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Select Document: Lord Carnarvon’s memoirs relating to his lord lieutenancy, c. 29 March to 7 April 1886

  • Peter Gordon

This article examines the memoirs written by Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, fourth earl of Carnarvon, concerning his period as lord lieutenant of Ireland between June 1885 and January 1886, in the brief Salisbury administration. Carnarvon inherited many of the problems of his Liberal predecessor, fifth Earl Spencer, telling Salisbury ‘the day of reckoning in this case will come very rapidly if any unwise promises are made or implied’. Nevertheless he was sympathetic to reform in many different fields, notably home rule, land reform, education and religion. A sensitive politician, Carnarvon penned this memorandum shortly after leaving office in an attempt to uphold his reputation. The memorandum gives a number of insights into Carnarvon’s manoeuvrings in cabinet, and demonstrates the workings of high politics in the late-nineteenth century. It was never published.

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1 Lord Carnarvon’s memoirs relating to his lord lieutenancy, composed c.29 Mar.–7 Apr. 1886 (henceforth cited as ‘Memoirs’) (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 60826, ff 1–30).

2 Countess of Carnarvon to Hardinge, 14 Mar. 1921 (Hampshire Record Office, Herbert papers, 75 M 91/514/3).

3 The political diaries of the fourth earl of Carnarvon, 1857–1890: colonial secretary and lord lieutenant of Ireland, ed. Peter Gordon (Camden 5th ser., xxxv, London, 2009), p. 383.

4 Carnarvon to J. A. Macdonald, 2 Oct. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/65).

5 Bateman, John, The great landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (3rd ed., London, 1883), pp 79, 495496 .

6 The diaries of Edward Henry Stanley, 15th earl of Derby (182693) between 1878 and 1893: a selection, ed. John Vincent (Oxford, 2003), p. 235.

7 Carnarvon’s diary, 24 Mar. 1884 (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 61504, ff 74–5); Andrew Adonis, Making aristocracy work: the peerage and the political system in Britain, 18841914 (Oxford, 1993), pp 284–7.

8 National Review, ii (Feb. 1884), pp 762–70, iii (Apr. 1884), pp 227–37.

9 Henry Ponsonby to Elizabeth Ponsonby, 15 Sept. 1875 (Royal Archives, Ponsonby papers, Add. A/36).

10 Hamilton, G. F., Parliamentary reminiscences and reflections, 1868–1885 (2 vols, London, 1922), ii, 281.

11 Carnarvon to Sir W. Heathcote, 18 Sept. 1878 (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 61076, f. 153).

12 Curtis, L. P., Coercion and conciliation in Ireland, 1880–1892 (London, 1963), p. 38 .

13 Carnarvon to Sir W. Heathcote, 6 Apr. 1867 (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 61070, f. 212).

14 See Peter Gordon (ed.), The red earl: the papers of the fifth Earl Spencer, 1835–1910 (2 vols, Northampton, 1981, 1986), passim; James H. Murphy, Ireland’s czar: Gladstone’s government and the lord lieutenancy of the Red Earl Spencer, 1868–86 (Dublin, 2014), p. 353.

15 ‘Memoirs’, p. 261. Page numbers refer to the text presented in the ‘Select document’.

16 The welcome in fact accorded to Carnarvon was largely due to Irish expectations of a more favourable attitude of a new Conservative government and changes in personnel and institutions. See: James Loughlin, ‘The British monarchy and the Irish viceroyalty: politics, architecture, and place, 1870–1914’ in Peter Gray and Olwen Purdue (eds), The Irish lord lieutenancy, 1541–1922 (Dublin, 2012), pp 181–3; Hardinge, A. H., The life of Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, fourth earl of Carnarvon, 1831–1890 (3 vols, Oxford, 1925), iii, 186.

17 The political diaries, ed. Gordon, p. 386.

18 Sir R. G. C. Hamilton to Carnarvon, 16 July 1885 (T.N.A. PRO 30/6/63).

19 Hicks Beach to Carnarvon, 18 July 1885 (ibid.).

20 Carnarvon to Salisbury, 5 Feb. 1885 (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 60760).

21 Salisbury to Carnarvon, 10 Feb. 1885 (ibid.).

22 The political diaries, ed. Gordon, pp 390–1.

23 Gash, Norman, Sir Robert Peel: the life of Sir Robert Peel after 1830 (London, 1972), pp 120123 , 278–83.

24 Salisbury to Carnarvon, 21 Mar. 1890 (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 60760, f. 143).

25 Countess of Carnarvon’s diary, 1 Oct. 1885 (Somerset Record Office, Herbert papers, DD/DRO/9/7).

26 Churchill, W. S., Lord Randolph Churchill (2 vols, London 1906), ii, 2122 .

27 Carnarvon to Ashbourne, 13 Aug. 1885 (House of Lords Record Office, Ashbourne papers, B.25/13).

28 The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act 1885 (48 & 49 Vict. c. 73). See: W. F. Bailey, The Irish land acts: a short sketch of their history and development (Dublin, 1917), p. 23.

