Richard Shackleton

Life
1728-92; school-teacher and life-long friend of Edmund Burke; son of Abraham Shackleton, ed. at his father’s school with Burke; grad. TCD; became headmaster of the school at Ballytore; letters addressed to him by Burke are printed in the Leadbeater Papers [see Mary Leadbeater]; he was blamed by Burke for being led into indiscretions about Burke’s family connections - as infra. ODNB

For some Transactions of the Historical Society (TCD), see Wm. Dennis, and W. C., ‘Unpublished Remains of Edmund Burke’, in The National Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1 (July 1830), pp.90-97 - i.e., letters addressed to Richard Shackleton [available at JSTOR - online].

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Commentary
Edmund Burke (wrote sixty letters to Shackleton while at college, 1744-49), remarks that Shackleton ‘declines, from conscientious motives, to teach that part of the academic course, which he conceives as injurious to morals, and subversive to sound principles [...]’. (See Beauties of the late Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke, London: J. W. Meyers 1798. p.ii; quoted in Will Murphy, MA Diss., UUC 2004.)

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Stanley Ayling, Edmund Burke (1988),: Abraham Shackleton, Yorkshire born Quaker and youngest of six [2] Ballitore prospectus at its opening in 1726 had informed the public that ‘being placed guardian over the morals of the youth under his care,’ Mr Shackleton declined to teach anything that was ‘subversive of sound principles, particularly those authors who recommend in seducing language the illusions of love and the abominable trade of war’; he proposed for 6 ‘to fit youth for business and to instruct them in polite literature.’ ALSO A letter from Burke to Richard Shackleton, ‘We take different roads ’tis true ... Far be it from me to exclude from salvation such as believe not as I do; but indeed it is a melancholy thing to consider the diversity of sects and opinions amongst us. Men should not for a small matter commit so great a crime as breaking the unity of the Church; and I am sure if the spirit of humility, the greatest of Christian virtues, was our guide, our sects and religions would be much fewer ...’ (Corr., no ref. given; but see Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody, 1992, p.25]. (Cont.)

Stanley Ayling, Edmund Burke (1988) - cont.: gives a description of Jane Burke, by Mary Shackleton, daughter of Richard, at Ballitore (from Ballitore papers) [17-18 - as infra]. Richard Shackleton on mission to Bristol stressing that rumours of Burke’s popery were rubbish. [76]; in April 1770 there appeared in the London Evening Post an article based on information written down by Richard Shackleton describing Burke’s mother [recte wife] as being ‘of a Popish family’; and ‘practising the duties of the Romish religion with a decent privacy’ and his wife as ‘a genteel, well-bred woman of the Roman faith’. Burke’s angered reply to the tenor of the whole article, in a letter to Shackleton, Corr. i. 136. [49] Quotes Shackleton’s reply: ‘Thou art grown a rough publick man, sure enough ... I do in the sincerest and most earnest manner beg forgiveness.’ [50] Shackleton gives an account of the 600 acres grand estate at Gregories to his wife, 25 May 1780; Mary Shackleton (Mrs Leadbeater) adds information about Burke’s manner of living there, that Burke had a little ‘tea-house’ which he called his ‘root-house’ about a mile from the house, and built of roots, moss, etc, with ‘a retird view bounded principally by woods [and] a little kitchen behind and an ice-house under it.’ (This is noted as Corr. III, 181).

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Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody (1992); [O’Brien finds] ‘clear traces’ of a ‘deposit’ of Catholic instruction in Burke’s early letters, especially way of reproaching his Quaker friend Shackleton for his appeal to the intuitions of ‘inner light’. [25] He finds Burke more moved by the fate of those such as branches of the Nagles in Ireland who, through inadvisable decisions, had lost not their lives but their family fortunes. [ibid., 28]

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Quotations
Family matters: Shackleton supplied some information on Burke’s family in response to a letter from a Quaker correspondent in Dublin, a ‘particular friend’ who asked to be advised of ‘the family connections, religion (if any) and general character’, adding, ‘this enquiry is not made with any design to prejudice … quite the contrary.’ Shackleton wrote of Mary Burke [née Nagle - Burke’s mother]: ‘She was of a Popish family; I cannot say whether she legally conformed to the Church of England, but she practised the duties of the Roman religion with a decent privacy’; and Burke’s wife [of Jane Burke, née Nugent]: ‘a genteel, well-bred woman, of the Roman faith, whom he married neither for her religion, nor her money, but from the natural impulse of youthful affection’.

Burke’s response: Burke wrote to Shackleton on hearing that he had supplied such information, ‘I am given to understand that you have received at some time a letter from England, some way relating to me. Have you received such a letter?’ In 1700, when the information was published, he wrote angrily: ‘I feel somewhat mortified at a paper written by you which some officious person has thought proper to insert in the London Evening Post of last night. I am used to the most gross and virulent abuse daily repeated in the papers - I ought indeed rather have said, twice a day. But this abuse is loose and general invective … thrown out by those that are known to be hired by the office of my enemies. But this appears in the garb of professed apology and panegyric. It is evidently written by an intimate friend. / It is full of anecdotes and particulars of my life. It therefore cuts deep […]. My wife, a quiet woman, confined to her family cares and affections, has been dragged into a newspaper ... A rough public man may be proof against all sorts of buffets, and he has no business to be a public man if he be not so. But there is a natural and proper delicacy in the other sex which will not make it very pleasant to my wife to be the daily subject of Grub Street and newspaper invectives; and at present, in truth, her health is little able to endure it.’

Shackleton’s reply: ‘My Dear Friend, if I may take the liberty still to call thee so, I have received thy letter written in the vexation of thy spirit, cutting and wounding the tenderest parts, and ripping open a sore which I thought was long ago healed. I know nothing in the world about the publication of that unfortunate paper, but what thou tells me … I have used thee and thy family grossly ill. I am covered with grief, shame and confusion for it. It was done in the simplicity of my heart; I mean the writing of it. The giving a copy of it I will not call indiscretion, but madness and folly [...]’. (Quoted in notice of abridged edn. of C. C. O’Brien, The Great Melody [1997], Sunday Independent, 6 July 1997.

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Reference
W. J. McCormack, ed., The Blackwell Companion to Irish Literature (1999, 2001), Anthony Farrell, ‘Shackleton family’: gives account: yoeman stock in W. Riding, Yorkshire; Abraham (1696-1770) came to Ireland as tutor to Ducketts, Carlow, and Coopers, King’s County 1720; estab. Ballintore School, Co. Kildare (1726-1836), on his return; Richard (1728-92), his son, friend of Burke; Mary Leadbeater (1758-1826), Richard’s dg.; George (1785-1871), expanded milling business to Lyons Mill, Straffan (destroyed by fire, 1903), Anna Liffey Mill, Lucan; and Grange Mill, Lucan, between 1853 and 1865 [ultimate sale of premisses recorded also]; Lydia (1828-1914), botanical artist; Ebenezer (1784-1856), f. of Richard, maker of first steel roller mill in Ireland; Ernest (1874-1922), son of Henry, Antartic explorer. knighted 1909; Frank (1876-1941) Dubln Herald, implicated in theft of Insignia of Order of St. Patrick; Edward, s. of Ernest, life peer, 1958, and Labour leader in House of Lords, 1968-1970; David (1923-1988), plant collection with garden at Beech Park,Clonsilla, Co. Dublin.

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