Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Archdall, Mervyn
ARCHDALL, MERVYN, M.A. (1723–1791), Irish antiquary, was descended from John Archdall, of Norsom or Norton Hall, in Norfolk, who went to Ireland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and settled at Castle Archdall, co. Fermanagh. He was born in Dublin 22 April 1723. After passing through the university of Dublin with reputation, his antiquarian tastes introduced him to the acquaintance of Walter Harris, Charles Smith, the topographer, Thomas Prior, and Dr. Pococke, archdeacon of Dublin. When the latter became bishop of Ossory, he appointed Archdall his domestic chaplain, bestowed on him the living of Attanagh (partly in Queen's County and partly in co. Kilkenny), and the prebend of Cloneamery in the cathedral church of Ossory (1762), which he afterwards exchanged (1764) for the prebend of Mayne in the same cathedral. Archdall was also chaplain to Francis Pierpoint, Lord Conyngham, and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. Having married his only daughter to a clergyman, he resigned part of his preferments in the diocese of Ossory to his son-in-law, and obtained the rectory of Slane in the diocese of Meath, where he died, 6 Aug. 1791.
His works are:
- 'Monasticum Hibernicum; or an History of the Abbies, Priories, and other Religious Houses in Ireland.' Dublin, 1786, 4to, pp. 820. This work was the result of forty years' labour. The collections for it filled two folio volumes, but the author was obliged to abridge them considerably. Compared with Dugdale's 'Monasticon Anglicanum,' it is a weak and feeble production, and eighty-two mistakes in it are rectified in Dr. Lanigan's 'Ecclesiastical History of Ireland.' An interleaved copy, with numerous manuscript additions by W. Monck Mason, is preserved in the Egerton collection in the British Museum (Nos. 1774, 1775). Considerable portions of the work appear to have been contributed by Edward Ledwich. The publication of a new edition, with notes by the Rev. Patrick F. Moran, D.D., and other antiquaries, was commenced, in parts, at Dublin in 1871.
- An edition of Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, 'revised, enlarged, and continued to the present time,' 7 vols. 1789. On this work Archdall was engaged only four years, confining himself to genealogical inquiries, as, according to his own admission, he was almost totally ignorant of heraldry. Mrs. Archdall rendered valuable assistance to her husband in the preparation of the work by deciphering the valuable notes of additions and corrections left by Lodge in shorthand or cipher.
- 'Manuscript Collections relating to Irish Topography,' sold with Sir William Betham's MSS. for 7l. 15s.
[Anthologia Hibernica, iii. 274; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, pt. vi. 314, 322; Gent. Mag. lxi. 780, N. S. xiii. 162; Taylor's Hist. of Univ. of Dublin, 422; Nichols's Illustrations of Lit. vi. 430, 431, vii. 714, 775, 848; Scots Magazine, liii. 415; Lanigan's Eccl. Hist. of Ireland; Burke's Landed Gentry (1837), ii. 107; Notes and Queries, 3rd series, viii. 473; MSS. Egerton, 1774, 1775.]