29 Cooke, A. B. and Malcomson, A. P. W. (eds), The Ashbourne papers, 1869–1913 (Belfast, 1974), p. xvi .

30 Dyke called on Carnarvon after resigning. ‘Poor fellow,’ wrote Carnarvon, ‘he is sore and out of spirits, for he considers that the attacks on him in the Papers have been got up for the purpose of driving him out and he is convinced that they have been inspired by some of his colleagues. It is not pleasant to think this: but I suspect that he is not very wrong.’ (The political diaries, ed. Gordon, p. 414.)

31 The diary of Sir Edward Walter Hamilton, 1880–5, ed. D. W. R. Balham (2 vols, Oxford, 1972), ii, 897.

32 The political diaries, ed. Gordon, p. 384.

33 Beach, V. Hicks, Life of Sir Michael Hicks Beach (2 vols, London, 1932), i, 248249 .

34 ‘Memoirs’, p. 266.

35 Beach annotation, 25 Sept. 1885 (Gloucestershire Record Office, DR 455/PCC 54).

36 ‘Memoirs’, p. 264.

37 Curtis, Coercion and conciliation, p. 42.

38 ‘Memoirs’, p. 273.

39 Sir Robert George Crookshank Hamilton (1836–95), permanent under secretary for Ireland, 1883–6. His enlightened views on Ireland influenced Spencer and Carnarvon in their outlook. See: Gordon (ed.), The red earl, i, 248.

40 For Duffy’s account of his dealings with Carnarvon, see his ‘Carnarvon Controversy’ in R. B. O’Brien, The life of Charles Stewart Parnell (2 vols, London, 1899), ii, 63–90.

41 Sir George Drevar Fottrell (1849–1925), prominent Catholic solicitor and leading Irish nationalist. He wrote extensively on land purchase. See also: Stephen Ball (ed.), Dublin Castle and the first home rule crisis, 1884–87: the political journal of Sir George Fottrell (Camden 5th ser., xxiii, London, 2008), pp 321–6.

42 Cooke, Alistair B. and Vincent, John R., The governing passion: cabinet government and party politics in Britain, 1885–6 (Brighton, 1974), p. 283 .

43 ‘Memoirs’, p. 261.

44 Lord Carnarvon’s visit to Aran, 17 Aug. 1885 (T.N.A. PRO 30/6/67). A somewhat exaggerated account of Carnarvon’s visit to Achill is given in Robinson, H. A., Memories wise and otherwise (London, 1923), pp 7177 .

45 Sir Howard Vincent to Carnarvon, 26 Oct. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/60). Though only a moderate home ruler he claimed to have persuaded Carnarvon to meet Parnell. See: S. H. Jeyes and A. B. How, Life of Sir Howard Vincent (London, 1912), pp 177–8.

46 Frederick Greenwood to Carnarvon, 19 Nov. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/67).

47 Shannon, Richard, Gladstone: heroic minister, 1865–1898 (Harmondsworth, 1990), pp 430434 .

48 Carnarvon, 7 Dec. 1885, marked ‘very confidential’. Printed for the use of the cabinet, 11 Dec. 1885 (T.N.A., CAB 37/16/64). Reprinted in Ball (ed.), Dublin Castle, pp 276–8.

49 Cooke, Alistair B. and Vincent, John R. (eds), ‘Select documents XXVII: Ireland and party politics, 1885–7: an unpublished Conservative memoir (III)’ in I.H.S., xvi, no. 64 (Sept. 1969), pp 465466 .

50 The political diaries, ed. Gordon, p. 408.

51 The diary of Gathorne Hardy, later earl of Cranbrook, 1866–1892: political selections, ed. N. E. Johnson (Oxford, 1981), p. 590.

52 The political diaries, ed. Gordon, pp 413–14.

53 Cooke & Vincent, The governing passion, p. 300.

54 Ibid., p. 305.

55 For an account of the effect of home rule on the structure of the political press, see: Koss, Stephen E., The rise and fall of the political press in Britain: the nineteenth century (London, 1981), pp 286290 .

