed., Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Dublin, 1808, p.227) [435]. Further: other men, like William Beauford, [?Charles] Ledwich, and Thomas Campbell, who like [Bishop] Percy took a more Nordic and consequently less enthusiastic view of Gaelic antiquity began to deride Vallancey’s ‘wild reveries’ openly in his Collectanea, which consequently became less a forum for Irish antiquarianism than a bear-baiting ground. [403-05] Note that Ledwich contrasts native barbarism with English civility in the preface to his Antiquities of Ireland: ‘When Hibernians compare their present with their former condition [… &c., as infra]’ [405]. Leerssen also remarks that J. C. Walker, The Historical memoirs of the Irish bards stands next to Ledwich’s own Antiquities of Ireland as the work that was to remain most influential into the following century [424]. The reassertion of an anti-Gaelic and pro-British historiography was bolstered by the re-publication of Ledwich’s Antiquities of Ireland in 1804 [434].

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Robert E. Ward & Catherine Ward, ed., Letters of Charles O’Conor (Washington 1988), ‘Mr Ledwich was complaisant enough to say that I was just in my remarks on his mistakes, and we parted well satisfied with one another […]’ (p.419); note that O’Conor uses the var. spelling ‘Achabo’ (p.424); see also remarks on further errors of Ledwich and Beaufort’s ‘Topography’, which appeared in the 11th vol. of Vallancey’s Collectanea [under Beaufort, RX].

Michael Scott, ed., Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, Tour of Ireland, 1840 [condensed edition] (1984): Lynch and Ledwich favoured Danish origin of Irish Round Towers, the latter stooping to misrepresentation of Giraldus Cambrensis, who calls them Irish in origin (in Topographia); ‘elsewhere this inconsistent antiquarian says that Cambrensis saw the Irish in the act of building them’ (Scott, p.456).

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Seamus Deane, ‘Cannon Fodder, Literary Mythologies in Ireland’, in Styles of Belonging: Cultural Diversity in Ulster, ed. Jean Lundy & Aodan Mc Poilín (Belfast: Lagan Press 1992): ‘cultural initiative was followed by 50 or 60 years of investigation before it was stopped for a moment by Edmund Ledwidge [sic, for Edward Ledwich], a Protestant archbishop, who recognised very intelligently what the political purpose of all this was’ (… &c.; note errors here and see further in Field Day Anthology, 1991, infra.)

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Quotations
Antiquities (1791), Preface [I]: ‘When Hibernians compare their present with their former condition; their just and equal laws, with those that were uncertain and capricious; the happy security of peace with the miseries of barbarous manners, their hearts must overflow to the Author of such blessings, nor will they deny their obligations to the fostering care of Britain, the happy instrument for conferring them’ (2nd edn. [1804], p.[iv]; quoted in Leerssen, op. cit., 1986, p.405.)

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Antiquities of Ireland (1804 edition) - Chapter 1: "On the Romantic History of Ireland"
‘[...] Our mythologists [Keating, p.18-46] inform us that three Spanish fishermen arrived here before the flood, and soon after that awful event, the Formoraigh or Africans [Keating, p.11] subdued the Isle, or others from the continent of Africa frequently visited it, and that it was finally colonized by [Pinkerton has the following curious note: “Nennius knew nothing of Milesius, but only mentions Miles quidem Hispanus, a certain Spanish soldier. Of this Miles the Irish made Milesius, as of Julius Caesar they made Caesara, Noah’s neice.” History of Scotland, V, a, p.6.] Milesius, a Spaniard. Nennius relates that these spaniards in their voyage saw a tower of glass, which endeavouring to take, they were drowned in the attempt. This tower is a sure mark of an oriental fancy, and [3] similar to the tower of glass, said to be built by Ptolemy, and Boyardo’s wall of glass made by an African magician, and the pillars of Hercules erected on magical looking glasses. / The Milesians, when they landed, had various battles [Keating, p.55] with the Tuatha de Danans, a nation of enchanters and magicians, whom they at length subdued by superior skill and bravery. / In our Legends the same spirit of romantic fiction abounds. [...]’ (Ledwich, op. cit., pp.3-4.)
—For Preface, see supra.

