Hugh Boulter

Boulter, Hugh, Archbishop of Armagh, was born in London in 1671. Educated at Oxford, he became chaplain to George I., Bishop of Bristol in 1719, and Archbishop of Armagh in 1724. His position was more political than ecclesiastical, and he was a stroug upholder of the English interest. Writing to Lord Townsend, he says: "But whatever my post is here, the only thing that can make it agreeable to me, who would have been very well content with a less station in my own country, is if I may be enabled to serve His Majesty and my country here, which it will be impossible for me to do according to my wishes if the English interest be not thoroughly supported from the other side." With these sentiments he had but a sore time of it, between Swift,Wood's halfpence, and a rather fractious Commons. The plan of Government purchasing off opposition did not meet his views; and the quantities of goods smuggled from the Isle of Man, and consequent loss of revenue, were a great concern to him — "The only remedy we talk of here for this evil is, if His Majesty were to buy the island of the Earl of Derby."

During the nineteen years of his primacy, the real weight of the government policy with regard to Ireland rested on him. He died in London, September 1742, aged about 71, leaving upwards of £30,000 for the purchase of glebes for the Irish clergy, and the augmentation and improvement of small benefices. His efforts to found schools for the conversion of Catholics did not come to much. "I can assure you," be wrote to the Bishop of London, "the Papists are here so numerous that it highly concerns us in point of interest, as well as out of concern for the salvation of those poor creatures, who are our fellow-subjects, to try all possible means to bring them and theirs over to the knowledge of the true religion; and one of the most likely methods we can think of is, if possible, instructing and converting the young generation; for instead of converting those that are adult, we are daily losing several of our meaner people, who go off to Popery. . The ignorance and obstinacy of the adult Papists is such that there is not much hope of converting them."

Note from Addenda:

Boulter, Hugh, Archbishop of Armagh — Reference should have been made to his Letters, containing an Account of the Most Interesting Transactions which Passed in Ireland from 1724 to 1738 (Dublin, 1770), a valuable collection of documents, throwing much light upon the secret springs of Government and the general condition of affairs in Ireland between the dates named. They indicate a singularly straightforward and business-like turn of mind, and show conclusively the paramount influence he exercised.[46b]


46b. Boulter, Hugh, Archbishop of Armagh, Letters. 2 vols. Dublin, 1770.

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

212. Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland—Swift, Flood, Grattan, and O'Connell: William E. H. Lecky. First and Second Editions. London, 1861-'71.
Lecky, William E. H., see No. 212.

339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.