56 Sir Richard Everard Webster, Viscount Alverstone (1842–1915), Q.C., 1878; Conservative Party M.P., Launceston, 1885; Isle of Wight, 1886; attorney general, 1885–6.

57 Conversation with Sir Richard Webster, 16 Nov. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/67).

58 Curtis, Coercion and conciliation, p. 53. For background, see: Bew, Paul, Land and the national question in Ireland, 1858–82 (Dublin, 1979), pp 143144 .

59 Carnarvon to Hicks Beach, 23 Sept 1885, quoted in O’Day, Alan, The English face of Irish nationalism (Dublin, 1977), p. 101 .

60 Carnarvon to Edmund Gray, Sept. 1885 (T.N.A. PRO 30/6/67).

61 Carnarvon to Sir Matthew Ridley, 29 Sept. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/54). Sir Matthew Ridley (1841–1904), Conservative Party M.P., Hexham, 1885–6; financial secretary, Treasury, 1885–6.

62 One of Carnarvon’s first acts after taking office was to correspond with Manning who had suggested that the Viceroy should see the four archbishops for an exchange of views. See: Hardinge, The life of Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, iii, 161–2.

63 Conversations with Dr William Delany, 16 Oct. 1885 and 6 Jan. 1886; Dr Gerald Molloy, vice chancellor of the Royal University, 11 Oct. 1885 and 8 Dec. 1885; Dr John Healy, bishop of Clonfert, 27 Oct. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 20/6/67).

64 Conversation with Bishop Carr of Galway, 17 Aug. 1885 (T.N.A. PRO 20/6/67).

65 Conversation with Sir George Fottrell, 24 Sept. 1885 (T.N.A. PRO 20/6/67).

66 Conversation with Cardinal Manning, 19 Nov. 1885 (T.N.A. PRO 20/6/67). However, Carnarvon was less successful in involving the pope in Irish affairs. See: Larkin, Emmet, The Roman Catholic church and the creation of the modern Irish state, 1878–86 (Philadelphia, 1979), pp 354355 .

67 Lyons, F. S. L., Charles Stewart Parnell (London, 1977), pp 97105 .

68 Conversation with Sir George Fottrell, 24 Sept. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/67).

69 Carnarvon to Lord John Manners, 19 Jan. 1886 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/55).

70 Carnarvon to Edmund Dwyer Gray, 27 Sept. 1885 (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/67).

71 Ponsonby, Arthur, Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria’s private secretary (London, 1942), p. 199 .

72 See Hammond, J. L., Gladstone and the Irish nation (London, 1958), pp 438454 .

73 O’Shea, Katharine, Charles Stewart Parnell: his love story and political life (2 vols, London, 1914), ii, 28.

74 Warren, Allen, ‘Dublin Castle, Whitehall and the formation of Irish policy, 1879–92’ in I.H.S., xxxiv, no. 136 (Nov. 2005), p. 425 .

75 The political diaries, ed. Gordon, p. 414.

76 O’Mahony, Charles, The viceroys of Ireland (London, 1912), p. 293 .

77 As Lady Carnarvon stated, ‘He finally declared that he could not refuse.’ Diary, 16 June 1885 (Somerset Record Office, Herbert papers, DD/DRU/3/7).

78 The last lord lieutenant was Edmund Howard, first Viscount FitzAlan-Howard of Derwent, 27 Apr. 1921 to 6 Dec. 1922.

79 Sir John Bernard Burke (1814–92), publisher of Genealogical dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the United Kingdom, from 1847.

80 Honorary degree of doctor of laws, 17 Dec. 1885.

81 Hansard 3, ccxcviii, 1658–62 (6 July 1885).

82 The Munster Bank was a joint-stock company established in 1864. Fraud and mismanagement led to its replacement by the Munster and Leinster Bank in 1885. The repeal of the bubble bill in 1825 had allowed banks to become joint-stock companies. Irish banks, based mainly in Dublin, included the Royal Bank of Ireland, the Hibernian and the National Bank of Ireland. See: Charles Hickson and John D. Turner, ‘The genesis of corporate governance: nineteenth-century Irish joint-stock banks’ in Business History, xlvii, no. 2 (Apr. 2005), pp 174–89.

