Narcissus Marsh

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Marsh, Narcissus, Archbishop of Armagh, was born at Hannington in Wiltshire, 20th December 1638. Educated at Oxford, he became Doctor of Divinity in 1671; and seven years afterwards, through the influence of his friend the Duke of Ormond, was appointed Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. In 1682 he was consecrated Bishop of Leighlin and Ferns; in 1690 was translated to Cashel; in 1694 he was promoted to the archbishopric of Dublin; and in 1702 became Archbishop of Armagh.

The writings of this eminent prelate scarcely merit record; he is remembered for his bequests to the see of Armagh, for the foundation of widows' alms-houses at Drogheda, and above all by the foundation, in 1707, of a free public library contiguous to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin — probably the first of its kind in Ireland. He laid out £4,000 on the building, which at his death contained 10,000 volumes. Forty years afterwards it received an important addition in a bequest of books and MSS. from Dr. Stearne. The salary of a librarian was provided for by a charge of £250 per annum on church lands in Meath. An Act of the Irish Parliament exempted Marsh's Library from taxes. This venerable foundation, which, although somewhat restricted in its scope, contains many valuable works, is still open to the public. Archbishop Marsh died 2nd November 1713, aged 75,[332] and was buried in a vault in the churchyard of St. Patrick's, adjoining the library. A stately monument was erected to his memory in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He at one period occupied a house at Leixlip, still known as the Archbishop's palace. No relationship appears to have existed between him and Francis Marsh, his predecessor in the see of Dublin.

Sources

111. Dublin, Irwin's Descriptive Guide to. Dublin, 1853.

196. Irishmen, Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished, Rev. James Wills, D.D. 6 vols. or 12 parts. Dublin, 1840-'7.

254. Notes and Queries. London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

332. University of Dublin; History, with Biographical Notices. William B. S. Taylor. London, 1845.

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