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Antiquities (1791), Preface [II]: ‘I was well aware of the difficulty of the undertaking. Ireland, the seat of turbulence and discord for five centuries, and attached to barbarous municipal laws and usage, which occasioned a perpetual fluctuation of property, […] preserved […] but few memorials of her ecclesiastical and military structures: those that survived […] being sparingly scattered in worm-eaten records […]’. (Q.p., Cited in De Burca Catalogue, 44, 1997, p.23.)

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References
Dictionary of National Biography also lists Thomas Hawkesworth Ledwich (1823-1858), anatomist, a grandson of the above and author of The Anatomy of the Human Body (1852) with his br. Dr. Edward Ledwich; succeeded Sir Philip Crampton as surgeon at Meath Hospital. DIW follows ODNB. RAF, b.1737 or 1738; collaborated with Vallancey and Walker [err.]; 2nd ed. Antiquities (1790, 1804).

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol 1, contains bare reference to Antiquities of Ireland (1790), viz.: ‘James Stuart (1764-1840?) wrote a History of Armagh (1819) which includes a ‘refutation of the opinions of Dr. Ledwich concerning the non-existence of St. Patrick’ [under Stuart].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, quotes remarks in Oliver MacDonagh, States of Mind, 1983): ‘Modern Irish historiography was born in 1790 with the publication of Rvd Edward Ledwich’s Antiquities of Ireland. Ostensibly, Ledwich wrote as an enlightenment man, bent on dissipating by eighteenth-century sunlight what he called the bardic fictions which had enveloped early Irish history. In fact, as the subsequent controversies about his work revealed, he was signalling the fact that the Irish past had become an additional arena for current Irish political conflict. His real target was rising papists like Charles O’Connor [sic for O’Conor] and Thomas Wyse, founders of the Catholic Committee in 1760, who had combined agitation for Catholic relief with attempts to preserve the traditional Gaelic culture […;] with warm encouragement of] Anglo-Irish liberals [of the RIA] using the remote past to support their claims to social and civic parity […] Ledwich however thought he had seen through the upstarts design in canvassing pre-conquest Ireland. He was not deceived as to their ulterior purpose. He had discerned a dangerous association of Gaelic, Catholic and radical political views, and was proceeding to take his counter-measures. The Antiquities of Ireland was the opening shot of a campaign’. [619-20] (See also Deane, ‘Cannon Fodder, Literary Mythologies in Ireland’, in Styles of Belonging [...], ed. Lundy & Mac Poilín, 1992 - supra, and Deane’s remarks under Charles O’Conor, infra.)

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British Library holds The Antiquities of Ireland, edited and mostly written by E. Ledwich, 2 vol. (London: S. Hooper 1791, 1797). 4o.; Do. [second edn.] (Dublin: Printed for the Author 1790). 526pp., 4o., and Do. (Dublin: J. Jones 1804). 4o. [Contribs. to Vallancey’s Collectanea incl.] Inquiries concerning the ancient Irish Harp: A letter […] on the style of the ancient Irish Music; [7] Some observations on Irish Antiquities with a particular application of them to the Ship temple near Dundalk Vol. 3 (1786). 8o.; The history and antiquities of Irishtown and Kilkenny [n.details]; A Statistical Account of the Parish of Aghaboe, in the Queen’s County. Ireland, etc. Dublin: Archer 1796), vi, 95pp., 8o.; An essay on the study of Irish Antiquities - A Dissertation on the Round Towers in Ireland. Memoirs of Dunamase and Shean Castle, in the Queen’s County. History and antiquities of Irishtown and Kilkenny. [With an appendix.]; Antiquitates Sarisburienses, etc. [by E. L.]; Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh, for a period of 1373 years; comprising a considerable portion of the general history of Ireland, a refutation of the opinions of Dr. Ledwich, respecting the non-existence of St. Patrick; and an appendix on the learning, antiquities, and religion of the Irish Nation, with addenda and plates (Newry 1819), 651pp., 8o.

