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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): CLA/049
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1613-1983
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 145 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Honourable the Irish Society owes its existence to James I's policy of settling or 'planting' Ulster with English and Scottish Protestants, a policy which the Corporation of the City of London and the London Livery Companies were somewhat reluctantly compelled to administer.

Originally established by the City of London's Court of Common Council on 30 January 1609/10, the Irish Society was formally incorporated by the royal charter of 29 March 1613 which also gave to the Society grants of lands and privileges in the newly constituted county of Londonderry. Apart from a period during which the Society's charter was suspended (1638-1657), the Irish Society has continued to operate ever since, and still has interests in Londonderry and Coleraine.

The Irish Society is appointed each year at the first Common Council meeting after 2 February, and comprises a Governor (always an Alderman and ex-Lord Mayor of the City of London), Deputy Governor (always a Common Councilman of the City of London) and a Court of Assistants, chosen from amongst the Court of Common Council of the City of London. All administrative matters were, until 1992, and have been again since 1994, dealt with by a Secretary based in London, and a General Agent based in Northern Ireland. The Irish Society has always had its administrative centre (the Irish Chamber) at or near the Guildhall of the City of London. Prior to the completion of the purpose-built Irish Chamber in Guildhall Yard (built 1824-1825, first used 1826), the administrative offices and archive stores were over the Guildhall Porch. In 1992, on the sale of the Irish Chamber, the Society's Secretary moved to the former premises of the Guildhall Justice Room near to Guildhall, and for a short period before the appointment of a new Secretary, some of the central administration was transferred to the Corporation of London's Town Clerk's Department.

The Irish Society always had a tradition of care of its administrative records, and many early volumes exhibit early 19th century repair methods. Although such methods are not up to present standards, they do show a willingness to take measures to preserve the archives, some series of which are remarkably complete. By an unfortunate quirk of fate, the Irish Society's very care of its archives was to prove disastrous, when, as a result of building work in the then Irish Chamber over the Guildhall Porch in February 1786, the archives were carefully sealed, and removed for safekeeping to the Chamber of London's strongroom on the north-east side of Guildhall. A fire broke out amongst other building works on the north side of Guildhall, and a great many of the Chamber's and the Irish Society's archives were destroyed or (like the Great Parchment Book) badly damaged.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Irish Society, 1613-1983, including Court minute books, Court and Committee minutes, rough minutes, records of the committee to consider purchasing estates in Ireland, 1849, letter books, 1664-1913, letter books (secretary duplicates), letter books (general agent), letter books (miscellaneous), letter books (solicitor), declaration books, charters, records concerning history, constitution and powers, appointments, solicitor's papers, case papers, estate management papers, plans and financial accounts.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For historical information see COL/AC: Archives, for letters patent see COL/CH: Charters, for clerk's files see COL/CC: Court of Common Council, for financial accounts see COL/CHD/RN and for plan of the Irish Society rooms see COL/SVD/PL/06/1562: Surveyor's Department plans.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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