Friday 1 November 2019

RCB Library explores a little map with a big story

November's Archive of the Month from the RCB Library will be of particular interest to family historians with Protestant ancestors from Sandymount in Dublin.

During the course of this year, the RCB Library has received numerous invaluable additional items for its already substantial collection for St John the Evangelist, Sandymount. Of particular interest was a letter and accompanying map outlining the designation of parochial district boundaries, dated 6 November 1867.

The map of Sandymount [P306.15].
Click for enlarged view.
St John the Evangelist, Sandymount, is something of a rarity as it was one of the few within the Church of Ireland that participated in the Catholic Revival movement, which later became known as the Tractarian Movement.

Although the Tractarian Movement would have a significant contribution to the Church of England, reemphasizing as it did the Patristic and Catholic nature of that Church, the political atmosphere in Ireland during the 19th century meant that its influence was not as great.

But St John's was different: it was St John’s is a trustee church, which meant that it was an ‘estate church’ with an independent liturgy, and one that was financed independently.

Another unique aspect of St John’s is the existence of the Community of St John the Evangelist, the first religious order of Anglican nuns in Ireland. (The RCB Library has an extensive archival repository for the Community – see hand-list).

The church building itself was originally designed as a chapel-of-ease for the parish of Donnybrook and construction began in the 1840s on lands donated by Sidney Herbert (1810-1861); it opened for church service on Palm Sunday, 24 March 1850. By 1867, the need was felt to determine St John's parochial boundaries, hence the production of the map.

It is interesting to note that the purpose of the map and the accompanying letter appears not simply to outline the parochial district, but also to remind the ‘incumbent or curate’ of his duties, namely that of ‘the tithes of baptism, confirmation and the Churching of women and the Holy sacraments of the Lord’s Supper shall be solemnized or performed in the said church called the church of Saint John the Evangelist, Sandymount’.

A detailed hand-list for St John the Evangelist, Sandymount, can be viewed here.