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COPAC lists Antiquities of Ireland (Dublin: Printed for Arthur Grueber [No.59 Dame Street] 1790), v, [3],184, [1], 184-473, [13]pp., 39 pls., front. engraved title-page & 37 numbered plates by W. Beauford, A. Cooper, A. Chearnley, Geo. Holmes, S. Hayes, W.L., and R.G., engraved by J. Ford; ded. to Rev. Charles Coote; also The antiquities of Ireland By Francis Grose Esqr. F.A.S Publisher: London: Printed for S. Hooper MDCCXCI-MDCCXCV [1791-95], 2 fol. vols., plates & plans [Grose’s name does not appear on title-page of Vol. 2; Pref Vol. 2, ‘Printed for M. Hooper’]; Statistical Account of the Parish of Aghaboe in the Queen’s County, Ireland (Dublin: G. Bonham & J. Archer 1796), vi, 95pp., 3pp. pls (1 folded): ill., map.

COPAC also lists a copy of Bibliotheca ittigiana, cum indice alphabetico. Cujus haec prior pars libros theologicos ... continens, die XIII seqq. Julii an. M DCC XI. Pars vero posterior libros philosophicos ... comprehendens post festum Michaelis demum die XIX seqq. Octobris, anni ejusdem Lipsiae in aedibus ittigianis praesenti pecunia pluris licitantibus cedet ([Lipsiae]: apud haeredes Tarnovii [1711]), 8° - of which Edward Ledwich was a former owner - held in Durham UL.

Belfast Linenhall Library holds Antiquities of Ireland [1790]. University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds Antiquities of Ireland (Dublin: Printed for A. Grueber 1790) 473pp.

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Notes
Bishop Percy: Ledwich informed Bishop Thomas Percy (of Reliques of Ancient English Poetry fame), in a letter of 12 Nov. 1796, that two Dublin editions of his Antiquities of Ireland had sold 2,300 copies. (Cited in Richard Cargill Cole, Irish Booksellers and English Writers, 1740-1800, 1986, p.18.)

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No St. Patricks?: Ledwich is made the particular target of attacks in Anon. [pres. Patrick Lynch, q.v.], Life of St Patrick (Dublin: Fitzpatrick [printer to RC College, Maynooth] 1810), where his denial of the probable existence of St. Patrick and general hostility to the Irish annalists and historians attracts vituberative comments on his work, Eccles. History, which like Lot’s wife, is said to exist ‘as a monument to the author’s disgrace’ on account of the ‘venom he vents on Keating, O’Flaherty, O’Connor [sic], Vallancy’ [p.14]. Note that Ledwich is rebuked for his denial of St. Patrick in James Wills, Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished Irishmen (1839), Vol. 1, p.70 [Thoemmes Facs. Rep. Edn. 6 vols., 1997].

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Ordinance Survey: John O’Donovan found the doorway only of Our Lady’s Church in Glendalough still standing and regretted that Ledwich, who saw it intact, had not given a fuller description. (“Irishman’s Diary”, Irish Times, q.d., 2001.)

Kith & kin: See medical works by a namesake and prob. relation, viz. - The descriptive and surgical anatomy of the inguinal and femoral regions, considered in relation to hernia (London: Fannin & Co 1884), 92pp., 8o.; The practical and descriptive Anatomy of the Human Body [2nd edn.] rev. and enl. by E. Ledwich (Dublin 1852), . 12o., and Do. [3rd edn.] (Dublin: 1864), 8o., and Do. [?new edn.] (Dublin 1877). 8o.

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