Falkiner, Cæsar Litton (DNB12)

FALKINER, CÆSAR LITTON (1863–1908), Irish historian, born in Dublin on 20 Sept. 1863, was the second son of Sir Frederick Richard Falkiner [q. v. Suppl. II]. From the Royal School, Armagh, he went to the University of Dublin, graduating B.A. in 1886 and proceeding M.A. in 1890. At college he wrote an essay on Macaulay as an historian, which showed that he then formed his conception of the study of history. In 1885 he was elected president of the college Philosophical Society. Much interested in politics, he entitled his presidential address 'A New Voyage to Utopia,' a kind of appeal from the new whigs to the old, which was suggested by the passing of the third reform bill. In 1887 he was called to the Irish bar, and in 1888 he began to work actively on behalf of the unionist cause. At the general election of 1892 Falkiner contested, unsuccessfully, South Armagh. He served on the recess committee whose labours resulted in the creation of the Irish department of agriculture. Devoting much thought to the Irish land problem, he mastered the intricacies of the many Irish Land Acts. In 1898 he was appointed temporary assistant land commissioner, and in 1905 this appointment became permanent. For the first half of his work his duty lay in the western counties, for the latter half in the southern counties.

Meanwhile Falkiner was spending much time and energy on the study of Irish history and literature. He diligently collected and sifted original material. His first book, 'Studies in Irish History and Biography, mainly in the Eighteenth Century' (1902), threw new and valuable light on the history of Ireland in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. But subsequently he mainly devoted himself to the seventeenth century. In 1896 he became a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and after serving on the council was elected secretary in 1907. Papers read before the academy formed the first part of his 'Illustrations of Irish History and Topography, mainly of the Seventeenth Century' (1904). His posthumous book, 'Essays relating to Ireland' (1909), dealt with the same century. In 1899 he was appointed, in the room of Sir John Thomas Gilbert [q. v. Suppl. I], inspector under the historical manuscripts commission, with the duty of editing the Ormonde papers. From 1902 to 1908 five volumes of these seventeenth-century papers appeared, containing over 3000 pages—a noble contribution to the raw material of history. The introductions show his power of handling vast masses of evidence.

Falkiner's interests extended to literature, and in this Dictionary and in Chambers's 'Cyclopaedia of English Literature' he dealt with men of letters. In 1903 he edited the poems of Charles Wolfe and selections from the poems of Thomas Moore (in the 'Golden Treasury' series), and shortly before his death he designed editions of Moore's complete poetical works and of Dean Swift's letters.

Falkiner died on 5 August 1908, through an accident on the Alps while on a brief holiday at Chamonix. He was buried in the English churchyard in Chamonix.

On 4 Aug. 1892 he married Henrietta Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Newenham Deane [q. v. Suppl. I], architect, of Dublin. She survived him with two daughters. A memorial tablet was placed by his friends in St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1910.

[Memoir by Prof. E. Dowden, prefixed to Falkiner's Essays relating to Ireland, 1909; Minutes, Royal Irish Acad. 1908-9.]