Great Parchment Book retrospective: historical importance and synergy with other sources

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Continuing with the occasional series of posts reflecting on the different elements which make up the Great Parchment Book project, we now turn our attention to historical importance and synergy with other sources.

The Great Parchment Book is a hugely important record of the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century documenting an important and formative period of the history of Britain and Ireland. It cannot be overstated how important the Plantation of Ulster was to the history of these islands and it still has resonance today.

So important was the Great Parchment Book to the Irish Society that it was rescued from the fire at Guildhall in 1786 and carefully preserved in spite of its parlous state as it provided evidence of its property, rights and legitimacy.

Thomas Raven's map of the Drapers' buildings at Monnemore (copyright Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library)Original archives and other artefacts are considerably lacking for this period of Irish history. If the Great Parchment Book did not exist, key data about landholding and population in Ulster at this time (not only the English and Scottish settlers, but also the native Irish) at this crucial period would be undiscoverable. It contains unique information about properties and individual buildings, as well as their extent and layout including that of the towns of Coleraine and Londonderry. It also contains unique and exceptional information about the population from all social backgrounds including references to women about whom there is otherwise very little.

1641 Depositions

Although unique, the information contained with the Great Parchment Book has a synergy with others sources for early modern Ulster and we have explored some of these on the Great Parchment Book website. They include Thomas Raven’s maps of Londonderry, 1622, held at Lambeth Palace Library and Drapers’ Hall, the muster rolls held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and the 1641 Depositions (witness testimonies concerning experiences of the 1641 Irish rebellion) held at Trinity College Dublin Library which are also available digitally. It is also useful to connect to other digital and published resources such as the digital atlas of Derry–Londonderry and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, and publications of the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

You can find out more about the history of the Plantation on the website and the synergy of the Great Parchment Book with other sources for the Plantation on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

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