Today, we’re highlighting Lord Viscount Morpeth’s Testimonial Roll.
Recently uncovered, the challenge was figuring out how to digitize this gigantic roll without damaging the paper or the precious signatures.
It took 18-months but all 1,350 feet were finally digitized and made available online.
George Howard, given the title Lord Viscount Morpeth, acted as the Chief Secretary of Ireland in the 1800s until leaving his post around 1841. When he left his post as Chief Secretary for Ireland, he was presented with a remarkable parting gift for an Englishman: a 420-meter roll of parchment signed by close to 160,000 people (it is said to contain over 250,000 signatures, but not all of them were indexed). The signers came from all over Ireland and from all levels of society, and some included their address or residence.
It opens with these words:
“We The Reformers of Ireland … cannot permit Your Lordship (with our recollection of recent events) to terminate that Official Connexion with our Country which has happily existed for more than six years, without tendering to Your Lordship formally, the assurance of the profound respect and affection which we entertain towards Your Lordship…”
The preamble closes by telling Lord Morpeth:
“In Conclusion, we assure Your Lordship that the warmest Good Wishes of our Country will ever Accompany You, in Your Future Progress through Life.”
Although this roll only really contains names, which might not be the catalyst to solving your genealogy mystery, it’s an amazing collection to browse and includes signatures from Irish luminaries like Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Davis, and Charles Bianconi.
Some of those who signed did include other information such as address or residence, so you may get lucky.
Another this to note, is that this collection is important due to it’s timing. The testimonial roll dates to 1841 which just a few years prior to the Great Famine, which struck in 1845 and also because many 19th century Irish census records have been destroyed.
If you have a few minutes, check out Lord Viscount Morpeth’s Testimonial Roll, 1841
Photo Credit: RTÉ.ie (spool and Bianconi)