Lucan Papers
IDENTITY STATEMENT
Reference code: P48
Title: Lucan Papers
Date(s): 1783-1954
Extent: 800 items
Location: James Hardiman Library, NUIG
CONTEXT
Biographical History

In 1795 Sir Charles Bingham, bart, (1735-1799) was elevated to the Earldom of Lucan. His use of the title 'Lucan' stemmed from his mother's family the Veseys, who had inherited an estate at Lucan, Co Dublin through marriage with the sole heiress of William Sarsfield, elder brother of Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan. Charles 5th Earl still owned property at Lucan in 1914 [P48/109]. The Earls of Lucan were absentee landlords. They owned a large estate in Co Mayo, the nucleus of which had been in the possession of the Bingham family since Elizabethan times. The size of the estate was given as just over 60,570 acres in 1876, valued at £12,940 and encompassed lands in the baronies of Carra, Gallen, Burrishoole, Murrisk and Kilmaine. Castlebar House was destroyed in 1798, thereafter the family, when visiting Castlebar, used the house known as The Lawn in the demesne grounds. Charles 1st Earl added to his estate by the purchase of lands in the barony of Gallen from Mr Daly and in 'Conroon' from Robert Kearney [see P48/36/1]. He promoted the development of the linen industry in the Castlebar locality. However, the Earl and his wife Margaret spent much of their time in England and on the Continent pursuing cultural interests. [Margaret] Countess of Lucan was well enough known as an amateur painter to merit a mention in the Dictionary of National Biography. In a codicil [P48/36/2] to his will the Earl left a number of paintings to his son in law George John 2nd Earl Spencer, which he hoped would hang at Althorp, Northampton. He died in 1799 and was succeeded by his son Richard 2nd Earl (1764-1839). Richard, Lord Bingham's marriage in 1794 to Lady Elizabeth Belasyse was a controversial alliance within the family circle and although the couple had 6 children, they were formally separated in 1814 [P48/48/1]. John Denis Browne, 1st Marquis ofSligo, relating to the Act of Union cover the most vital time for the passage of that Act. The collection shows the importance of their estates to the absentee aristocracy, providing the income for their lifestyle and security for their borrowings. Marriage was very important in the acquisition of wealth and estates. Insights are also given into the personal lives of members of a titled family. For Charles 5th Earl these are augmented by the James Hardiman Library's acquisition of 2 books of daily accounts [P49]. The papers are an important source for any biography of George Charles 3rd Earl or Charles 5th Earl and the records in the first part were used extensively by Cecil Woodham-Smith in her book The Charge of the Light Brigade (1953). There is also information about the genealogy of the Earls of Lucan, particularly in the wills of family members. Some researchers may be interested in the connection with the Spencer family . The list of arrears 1818-38 and the address from the inhabitants of Castlebar 1824, may provide a link back to a further generation for persons with ancestors on the Mayo estate before Richard Griffith's General Valuation of rateable property in Ireland (1856). The Crimean War was an important event in military warfare, as it was one of the main catalysts in bringing about army reform. With the advent of newspaper reporters, such as William Howard Russell of The Times, the public was no longer left in ignorance of the harsh realities of war. War was seen as a brutal pursuit, particularly for the rank and file. Improvements came gradually in the welfare of soldiers and the commission of 'Inquiry into the supplies for the British army in the Crimea' portrayed some of the areas that needed to be addressed. George Charles 3rd Earl is well known because of the part he played in the Battle of Balaklava and these papers playa significant role in documenting that event and its aftermath. Sligo, kept Richard 2nd Earl informed about the passage of the Act of Union in 1800 and tried to interest the Earl in the development of Castle bar in 1802 [P48/2/1-4 and P48/3/1]. In the same year the town was described by James McParlan in his Statistical Survey of Co Mayo as 'one of the prettiest inland towns in the Kingdom, though not a very commercial one'. It was just at this time, 1803, that Richard 2nd Earl bought the Laleham estate of about 800 acres from Lord Lowther, for £22,000 . It was an estate of good agricultural land sloping down to the banks of the Thames on the Middlesex and Surrey border , close to the city of London. By the river he built a classical villa with Doric arches and marble floors, designed by John Papworth. The Earls of Lucan lived in this house intermittently during the 19th century, however it appears to have been the main home of George 4th Earl in the latter years of his life [see P48/297-/301]. George 4th Earl, his wife and his father George Charles 3rd Earl are all buried in the Laleham churchyard. After the break up of his marriage, Richard 2nd Earl spent much of his time in Paris and in the Italian city of Bologna, where he lived with Adelaide Gregorini, by whom he had a daughter Adele, born in 1821. He married Adelaide in 1837 [P48/39/2]. Letters from Charles O'Malley, his estate agent at Castlebar, kept the Earl in touch with events on his Mayo estate. These letters [P48/5/1-10] have survived because of their reference to the Earl's son George Charles, Lord Bingham, but they were obviously part of a series. They concentrate on Lord Bingham's purchase of the Kilboyne estate in 1824 and his election to the House of Commons in 1826 but they also relate to financial matters and paint a bleak picture of Co Mayo in the autumn of 1823. Dissatisfaction with the agency of Charles