83 The Hibernian joint-stock banking company was established in 1825.

84 The Bank of Ireland was established in 1783.

85 Sir George Walsh Kellner (1825–86), financial commissioner and member of council, Cyprus, 1878–83; assistant paymaster general, Court of Chancery, 1884.

86 Spencer had assisted Carnarvon with a personal loan. See: Carnarvon to Spencer, 11 Aug. 1885 (B.L., Althorp (Spencer) papers, Add. MS 76878).

87 Carnarvon toured the west coast of Ireland from 17 to 22 Aug., visiting Galway, the Aran Islands, Clifden, Westport, Achill Island, Sligo and Belmullet.

88 H.M.S. Valorous, a sixteen-gun, steam-powered paddle frigate, launched in 1861 and sold for breaking up in 1891.

89 The visit to the north from 7 to 17 Sept. included Belfast, Belvoir Park, Antrim, Londonderry, Baronscourt, Lurgan, Lisburn and Armagh.

90 Sir Thomas Bateson (1819–90), Conservative Party M.P., Londonderry, 1844–52; Devizes, 1864–85.

91 Sir Henry Hervey Bruce (1820–1907), of Downhill, Coleraine; Conservative Party M.P., Coleraine, 1862–71, 1874–85.

92 Lady Georgiana Downshire (d. 1919), of Kilmartin, widow of Arthur Wills, fifth marquess of Downshire.

93 James Hamilton, first duke of Abercorn (1811–85); lived at Baronscourt, Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone; lord lieutenant of Ireland, 1866–8, 1874–6.

94 Daniel McGettigan (1815–97), archbishop of Armagh, 1880–7.

95 Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808–92). He joined the Catholic church in 1851; created cardinal in 1875. Earlier, at a meeting with Carnarvon, Manning told him that many Irish bishops favoured union with England and of local government in the provinces, but not a central parliament. See: Hardinge, The life of Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, iii, 161.

96 In Aug. 1882 five members of a family at Maamtrasna, Connemara, were murdered. Ten men were accused of the crime, two being informants; five were given a late reprieve and the remaining three were hanged. One of these, Miles Joyce, was regarded as a political martyr. Shortly after the execution, Spencer admitted ‘the M. decision worried me dreadfully up to the last.’ (Spencer to Harcourt, 22 Dec.1882 (Bodl., Harcourt papers, MS 40)). Parnell’s motion on 12 July 1885 for an enquiry into the case was supported by Beach and Churchill, but opposed by Salisbury and Carnarvon. See: Hansard 3, ccxcix, 1064 (17 July 1885); Brodrick, W. S. J. F., earl of Midleton, Records and reactions, 1851–1939 (London, 1939), p. 64 .

97 Hansard 3, ccxcviii, 1658–62 (6 July 1885).

98 Parnell’s motion reporting the re-opening of the Maamtrasna case: Hansard 3, ccxcix, 1064–81 (17 July 1885).

99 Sir John Eldon Gorst (1835–1916), Conservative Party M.P., Cambridge, 1866–8; Chatham, 1878–92; solicitor general, 1885–6; member of the ‘fourth party’. See: Hunter, Archie, A life of Sir John Eldon Gorst: Disraeli’s awkward disciple (London, 2001), pp 182185 .

100 Col. Sir Owen Rendel-Slacke (1837–1910), divisional commissioner, Ireland, 1883; resident magistrate.

101 Conference on Irish Council Prisons held at the Royal Lodge, Dublin, 29 Sept. 1885. It consisted of Carnarvon in the chair, Dyke, Robert Hamilton, Sir Michael Morris, Hon. C. Bourke and Capt. H. Jekyll, secretary. The meeting was called ‘to consider the best means of providing for the employment of convicts … confined in Mountjoy Prison where the means of employing them will soon come to an end’ (T.N.A., PRO 30/6/65).

102 Set up in England in 1858, these schools catered for ‘neglected, orphaned and abandoned children’. The Industrial Schools (Ireland) Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c. 32), with close church connections, led to the building of 300 schools by 1882. After a visit to some of them Carnarvon wrote, ‘A most striking and intelligent sight … the light in the darkness, the bright spot in the gloom, they are an unqualified good’. (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 60925, entry for 21 Sept. 1885).

103 In Feb. 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish proposed to refer the subject of industrial schools in England for the consideration of a royal commission. It was not thought desirable to make provision for a further extension of industrial schools in Ireland until that commission had reported. See: Hansard 3, cclxvi, 243 (9 Feb.1882). The Aberdare Commission on Reformatory and Industrial Schools, 1884, recommended a further expansion of the schools. See: C. J. Barnes, Irish industrial schools, 1868–1908 (Dublin, 1982), p. 64.

