The Morpeth Roll is a unique testimonial document signed by over 275,000 people across Ireland in 1841, on the departure of George Howard, Lord Morpeth, from the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Morpeth Roll is scheduled to go on public display until next year.
However, Christopher Ridgway, curator of Castle Howard, the UK stately
home where the Roll was discovered, will display the real thing at a
conference entitled The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora,
on 24 November. As well as explaining what it is, he will be talking
about its potential value as a pre-famine census substitute for Irish
The Testimonal Roll, which is wrapped around a gigantic bobbin, is 429 meters (1,407 feet) in length and holds around 250,000 signatures gathered from across the whole of Ireland in just four weeks.
The Morpeth Roll campaign has been organised as a collaborative effort between the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Castle Howard in Yorkshire, Ancestry and the Office of Public Works, to trace the stories of the Roll’s signatories – Who signed it? Did they remain in Ireland through the Famine? Did they emigrate to the US or the UK? What did they achieve in their lifetime? The campaign is recruiting historians, librarians, heritage officers, genealogists, and all with an interest in studying and researching Irish history and emigration. The Roll, essentially a pre-Famine census, is currently being digitised to facilitate online searches for ancestors or family names. Some well-known figures who signed the Roll included Daniel O’ Connell, Thomas Davis and Charles Gavan Duffy.
You can read more in an article by Claire Santry of the Irish Genealogy News at http://goo.gl/6xYZq.
My thanks to newsletter reader Rita Meistrell for telling me about this resource.