A 19th century manuscript, which is essentially a pre-Famine census, will be digitalized by the National University of Ireland, in Maynooth, Kildare.
The document is the length of Croke Park (400m) when unrolled and contains the signatures of 300,000 people living in Ireland in 1841.
The manuscript was given to Lord Morpeth, who spent five years in Ireland as the chief secretary, by the Duke of Leinster, who lived in Carton House.
Coincidentallly some of the lands at Carton House, which is now a hotel, was used by NUI Maynooth.
Morpeth, who became the seventh Earl of Carlisle was leaving in 1841 when his supporters in Ireland gathered a petition “of outpourings and affection and support” which they stitched into a cloth manuscript called the Testimonial Roll.
Most of the signatories were peers, merchants, professionals, clergymen and landed gentry. They include Daniel O’Connell, Charles Gavin Duffy and Thomas Davis.
Morpeth referred to the roll as “the richest heirloom” he could leave his family.
Since then it has been stored in Castle Howard in York. The same castle that was used to film “Bridehead Revisited”.
Dr Terence Dooley from NUI Maynooth “The names are what make it interesting…It’s 1841, it’s the eve of the Great Famine and we don’t have that sort of census material available to us. And here you have all these names of people from all over the country.
“The document is of immense significance for Irish history, constituting, in effect, a pre-Famine census," said Dooley.
The scroll has not been unraveled from the time it arrived in Castle Howard until it was brought to Maynooth in 2009. The scroll will be photographed, computerized and digitalized by Ancestry.co.uk.
Maynooth college will then attempt to track and locate where the people on the list ended up.
Dooley said “In terms of locating them, it coincides with the introduction of the Thoms Directory and, ten years later, you have Griffiths Valuation - it means that probably the vast majority of people on this roll can be identified. Many of them would have emigrated during the Famine, and that will be fascinating in itself.”
The document will be eventually be shown in public.
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