Papers of the Grattan family, Ireland

Scope and Content

1 - 4 Correspondence

5 - 22 Accounts

23 - 109 Various Documents and Title Deeds

The collection comprises largely correspondence and title deeds. The title deeds cover the Grattan estates at Stradbally and Cuffsborough, Queen's County (1608-1829) and at Garrycross, County Cavan (1751-1851), as well as papers for the Marley family estates including Simonstown and Celbridge Abbey, County Kildare and land in counties Meath, Monaghan and Longford (c.1700-c.1850). Correspondence in the collection comprises 15 letters to Henry Grattan (1746-1820) about Irish and political affairs from 1782 to 1808 and a large number of letters to his estate agent and friend Ross McCann. Many of these are from Henry Grattan senior; some are from his sons, James Grattan (b.1783) and Henry Grattan junior (b.1789). Those from Henry Grattan junior are revealing about his father's involvement in politics, especially about Catholic affairs. Other letters in the collection to Ross McCann include some from Wakefield Orr in Coleraine relating to the Leslie family and the Hutchinson estate at Stranocum, County Antrim 1790-1792; some from E Berwick in Moira, County Down 1790-1807; some from C Flynn of Inch Academy at Balbriggan relating to the education of McCann's children 1805-1808; estate correspondence from Frederick Cavendish, Carton House, Clontarf 1810, John Dare at Clogheen, County Tipperary 1815-1819 and Marmaduke Deere in Leixlip, County Kildare 1815-1817; and legal correspondence with a solicitor in Dundalk in a matter about the children of a Mrs Forbes in Dublin 1790 (Deputy Keeper's Report 1960-1965). There are a number of personal account books in the collection including that of James Grattan 1743-1765 (rents, servants' wages etc.), some accounts of Henry Grattan senior, a bundle relating to the estate of Thomas Marley and a bundle relating to rents and tenancies at Celbridge Abbey. Marriage settlements are those of James Grattan and Mary Marley (1740); Henry Grattan and Henrietta Fitzgerald (1782, 1789); William Leake and Ann Grattan (1803); Patrick Grattan and Grizell Brereton (1669) and Francis Maude and Georgianna Bushe (1849). Wills are those of Henry Grattan junior (1855) and Gervase Parker Bushe (1817). Other items of interest in this collection include a copy of the order of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland concerning £50,000 voted to the purchase of lands settled on Henry Grattan senior in 1782; miscellaneous correspondence and other papers about Catholic affairs; the election address of Henry Grattan junior when he sought the place of his father in parliament in 1820; an estimate for completing the house of Henry Grattan at Celbridge; a bundle of letters and other documents relating to the painting of the Irish House of Commons by Nicholas Kenny in 1842; an inventory of furniture belonging to James Grattan at Tinnehinch, County Wicklow in 1854; papers in the case of Rex -v- Edward Duffy of The Freeman's Journal and the notes of Mary O'Kelly Grattan about her father, Whitfield Harvey.

Administrative / Biographical History

The papers in this collection relate to three generations of the Grattan family beginning with James Grattan who was for many years recorder of Dublin and who represented the city in parliament from 1761 until his death in 1766. In 1740 he married Mary Marley and their son, Henry Grattan, was born in 1746 (Dictionary of National Biography).

Henry Grattan was educated at Trinity College Dublin, his father dying before he took his BA in 1767. He and his father had become estranged and he did not inherit all the family property. He entered the Middle Temple, London, in order to qualify for the Irish bar. Between 1767 and 1768 he also lost his favourite sister, Catherine, and his mother and his older sister married Gervase Parker Bushe whose will is in the collection. In 1772 he was called to the bar and in 1775 accepted the vacant seat of Charlemont in the Irish parliament, quickly making his mark as a champion of Irish commercial equality with England and legislative autonomy involving the reform of Poyning's Law and the overturn of the Perpetual Mutiny Act. In this he was successful and the Lord Lieutenant awarded him £50,000 for the purchase of estates and this money was used to buy Stradbally (Dictionary of National Biography).

Henry Grattan was a moderate, one who wanted cooperation built between Ireland and England, after a certain level of autonomy had been achieved. He supported the notion of Ireland going to war with England against France in 1794. He was one of the founders of the Whig Club in Dublin and pursued the eradication of parliamentary corruption in Ireland. He also supported Langrishe's Roman Catholic Relief Bill and a number of papers concerning the relief of Catholics are to be found in the collection. In 1797, after years of falling out with close associates and seeing much of what he put forwarded defeated, he retired to the country. In 1798 he went to England, in the same year he was accused of being a sworn member of the United Irishmen and was struck off from the Irish Privy Council. Soon after, he retired and spent time at Tinnehinch, County Wicklow, in private study and the education of his children (Dictionary of National Biography).

In 1805 he was persuaded to take a seat in the imperial parliament and his maiden speech, in support of addressing the Roman Catholic question made a considerable impact. Grattan was a fine orator. He was restored to the Irish Privy Council in 1806 and was elected one of the members for the city of Dublin and he sat for this constituency until his death. Through the early 1810s he continued to champion the Catholic cause, but was unsucessful and his attendance in parliament began to drop off from about 1814. He became ill at the beginning of 1820 but travelled to England to present the Catholic cause there anyway. He died on arrival and was buried in Westminster Abbey (Dictionary of National Biography).

Henry Grattan married Henrietta Fitzgerald in 1782 and they had two sons and two daughters. His eldest son James (b.1783) served in the 9th Light Dragoons and represented the county of Wicklow in parliament from 1821 until 1841. He died without issue in 1854. Henry Grattan's younger son Henry (b.1789) was also an MP and died in 1859. By his wife, Mary O'Kelly, daughter of Philip Whitfield Harvey (and great niece of the race horse owner Andrew Dennis O'Kelly - see separate entry for DDLA/40), he had six daughters. One of them, Henrietta Grattan, married into the Langdale family, through whom the Grattan family papers descended (Dictionary of National Biography).

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Related Material

Hull University Archives:


Other repositories:

Papers of Henry Grattan (1746-1820) - MSS 2111, 3715-17, 14164, 27805, 27814 and letters to John Forbes, National Library of Ireland

MS4232, Trinity College Dublin; Correspondence with Edmund Burke and Earl Fitzwilliam in Wentworth Woodhouse MSS, Sheffield Archives

Papers of James Grattan (1783-1854) - MS 4232, Trinity College Dublin; MSS 3847-53, 5775-9, 14136-63, National Library of Ireland

Papers of Henry Grattan (1789-1859) - MS2111 and Grattan-Bellew MSS, National Library of Ireland


  • Deputy Keeper's Report 1960-1965
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Gwynne, Stephen, Henry Grattan and his times (1939)
  • McCracken, John Leslie, The Irish parliament in the eighteenth century (1971)
  • White, Charles Arthur, 'Henry Grattan and Ireland's Declaration of Independence' (unpub. PhD, University of Wisconsin, 1957)