Guide to the Papers of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Duffy, Charles Gavan, Sir, 1816-1903
Papers of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1840 - 1914
Collection Number
12 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Papers include: Letters to Duffy from various correspondents, including literary and political figures, from 1840-1902 including: Thomas O'Shea, W.S. O'Brien, Thomas Carlyle, Rober Lowe, Sir Redmond Barry, Sir Henry Parkes, Sir George Bowen, Lord Carnarvon and J Henniker Heaton. Correspondence 1842-92 between members of Duffy's circle and an account by Fred Lucas on his visit to Rome in 1855. Documents relating to the publication of Duffy's works include a cutting with author's amendments of an article by Duffy, "Half a century of boons to ungrateful Ireland". Documents concerning Duffy and Young Ireland, including a poem by Charles Kickham and accounts by Richard O'Gorman and T.B. MacManus of the Rising of 1848.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the National Library of Ireland, Dublin, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1956 (AJCP Reel:M672-M673). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

For more information see Sir Gavan Duffy at the National Library of Ireland [].

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2019. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia; Barry, Sir Redmond; Bowen, Sir George F.; Carlyle, Thomas; Duffy, Sir Charles Gavan; Heaton, Sir J. Henniker; Herbert, Henry H.M., 4th Earl of Carnarvon; Ireland; Irish in Australia; Journalists; Kickham, Charles J.; Lowe, Robert, 1st Viscount Sherbrooke; Lucas, Frederick; MacManus, Terence B.; O'Brien, William S.; O'Gorman, Richard; O'Shea, Thomas; Parkes, Sir Henry; Politicians: Australia; Rome, Italy; Young Ireland movement


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 146, p. 53

Biographical / Historical

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (1816-1903) was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, the son of a shopkeeper. He became an Irish nationist at an early age. In 1836. He joined the staff of the Morning Register in Dublin and in 1839 he became the editor of the Vindicator in Belfast. In the same year he began studying law and he was admitted to the Bar in 1845. In 1842 he settled in Dublin, where he met John B. Dillon and Thomas Davis. Together they founded a weekly newspaper, the Nation, edited by Duffy, which combined news with literary criticism, poetry and social and political commentary. It was a spectacular success and was read throughout Ireland. The paper supported the efforts of Daniel O'Connell to repeal the Act of Union, but by 1845 the Young Irelanders had drifted away from O'Connell, condsidering him to be too moderate. The half-hearted uprising in July 1848 in County Tipperary led to several young Irelanders being convicted and transported to Australia. Duffy was imprisoned and charged with publishing articles of a treasonable nature, but in 1849 he was acquitted after the fifth trial. He re-established the Nation and organised the Tenant Right League, he was elected to the House of Commons in 1852. However, his efforts to create an Irish Independant Party were unsuccessful, partly due to the opposition of Dr Paul Cullen the Archbishop of Dublin. He resigned from Parliament and sold the Nation in 1855.

In October 1855 Duffy and his family sailed to Australia. He set up as a barrister in Melbourne, but was soon elected to the first Victorian Parliament as a 'radical reformer'. He was Minister for Lands in 1858-1859 and 1861-1863 and was responsible for the 1862 Land Act. As leader of the free-traders, he was Premier and Chief Secretary in a coalition ministry in 1871-1872. He was knighted in 1873 and awarded the KCMG in 1877. He was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 1877-1880.

Duffy returned to Europe in 1880 and settled in Nice in France. He devoted the last twenty years of his life to writing articles on contemporary political issues and books on historical subjects.

Duffy was the author of The ballard poetry of Ireland (1845, Young Ireland: a fragment of Irish history 1840-1845 (1880), Four years of Irish history 1845-1849 (1883), The League of the North and South: an episode in Irish history 1850-1854 (1886), Thomas Davis: the memoirs of an Irish patriot 1840-1846 (1890), Conversations with Carlyle (1892), and My life in two hemispheres (2 vols, 1898).

