Robert Dunlop Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of the historian Robert Dunlop. Most of these relate to his work on the history of Ireland, and include draft and unpublished manuscripts as well as some of his research notes.

The most significant item in the collection is Dunlop's manuscript for his unpublished history of Ireland. This was the culmination of a lifetime of research, and the manuscripts runs to over 900 folios, covering the prehistoric period to the early 20th century. The manuscript was apparently submitted to the Clarendon Press in the mid-1920s but was not accepted.

Also present are Dunlop's manuscripts for some of his books including Daniel O'Connell, some published articles, including those on contemporary Austria and Czechoslovakia, and some unpublished papers.

RDP/2 comprises some of Dunlop's notebooks and notes, mainly from Irish and British sources (particularly the State papers of Ireland and various British Museum manuscript collections). RDP/3 consists of a small number of letters concerning Dunlop's research (it is evident that most of his correspondence was not retained).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Dunlop was a notable historian of Ireland, and was one of the first to bring the methods of modern scholarship to the study of Irish history.

Dunlop was born in Manchester, but grew up in Southport, Lancashire. He attended Owens College between 1879 and 1882, and took an honours degree in history. He then pursued research and was a Bishop Berkeley fellow at Owens between 1888 and 1890. In 1890, Dunlop married Elisabeth Waagner, the daughter of a wealthy Austrian industrialist, and they had a son.

In 1908, he was made honorary special lecturer in Irish history at the University of Manchester. Dunlop lived in Austria for most of the year, but came to Manchester to deliver an annual courses of lectures. He also lectured for University Extension classes. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Dunlop was living in Austria, and was put under house arrest for the duration of the War. In 1920 he was reappointed a special lecturer in Irish history at Manchester, a post he held until his death. He returned to live in Austria in 1923, with the family fortunes much reduced.

Dunlop was known as an assiduous researcher, with a detailed understanding of Irish archives. His particular area of specialism was Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries, and he edited a important collection of documents, Ireland under the Commonwealth (1913) based on his researches. He also had a great interest in the historical cartography of Ireland, and did much to advance this subject area. Dunlop was a prolific contributor to the Dictionary of National Biography, writing 169 articles on various Irish notables, and he contributed several essays to the Cambridge Modern History on Ireland in the 16th to 18th centuries, as well as an essay on modern Ireland. Much of his early research was presented in the English Historical Review, but he also published several monographs including The life of Henry Grattan (1889), Daniel O'Connell and the revival of national life in Ireland (1900), and Ireland from the earliest times to the present day (1922). His major work on Irish history, written during the 1920s, remains unpublished.

In the 1920s, Dunlop became increasingly interested in the contemporary politics of Central Europe, publishing articles on Austria and Czechoslovakia in the Contemporary Review and the Quarterly Review. On his death in 1930, fellow historian Edmund Curtis called Dunlop: "Our greatest authority on Modern Irish history from the sixteenth century onwards.”


Arranged into three series:

  • RDP/1 - Manuscripts
  • RDP/2 - Research notes
  • RDP/3 - Correspondence

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

It is believed that Dunlop's widow passed his papers to the historian Sir Charles Firth. Firth donated these to the University Library in 1931.


None expected.

Related Material

UML also holds the papers of the Manchester historians Thomas Tout (TFT), including 22 letters from Dunlop, and James Tait (TAI), one letter from Dunlop.

Trinity College, Dublin hold the papers of Arnold Marsh, which include notes of Dunlop's lectures delivered at Manchester between 1910-13 (IE TCD MS 8375).

Geographical Names