Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-q6k6v Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T23:24:24.306Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

‘Information from which money can be made is what is required’: William Blackwoods and the Irish Ordnance Memoir Commission of 1843-4

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2024

Ian Hill*
Affiliation:
Independent scholar
*

Abstract

The Irish Ordnance memoir scheme attempted to produce wide-ranging ‘statistical’ memoirs on a national basis, to accompany the large-scale (six-inch) mapping of the country by the Irish Ordnance Survey. Dating to the early 1830s, the memoir scheme had a stop-start existence and only published a specimen account for the parish of Templemore, County Londonderry (1837). But the scheme's overall aims of economic improvement and cultural revival attracted considerable support from Irish society and the Irish press. Public calls for resumption after memoir activity was stopped in 1840 led to an investigatory commission of 1843–4, appointed by the prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, but the commission's favourable findings were then disputed by him, primarily on grounds of cost. This article examines the impact of the Edinburgh publishing house of William Blackwoods on the memoir commission. The first section investigates the influence of Scottish voluntaryism on the commission, while the second assesses the impact of the firm on the emerging publication proposals in the immediate aftermath of the report. The article argues that the memoir scheme was not a victim of British antipathy but expired from a failure of the principals, including Blackwoods, to agree publishing terms, and both assesses and contextualises the scheme's demise from this adjusted perspective.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 The quotation in the title is from: Report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the facts relating to the ordnance memoir of Ireland, together with the minutes of evidence, appendix and report, pp iii, 64, 79, H.C. 1844 (527), xxx, 259 (henceforth O.M.R.).

2 The main secondary works are: Andrews, J. H., A paper landscape: the Ordnance Survey in nineteenth-century Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 2002)Google Scholar, especially pp 144‒79; Doherty, G. M., The Irish Ordnance Survey: history, culture and memory (Dublin, 2004)Google Scholar; Patrick McWilliams, ‘The Ordnance memoir of Ireland: origins, progress and decline’ (Ph.D. thesis, Queen's University, Belfast, 2005).

3 [T. F.] Colby, Memoir of the city and north western liberties of Londonderry: parish of Templemore (Dublin, 1837); Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 157‒60.

4 O.M.R., pp 69‒70; Adare to Larcom, 23 June 1843 (N.L.I., Larcom papers, MS 7553) [all N.L.I. references henceforth are to the Larcom papers].

5 Peel to Queen Victoria, 11 July 1843 (B.L., Peel papers, Add. MS 4037, f. 29) [all B.L. references henceforth are to Peel's papers]; Colby to Larcom, 12 July 1843 (N.L.I., MS 7553); Geoghegan, P. M., Liberator: the life and death of Daniel O'Connell, 1830‒1847 (Dublin, 2010), pp 138‒41Google Scholar; Gráda, Cormac Ó, Ireland: a new economic history, 1780‒1939 (Oxford, 1994), pp 166‒7Google Scholar.

6 Peel to Prince Albert, 11 June 1843 (B.L., Add. MS 40436); Lord Downshire to Peel, 19 June 1843 (B.L., Add. MS 40530, ff 128‒32); Adare to Larcom, 29 June 1843 (N.L.I., MS 7553).

7 De Grey to Peel, 3 July 1843 (B.L., Add. MS 40478, ff 101‒02).

8 Sir John Sinclair, Statistical account of Scotland (21 vols, Edinburgh, 1791‒9), ed. D. J. Withrington and I. R. Grant (rev. and repr., 20 vols, Wakefield, 1973‒83). For the publication history of the N.S.A., 1834‒45, see J. A. Gibson, ‘The New Statistical Account of Scotland: correct publication dates of the parish accounts’ in Scottish Naturalist, cvii (1995), pp 3‒52. Digitised versions of both sets of accounts, plus supplementary resources, are available via the Statistical Accounts of Scotland website, (www.edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot) (accessed 27 June 2023).

9 Larcom to [Thomas Robinson], June and July 1843 (N.L.I., MS 7545); Norman Gash, Sir Robert Peel: the life of Sir Robert Peel after 1830 (2nd ed., London, 1986), pp 394‒5.

