Hugh Jackson Lawlor: historian, academic, cleric
Niall C.E.J. O’Brien
Hugh Jackson Lawlor was born on 11th December 1860 in Ballymena, Co. Antrim. He was the third son of John Hillard Lawlor, the manager of the local Provisional Bank and Kate Lawlor (daughter of Lt. Col. John Oairnes). When it came to education Hugh Lawlor left Ulster and first attended the Drogheda Grammar School and later moved on to the Rathmines School in Dublin. From there he went the few miles to Trinity College, Dublin where in 1882 he graduated with BA in mathematics, and achieved his MA in 1885. It seemed for a while that Hugh Lawlor had ideas of a career in mathematics as in the 1880s, he was an examiner in mathematics for the Intermediate Board of Education.
But soon a career in the church beckoned. From 1885 to 1893 Hugh Lawlor was a curate at Christ Church, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). After Dun Laoghaire Hugh Lawlor became a senior chaplain at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh until 1898. But church affairs and mathematics seem not to have commanded Hugh’s full vision although he didn’t totally abandon the former.
At the same time as he served as a curate he became an assistant to Archbishop King’s Lecturer in Divinity at the University of Dublin. In 1898 Hugh Jackson Lawlor was made Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Dublin, a post he held until 1933. From 1866 to the early twentieth century the quality of the members of the Trinity College Divinity School were of the first magnitude in what was termed the Golden Age of the School. Hugh Lawlor had entered academic life with a long of expectation. He concentrated his studies on the medieval church from its early days of St. Patrick to the Protestant Reformation.
Marriage and Residences
In 1901 Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor was living at number 2 Killarney Road in Bray, Co. Wicklow with his wife Leila Mary Lawlor. Leila Lawlor was born in Glenageary, Co. Dublin in about 1864 and was a member of the Church of Ireland like her husband. The Lawlors employed Annie Humphries (aged 27), a local Roman Catholic, born in Bray. The house was one of four on the street but only two were occupied in 1901. Both houses had nine rooms within and six windows at the front of the house. Both houses had a stable and a coach house. In 1914 Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor was living at 64 Palmerston Road in Dublin.
From the 1890s until the 1930s Hugh Lawlor wrote and published many articles and some books to show the fruits of his education and advance knowledge (a list of his writings is printed below). Some of his articles appeared in the journals of the Royal Irish Academy, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and the Henry Bradshaw Society. In 1920 Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor published his English translation of the Life of St. Malachy of Armagh by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The book received wide acclaim and the introduction alone ran to over fifty pages. But the book also had a few points of contention as a fellow Antrim man, Charles McNeill pointed out that territorial bishops were not unknown in Ireland before the eleventh century. In 1907 Hugh Lawlor became editor of the Irish Church Quarterly.
Helping other historians
During his academic career Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor helped a number of other historians by searching sources and passing on information. The obituary to Hugh Lawlor Dean in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1939, p. 138 also ended its appraisal by noting Hugh Lawlor’s ‘ready help and encouragement of those embarking on the studies … which he was a master’. In 1920 when Rev. W.H. Rennison published his work on the Succession list of the Bishop, Cathedral and Parochial Clergy of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore (Dublin, 1920) he thanked Rev. Lawlor for gathering information at the British Museum library, now part of the British Library and supplying information from the original patent rolls in the Public Record Office of Ireland.
In 1891 Hugh Lawlor joined the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. On 27th January 1921, at the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor, D.D., Litt.D., was elected a member of the governing council (serving until 1928) with others such as William F. Butler and David A. Chart. He was already a fellow of the Society.
In 1923 Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor was one of a number of noted Irish historians who gave evidence to the Seanad Committee on Irish Manuscripts. The committee’s report of 1924 recommended editing and publishing Irish manuscripts under the control of the Royal Irish Academy. The country was then in the midst of reconstruction after the War of Independence and Civil War and the report gathered dust. Later in 1928 an independent body, the Irish Manuscripts Commission, was establish to edit and publish manuscripts relating to Irish history.
Dean St. Patrick’s and death
Even with his academic career Hugh Lawlor continued to hold positions in the Church. in 1900 he became the precentor of Trinity College and in 1902 he became the precentor at St. Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin. In 1906 Hugh Lawlor became a chaplain to the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. From 1924 until his retirement in 1933 he served as the (Church of Ireland) Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. On 26th December 1938 Hugh Jackson Lawlor died after a life well spent in many different endeavours.