One of Duffy's sons, Frank Gavan Duffy, remained in Australia, practised law and eventually became Chief Justice of the High Court (1931-1935). Another son, Charles Gavan Duffy, was the Clark of the House of Representatives (1901-1917).

Item Descriptions

Series MS 1587. Memorials of Irish members of Parliament and of a committee of the lower catholic clergy of Ireland, to Pope Pius IX, concerning clerical connections with politics, c. 1854-1855

2 items

Duffy was one of the parliamentarians who signed the first memorial. The two memorials were drawn up in 1854 or early 1855 during the struggle between Irish nationalists and Archbishop Paul Cullen over the involvement of Catholic priests in Irish political affairs. It was intended that the second petition would be brought to Rome by a deputation of priests, but this did not eventuate.

Memorial of Irish Members of Parliament to Pope Pius IX, n.d. (File)

Memorial of Catholic priests of Ireland to Pope Pius IX (11p), n.d. (File)

Series MS 3738. Confidential letters from Frederick Lucas (Rome), to Charles Gavan Duffy concerning the campaign to discredit Dr. Paul Cullen, December 1854 - February 1855

1 item

Letters from Frederick Lucas (Rome) to Duffy, December 1854 - February 1855 (File)

Frederick Lucas (1812-1855) was the editor of the Catholic weekly The Tablet and the Member for Meath in the House of Commons. He visited Rome on behalf of the Tenant Right League to protest about the prohibition on Irish priests taking part in political affairs. The lengthy letters describe his mission in detail, including two audiences with the Pope and a heated meeting with with Archbishop Cullen.

Series MS 4459. Page proofs of Charles Gavan Duffy, December 1883

1 item

Page proofs of Charles Gavan Duffy, 'Half a century of boons to ungrateful Ireland', Nineteenth Century, vol. 14, pp 1003-29., December 1883 (File)

( Printed with manuscript amendments)

Series MS 4760. Volume containing miscellaneous mid-19th century items relating to Charles Gavan Duffy, c. 1903

1 item

Miscellaneous documents including a petition concerning the right to vote of moderators of the University of Dublin, c. 1903 (File)

Papers relating to the Irish Constitutional Association, and two poems on Charles Gavan Duffy (one dated 1903).

Series MS 5756. Correspondence, 1840 - 1846

1 item

Letters to Duffy, 1840 - 1846 (File)

The letters mainly relate to Irish politics, the Repeal Association, the affairs of The Nation the formation of the Young Irelanders, and Irish ballards and literature. The correspondents include William Carleton, Thomas Carlyle, Thomas Davis, John B. Dillon, Samuel Ferguson, R.H. Horne, Leigh Hunt, Frederick Lucas, Thomas MacNevin, John Martin, John Mitchel, Daniel O'Connell, John O'Connell and John Pigot.


Series MS 5757. Correspondence, 1846 - 1854

1 item

Letters to Duffy, 1846 - 1854 (File)

The letters mainly relate to The Nation and the Young Irelanders, the 1848 uprising and its aftermath, the Tenant Right League, and Duffy's election to the House of Commons. The correspondents include Isaac Butt, William Careton, Thomas Carlyle, William Howitt, James Lalor, Frederick Lucas, Robert McClure, Thomas Meagher, John Stuart Mill, William Smith O'Brien, Samuel Smiles and Sir James Emerson Tennant.


Series MS 8005. Letters to Sir Charles Gavan Duffy from various persons, 1855 - 1902

2 items

Arranged by order of year, some incomplete and many undated.

Letters to Duffy, 1855 - 1880 (File)

The 1855-1880 letters were mostly written to Duffy in Australia, but the quantity is far less than the earlier and later letters and references to Australia tend to be incidental. The letters refer to the conflict with Archbishop Cullen, the 1855 mission to Rome, Duffy's decision to leave Ireland, his reception by the Irish in Sydney and Melbourne, the return of William Smith O'Brien to Ireland in 1856, literary matters, introductions written on behalf of people visiting Australia, a meeting between Thomas Carlyle and Henry Parkes, British and Irish politics, Duffy's visit to England and Ireland in 1865-66, immigration, Duffy's Land Act, relations between the colonies and Britain, Anthony Trollope's visit to Australia (1871), the possibility of Australian federation (1872), the conferral of the KCMG on Duffy (1877), Sir George Bowen's impressions of Mauritius (1879), and the publication of Young Ireland, Duffy's first historical book (1880).