10 O.M.R., p. iii.

11 Robert Blackwood (R. B.) to Alexander Blackwood (A. B.), 21 May 1843 (National Library of Scotland, Blackwood papers, MS 4065, f. 63); John Blackwood (J. B.) to A. B., 26 July 1843 (N.L.S, MS 4064, ff 122‒3) [all N.L.S. references henceforth are to the Blackwood papers].

12 David Finkelstein, The house of Blackwood: author-publisher relations in the Victorian era (University Park, PA, 2003), p. 10.

13 J.B. to A.B., 25 July 1843 (N.L.S., MS 4064, f. 120).

14 William Shaw Mason (ed.), A statistical account, or parochial survey of Ireland (3 vols, Dublin, 1814‒19), i, pp v‒vi, viii‒ix; ibid., ii, p. i; ibid., iii, pp viii‒xiv.

15 George Smith to Larcom, 7 Nov. 1837 (N.L.I., MS 7552); Tony Farmar, The history of Irish book publishing (Stroud, 2018), pp 41‒2.

16 O.M.R., pp iv, 59, 79‒80; ‘Sir John Sinclair’ in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, xlii (1837), p. 11.

17 Rosalind Mitchison, Agricultural Sir John: the life of Sir John Sinclair of Ulster (London, 1962), p. 255.

18 O.M.R., pp ix, 18, 21, 24, 26, 38, 42, 51, 54, 56, 64, 80; J. H. Murphy, Ireland: a social, cultural and literary history, 1791‒1891 (Dublin, 2003), pp 66, 70.

19 Doherty, Irish Ordnance Survey, pp 78‒86, 98‒112; McWilliams, ‘Ordnance Survey memoir’, pp 215‒25.

20 Colby, Templemore, preliminary notice, p. 7; Ian Hill, ‘The origins of the New Statistical Account of Scotland’ in Scottish Historical Review, xcvi (2017), p. 177; C. W. J. Withers, Geography, science and national identity: Scotland since 1520 (Cambridge, 2001), pp 147‒8.

21 Angélique Day and Patrick McWilliams (eds), Ordnance Survey memoirs of Ireland (Belfast and Dublin): i, Parishes of County Armagh, 1835‒8 (1990), pp 20, 51; ii, Parishes of County Antrim 1838‒9 (1990), pp 34‒105.

22 O.M.R., pp x, 2‒4, 79‒87; Larcom's survey questionnaire (1832) (N.L.I., MS 7550); Doherty, Irish Ordnance Survey, p. 38; Hill, ‘Origins of the N.S.A.’, pp 175‒6.

23 O.M.R., pp 6, 49, 55; Withrington and Grant, O.S.A., i, pp 48‒95; Hill, ‘Origins of the N.S.A.’, pp 181‒2.

24 O.M.R., pp iv, xiv‒xv, 40, 60‒1, 65, 71; Larcom to Colby, 27 Jan. 1843 (N.L.I., MS 7553); Andrews, Paper landscape, p. 165.

25 O.M.R., pp v‒viii, 6, 71.

26 O.M.R., pp x, 64‒5, 79‒80; Blackwoods to John Cumming, 23 July 1843 (N.L.I., MS 7551).

27 Ian Hill, ‘A flawed speculation: the making and unmaking of the New Statistical Account of Scotland’ in Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, xiv (2019), p. 42; Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 174‒5.

28 Blackwoods’ publication ledger, 1838‒46 (N.L.S., MS 30857, p. 61); J. B. to A. B., 26 July 1843 (N.L.S., MS 4064, ff 122‒3); R. B. to J. B., 31 July 1843 (N.L.S., MS 4065, f. 77).

29 O.M.R., pp 59‒60; Colby to William Gregory, 4 Dec. 1830 (N.A.I., CSO/RP/1830/1952).

30 Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 148‒9, 153, 163; McWilliams, ‘Ordnance Survey memoir’, pp 91‒6, 113‒21.

31 Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 160‒62; Paul Bew, Ireland: the politics of enmity (Oxford, 2009), p. 144; Doherty, Irish Ordnance Survey, pp 26‒7; McWilliams, ‘Ordnance Survey memoir’, pp 269‒71.