‘The Kilcormick Missal – a manuscript in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin’, in Transactions Royal Irish Academy, xxxi (1896-1901), pp. 393-430
Chapters on the Book of Mulling
The Rossyln missal: an Irish manuscript in the Advocates Library, Edinburgh (London, 1899)
‘Two notes on Eusebius’ in Hermathena: a Dublin University review, Vol. XI, No. XXVI, pp. 10-49
‘Diary of William King, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin, during His Imprisonment in Dublin Castle’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Fifth Series, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 119-152
‘Notes on Lactantius’, in Hermathena: a Dublin University review, Vol. XII, No. XXIX, pp. 447-469
‘The Chronology of Eusebius’ Martyrs of Palestine’, in Hermathena: a Dublin University review, Vol. XV, No. XXXIV, pp. 177-201
‘A calendar of the Liber Niger and Liber Albus of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin’, in Proceedings R.I.A., Vol. 27 (1908/1909), pp. 1-93
‘Calendar of the Liber Ruber of the diocese of Ossory’, in Proceedings R.I.A., Vol. 27 (1908/1909), pp. 159-208
‘A Calendar of the Register of Archbishop Sweteman’, in Proceedings R.I.A., volume 29 (1910-11), C, No. 8, pp. 213-310
‘A Calendar of the Register of Archbishop Fleming’, in Proceedings R.I.A., volume 30 (1912-13), C, No. 5, pp. 94-190
Eusebiana: Essays on the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea (1912)
‘A Charter of Cristin, Bishop of Louth’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 32 (1914-1916), pp. 28-40
‘A Charter of Donatus, Prior of Louth’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 32 (1914-1916), pp. 313-323
‘The Cathach of St. Columba’, with E.C.R. Armstrong and W.M. Lindsay in Proceedings R.I.A., volume 33, pp. 241-443
‘The Genesis of the Diocese of Clogher, With a note on the possessions of the Priory of St. Mary’ in Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society, Vol. IV, No. 2, pp. 129-153
‘The monuments of the Pre-Reformation Archbishops of Dublin’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 109-138
‘Fragments of the lost register of Clogher’, in Louth Arch Society Journal, Vol. IV, No. 3, pp. 226-257
Lawlor, H.J. & Best, R.I., ‘The Ancient List of the Coarbs of Armagh’, in Proceedings R.I.A., volume 35
St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Life of St. Malachy of Armagh (1920)
‘Eusebius on Papias’, in Hermathena: a Dublin University review, Vol. XIX, No. XLIII, pp. 167-222
‘The chapel of Dublin Castle’, with M.S. Dudley Westropp in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 34-73
‘A Fresh Authority for the Synod of Kells, 1152’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 36 (1921 – 1924), pp. 16-22
‘The Biblical Text in Tundal’s Vision’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 36 (1921 – 1924), pp. 351-375
‘Note of the Church of St. Michan, Dublin’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 11-21
‘The foundation of St. Mary’s Abbey, Dublin’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 22-28
Fasti of St. Patrick’s (Dundalk, 1930)
‘Booter Park’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 151-155
The Reformation and the Irish Episcopate (London, 1932)
‘The deaneries of St. Patrick’s’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 103-113
The Psalter and Martyrology of Ricemarch, Vol. 1
The Ancient List of the Coarbs of Patrick (with Richard Irvine Best)
The ecclesiastical history (Ancient Greek Edition) H.J. Lawlor with John Ernest Leonard Oulton and Kirsopp Lake
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 Maxwell, C., A History of Trinity College Dublin, 1591-1892 (Dublin, 1946), p. 202
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 Power, Rev. P. (ed.), Life of St. Declan of Ardmore and Life of St. Mochuda of Lismore (Irish Texts Society, Vol. XVI, 1914), p. 16, list of members
 Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. X, Sixth Series, 1921, pp. 187, 188
 Rennison, Rev. W., Succession list of the Bishop, Cathedral and Parochial Clergy of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore (Dublin, 1920), pp. v, vii
 Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. X, Sixth Series, 1921, pp. 86, 91
 Kennedy, M., & McMahon, D., Reconstructing Ireland’s Past: A history of the Irish Manuscripts Commission (Dublin, 2009), p. 4