HARRIS, Walter & SMITH, Charles]

The Antient and Present State of the County of Down. Containing a Chorographical Description, with the Natural and Civil History of the same. Illustrated by Observations made on the Baronies, Parishes, Towns, Villages, Churches, Abbeys, Charter Schools, Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, Medicinal and other Springs, &c. With a Survey of the New Canal; as also a New and Correct Map of the County.

Published: Dublin: Printed by A. Reilly for Edward Exshaw

Date: 1744

first edition 8vo. xx, 271, [1 (blank)], [20 (index)]pp., large folding map (with contemporary hand-colouring in baronies and with sea shores and rivers in blue), contemporary sprinkled calf, very neatly and sympathetically rebacked with a new calf spine, spine panelled by gilt highlighted raised bands, maroon morocco label gilt, original endpapers reused, map reinforced on verso with archival tissue. Generally a very nice copy.

Inscribed with two names, one contemporary "M.... (?) McKinlie" at head of title page, and the other in the nineteenth century hand of "Hugh Law" and "Ex Libris Hugonis Law" on a preliminary blank leaf and at the head of the dedication leaf respectively.

BRADSHAW 1456 In 1740 a short, 50-page, work Topographical and Chorographical Survey of .. Down appeared. This earlier book, issued by a group which was trying to assemble materials for a large composite work on Ireland, was intended to serve as "a rude and premature Skeleton of one particular County in order to show their Design". To it was appended a detailed list of Queries intended to guide the researches that it was hoped would be stimulated. However poor response forced a change of strategy and it was decided to "collect as full Accounts as possible of this one County [Down], and, by the Publication of it, to demonstrate, that it is very far from impossible to carry on the same Views through every County ... [given] a small degree of Publick Spirit". This 1744 book is therefore "not a revised Edition of a Treatise formerly published on the same subject, but an intire New Work". It was the first extended Irish county history and its publication led to the establishment of the Physico-Historical Society, one of the principal intellectual and scientific societies in mid-eighteenth century Ireland, which went on to promote books on counties Waterford, Cork, Kerry and was associated with books on Dublin, Lough Neagh,etc. [by Smith, Rutty, Barton, &c]. Among the many subjects treated are the new (Newry) canal, pearl fisheries on the Bann, mineral waters, medicinal virtues of Mourne mountain goat's whey, rare plants, minerals, herring fisheries and their decline. Considerable care was taken with the map which was based in part on an actual survey and which was justly held by the editors to be "the best and most exact Map, that has yet been published, of any County of Ireland". Although not in absolute terms a rare book almost all copies are worn or restored or without the map, and a copy such a this, fresh and complete with the map, is a rare item. Hugh Law (b. Woodlawn, Co. Down, 1818 - 1883), judge, was called to the Irish bar in 1840. Although previously considered a conservative he drafted the reforming Irish Church Act, 1869, and the Irish Land Act, 1870. He was M. P. for Londonderry from 1874 and, as such, was Gladstone's primary assistant, adopting a conciliatory approach to proposed amendments, in the successful passage of the Irish Land Bill, 1881. He became a widely respected Irish Lord Chancellor later that year.


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