O'Malley's son, St Clair O'Malley, is evident by August 1837 [see P48/5/12] and he was dismissed in 1840 [P48/40/4]. Richard 2nd Earl died in June 1839. The papers in the first part of this collection have been preserved because of their connection with George Charles 3rd Earl (1800-1888), famous for the part he played in the cavalry debacle at the Battle of Balaklava on 25 October 1854. In 1953 Cecil Woodham-Smith's book about this episode, entitled The Charge afthe Light Brigade, was published and it was she who arranged the 'military' papers of George Charles 3rd Earl in a chronological order and put them in envelopes. It is probable that the papers of George Charles 3rd Earl had already been segregated and kept in a box entitled 'Field Marshal the Earl of Lucan GCB Military Papers' [P48/400]. A list of the papers that were in the box in the 1950s but did not come to NUl, Galway, can be found in the Appendix. Cecil Woodham-Smith considered that George Charles 3rd Earl was a throw back to the ferocious Binghams of the old style, full of courage and ruthlessness. He was undoubtedly a stem, arrogant man with a penchant for small detail. He never would accept that he might be in the wrong and pursued those who challenged him to great lengths in the courts or Houses of Parliament. Although a hard worker, he appears to have been completely lacking in compassion, especially with regard to his Irish tenants. George Charles 3rd Earl spent a great deal of time in Co Mayo during the 1840s trying to improve the profitability of his estate. He was anxious to introduce better methods of farming such as drainage, fencing and stall feeding of cattle. He established a large dairy at Castlebar and introduced the use of steam engines. These improvements led to the clearance of many small holders from the land. When the clearances were speeded up during the Famine years, the Earl became a figure of universal hatred. On his farm at Cloonagashel, near Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, for example, 2,000 persons were evicted during the Famine years 1848-1849. In 1857 this farm was let to a Scottish grazier James Simson [P48/17/1-3]. Some of the correspondence documents disputes he had with his former agent St Clair O'Malley, the Poor Law Commissioners, his tenant James Simson, the rector of Laleham and Lieut Col Bateson of the 1st Life Guards. Printed papers cover disputes he had after his return from the Crimea with Gen Bacon, the Commissioners of the 'Inquiry into the supplies for the British Army in the Crimea' and Lord Panmure. His copy letter book 1860-1873 [P48/32/1] is of particular interest as it not only relates to Balaklava, A W Kinglake's publication about the Crimea and the Life Guards but also contains letters concerning the Lucan estates. A number of topics covered in the copy letter book relate to the Mayo estate, such as a lease of Pontoon, the dairy at Castlebar, the North Mayo Militia, Innisboffin, the 1868 election and the salary of William Young, agent at Castlebar. George Charles 3rd Earl had added to the acreage of the Laleham estate in 1839 when he purchased Halford's farm, a nearby property of230 acres [P48/18/1-14]. Occasional letters in the copy letter book [P48/32/1] refer to the Laleham estate. In one ofthese, dated August 1861, George Charles 3rd Earl writes to [his agent] Pringle at Laleham, giving detailed instructions about how the labour account was to be kept. Economy was to be practiced because 'unless the labour cost is reduced it is hopeless to make the farm pay its expenses, still less to have profit' . The Lucans also had an estate at Macclesfield in Cheshire, which had originally belonged to the Belasyse family. Thomas Belasyse 1st Earl of Fauconberg makes reference to his property at Sutton and Macclesfield, Cheshire in a letter to his son, dated 26 December 1766 [P48/47/1]. In his will, this son Henry Belasyse 2nd Earl of Fauconberg, left to his daughter [Elizabeth] Countess of Lucan, a charge of £500 on his manor of Sutton [P48/37/1]. A letter from George Charles 3rd Earl, dated 1861, to his agent at Macclesfield, Mr T D Frith, is written in much the same vein as that to the agent at Laleham. The Earl emphasizes that he would not be responsible for any expenditure not expressly sanctioned by him [P48/32/1]. In 1829 George Charles 3rd Earl married Lady Anne Brudenell, sister of James 7th Earl of Cardigan, who was to become his main rival during the Crimean campaign as Cardigan greatly resented George Charles 3rd Earl's appointment as his superior commander. The Earl and Countess had 6 children and separated in 1854. She was living on the Isle of Wight when she made her will in 1869 [P48/44/2]. The papers also indicate that George Charles 3rd Earl had relationships with other women. In a codicil to his will dated 1883 he makes provision for the children of Elizabeth Anne Powell [P48/45/2 and P48/45/4]. He died in 1888. In contrast to his father, George 4th Earl (1830-1914) was popular, both with his own peers and with his tenants. Broad-minded in his religious beliefs he won the approbation of Cardinal Manning of London in 1866, for his promotion of a clause in a Poor Law Amendment Bill for the education of Catholic children in their own faith in the workhouse schools of England [P48/58/1]. In later years he was friendly with the parish priest of Castlebar, Canon Lyons and he was praised in an article in The Connaught Telegraph (27 June 1908) for giving free building sites in Castlebar for religious and educational purposes. As George, Lord Bingham he sat as Conservative MP for Co Mayo from 1865-74. His father contributed towards his election expenses but was rather disparaging about his son's achievements as an MP [P48/32/1]. George, Lord Bingham shot with Edward, Prince of Wales at Sandringham