Guide to the Papers of Thomas Spring Rice, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon (as filmed by AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Spring Rice, Thomas, 1st Baron Monteagle
Papers of Thomas Spring Rice, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1831 - 1857
Collection Number
17 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 of Thomas Spring Rice, later Lord Monteagle, relating to Irish emigration, and emigration generally, 1831-57. The papers are not in strict chronological order and memoranda, printed documents and miscellaneous papers are scattered among the correspondence. Correspondence filmed relates to emigration and assistance to migrants from Limerick to Australia. Also included is a substantial report by Richard Muggende on emigration considered as a source of relief to Ireland (1837).

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-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed selectively at the National Library of Ireland, Dublin, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1976. (AJCP reel M976). 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: MS13,400.

For further information see Thomas Spring-Rice 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 2018. 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.


Board of Guardians; Chisholm, Caroline; Emigration agents; Emigration and immigration; Emigration Commissioners; Great Britain. Colonial Land and Emigration Commission; Great Britain. Parliament: House of Lords; Ireland; Irish in Australia; New South Wales Association for Preventing the Revival of Transportation; Peel, Sir Robert, 2nd Baronet; Politicians: Britain; Spiritual Aid Fund; Spring-Rice, Ellen M., Baroness; Spring-Rice, Thomas, 1st Baron Monteagle; Surgeons; Surgeons: emigrant ships; Trade: Australia; Villiers, George, 4th Earl of Clarendon


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry number 329, page 123.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Spring Rice (1790-1866), 1st Baron Monteagle (created 1839), was born in Limerick, Ireland, the son of Stephen Rice of Mount Trenchard and his wife Catherine Spring. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later studied law at Lincoln's Inn. In 1820 he was elected to the House of Commons, where he was closely associated with the Whigs who were led by Lord Lansdowne. In 1827-28 he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office in the ministry led by George Canning. When the Whigs returned to power in 1830, Spring Rice was appointed Secretary to the Treasury. In 1834-35 he was briefly Secretary of State for the Colonies. He then became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Melbourne's second ministry. In this position he was widely regarded as a failure. He resigned in 1839, was raised to the peerage, but did not hold public office again.

In 1811 Spring Rice married Lady Theodosia Pery, the daughter of the 1st Earl of Limerick, and they had eight children. She died in 1839 and in 1841 he married Mary Anne Marshall, the daughter of a Yorkshire industrialist. Her fortune enabled him to survive the considerable loss of income he incurred during the great Irish famine of the 1840s.

Monteagle devoted a great deal of time and energy to seeking to reduce the suffering of the Irish people in this period. Although no longer in office, he corresponded frequently with Cabinet ministers, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Treasury officials about the condition of the rural population and the need to abandon laissez-faire policies in order to hold together the fabric of society.

Monteagle had taken a strong interest in emigration to the colonies from his time at the Colonial Office. Government support for emigration was growing: T.F. Elliot was created Agent-General for Emigration in 1837 and the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission was created in 1840. In 1838 13 families from Limerick migrated to Australia on the Aliquis, some of whom had worked for the Spring Rice family or their tenants. When assisted emigration was resumed in 1847, Monteagle actively encouraged people from his estates and the surrounding districts to emigrate. 30 left in 1847, 42 in 1848 and 31 in 1849, most of whom eventually settled in the Port Phillip district. The numbers increased after 1850, as emigrants left to join family or friends already in Australia. Lady Monteagle mostly lived in London, but she assiduously collected forms from the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission and corresponded with the steward and housekeeper at Mount Trenchard about loans and other assistance to intending emigrants. Between 1838 and 1858 about 800 'Monteagle emigrants' came to Australia. They were mostly from Mount Trenchard, Shanagolden, Robertstown, Kilcoman and Loghill in north-west County Limerick.

