[PEEL’S IRISH LIBRARY] Bibliotheca Hibernicana or a Descriptive Catalogue of a Select Irish Library collected for the Right Hon. Robert Peel. With an Essay by Norman D. Palmer.
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Shannon: Irish University Press: 1970. Second edition. Octavo. pp. [iv], 12, vii, 51. Bound at Museum Bookbinders in quarter straight-grained red levant morocco over blue papered boards with title and decorations in gilt on upper cover. Edition limited to 50 copies [No. 50]. All edges gilt. A very good copy in leather-entry slipcase.
Robert Peel, (1788-1850), second baronet and third of the name, came of a prosperous family of Lancashire calico-printers. He graduated from Oxford in 1807 with a double first, and in 1809 his father bought him a parliamentary seat for Cashel. He was undersecretary for war 1810-12, and became Chief Secretary for Ireland in August 1812 when aged only 24. During his six year tenure he established a national force of Peace Preservation Police, popularly called ‘Peelers’, and resisted pressure for Catholic Emancipation, clashing with Daniel O’Connell, with whom he declined to fight a duel. Moving on from this post in 1818, he was an increasingly significant figure in later British governments. In 1829, as Home Secretary, he introduced the Bill for Catholic Emancipation in spite of his personal reservations; in 1834 and again in 1841 he became Prime Minister. He carried the repeal of the Corn Laws, initiated electoral reform, and is regarded as the principal architect of the modern Conservative Party and the
Peel’s Irish appointment was his first senior ministry. During his sojourn here Sir Robert became acquainted with the Irish topographer William Shaw Mason and encouraged him to prepare a major statistical survey of Ireland and the result was the three volume work entitled ‘A Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland’ (1814/19). The chief secretary immersed himself in Irish affairs and contracted Mason to assemble for him “a select Irish library”. Mason went about this task diligently and collected “the principal writers on the leading subjects and events of the several periods, from the earliest extant to the year 1820”. The result was an outstanding collection of some 170 volumes, “uniformly bound in green morocco”, to grace Sir Robert’s library. In 1823 a catalogue limited to fifty copies was published in Dublin.
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