in 1873 [P48/391] and may well have been a member of the set surrounding the Prince. His sister in law was married to Prince Edward of Saxe Weimar. At the coronation of Edward as King in 1902, he carried the Sceptre with the Dove [see P48/237 and P48/389]. George 4th Earl was beset by financial difficulties for most of his life. In a letter to his son, dated 4 Nov 1906, he writes of his fear of bankers over the past 50 years [P48/94]. Legal letters show that he was almost declared a bankrupt in 1899 and again in 1913. He was used to a lifestyle that his income could no longer support. In 1859 he had married Lady Cecilia Gordon Lennox by whom he had 6 sons and 1 daughter, who later became the Duchess of Abercorn and great grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales. Cecilia, Countess of Lucan established a homespun tweed industry at Castlebar and was active in promoting the sale of lrish tweed in London. Her death in 1910 was marked in Castlebar by the holding of a memorial service in the town at the same time as her funeral service was being held in Laleham [P48/357]. George 4th Earl died in 1914. The papers in the second half of the collection are those of Charles 5th Earl (1860-1949) and include records created during the time he was Lord Bingham. Charles, Lord Bingham had taken control over the Lucan Estates in 1900. The estates had been disentailed in 1889 and large portions of the Mayo estate were sold to the Congested Districts Board in the early years of the 20th century. Other sales took place in the ensuing years and the proceeds were used to payoff the encumbrances that had accumulated on the Lucan Estates [P48/97-/99]. The extent of these sales can be gauged by a fall in the Mayo estate rental from £15,268 in 1894 [P48/63] to £3,336 in 1914 [P48/109]. There are references to the running of the Laleham estate, the rental of which amounted to £3,003 in 1894 [P48/63] and to £2,085 in 1948 [P48/122]. Parts of this estate were sold in 1907 and 1916 [P48/118-/120]. Laleham House was sold in the 1920s to Lord Churston and [Violet] Countess of Lucan sold some of its furnishings and fittings in 1938 [P48/353]. The Lucan Estates Company was formed in 1925 to administer the estates and by 1948 was receiving a rental income of about £ 1,657 from the Mayo estate [P48/122], which was less than that received from the Laleham estate. The Macclesfield estate was sold before 1895 for £42,425 and this sum was used to reduce some of the Law Life Insurance Society's mortgage on the Mayo and Laleham estates [P48/99]. Charles 5th Earl was a complete contrast to his grandfather in character, being sensitive, diplomatic and well liked. This is apparent from his handling of the negotiations for the settlement of 1900, when his father was almost declared a bankrupt and also in his dealings with officers of the London Rifle Brigade. He fought in World War I and was a much-respected person in official and military circles, as can be seen from the long list of distinctions and honours he was awarded. The only Irish incident, documented in the papers, concerning Charles 5th Earl was when he went to Castlebar in 1902 to stop a presentation being made, in the Courthouse, to William Smith O'Brien by the County Council [P48/192-/211]. He was High Sheriff of Co Mayo at the time. The Earl and his wife Violet, formerly Spender Clay, lived most of their lives in various London homes. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters; their eldest son Patrick 6th Earl succeeded his father in 1949. The Lucan Papers help to illuminate some events in the Castlebar locality in the 1820s, 1830s, 1840s and in 1902. It was unfortunate for the tenants of the Mayo estate that George Charles 3rd Earl's attention was focused on his Irish estate during the Famine years. At a national level the letters written by John Denis Browne, 1st Marquess of Sligo, relating to the Act of Union cover the most vital time for the passage of that Act. The collection shows the importance of their estates to the absentee aristocracy, providing the income for their lifestyle and security for their borrowings. Marriage was very important in the acquisition of wealth and estates. Insights are also given into the personal lives of members of a titled family. For Charles 5th Earl these are augmented by the James Hardiman Library's acquisition of 2 books of daily accounts [P49]. The papers are an important source for any biography of George Charles 3rd Earl or Charles 5th Earl and the records in the first part were used extensively by Cecil Woodham-Smith in her book The Charge of the Light Brigade (1953). There is also information about the genealogy of the Earls of Lucan, particularly in the wills of family members. Some researchers may be interested in the connection with the Spencer family . The list of arrears 1818-38 and the address from the inhabitants of Castlebar 1824, may provide a link back to a further generation for persons with ancestors on the Mayo estate before Richard Griffith's General Valuation of rateable property in Ireland (1856). The Crimean War was an important event in military warfare, as it was one of the main catalysts in bringing about army reform. With the advent of newspaper reporters, such as William Howard Russell of The Times, the public was no longer left in ignorance of the harsh realities of war. War was seen as a brutal pursuit, particularly for the rank and file. Improvements came gradually in the welfare of soldiers and the commission of 'Inquiry into the supplies for the British army in the Crimea' portrayed some of the areas that needed to be addressed. George Charles 3rd Earl is well known because of the part he played in the Battle of Balaklava and these papers playa significant role in documenting that event and its aftermath.

