Guide to the papers of Sir Thomas Larcom (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Larcom, Thomas, Sir
Papers of Sir Thomas Larcom (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1858 - 1864
Collection Number
5 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

Correspondence and newspaper cuttings concerning murders, arson and other crimes committed by members of the Ribbon Society in County Donegal and the government's retaliatory eviction measures, especially in Derryveagh in 1861. Many of the evicted families emigrated to Australia.

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, 1979 (AJCP Reel: M852). 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.

Collection Reference: MS 7633. For further information see the National Library of Ireland.

Larcom bequeathed 179 volumes of correspondence, memoranda, newspaper cuttings and pamphlets to the Statistical Society of Ireland. The collection was transferred to the National Library of Ireland in 1918-19.

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 Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP). 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.


Crime and criminals; Derryveagh, Ireland; Donegal, Ireland; Ireland; Larcom, Sir Thomas; Officials; Ribbon Society, Ireland


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 269, p100.

Biographical / Historical

Sir Thomas Larcom

Sir Thomas Larcom (1801-1879) was born in Gosport, Hampshire. He studied at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers. In 1824 he joined the Ordinance Survey. He moved to Ireland in 1826 and was appointed as an assistant in the Ordinance Survey of Ireland in 1828. He held this position for twenty years.

In 1848-51 Larcom worked briefly with the Board of Works and Famine Relief before being appointed Under-Secretary for Ireland. It was the first time that the office was non-political and permanent. He instituted reforms in the poor law and local government, improved the public health system, and encouraged the development of agriculture and higher education. He was promoted to the rank of Major-General in 1858 and was knighted in 1860. He had an extraordinary knowledge of Ireland and was convinced of the importance of collecting and analysing statistical and other information. Larcom played a major part in the suppression of the Fenian Uprising in 1867. He retired in 1868 and was made a baronet.

The Ribbonmen

The Ribbon Society was a Catholic secret society that was active in rural Ireland for several decades in the nineteenth century. Its members, who were organised in lodges, wore green ribbons in their button-holes. Their chief objective was to protect the interests of tenant farmers and rural labourers. Ribbonmen were involved in violent attacks on landlords and they also resisted paying tithes to the Church of Ireland. They took part in numerous clashes with Orangemen in northern Ireland.

Like the 'Whiteboys' in earlier times, 'Ribbonmen' was a loose term applied generally to individuals in rural areas who were charged with carrying firearms or administering illegal oaths. From 1825 onwards many men alleged to be Ribbonmen were transported to Australia. According to George Rude in Protest and punishment (1978), '340 or so Whiteboys, Ribbonmen and other land-warriors arrived [in Van Diemen's Land] on a score of ships between 1840 and 1853'. In the 1850s Irish newspapers continued to describe in graphic terms the activities of Ribbonmen, but by the 1860s they had been superseded in Irish demonology by the Fenians.

Item Descriptions

Attempt to murder Rev. A Nixon, 1858 - 1859 (File 1)

Newspaper cuttings on the attempted murder of Rev. Alexander Nixon of Heathfield by Ribbonmen and on agrarian outrages and the state of Donegal generally.

Ribbonism and agrarian outrage, Donegal, 1861 - 1862 (File 2)

Correspondence and newspaper cuttings concerning outrages in Donegal, the trials of Ribbonmen, the examination of informers and witnesses, an attack on Clonmany Church, threats to murder the agents of landlords, reports on individuals believed to be sympathetic to Ribbonism, and the departure of Ribbonmen for America and elsewhere. The correspondents include J.C. Considine, George Fitzmaurice and J. Doherty.

Mr Adair, Derryvaugh, evictions, 1861 - 1862 (File 3)

Correspondence, memoranda, notes and newspaper cuttings mainly concerning the eviction of 45 tenant families by John G. Adair of Derryvaugh, Donegal. They include reports of court proceedings, lists of families evicted in Donegal, papers concerning the murder of Adair's steward in November 1860, and correspondence on the possible removal of Adair from the Commission of Peace. There are also papers concerning debates in the House of Commons on a motion by Vincent Scully and a copy of Derryveagh evictions: return to an order of the House of Commons, 14 May 1861 (printed, 18pp). The correspondence includes letters and minutes to Larcom from Edward Cardwell, the Chief Secretary for Ireland.

Murder of Adam Grierson, former steward of Adair, at Derryvaugh, 1863 - 1864 (File 4)

Correspondence and newspaper cuttings relating to the murder of Adam Grierson, the former steward of John Adair, the trial of Francis Bradley on a charge of murder, and on the state of Donegal generally. The correspondents include J.S. Macleod.

Lord Leitrim's doings in Donegal, 1858 - 1864 (File 5)

Correspondence and newspaper cuttings about complaints by Lord Leitrim about the security of his life and property, the management of his estates in Donegal, debates in the House of Lords, Leitrim's behaviour as a magistrate, litigation involving charges of Ribbonism, and an assault made on one of Leitrim's stewards in 1864. The correspondents include J.C. Considine, J.M. Studdart, J.S. Macleod and R.M. Bland. There is also a map of the county of Donegal.