32 Hill, ‘A flawed speculation’, p. 44.

33 O.M.R, pp iii-iv.

34 O.M.R., pp xiii‒xv.

35 Dublin Evening Post, 16 Mar. 1844; Charles Read, ‘Peel, De Grey and Irish policy, 1841‒44’ in History, xcix (2014), pp 3, 5‒6, 12‒18.

36 Robert Kane to John Young, 25 May 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7556); Larcom to [Robinson], 24 July 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7545).

37 O.M.R., pp vii‒viii, 41‒4, 46, 49, 52‒3, 59, 61, 65‒6, 70‒71, 79; Toby Barnard, Brought to book: print in Ireland, 1680‒1784 (Dublin, 2017), pp 30‒8, 172‒8.

38 For the subsequent fate of the geological survey, see Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 175‒7.

39 O.M.R., pp vii, ix‒x, xiv‒xv, 12‒13, 16‒18, 21‒2, 24‒8, 30, 40, 60‒61; Adare to Larcom, 23 June 1843 (N.L.I., MS 7553); Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 65, 72.

40 For the parlous state of early nineteenth-century Irish publishing, see Farmar, Irish book publishing, pp 35‒8; Vincent Kinane, A brief history of printing and publishing in Ireland (Dublin, 2002), p. 23.

41 O.M.R., pp 29‒30, 57.

42 O.M.R., p. 79; Frances McGee, The archives of the valuation of Ireland, 1830‒1865 (Dublin, 2018), p. 199.

43 J. B. to R. B., 13 May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, f. 105); John Gordon to A. B., 21 May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4070, ff 268‒9). The draft memoranda are both Apr-.May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 30073, pp 83-6; and MS 30074, ff 49–52).

44 J. B. to R. B., 21 Apr. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 94‒5).

45 P. J. Duffy, ‘Ordnance Survey maps and official reports’, in J. H. Murphy (ed.), The Oxford history of the Irish book, iv: the Irish book in English, 1800‒1891 (Oxford, 2011), p. 560.

46 K. T. Hoppen, Governing Hibernia: British politicians and Ireland, 1800‒1921 (Oxford, 2016), pp 88‒9; Stiofán Ó Cadhla, Civilizing Ireland: Ordnance Survey, 1824‒1842: ethnography, cartography, translation (Dublin, 2007), p. 86.

47 A. B. to R. B., 16 May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4068, ff 166‒8); J. B. to A. B., 10 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, f. 14).

48 J. B. to A. B., 20, 21 Apr. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 92‒5).

49 For instance, Freeman's Journal, 6 Apr. 1844. Dublin Weekly Nation, 6 Apr. 1844 (also widely syndicated).

50 Blackwood draft memoranda, both Apr.-May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 30073, pp 83-6; and MS 30074, ff 49–52); J. B. to R. B., 21 Apr. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 94‒5); John Gordon to A. B., 21 May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4070, ff 268-9).

51 Hill, ‘A flawed speculation’, pp 40‒41.

52 Angélique Day, Glimpses of Ireland's past. The Ordnance Survey memoir drawings: topography and technique (Dublin, 2014), p. 16.

53 Denominational statistics are printed in Nigel Yates, The religious condition of Ireland, 1770‒1850 (Oxford, 2006), pp 327‒8.

54 O.M.R., p. xiv.

55 J. B. to A. B., 21, 27 Apr., 13 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 94‒5, 100, 147‒8).

56 J. B. to R. B., 21 Apr. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 94‒5); A. B. to R. B., 16 May 1644 (N.L.S., MS 4068, ff 166‒8); Ciara Boylan, The life and career of Archbishop Richard Whately: Ireland, religion and reform (Dublin, 2018), pp 131‒2, 141.

57 A. B. to J. B., 29 June, 1 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4068, ff 187, 189); J. B. to A. B., 1 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, f. 142); James Johnston to R. B., [1844] (N.L.S., MS 4066, ff 156‒7).

58 J. B. to A. B., 10, 13 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 147‒8); Alexis Weedon, Victorian publishing: the economics of book production for a mass market, 1836‒1916 (Aldershot, 2003), p. 47.