Immediate Source of Acquisition or Transfer

Acquired by the James Hardiman Library, NUl, Galway in January 2001.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and Content

A collection of private papers, generated by different generations of the Earls of Lucan, covering the Earl's role as landlord, army officer, public official and family man. The papers relate in particular to various aspects of the lives of George Charles 3rd Earl and his grandson Charles 5th Earl and focus on the military side of their lives and the running of their estates in Co Mayo and at Laleham. The collection contains approximately 880 items and is mainly comprised of letters, legal and financial papers, newspaper cuttings and some photographs.

System of arrangement

The collection has been divided into 2 main groups, the first comprised of the papers of George Charles 3rd Earl, which were kept in the box labeled 'Field Marshal the Earl of Lucan GCB Military Papers' and the second group contains the papers of Charles 5th Earl. There are 8 subgroups (A, B, C, etc). Each subgroup is divided into sections (1, 2,3, etc) and sometimes subsections (2.1, 2.2, 2.3 etc), according to their subject matter or the type of document. In 3 subgroups the subsections have been further subdivided (2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3 etc). A letter dated 11 April 1954 from Patrick 6th Earl to Brigadier E C Anstey [P48/400] shows that it was Mrs Cecil Woodham-Smith who 'classified and listed' the papers in the box. She put them in envelopes numbered 1-86, with a brief description of the contents on the outside. A typed list [P48/401] of Mrs Woodham-Smith's arrangement accompanied the collection and shows the contents of the envelopes, which are no longer with the collection. Most of the missing items concern the Crimean War.

CONDITIONS OF ACCESS AND USE AREA
Conditions governing access

The material in this collection is accessible to all bone fide researchers, and subject to the conditions of access governing the consultation of archival material at the James Hardiman Library. No material may be reproduced from this collection without the written permission of the archivist, and reproductions are subject to the conditions of access. The most appropriate form of reference is title of item, date of item, reference number (P48/?), James Hardiman Library Archives.

Finding aids
Descriptive List
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