104 Sir William Hart Dyke (1837–1931), Conservative M.P., Kent West, 1874–80; chief secretary, Ireland, 1885–6; vice president of committee of council on education, 1887–92.

105 Angela Georgina, Baroness Burdett-Coutts (1814–1906), philanthropist, was interested in improving the living conditions of the Irish poor. After visiting the district in 1884 she provided funds to build boats and a fishery training school at Baltimore, Co. Cork. See: Peterson, Clara Burdett, Burdett-Coutts and the Victorians (London, 1953), p. 210 .

106 For an account of the relationship between the Irish national system and the system of intermediate and technical education, see Akenson, D. H., The Irish experiment: the national system of education in the nineteenth century (London, 1970), pp 349351 .

107 Freeman’s Journal, 13 July 1885. Carnarvon visited the exhibition on 21 Sept. 1885.

108 Col. Robert Bruce (1825–99), inspector general, Royal Irish Constabulary, 1868–85.

109 Sir Andrew Reed (1837–1914), district inspector, Royal Irish Constabulary, 1859; inspector general, 1885–1900. For further details see: Crossman, Virginia, Politics, law and order in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin, 1996), pp 156168 .

110 The newly appointed chief secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and Thomas Burke, his under-secretary, had been murdered on 7 May 1882 whilst riding through Phoenix Park. See: Cooke, Alistair B. & Vincent, John R. (eds), ‘Select documents XXX: Lord Spencer on the Phoenix Park murders’ in I.H.S., xviii, no. 72 (Sept. 1973), pp 588591 .

111 Sir George Otto Trevelyan (1838–1928), chief secretary, Ireland, 1882–4. See: Hansard 3, ccixv 278–80, 295 (6 Mar. 1885).

112 Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847).

113 For the limitation of clerical influence in Land League and National League branches, see Hoppen, K. Theodore, Elections, politics and society in Ireland, 1832–1885 (Oxford, 1984), p. 255 .

114 See the writings of the ‘new’ history of the Irish land war: Gráda, Cormac Ó, Ireland: a new economic history, 1789–1939 (Oxford, 1994), pp 255257 .

115 Sir Charles Edward Lewis (1825–94), Conservative Party M.P., Londonderry, 1872–86; magistrate, Co. Londonderry.

116 Hugh Holmes (1840–1916), Conservative Party M.P., Dublin, 1885–7; solicitor general, Ireland, 1878–80; attorney general, Ireland, July 1885 to June 1886.

117 The Treason Act of 1351 (25 Edw III St. 5 c. 2).

118 Decided after long discussion with Holmes (B.L., Carnarvon papers, Add. MS 60925, entry for 18 Sept. 1885).

119 The general election, held in Nov. and Dec., resulted in a Liberal majority of eighty-two over the Tories. The Irish party also gained eighty-six seats, thus giving them the balance of power.

120 See: Sheehy-Skeffington, Francis, Michael Davitt: revolutionary agitator and labour leader (London, 1967), pp 127129 .

121 Carnarvon once remarked, ‘Salisbury is so extremely chary of giving away honours that I know it is in vain to ask for any.’ Carnarvon regarded this ‘as a very mental phenomenon in a man who I should have thought would not have cared a pin’s head about such matters’. See: Lubenow, William C., Parliamentary politics and the home rule crisis: the British House of Commons in 1886 (Oxford, 1988), p. 176 .

122 Spencer Compton Cavendish, marquess of Hartington (1833–1908), succeeded as the eighth duke of Devonshire, 1891; secretary of state, India, 1880–2; secretary of state, war, 1882–5. See: Jackson, Patrick, The last of the Whigs: a political biography of Lord Henry Cavendish, marquess of Hartington (Cranbury, N.J, 1984), pp 211214 .

123 For the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1845, Peel had the support of 119 Conservatives, with the remaining two thirds of the party against him. See: Stewart, Robert, The foundation of the Conservative Party, 1830–1867 (London, 1978), p. 215 .

124 Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773), lord lieutenant of Ireland, 1745–6; author of Letter to his Son (1746–9).

125 Blank in MS. A loan of almost £600,000 was granted by the government in 1879 for purchasing seed.

126 Several light railway or tramways acts were passed between 1868 and 1883, under which 295 miles of light railways were constructed at a cost of £1,389,784.

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Irish Historical Studies
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