Reference: Christopher O'Mahony and Valerie Thompson. Poverty to Promise: the Monteagle emigrants 1838-58, Sydney, Crossing Press, 1994.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence on emigration, 1831 - 1851

1 item

Correspondence of Monteagle relating to emigration from Ireland and England, 1831 - 1851 (File)

Correspondence of Monteagle relating to emigration from Ireland and England, economic conditions in Ireland, the potato famine, the Irish Colonisation Fund, J.R. Godley's pamphlet Observations on the Irish poor law (1847), and government assistance for emigration to Australia and Canada. There are also references to economic conditions in Australia, the need for labourers in Australia, female emigration to Australia, and moves to abolish convict transportation to Van Diemen's Land. Most of the correspondence dates from 1846-48.The collection contains copies or drafts of many letters written by Monteagle. His correspondents include C.B. Adderley, Lord Bessbororugh, Sir Richard Bourke, Charles Buller, Caroline Chisholm, Lord Clare, Lord Clarendon, Sir Stephen De Vere, T.F. Elliot, Lord Fitzwilliam, J.R. Godley, Lord Grey, L.A. Jackson, Edward Macarthur, D. McPherson (Sydney), William Smith O'Brien, Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, Stephen Spring-Rice, Sir Charles Trevelyan, W.W. Whitmore and Sir Charles Wood.

Series 2. Memoranda on emigration, 1835 - 1848

4 items

T.F. Elliot (Colonial Office). The Department of the Agent-General for Emigration (14pp), 29 January 1835 (File)

Richard M. Muggeridge (Poor Law Commission), 1837 (File)

Emigration considered as a source of relief to Ireland in connection with the proposed Poor Law Act for that country, 1837. (64pp)

The document includes sections on the duties of emigration commissioners, emigration agents at the ports and colonial emigration agents, the Board of Guardians and union officers in Ireland, and various forms and circulars.

Lord Monteagle. Memorandum on emigration, sent to Lord Clarendon (30pp), 21 October 1848 (File)

Remarks on the memorial respecting colonisation presented to Lord John Russell, unsigned (23pp), n.d. (File)

Series 3. Irish immigrants in Australia, 1848 - 1857

1 item

Correspondence and financial papers concerning individuals and families who emigrated from County Limerick to Victoria and other Australian colonies (File)

Some of the letters were addressed to Lord Monteagle, many to Lady Monteagle, and some jointly to Lord and Lady Monteagle. A few were addressed to relatives in Ireland and were evidently passed on to the Monteagles. The letters usually deal with financial matters, such as the repayment of deposits and the remittance of money to assist other family members or friends to come out to Australia. Some letters contain requests for specific articles and others describe conditions in the colonies and news of other Irish emigrants.

Most of the correspondents were residing in Melbourne. They include John Culhane, John Danaher, Patrick Danaher, Michael Gibson, Patrick Healy, Ann Kelly, Patrick Kelly, Ellen Kenny, Mary McGrath, Michael McNamara, Catherine Martin, Michael Martin, Bridget Mulvihill, Mary O'Shaughnessy and James Walsh. There are also letters from Jon Buckley (Port Gawler, South Australia), Thomas Quilty (Tumut) and Ellen Sullivan (Geelong).

In addition to the letters from emigrants, there are letters from Patrick Connor, the steward at Mount Trenchard, and Stephen Walcott of the Colonial Land and Emigration Office. There are also letters from people in Ireland concerning relatives who had emigrated to Australia. Finally, there are a number of emigrant applications and blank application forms and receipts for payments made by Lady Monteagle on behalf of emigrants.

Series 4. Miscellaneous papers, 1845 - 1853

11 items

These papers include letters, circulars and tables on Emigration; containing information from 1848 showing emigrant voyages to Sydney, Port Phillip, Adelaide and the Cape of Good Hope, numbers of emigrants to Australia, and an abstract of emigration returns from Ireland.

In addition the collection address emigration relating to Ireland, including extracts from the minutes of the Royal Agricultural Improvement Society of Ireland,a Letter from Irish emigrant P. Danaher to Lord Monteagle, articles, Memorial to Lord Lieutenant from magistrates of the County of Limerick on poor relief, and notes on financial assistance sent to Ireland by relatives in Victoria.

The papers are also concerning emigrants in Australia including, Voluntary information of people of New South Wales collected by Mrs Chisholm, Lord Lyttelton's Emigrants' Spiritual Aid Fund, and a proposal to erect shelters for emigrants at Melbourne and elsewhere.