The Carte papers in the Bodleian Library comprise vast collections of original papers from various sources which Thomas Carte amassed in preparation for the publication of his biography of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, in 1735-6. There are 276 large volumes, comprising Ormond, Fitzwilliam, Chichester, Sandwich, Wharton, Huntingdon and Nairn papers largely relating to the history of Britain and Ireland in the period 1560-1715.
The largest group, forming the core of the Carte MSS., is the 111 volumes of the papers of James Butler, 12th Earl and 1st Duke of Ormond (1610-88). Ormond was created Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1644, having commanded the army there since 1640. Ormond led the war effort against the Confederate Catholics who had set up in opposition to the Dublin government in 1642 and effectively ruled much of Ireland. Subsequently Ormond conducted a series of peace negotiations with the Confederates, as Charles I sought Irish support against his English Parliament. Ormond went into exile in 1650 following military defeat by Cromwell's invading forces. After the Restoration in 1660, Ormond was a leading minister to Charles II, and was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland twice more before his death in 1688.
The Ormond papers among the Carte MSS. are the major source for the Civil War and Restoration era in Irish history. In effect, they form the archive of the royal administration there, but their significance goes far beyond this. Many of the original records of the Irish administration were destroyed as a result of war and fires from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The archives of the Confederate government are no longer extant, and so Ormond's correspondence with the leaders of the Confederation is a major source for this crucial period in Irish history. Ormond's papers include correspondence with leading Irish political figures of the period, as well as correspondence with King Charles I and II and leading English ministers relating to Irish affairs. The papers also richly document the complexities of the Restoration settlement in Ireland and the difficulties of dealing with the land claims of former Cromwellian soldiers, royalists and loyal Catholics. The numerous petitions from Irish citizens are a rich source for local and family history as well as for the social and economic condition of Ireland.
The Ormond papers have long been recognised as a major source for 17th century Irish history, and are cited in numerous works. Carte himself published a number of letters in his Life of Ormonde; J.T. Gilbert published many documents in his History of the Irish confederation and the war in Ireland, 1641 (1882-91), and A contemporary history of affairs in Ireland, 1641-52 (1879-80). However, the vast bulk of the papers remain unpublished.
Between 1877 and 1883 Edward Edwards produced a calendar of the entire Carte collection, itself comprising 75 volumes. It had been intended to publish the calendar, but deterred by the difficulties of its sheer bulk and complexity, the Library decided not to go ahead with publication. The calendar is therefore only available in the Bodleian Library, though some Irish libraries have microfilm copies.
The calendar gives an abstract of every paper in the Carte collection in chronological order. It is written in a not always easy Victorian hand, and it has no index. For users interested in particular persons, places or subjects, there is no means of access.
The History of Parliament Trust and the Bodleian Library formed a partnership to carry out the 'Religion and Rebellion' project, and funding was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund to digitise all the calendar entries for the period 1660-87.
This period includes a great deal of important material for the study of Restoration Ireland, but also includes two further collections of papers acquired by Carte: the papers of Edward Montagu (1625-72), 1st Earl of Sandwich, admiral, envoy to Spain and patron of Samuel Pepys; and some of the papers of Philip Wharton (1613-96), 4th Baron Wharton, and his son Thomas Wharton (1648-1715), 1st Marquess of Wharton.
The intention was to reproduce the calendar as it stands, with changes in layout to clarify the information in its new electronic context. The omissions and mistakes of the original calendar, of which there are a number, have therefore been replicated, except where they have come to our attention during the keying and editing process. However, in creating an online version we have the opportunity to amend the text at any time in the future, and we would be grateful if users could bring any errors they have noticed to our attention.
A different view of the calendar, derived from the same data, can be accessed through the A2A (Access to Archives) gateway to archival descriptions hosted at the National Archives. Here the calendar is presented in shelfmark order, so that for example, all the entries for MS. Carte 45 are together in folio order (bearing in mind that only those entries dated 1660-87 are included).
The Bodleian Library aims to build on this project, and will be seeking funding to extend the conversion of the Carte Calendar to include the very important papers relating to the government of Ireland c.1560-1660, and papers relating to the exiled Stuarts from 1689-1720.
Mike Webb (Curator of Early Modern Manuscripts)
Search Carte Calendar
Volume 30: 1660
Volume 31: 1661 January - May
Volume 32: 1661 June - December
Volume 33: 1662 January - August
Volume 34: 1662 September - December
Volume 35: 1663 January - April
Volume 36: 1663 May - July
Volume 37: 1663 August - October
Volume 38: 1663 November - December
Volume 39: 1664 January - May
Volume 40: 1664 June - December
Volume 41: 1665 January - June
Volume 42: 1665 July - December
Volume 43: 1666 January - June
Volume 44: 1666 July - December
Volume 45: 1667 January - April
Volume 46: 1667 May - August
Volume 47: 1667 September - December
Volume 48: 1668 January - May
Volume 49: 1668 June - December
Volume 50: 1669
Volume 51: 1670 - 1672
Volume 52: 1673 - 1674
Volume 53: 1675 - 1677
Volume 54: 1678
Volume 55: 1679
Volume 56: 1680
Volume 57: 1681
Volume 58: 1682
Volume 59: 1683
Volume 60: 1684
Volume 61: 1685 - 1687