Chalmers, George: Ireland

Scope and Content

A manuscript volume containing a collection of papers made by George Chalmers chiefly relating to Ireland including notes and transcripts relating to royal activity in Ireland from the time of King Henry II, tables of imports and exports for Ireland made in the late seventeenth or eighteenth century, a letter by Sir Peter Pett dated Dec 1678, and letters to Chalmers from General Charles Vallancey, Apr 1791, and Francis Douce, [1808]. On one paper, giving the exports of Ireland for 1641, 1665 and 1669, Chalmers has written 'This paper is worth more than its weight in gold'.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Chalmers was born at Fochabers, Moray, Scotland, in 1742. He received his education from the parish school at Fochabers and from King's College Aberdeen. He went on to study law in Edinburgh and then in 1773 put these skills into practice as a lawyer in Baltimore, USA in 1773. He returned in 1775 to settle in London, where he devoted his life to writing books about Ireland, affairs of America and the British monarchy. In 1786 he was appointed chief clerk of the committee of the Privy Council for trade and foreign plantations. Chalmers wrote numerous biographies and in 1807 his first volume of Caledonia, a work intended to record the history and antiquities of Scotland was published. Volumes 2 and 3 of Caledonia were published in 1820 and 1824 but Chalmers died, on 31 May 1825, before he could finish the series although he left a manuscript collection intended for its completion. Chalmers was a prolific writer on history throughout his life as well as a collector of books and manuscripts. His library was sold in three parts between September 1841 and November 1842, yielding 6189 in total.

Publications: An Answer from the Electors of Bristol to the Letter of Edmund Burke, Esq. on the affairs of America (T. Cadell, London, 1777); An Appeal to the Generosity of the British Nation, in a statement of facts on behalf of the afflicted widow and unoffending offspring of the unfortunate Mr. Bellingham (M. Jones, London, 1812); An Estimate of the Comparative Strength of Britain during the Present and Four Preceding Reigns; and of the losses of her trade from every war since the Revolution (C. Dilly & J. Bowen, London, 1782); An Introduction to the History of the Revolt of the Colonies (Baker & Galabin, London, 1782); Another Account of the Incidents, from which the title, and a part of the story of Shakespeare's Tempest, were derived; and the true era of it ascertained (R. & A. Taylor, London, 1815); Caledonia: or, an Account, historical and topographic, of North Britain; from the most ancient to the present times: with a dictionary of places, chorographical and philological (T. Cadell, London, 1807-24); Comparative Views of the State of Great Britain and Ireland; as it was, before the war; as it is, since the peace (T. Egerton, London, 1817); Considerations on Commerce, Bullion and Coin, Circulation and Exchanges; with a view to our present circumstances (J. J. Stockdale, London, 1811); Opinions of Eminent Lawyers, on various points of English Jurisprudence, chiefly concerning the Colonies, Fisheries, and Commerce, of Great Britain (Reed & Hunter, London, 1814); Opinions on Interesting Subjects of Public Law and Commercial Policy; arising from American independence (J. Debrett, London, 1784); Political Annals of the Present United Colonies, from their Settlement to the Peace of 1763 (J. Bowen, London, 1780); Proofs and Demonstrations, how much the projected Registry of Colonial Negroes is unfounded and uncalled for (Thomas Egerton: London, 1816); The Life of Daniel De Foe (John Stockdale, London, 1790); The Life of Mary, Queen of Scots; drawn from the State Papers (John Murray, London, 1818); The Life of Thomas Ruddiman (John Stockdale, London, 1794); Churchyard's Chips concerning Scotland: being a collection of his pieces relative to that country, with historical notices, and a life of the author (Longman & Co, London, 1817); A Collection of Treaties between Great Britain and other Powers (John Stockdale, London, 1790); Parliamentary Portraits (T. Bellamy, London, 1795); Facts and Observations relative to the coinage and circulation of counterfeit or base money; with suggestions for remedying the evil (London, 1795); The Arrangements with Ireland considered (John Stockdale, London, 1785); editor of The Poetical Works of Sir David Lyndsay (Longman, London, 1806); An Apology for the believers in the Shakspeare Papers [forged by W. H. Ireland], which were exhibited in Norfolk Street (T. Egerton, London, 1797); A short view of the proposals lately made for the final adjustment of the commercial system between Great-Britain and Ireland (John Stockdale, London, 1785); A Vindication of the privilege of the people, in respect to the constitutional right of free discussion, with a retrospect to various proceedings relative to the violations of that right (London, 1796); Thoughts on the present Crisis of our Domestic Affairs (London, 1807).


1 volume

Access Information

Open for research. 24 hours notice is required for research visits.

Acquisition Information

Part of the Goldsmith's Library of Economic Literature, initially collected by Herbert Somerton Foxwell and presented by the Goldsmith's Company to the University of London in 1903.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Smith as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Date(s) of descriptions: Jun 2000.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Custodial History

Both manuscripts were originally part of the library of George Chalmers. MS 13 was sold with the rest of his collection in 1842, and was bought from Quaritch [before 1921]. MS 30 became part of the library of Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) as MS 13958, and was bought by Herbert Somerton Foxwell at the Phillipps sale, Sotheby's, 19 Jun 1893.