59 Finkelstein, House of Blackwood, p. 44; McWilliams, ‘Ordnance Survey memoir’, pp 254‒5.

60 For the development of Irish history at this period, see Clare O'Halloran, ‘Historical writings, 1690‒1890’ in Margaret Kelleher and Philip O'Leary (eds), The Cambridge history of Irish Literature (2 vols, Cambridge, 2006), i, 614‒25.

61 Adare to Larcom, 18 May 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7556); A. B. to R. B., 28 May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4068, f. 175); The Standard, 21 May 1844; Dublin Evening Mail, 27 May 1844; Cork Examiner, 29 May 1844.

62 J. B. to A. B., 1 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, f. 142); Freeman's Journal, 25 July 1844.

63 Blackwood memorandum, [May 1844] (N.L.S., MS 30074, f. 47).

64 See Terrence McDonough, Eamonn Slater and Thomas Boylan, ‘Irish political economy before and after the Famine’ in Terrence McDonough (ed), Was Ireland a colony? Economics, politics and culture in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin, 2005), pp 212‒15 for the Peel administration's anti-interventionist, economic stance.

65 J.B. to R.B., 21 Apr. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 94‒5); Weedon, Victorian publishing, pp 52‒3, 89.

66 A.B. to J.B., 29 July 1843 (N.L.S., MS 4063, f. 191); J.B. to R.B., 13 Mar. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 66‒7); A.B. to R.B., 28 May 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4068, f. 175); A.B to J.B, 1 July 1844. (N.L.S., MS 4068, f. 189); J.B. to A.B., 1 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, f. 142).

67 R.B. to A.B., 24 Apr. 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4070, f. 21). See also Farmar, Irish book publishing, pp 44‒6.

68 J.B. to R.B., 20 Dec. 1843 (N.L.S., MS 4064, f. 199).

69 Hill, ‘A flawed speculation’, pp 35‒6; Weedon, Victorian publishing, pp 75‒6.

70 Letters from ‘A Celt’, The Times, 11 Mar., 4 Apr. 1844; Adare to Larcom, 27 Apr., 9, 15 May 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7556); J. B. to A. B., 19 Mar., 15 June 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, ff 70‒71, MS 30008, ff 126‒7).

71 J. B. to A. B., 1 July 1844 (N.L.S., MS 4069, f. 142); Asa Briggs, A history of Longmans and their books, 1724‒1990: longevity in publishing (London, 2008), pp 171‒86, 188, 260‒1.

72 John Logan, ‘The national curriculum’ in Murphy (ed.), Oxford History of Irish Book, iv, pp 507‒10, 515; Weedon, Victorian publishing, p. 125.

73 John Murray to Adare, 19‒24 June 1844 (N.L.S., MS 41911, p. 169).

74 Larcom to [Robinson], 26 July 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7545); letters between Larcom and Adare, 1, 5 Mar. 1845 (N.L.I., MS 7557).

75 Young to Peel, 9 Dec. 1844 (B.L., Add. MS 40555, ff 86‒9); Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 185‒208; Ó Cadhla, Civilizing Ireland, p. 49.

76 Saunders's News-letter, 8 Mar. 1844.

77 J. B. to A. B., 26 July 1843 (N.L.S., MS 4064, ff 122‒3).

78 Freeman's Journal, 27 July 1844. See also, Ann Andrews, Newspapers and newsmakers: the Dublin nationalist press in the mid-nineteenth century (Liverpool, 2014), pp 18, 40, 59‒68.

79 Andrews, Paper landscape, pp 171‒2.

80 Adare to Larcom, 18 Mar. 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7557).

81 Geoghegan, Liberator, pp 183‒96.

82 Freeman's Journal, 28 May 1844.

83 Larcom to Petrie, 6 June 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7567).

84 R. A. Gaunt, Sir Robert Peel: the life and legacy (London, 2010), pp 37, 70; McWilliams, ‘Ordnance Survey memoir’, pp 292‒8.

85 Gaunt, ‘Sir Robert Peel’, pp 17‒40.

86 De Grey to Peel, 3 July 1843 (B.L., Add. MS 40478, ff 101‒02).

87 Andrews, Paper landscape, p. 153.

88 Larcom to [Robinson], 26 July, 13 Aug. 1844 (N.L.I., MS 7545).

89 Patrick McWilliams, ‘Larcom the cartographer: political economy in pre-Famine Ireland’ in History Ireland, xvi, no. 2 (Mar.–Apr. 2008), pp 28–32.

