Scope and Content Notes
Title: Guide to the Ballitore Collection,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1605-1917 (bulk 1770-1859)
Collection number: Mss 4
Extent: 5.6 linear feet (14 boxes)
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
Shelf location: Del Sur
Purchase, ca. 1967 and 1973.
[Identification of item], Guide to the Ballitore Collection, Mss 4, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries,
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Much of the following information is taken from Kenneth W. Jones, "The Treasure of Ballitore,"
Soundings [UCSB Library], 7, 1 (Sept. 1975): 33-39.
Ballitore was an unprepossessing rural village in eighteenth century Ireland. Located in County Kildare, it was largely populated
by Irish peasants who would later provide a model and an inspiration for the English author Mary Leadbeater. There also was
a growing community of Quakers who made Ballitore their home. While some of them were wealthy landowners, the village lacked
a school that would provide the sort of educational foundation deemed necessary for the children of Friends. In the early
part of the century, two of the Quaker landowners were able to find a tutor for their children in Abraham Shackleton (1696-1771),
a schoolmaster who had recently moved to Ireland. Impressed with his work, these two families were able to convince Shackleton
to open a school in Ballitore in 1726. Approximately 500 boys were educated during Shackleton's tenure.
Shackleton's most famous pupil undoubtedly was Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the English political author and statesman, who entered
the school in 1741. Burke remained on friendly terms with members of the Shackleton family for the rest of his life. When
Abraham Shackleton died in 1771, Burke noted his qualities of "piety, rectitude and virtue."
Richard Shackleton (1728-1792), Abraham's son, was born at Ballitore and educated at his father's school as a contemporary
of Burke. He later furthered his education at Trinity College. After Abraham Shackleton retired as headmaster in 1756, Richard
succeeded him. In turn Richard's son, also named Abraham, followed his father in becoming headmaster in 1779.
Richard Shackleton's daughter from his second marriage, Mary, born in 1758, was to play the key role in documenting the family's
life and its connections to Ballitore. Following her education at the school, Mary Shackleton traveled with her father to
London where she met Edmund Burke and Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the famous painter. In 1791, she married William Leadbeater
(1763-1827), a small farmer and landowner who had attended her father's school. While managing the community postal service,
Mary Leadbeater also wrote poetry in her spare time. In 1794, she published
Extracts and Original Anecdotes for the Improvement of Youth , which essentially was an account of the local Quaker community.
The Leadbeaters and other residents of Ballitore were caught up in the political strife of the late eighteenth century when
a force of French troops and anti-British insurgents invaded the area. The school was occupied and later sacked. The local
Quaker populace, remaining true to their beliefs, refused to take sides and suffered greatly. The effects of this period of
terror left a lasting impression on Mary Leadbeater who recorded the horrors of those times in
The Annals of Ballitore . This, her most famous work, was not published until 1862 thirty-six years after her death.
Mary Leadbetter also continued to write poetry. A volume of her published poems, relating to local events and praising Edmund
Burke with whom she had corresponded, appeared in 1808. In 1811, she wrote
Cottage Dialogues among the Irish Peasantry , and in 1813 published
The Landlord's Friend . These covered, respectively, the social customs of the local peasant and gentry classes. Mary Leadbetter's other works included:
Tales for Cottages ;
Cottage Biography, Being a Collection of Lives of the Irish Peasantry ;
Memoirs and Letters of Richard and Elizabeth Shackleton ; and
Biographical Notices of the Society of Friends Who Were Resident in Ireland . These works all reflected her interests in Irish life in general and the history of the Quaker community, as well as her
affinity for biographical writing.
The Annals of Ballitore , noted earlier, covered events from 1766 to 1823 and provides an excellent glimpse into the lives and characters of the Irish
cottagers during this often-turbulent time. A second volume of this work contains previously unpublished correspondence with
Edmund Burke and others.
It was Mary Leadbeater's correspondence and her attempts to preserve her family's papers which provide the basis for of the
"Ballitore Manuscript Collection" at UCSB. She had kept a private journal from an early age and this, plus her voluminous
"archives," provided a wealth of information to draw on for her histories. It was her inspiration which maintained the documents
as a group until well into the twentieth century.
Scope and Content Notes
The collection primarily reflects the work of Mary Leadbeater and her descendents. It contains family correspondence between
the Shackletons, the Leadbeaters, and the Barringtons (the family into which Mary's daughter, Sarah, married). It also includes
correspondence from members of the Society of Friends to Richard Shackleton and Mary Leadbeater.
The collection contains six series, the first five purchased together ca. 1967 and the last purchased separately in 1973:
- I. General (including letterbooks, and dreams and visions). Box 1.
- II. Shackleton Family. Boxes 2-4.
- III. Leadbeater Family. Boxes 5-8.
- IV. Barrington Family. Boxes 9-10.
- V. Miscellaneous Correspondence and Manuscripts. Boxes 11-12
- VI. Journals (Sarah Shackleton and Selina Barrington). Boxes 13-14.
For further information about the collection and Irish Quakers, see:
- Goodbody, Olive C.
Guide to Irish Quaker Records 1654-1860 . Dublin, 1967.
- Hodgett, Gerald A. J., "The Shackletons of Ballitore: Some Aspects of Irish Quaker Life,"
Journal of the Friends' Historical Society , 54, 5 (1980): 217-34.
- Jones, Kenneth W. "The Treasure of Ballitore."
Soundings [UCSB Library], 7, 1 (Sept. 1975): 33-39.
- Leadbeater, Mary Shackleton.
The Leadbeater Papers: The Annals of Ballitore . London: Bell and Daldy, 1862.
- McAuliffe, E. J.
An Irish Genealogical Source: The Roll of the Quaker School at Ballitore, County Kildare: With an Index and Notes on Certain
. Blackrock, County Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1984.
- Shackleton, Richard.
Memoirs and Letters of Richard and Elizabeth Shackleton, Late of Ballitore, Ireland; Compiled by Their Daughter, Mary Leadbeater
. London: Printed for Harvey and Darton, 1822
At Other Institutions [information drawn primarily from the Hodgett article]:
Haverford College Library, Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Title: Quaker Collection, Shackleton Family Papers, 1707-1785.
Physical Description: 82 items.
Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Title: Shackleton Correspondence, 1658-1808.
Physical Description: 401 items.
Malone College, Canton, Ohio.
Title: Richard Shackleton Correspondence, 1744-90.
Physical Description: 234 items.
Yale University Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, Connecticut.
Title: The James Marshall and Marie Louise Osborn Collection, Ballitore Papers.
Physical Description: Ca. 1,500 items.
National Library of Ireland, Dublin.
Title: Shackleton Papers.
Religious Society of Friends, Historical Library, Dublin.
Title: Fennell Collection;
Title: Leadbeater-Shackleton Collection.
British Library, London. Addl. MSS., 32,699 f.52, 36,060 f. 166a, 36,139 f. 308.