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Carte Papers


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The sources of the original papers of the Carte collection (which chiefly relates to Irish and English history from the outbreak of the Civil War to the end of the century) may be thus stated:

  1. Ormond papers (Irish history). In about 1728 or 1729 the Earl of Arran delivered to Carte 153 bundles of papers of his grandfather the 1st Duke of Ormond (now MSS. Carte 1-29) and Carte derived many more from Kilkenny Castle. Some were also received from Sir Robert Southwell's descendants. The original Ormond papers may be said to occupy, wholly or in part, MSS. Carte 1-54, 59-60, 63-66, 68-72, 118, 130, 142-147, 154-171, 173, 176, 179, 194, 203, 213-222, 232, 243, 273, 275.
  2. Fitzwilliam papers (Irish history) through Ormond. These papers of Sir William Fitzwilliam were lent by Lord Fitzwilliam in about 1684 to the Duke of Ormond: and now occupy MSS. Carte 55-58, 131.
  3. Chichester papers (Irish history, etc.) probably through Huntingdon (see below). They relate to Sir Arthur Chichester's government of Ireland, and occupy MSS. Carte 61-62.
  4. Sandwich papers (English history, especially of the navy). These are the papers of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, and occupy, wholly or in part, MSS. Carte 73-75, 103, 123, 274.
  5. Wharton papers (English history). Chiefly the collections of Philip 4th Lord Wharton, occupying, wholly or in part, MSS. Carte 77, 79-81, 103, 109, 113, 117, 125, 206-207, 228, 233, 239.
  6. Huntingdon papers (Irish history), derived from the Earl of Huntingdon, whose great grandfather married the daughter of Sir John Davys, attorney general of Ireland, 1603-1616. They occupy, wholly or in part, MSS. Carte 76-78, 103, 128, 234.
  7. Nairne papers, chiefly relating to the exiled Stuarts, and comprising the correspondence of Sir David Nairne and the Earl of Middleton. These are to be found in MSS. Carte 180-181, 208-212, 256-258.

The remaining volumes are originals, transcripts or notes of a miscellaneous kind.


  • Creation: 16th-18th century


30.69 Linear metres (279 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • Italian
  • French
  • Welsh
  • Latin

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Carte 1, fols. 1-2].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Carte 1-279

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 13101


Papers accumulated by the historian Thomas Carte (1686-1754), comprising mainly original papers of James Butler (1610-88), 1st Duke of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with papers of Sir William Fitzwilliam (1526-99), Lord Deputy of Ireland; Sir John Davies (1569-1626) Attorney General of Ireland; Edward Montagu (1625-72) 1st Earl of Sandwich; Charles Middleton (c.1650-1719), 2nd Earl of Middleton; David Nairne (fl.1720), Secretary to the Pretender; Philip Wharton (1613-96), 4th Baron Wharton; and Thomas Wharton (1648-1716), 1st Marquess of Wharton.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Carte, son of the Rev. Samuel Carte, M.A. of Magdalen College, Oxford, and brother of Samuel and Sarah Carte, was born at Clifton in Warwickshire in 1686: matriculated at University College 8 July 1698 and took his degree from Brasenose in 1702, but in 1706 incorporated at King's College, Cambridge, taking his M.A. degree from that college in the same year. He took Holy Orders in about 1714, but in that year refused to take the oath of allegiance and, when in 1722 he was accused of high treason, fled into France, and adopted the name of Philips, not returning till about 1728. In the interval he collected materials for an English edition of De Thou's History, which were used for the seven-volume Latin edition, London 1733.

When he returned to England he commenced his Life of James Duke of Ormonde (published in 1735-36), his attention having been directed to Irish affairs from an early age. His History of England, to provide funds for which a Society of subscribers had been formed (see MS. Carte 174), was published in 1747-55. He died on April 2, 1754.

His wife was Sarah (née Brett), who subsequently married Nicholas Jernegan.