90 Dublin Evening Packet, 26 Mar. 1844; Andrews, Paper landscape, p. 162.

91 Larcom to [Henry] James, 10 Feb. 1845 (N.L.I., MS 7557).

92 George Murray to Peel, 19 May 1846 (B.L., Add. MS 40591, ff 283‒4).

93 Frank Ferguson and James McConnel, ‘Introduction’ in eidem (eds), Ireland and Scotland in the nineteenth century (Dublin, 2009), p. 7.

94 David McKitterick, ‘Organising knowledge in print’ in idem (ed.), Cambridge history of the book in Britain, vi: 1830‒1914 (Cambridge, 2009), pp 535‒7.

95 O.M.R., pp 36, 40; copy letter, William Creech to Sir John Sinclair, 27 Oct. 1809, in Withrington and Grant, O.S.A., i, pp lxiv‒lxvi.

96 Gibson, ‘N.S.A. publication dates’, p. 51.

97 Andrews. Paper landscape, p. 172.

98 Letters between George A. Grierson and Larcom, 13, 18 Dec. 1858 (N.L.I., MS 7551).

99 Hill, ‘A flawed speculation’, pp 41, 43.

100 C. J. Berry, The idea of commercial society in the Scottish Enlightenment ((Edinburgh, 2013), p. 23; M. E. Daly, The spirit of earnest enquiry: the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, 1847‒1997 (Dublin, 1997), pp 1‒2, 9, 11, 13‒15.

101 I. D. Hill, ‘Statistical Society of London – Royal Statistical Society: the first 100 years, 1834‒1934’ in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, series A, cxlvii (1984), pp 130‒34; K. J. Rankin, ‘The Journal of the Statistical and Social Enquiry Society of Ireland’ in Murphy (ed.), Oxford history of Irish book, iv, 564‒6.

102 Doherty, Irish Ordnance Survey, pp 42‒4, 54, 125‒36, 139‒52.

103 The Nation, 6 Apr. 1844.

104 Doherty, Irish Ordnance Survey, pp 199‒210; Ó Cadhla, Civilizing Ireland, pp 21‒2, 25‒6.

105 McWilliams, ‘Ordnance Survey memoir’, pp 134‒5.

106 Ó Cadhla, Civilizing Ireland, pp 28‒31; Helen O'Connell, ‘The nature of improvement in Ireland’ in Matthew Kelly (ed.), Nature and the environment in nineteenth-century Ireland (Liverpool, 2019), pp 16‒21, 26.

107 Foley, Tadhg, Death by discourse?Political economy and the great Irish famine (Hamden, CT, 2016)Google Scholar; Gráda, Cormac Ó, Ireland before and after the Famine: explorations in economic history, 1800‒1925 (2nd ed., Manchester, 1993), pp 125‒33Google Scholar.

108 O.M.R., p. xiv; Juliana Adelman, ‘The agriculture diploma in Queen's College, Belfast, 1845‒63, and science education in nineteenth‒century Ireland’ in Irish Economic and Social History, xxxv (2008), pp 57‒61; Andrews, Paper landscape, p. 177.

109 O.M.R., pp 55, 76‒7; Saunders's News-letter, 8 Mar. 1844; Cork Advertiser, 11 Apr. 1844; Dublin Review, June 1844.

110 Gearóid Denvir, ‘Literature in Irish, 1800‒1890: from the Act of Union to the Gaelic League’ in Kelleher and O'Leary (eds), Cambridge history of Irish literature, i, 559.

111 Murphy, Ireland, 1791–1891, p. 79.

112 Quinn, James, Young Ireland and the writing of Irish history (Dublin, 2015), pp 2, 31, 6061Google Scholar.

113 Murray to Colby, 25 June 1845 (T.N.A., Ordnance Office papers, WO46/75, pp 304‒07); Cosmo Innes (ed.), Origines parochiales Scotiae: the antiquities ecclesiastical and territorial of the parishes of Scotland (3 vols, Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, 1851‒5).