The correspondents include Sir Redmond Barry (Melbourne), Sir George Bowen, William Carleton, Jane Carlyle, Thomas Carlyle, Lord Carnarvon, John B. Dillion, J.P. Fawkner (Melbourne), J.R. Godley, Arthur Helps, R.H. Horne (Melbourne), Mary Howitt, Charles Kingsley, W.E.H. Lecky, Robert Lowe, W. Macready, John Stuart Mill, William Smith O'Brien, Kevin O'Doherty, Thomas O'shea, Sir James Emerson Tennant, William Thackeray, Anthony Trollope (Melbourne) and Thomas Woolner.

Letters to Duffy, 1880 - 1902 (File)

The 1880-1902 letters were written to Duffy when he was living in France or while he was visiting England or Ireland. They deal with his return to Ireland in 1880, Irish Home Rule, the publication of Young Ireland (1880), the book's reception in Australia, visitors to Nice, Irish historical writings, recollections of the Young Ireland party and the 1848 uprising, economic and social conditions in Ireland, politics in Victoria, land reform in Ireland, Charles Parnell, pamphlets, articles and other writings by Duffy, and contemporary Irish literature. The quantity of letters diminishes considerably in Duffy's last years. There are also a few drafts by Duffy.

The correspondents include Matthew Arnold, Rev. P. Birmingham (Wagga), Lord Bryce, Lord Carnarvon, Joseph Chamberlain, Archbishop T.W. Croke, Michael Davitt, Lord Dufferin, John Forster, Arthur Geoghegan, W.E. Gladstone, Frederic Harrison, J. Henniker Heaton (Sydney), Sir John Pope Hennessy, D.P. Keogh (Melbourne), W.E.H. Lecky, W.J. Linton, Justin McCarthy, Cardinal Henry Manning, P. Murray, Cardinal John H. Newman, T.P. O'Connor, Richard O'Gorman, Horace Plunkett, Lord Ripon, Thomas O'Shea, Sir Henry Parkes (Sydney), W.P. Ryan, Samuel Smiles, Sir George Trevelyan, Archbishop W. Walsh and W.B. Yeats. The volume ends with a long series of letters from Mary McGhee (Dublin), undated but written to Duffy in the 1840s.

Series MS 8098. Gavan Duffy Papers, 1880 - 1914

1 item

Correspondence and accounts relating to Duffy's books, 1880 - 1914 (File)

The first group of papers comprise correspondence between Duffy and Cassell Petter, Galphin and Co. concerning the publication of Young Ireland, together with agreements, invoices and financial statements, 1880-1898. The second group comprises agreements between Duffy and Thomas Fisher Unwin concerning the publication of The English abroad (1894), Young Ireland, and My life in two hemispheres, together with stick accounts, 1894-1914.

Series MS 5758. Correspondence of Charles Gavan Duffy with people prominent in literary and political affairs and with the editor of The Times, 1842 - 1892

1 item

Correspondence with Young Irelanders, 1842 - 1892 (File)

Letters, many of them undated, from Young Irelanders including Duffy, Thomas Davis, John B. Dillon, Frederick Lucas, John Martin, Thomas F. Meagher and William Smith O'Brien. The 22 letters from Duffy are drafts or copies. A letter from O'Brien to O'Flaharty (1852) was written from Van Diemen's Land.

(42 letters).

Series MS 5886. Narratives of the Rising of 1848 by R. O'Gorman, T. B. McManus and J. Kavanagh, 1848 - 1849

1 item

Accounts by Richard O'Gorman (23 May 1881, 23pp) and T.B. MacManus (n.d.) of the 1848 uprising in Ireland (File)

The MacManus document is only partly legible.