Lewis Topographical Dictionary, 1837

MEATH (Diocese of) This diocese was originally formed by the union of several small sees, of which the principal were Clonard, Duleek, Kells, Trim, Ardbraccan, Dunshaughlin, Slane, and Foure, all of which, except Duleek and Kells, were consolidated at the celebrated synod held by Cardinal Paparo in 1152, and the episcopal seat fixed at Clonard. The sees of Duleek and Kells were afterwards annexed; and the united diocese, which took its name from the ancient province of Meath, was placed under the superintendence of Idunan, who flourished towards the close of the 11th century.

The first prelate after the English invasion was Eugene, who was advanced to the see in 1174, and a short time before his death, in 1194, assumed the title of Bishop of Meath, which has ever since been retained. Simon Rochfort, his immediate successor, founded an abbey for Augustinian canons at Newtown, near Trim, to which he removed the episcopal see, where it remained till the reign of Henry VIII.  Thos. St. Leger, who was consecrated in 1287, extended the possessions and the privileges of the diocese. Alexander de Balscot, who was consecrated in 1386, was appointed Lord High Treasurer of Ireland by Edw. III., and filled many important stations under Rich II.; his immediate successor, Edward Dantsey, was made Lord-Deputy to Sir John de Grey, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

John Pain, who was made bishop in 1483, preached the sermon and proclaimed the title of Lambert Simmel, at his coronation in Christ church, Dublin, for which he received a pardon in 1488; and on the arrival of Sir Richard Edgecombe to settle the country after Simnel's defeat, he attended that officer on his landing at Malahide, and was employed by him to proclaim the king's pardon to all who should return to their allegiance. In the reign of Hen. VIII., the episcopal seat was removed to the church of St. Mary's abbey at Ballymore, near Lough Seudy, in the county of Westmeath, but it appears to have remained there for a short period only, and not to have been subsequently established in any particular locality, nor has there been for a long time either dean, chapter, or cathedral church. In 1568, the see of Clonmacnois was annexed to this diocese by act of parliament. In 1621, the celebrated James Ussher was consecrated Bishop of Meath, which dignity he held till 1624, when he was translated to the archbishoprick of Armagh. The bishop of Meath ranks next to the four archbishops; the other bishops, excepting only the bishop of Kildare, take precedence according to the date of their consecration.

The diocese is one of the ten which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Armagh, and comprehends part of the counties of Kildare, Longford, and Cavan, a large portion of King's county, and the greater part of the counties of Meath and Westmeath; extending from the sea to the river Shannon, 80 miles in length and 20 in breadth; comprising an estimated superficies of 663,600 acres, of which 750 are in Kildare, 4300 in Longford, 9400 in Cavan, 102,000 in King's county, 324,400 in Meath, and 222,750 in Westmeath. The lands belonging to the see comprise 29,269 statute acres, of which 20,266 are profitable land; and the gross revenue of the bishop, on an average of three years, ending Dec. 1st, 1831, amounted to £5220. 10. 6. The bishop was anciently elected, and the affairs of the diocese are still transacted, by a synod, consisting of an archdeacon and all the beneficed clergy of the diocese; the common seal is annually deposited in the hands of one of the members by vote of the majority; there is also a dean of Clonmacnois, collated by the bishop.

The consistorial court is held at Navan, and consists of a vicar general, two surrogates, a registrar, deputy registrar, a proctor of office, and three other proctors; the registrar is keeper of the records, which are preserved in the court house of Navan, and of which the earliest is dated in 1712. The total number of parishes in the diocese is 220, comprised in 105 benefices, of which 47 are unions of two or more parishes, and 58 single parishes; of these, 24 are in the patronage of the Crown, 22 in lay patronage, and the remainder in that of the bishop or incumbents. The total number of churches is 100, and there are six other episcopal places of worship, and 89 glebe-houses. The episcopal palace is near Navan, in the parish of Ardbraccan.

In the R. C. divisions the diocese, with the exception of one parish in that of Kilmore and a few in that of Ardagh, is nearly co extensive with the Protestant diocese; and is one of the eight bishopricks suffragan to the archiepiscopal see of Armagh. It comprises 64 parochial benefices or unions, and contains 156 chapels, which are served by 124 clergymen, of whom 64 are parish priests, and 60 coadjutors, or curates. The parochial benefices of the bishop are Mullingar and Kells, in the former of which he resides. The cathedral, at Mullingar, is a handsome and spacious edifice, in the later English style, and was consecrated Aug. 15th, 1836, by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Cantwell, assisted by the R.C.Archbishop of Tuam and the dignitaries and clergy of the diocese.


Archives of the Diocese of Meath Church of Ireland

Source: https://www.ireland.anglican.org/cmsfiles/pdf/AboutUs/library/records/MeathList.pdf


  1. Visitations and Rural Deanery Reports (1817-1977) 3
  2. Records Relating to Bishops of Meath (1804-1995) 8
  3. Records Relating to the Diocesan Clergy and Lay Readers (1850-1985) 12
  4. Diocesan Synod Records (1870-1958) 15
  5. Diocesan Council Records (1870-1970) 17
  6. Maps and Plans (1692-20th century) 20
  7. Records Relating to Glebe Lands (1811-1905) 22
  8. Legal Papers (1835-1940) 23
  9. Accounts (1875-1976) 24
  10. Papers of Individual Parishes (18th century-20th century) 26
  11. Papers Relating to General Parochial Organisation (1870-1980) 35
  12. Miscellaneous Diocesan Registry Papers (1686-1991) 38
  13. Papers Relating to Diocesan Education (1866-1996) 49
  14. Papers Relating to Diocesan Charities and Endowments (1811-1984) 55
  15. Seals and Related Papers (1842-1978) 59
  16. Photographs (19th and 20th century) 61
  17. Diocesan Magazines (1885- 1974) 63
  18. Copies, Notes and Extracts From Diocesan Records and Other Sources (17th century-20th century) 65
  19. Papers of Canon John Healy 67 3 1/ Visitations and Rural Deanery Rep


