The Morpeth Roll

Ireland identified in 1841


Christopher Ridgway, editor

Paperback €4.45
Catalogue Price: €4.95
ISBN: 978-1-84682-406-7
May 2013. 144pp; full-colour ills.

‘A lavishly illustrated book of essays explaining what the roll is, what its background was, and why it is significant. The book is a bargain at the price, not least owing to the wealth of illustrations', History Ireland (September 2013).

'Document[s] the signatures of almost 160,000 people prominent in Irish politics and society … By looking at signatures on the rolls of such luminaries as O’Connell, Frederick Fitzgerald – 3rd Duke of Leinster, Charles Bianconi – public transport pioneer, and patriots Charles Gavan Duffy and Thomas Davis, one gets a spine-tingling moment of witnessing a personal mark made 170 years ago ... [this book gives] an appealing overview of the Morpeth Roll which includes a generous array of colour illustrations and political cartoons from the time when the Roll was created. The books serves as an excellent introduction to the local history discovery of the decade', Liam Kenny, Leinster Leader (May 2013).

‘Christopher Ridgway’s book is an illuminating collection of essays that look at the political background to the creation of the Morpeth Roll and the life and times of George Howard … The essays address not only the historical and political context of the testimonial, but the challenges faced by conservators as they unrolled the staggering 420 metres of signatures, to prepare them for digitisation and display. This is a beautiful publication, filled with illustrations, which spills over with Ridgway’s excitement as he brings this fascinating source into the public domain, 170 years after it was created', Nicola Morris, Who do you think you are? (July 2013).

‘There are few things more exciting to historians than the discovery of a long-lost treasure! These essays by esteemed experts examine the newly-found Morpeth Roll, an 1841 data-mining treasure, at Castle Howards, North Yorkshire, England … the Morpeth Roll presents “an opportunity to re-imagine Ireland through the simplest and most fundamental of signifiers – the signature”. There is little doubt that it will soon clarify many of that tumultuous era’s enigmas', Mary McWay Seaman, Celtic Connection (January 2014).

‘The recovery of the Morpeth Testimonial Roll in the archives of Castle Howard in Yorkshire has excited great interest. It contains some 160,000 signatures, including that of Daniel O’Connell, the ‘Liberator’ himself, and his sons … it is a fascinating story', Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic (2013).

‘The Morpeth Roll’s relevance to historians is not its size but what it tells us about pre-Famine Ireland … The account of [Morpeth’s] career is profusely illustrated by photographs from the Castle Howard collection, including a series of cartoons lampooning Morpeth’s friendship with Daniel O’Connell, a photograph of the vice-regal lodge cricket team (Morpeth was a great fan), family portraits, and a vice-regal group painted in 1856–7, mysteriously over-painted in the 1870s to remove eight individuals “in a way we normally associate with Stalin’s actions towards his Bolshevik colleagues”’, L.A. Clarkson, Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review (2013).