Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Irish connection

Advertisement for "Travels". The Belfast Mercury (15 June 1790)

Advertisement for “Travels”. The Belfast Mercury (15 June 1790).

In an earlier post I discussed one of Macintosh’s American readers, Charles Pinckney, and his copy of Travels (housed in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina). Pinckney’s copy (of the 1782 Dublin edition) has an advertisement pasted onto the front flyleaf, highlighting the book’s contemporary significance in the lead-up to the impeachment and trial of Warren Hastings.

The text of this advertisement was, however, reused and recycled for at least 8 years—a fact attested to by its reappearance (above) in a June 1790 issue of The Belfast Mercury. The advertisement was issued in this case by the Belfast bookseller James Magee (in cooperation with the Downpatrick bookseller Margaret Hart) at the point of a dissolution in Warren Hastings’ long-running trial.

I cannot imagine that there were very many female booksellers in eighteenth-century Ireland, but the secondary literature is rather silent on Margaret Hart. In his 1987 book The printed word and the common man: popular culture in Ulster, 1700–1900, Adams only notes matter-of-factly that “Around 1782 James Magee’s advertisements frequently mention the name of Margaret Hart, bookseller, Downpatrick, for no apparent reason” (p. 28). It is evident, however, that Hart was not just a bookseller; she also—as is indicated by Dudley in her book The Irish Lottery, 1780–1801 (2005)—sold lottery tickets from an office in Downpatrick. Hart will, of course, have to remain another scholar’s quarry.

Macintosh’s library

La Médiathèque Ceccano, Avignon. Home to Macintosh's library.

La Médiathèque Ceccano, Avignon. Home to Macintosh’s library.

When I visited Avignon in September 2012 to begin a pilot phase of archival research on William Macintosh at the Archives Municipales, I walked past one of the city’s libraries every day without realising that it was home to Macintosh’s personal book collection. Opened in the early 1980s, the Médiathèque Ceccano houses the city’s collection of rare and historical books which were previously held at the Muséum Calvet. The origins of Avignon’s library collections begin with the French Revolution and the seizure during that period of the contents of religious libraries and those collections belonging to immigrants to the city. Among the victims of the so-called “confiscations révolutionnaires” was William Macintosh and his library of 70 titles. His home and his books were sequestered in September 1793 apparently in retaliation for the fall of Toulon.

The existence of Macintosh’s library is recorded in Georges Dickson’s 1993 book Jacques III Stuart: un Roi sans couronne. Dickson’s book contains a facsimile of the first page of the catalogue of Macintosh’s collection (listing the first few titles in his library). Due to the poor quality of the facsimile it is a little difficult to decipher the titles of the books (not least since they are descriptions in French rather than precise transcriptions of titles). Nevertheless, it is possible to begin to draw up an inventory of Macintosh’s collection:

  1. Unidentified
  2. Unidentified
  3. Treatise and grants from the country powers, to the East-India Company, respecting their presidency of Fort St. George, on the coast of Choromandel; Fort-William, in Bengal; and Bombay, on the coast of Malabar. From the year 1756 to 1772. (1774) Shelf-mark: 4 ° 2563.
  4. The history of America, by William Robertson (1777) 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 2460.
  5. A course of experimental agriculture; containing an exact register of all the business transacted during five years on near three hundred acres of various soils; including a variety of experiments on the cultivation of all sorts of grain and pulse, both in the old and new methods, by Arthur Young (1770-71). 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 1326.
  6. Dizionario delle lingue italiana, ed inglese, by Giuseppe Baretti (1787). 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 1742.
  7. Unidentified
  8. The history of Hindostan; from the earliest account of time, to the death of Akbar, by Alexander Dow (1768). 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 2560.

In some respects, this brief list is a microcosm of Macintosh’s interests (although the Italian-English dictionary is a little unexpected). Dickson’s book also contains a facsimile of the title page of the dictionary, which shows that Macintosh bought the book in Rome (although the date of purchase is illegible in the facsimile). There is clearly the potential to glean much insight into Macintosh from his reading habits (not least if he was in the habit of annotating his books). I hope in the short term to be able to locate the full catalogue of his books and, if future funding allows, to visit the Médiathèque Ceccano to examine the titles in person.

Macintosh in Caribbeana

Title page of Caribbeana, volume 1.

Title page of Caribbeana, volume 1.

In 1909 a new quarterly periodical focussing on Caribbean genealogy was launched by the wonderfully named genealogist Vere Langford Oliver (1861–1942). Oliver’s journal—Caribbeana—ceased publication only ten years later in 1919 after six volumes and three supplements. Caribbeana has been digitised as part of the Digital Library of the Caribbean and is an important work of reference for scholars working on the history of the Caribbean. Macintosh makes a few, small appearances in the pages of Caribbeana.

Under the heading “A List of West Indian Deeds on the Close Rolls”, volume 1 of the journal records the following, for example: “George Johnston, John Rae by William Macintosh, Ann his wife. Grenada [1764], 14-12-13”. Read out of context, and in this abstract form, the information is not obviously revelatory. This snippet is interesting, however, because it dates Macintosh’s acquisition of land in Grenada and records the name of his wife (the first source I have seen which does so).

It is not immediately clear where these deeds are now stored. I assume they were Public Record Office documents originally, but it will take a bit of detective work to determine how they are now classified and where they are located.