Introduction to Burke’s Landed Gentry 1912

EIGHT years having passed, obviously it had become necessary that a new edition of the ” Landed Gentry of Ireland ” should be issued, in order that the genealogical records of the various families appearing in the book might be revised to date, and the happenings of birth, marriage and death, in the interval, be added to the pedigrees.

But one is now confronted with the problem whether there still remains a Landed Gentry at all in that country, so great has been the compulsory alienation of land in Ireland during the last decade.

Whatever may be the decision as to future editions, in the present one there has been no violent disqualification of families because the broad acres of their estates have been contracted to the lands about the mansion house ; in fact, but very few pedigrees have been removed. Although the fascination of the ownership of land land hunger is still a dominant characteristic of the British race, it cannot be said to possess its ancient importance ; and the interest of the public, it seems to me, lies in the families themselves rather than in the extent of their ownership of land. The growth of the new landless plutocracy has shifted the importance of things, and is a factor that must weigh in the future, and be considered in conjunction with absenteeism. But the problem is for the next edition.

Although a number of new and interesting pedigrees are now included in ” Burke ” for the first time the changes in the present volume are chiefly caused by the revision of pedigrees and the occurrences of the interval. The latter have been exceedingly numerous, and I am chiefly indebted to the very many members of the families concerned with whom I have been in correspondence or to whom I have submitted proofs, for an enormous amount of assistance generously given to me. For that my grateful thanks.

In the revision of the pedigrees there will be found a number of important alterations. Some of my most vehement correspondents seem to fancy that “Burke”  is edited by Hans Andersen. That really is quite a mistake. Of course, one knows that every Irishman is the descendant of countless kings, princes and other minor celebrities. One admits it, the thing is unquestionable. One knows, of course, also, that every family is the oldest in Co. Galway, or Co. Sligo, or somewhere else, and that, for some reason or other, every Irishman is the ” head ” of his family, and I am growing weary of reading letters which assure me that the mushroom families included in the Landed Gentry pale into insignificance beside the glories of those which are omitted, and I am slowly learning so often am I so assured that all the pedigrees herein are hopelessly wrong. But although I may not have included quite so much as has been desired, I think I may claim that what is inserted may be relied upon. All genealogical works started upon a model of narrative, in which a place might properly be found for supposition and tradition. There has been a gradual transition to exactitude of fact, which is the aim in view, and which I claim has now been reached.

For the present edition every coat-of-arms has been carefully scrutinized and compared with the original records in Ulster’s Office. I believe I can now claim for the Irish volume that, apart from unintentional error, every single one which is quoted herein can be relied upon as borne by unquestionable right. Families to whom no armorial bearings are assigned have none recorded to them in Ulster’s Office.

The publishers have consented to incur the expense of bringing the Landed Gentry into line with the PEERAGE and BARONETAGE by illustrating every coat-of-arms in the book. This must add very greatly to its interest, and I trust their lavish expenditure on this point will receive the reward it merits in the increased appreciation of the public.

I am indebted to Mr. Farnham Burke, C.V.O., C.B., Norroy King of Arms, for much assistance in the preparation of this edition, and I have profited greatly from the kind help and from the labours of Mr. Ashworth Burke, who has resigned the editorship of the present edition, whilst many others have taken much trouble with the single-minded desire for the improvement or the accuracy of the volume. To all I tender my thanks, but above all I am under a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. G. D. Burtchaell, Athlone Pursuivant.

His able and willing assistance have been acknowledged in former editions, but on the present occasion I have had the advantage of his help to an extent little short of a scrutiny of every line in the book. He it is who has examined the arms, and has gone to endless trouble to solve doubts and difficulties as they have become apparent in the pedigrees. I really think his name should be on the title page as editor. Mere words of thanks seem a feeble acknowledgment of what this edition owes to his untiring assistance.



New Edition, 1912






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