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BOOK OF HOWTH: Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts, preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth. 1515 – 1624. Edited by J. S. Brewer and William Bullen. Including The Book of Howth; The Conquest of Ireland, written by Thomas Bray. Six volumes.
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“AN ESTIMABLE MASS OF THE MOST IMPORTANT EVIDENCE”
London: Longman, 1867/73. Royal octavo. Blue cloth, titled in gilt. From the Historical Institute Library, with neat stamps. A very good set. Very rare.
The Carew Papers preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth Palace contain the most important materials for the history of Ireland, and extend from the reign of Henry the Second to the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. They were collected by Sir George Carew, President of Munster and Earl of Totness, apparently for the purpose of writing a history of Ireland, and especially the wars in Munster including the Desmond Rebellion.
Sir George Carew, Baron Carew of Clopton and Earl of Totnes (1555-1629), soldier and statesman, was one of the great Elizabethan military leaders in Ireland at the close of the sixteenth century. A man of great courage and ability, but avaricious, crafty and unscrupulous, he delighted, as he recalled himself, to accomplish his ends by “wit and cunning”. He arrived in Ireland in 1574, and saw active service in Leinster and Munster, took charge of Leighlin Castle in 1576 and repulsed Rory Oge O’Moore. Carew was Commander of the troops in Ireland 1579-80. His brother Peter fell by his side in an ambush at Glenmalure in 1580 and this was the source of his abhorrent hatred of the Irish. He boasted in a letter to Walsingham of his sweet revenge having killed, with his own hands, his brother’s murderer. Knighted in 1586, and in the same year he reported to Queen Elizabeth on Irish affairs. In 1599 he was appointed Treasurer for War in Ireland and also created President of Munster, where he acquired vast estates. Carew ruthlessly pursued a scorched earth policy, suppressed the Desmond Rebellion, culminating in the defeat of the Irish under the command of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, at the Battle of Kinsale, and later at the Siege of Dunboy Castle, whose garrison he put to the sword. He was a keen antiquary, particularly interested in the history of Ireland and was thanked by Camden for his contributions in ‘Britannia’. On his death his books and papers were left to his natural son, Sir Thomas Stafford, who used them for his ‘Pacata Hibernia’. James Henthorn Todd described this unique collection: “as an inestimable mass of the most important evidence”. The collection consists of ancient chronicles and histories of Ireland, Journals of the Proceedings of the Lord Lieutenants of Ireland, their instructions, copies of Proclamations, Acts of Parliament, orders of council, ordnances, commissions, memorials, decrees, certificates, estimates, indentures, royal charters, plans of castles and fortifications, letters patent, maps and surveys, etc. Published by the authority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury under the direction of the Master of the Rolls.” Includes indexes.
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