Carte himself arranged his papers with care but not completeness, numbering each separate paper but allowing more than one chronological arrangement in a volume. The greater part he bound, affixing signs or letters, see the tables of comparative pressmarks: and the whole collection was uniformly re-bound in about 1860-70. The present numeration (MSS. Carte 1-276) does not indicate any natural order, either of subject or of date of presentation, and had the records of gift been sufficiently precise, an attempt would have been made to establish a historical and natural sequence.

Other Finding Aids

This catalogue is an electronic version of the description of the Carte Papers in Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series, Vol. III, 10447-10724 (Oxford, 1895).

Carte's own list, with the additions, contained in MSS. Carte 277-79 are the primary authority for the contents of the original collection. In 1864 was printed a Report on the greater part of the collection by Sir T. D. Hardy and the Rev. J. S. Brewer, and in 1871 a still fuller and very valuable one by the Rev. Charles William Russell D.D. and John P. Prendergast.

A complete Calendar of the papers made by Edw. Edwards in 1877-83 and arranged in a long chronological series, remains in manuscript in the library, with a shorter summary list.

The 'Religion and Rebellion' project, a partnership between the Bodleian Library and the History of Parliament Trust, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was set up to enable the keying in of entries from the Edward Edwards calendar covering the years 1660-87, and their incorporation into this electronic catalogue. The Carte Calendar entries are also available, in their original chronological order.

In the Summary Catalogue as published in 1895, the spelling 'Ormonde' was used. In Edward Edwards' calendar 'Ormond' is used throughout. The latter is the preferred spelling in modern historical writing, and appears thus in the new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004). The decision has been made to use 'Ormond' throughout this electronic version of the catalogue and calendar.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 1753 Carte presented 30 volumes of his MSS. to the Bodleian, described as 'De historia Anglicana ... omnes sui codices MSS.' and as 'several volumes of MSS. Collections relating to the Life of the D. of Ormond published by himself, and to the English affairs in Ireland from the reign of Q. Eliz. down to the Dukes time.' Unfortunately a 'blew catalogue' which was in existence in 1770 and contained a list of the 1753 and 1754 donations, cannot now be found. The 30 volumes included certainly MSS. Carte 55-58, 71, 99, 112, 114, 131 (nine) and probably twenty one out of the following twenty three: MSS. Carte 82-90, 92-96, 105, 107, 121-127. Possibly MSS. Carte 101, 116, 119, 129 were part of this first gift. By what right Carte could present the original Ormond papers to the Bodleian is not clear, but as the Earl of Arran, grandson and heir of the 1st Duke of Ormond, was Chancellor of the University at the time, the transference can hardly have taken place without his knowledge and consent.

In 1754 Carte presented 26 more volumes lettered A, B, C, etc. These are certainly MSS. Carte 1-26, but it would seem probable that MSS. Carte 27-29 accompanied them.

In 1757 (April 2) four boxes came from Carte's executors 'containing his Collections of Records and Papers relating to the Hist. of England,' arriving from Caldecot near Abingdon. Carte's Will (20 July 1752) had left his general effects, not specially mentioning his MSS., to his wife. This third donation seems to have consisted of 53 volumes, namely MSS. Carte 30-54, 59-70, 72, 98, 118, 213-222, 232, 243.

In 1778 the University purchased for £50 Mr. Jernegan's life interest in Carte's remaining MSS., and they were transferred to the Bodleian. Carte's widow after her second marriage made a will dated 22 Sept. 1764, by which all the MSS. were bequeathed to the University after her husband's death. She died in 1770, and as early as 30 Apr. 1771 Delegates were appointed by Convocation 'qui de libris manuscriptis egregii viri Thomae Carte in usum Academic deliberent ac determinent,' but no report seems to have been presented to Convocation. The mass of volumes received in this year amounted probably to 169.

Catalogue of the Carte Papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom