Mervyn Archdall

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Archdall, Mervyn, Rev., antiquarian and genealogist, was born in Dublin, 22nd April 1723. His ancestors migrated from Great Britain in the reign of Elizabeth, and settled in the County of Fermanagh. He passed through the University with credit, and imbibed a taste for antiquities and literary research, and for collecting coins, medals, and seals. He finally resolved on collecting materials for a monastic history of Ireland. Acquaintance with Walter Harris, Charles Smith (author of the County Histories), and Thomas Prior, led him the more zealously to pursue the design. The living of Attanagh having been bestowed on him, he had leisure for these pursuits. Afterforty years' labour, however, he found publication in extenso beyond his means, and was obliged to cut down his Monasticon Hibernicum to one 4to volume, which appeared in 1786. Through the influence of the Right Hon. W. Conyngham, a society had been formed in 1781 for the publication of works on Ireland, and Archdall was one of the members. Vallancey's Collectanea appeared under its auspices, but differences sprang up between Ledwich and Vallancey, and the society fell to pieces — one branch publishing the Anthologia Hibernica (1793-'4), under Ledwich's editorship. In 1789 Archdall brought out an edition of Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, enlarged from four to seven volumes. Many of Lodge's valuable notes had been left in cipher, and would have been lost but that Mrs. Archdall, a woman of remarkable ingenuity (a relation of Prior, the poet), discovered the key and deciphered them. In the index to Lanigan's Ecclesiastical History are to be found eighty-two references under the head of "Archdall, blunders of, noticed." He died 6th August 1791, aged 68.

Sources

8a. Antiquities of Ireland: Francis Grose. 2 vols. London, 1791.

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

119. Ecclesiastical History of Ireland: Rev. John Lanigan. 4 vols. Dublin, 1822.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

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