Diocese of Meath

The Parliamentary Gazetteer 0f Ireland, 1844-1845 Vol. 2

MEATH, a diocese in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh, and principally in the political province of Leinster.  The ancient diocese of Clonard, said to have been founded by St. Finian, that of Fore, ascribed to St. Fechan, that of Trim, ascribed to St. Secundin or Sechnall, that of Dunshaughlin, ascribed to St. Luman, that of Slane, ascribed to St. Eyre, that of Ardbraccan, ascribed to St. Ultan, and some other sees still smaller than these, but claiming also a comparatively early origin, were all, some time previous to the year 1152, consolidated into the see of Meath, with a common seat at Clonard; the small ancient sees of Duleek or Damleagh, and Kells or Kenles, ascribed to respectively St. Kenan and an unascertained founder, were soon afterwards united to this great compound see; and, in 1568, the comparatively important see of Clonmacnoise was, by act of parliament, likewise consolidated with Meath.  About the year 1206, Simon Rochfort removed the seat of the diocese from Clonard to his newly founded abbey at Newtown, in the vicinity of Trim; and at present the episcopal residence is at Ardbraccan in the neighbourhood of Navan.  The bishops who have occupied the see, since the translation of its seat from Clonard, together with the date of their several appointments to it, are;

Deodat, 1224;
Ralph Le Petit, 1227;
Richard De La Corner, 1230;
Hugh De Tachman, 1250;
Thomas St. Leger, 1287:
John O'Carroll. 1321;
William De Poul, 1327;
William St. Leger, 1350;
Nicholas Allen, 1353;
Stephen De Valle, 1369;
William Andrew, 1380;
Alexander Petit or De Balscot, 1386;
Robert Montain, 1402;
Edward Dantsey, 1413;
William Hadsor, 1430;
William Silk, 1434;
Edmund Ouldhal, 1450;
William Sherwood, 1460;
John Pain, 1483,
William Rokeby, 1507;
Hugh Inge, 1512;
Richard Wilson, 1523;
Edward Staples, 1530;
William Walsh, 1554;
Hugh Brady, 1563;
Thomas Jones, 1584;
Roger Dod, 1605;
George Montgomery, 1610;
James Ussher, 1621;
Anthony Mortin, 1625;
Henry Lesly, 1660;
Henry Jones, 1661;
Anthony Dopping, 1681;
Richard Tennison, 1697;
William Moreton, 1705;
John Evans, 1715;
Henry Downs, 1724;
Ralph Lambert, 1726;
Welbore Ellis, 1731;
Arthur Prue, 1733;
Henry Maule, 1744;
Hon. William Carmichael, 1758;
Richard Pocock, 1765;
Arthur Smith, 1765;
Hon. Henry Maxwell, 1766;
Thomas Lewis O'Beirne, 1799;
Nathaniel Alexander, 1822;
Charles Dickenson, 1840;
and Edward Stopford, 1842

The bishop of Meath is styled Most Reverend, and ranks next the archbishops, taking precedence of all the bishops.  The only dignitaries are the archdeacon of Meath and the dean of Clonmacnoise; and a synod, composed of all the incumbents in the diocese, and presided over by the archdeacon of Meath, supplies the place of a chapter.
The diocese is divided into 12 rural deaneries.  The gross and the nett income of the bishop, upon an average of three years ending in Dec. 1831, was respectively £5,220 10s. 6d., and £4,068 10s. 7d.
The diocese of Meath comprehends nearly the whole of the counties of Meath and Westmeath, a large part of King's county, and small parts of the counties of Cavan, Longford, and Kildare.  Dr. Beaufort estimated it to comprise an area of 663,600 acres, to be divided into224 parishes, and to contain 77 churches; and he assigned to the county of Meath 324,400 acres, 147 parishes, and 44 churches,
to Cavan, 9,400 acres, 1 parish, and 1 church,
to Longford, 4,300 acres, 1 parish, and 1 church,
to Westmeath, 222,750 acres, 59 parishes, and 20 churches,
to King's county, 102,000 acres, 16 parishes, and II churches,
and to Kildare, 750 acres, and part of 1 parish.
The length of the diocese is 80 statute miles; its breadth is 20 statute miles; and its area, according to ecclesiastical returns, made a little previous to the Ordnance Survey, is 992,957 acres, 4 perches. Pop., in 1831, 377,859.  Number of parishes, 206; of benefices with cure, 102; of sinecure benefices, 1; of benefices consisting of single parishes, 59; of resident incumbents, 89; of nonresident incumbents, 14. Tithe compositions belonging to the benefices, £27,416 Is. I0 1/2d.; glebes, £7,251 4s. 2d. Gross income, £36,480 6s. 10 1/4d.; nett. £30,291 2s. 2 3/4d. Patrons of 29 benefices, the crown; of 34, the diocesan; of 6, incumbents; of 23, laymen and corporations; of 11, alternate parties. Composition of appropriate tithes, £4,727 14s. 3d; of impropriate tithes, £12,076 13s. 2 1/2d. Number of stipendiary curates, 38; gross amount of their salaries, £2,788 16s. 11 1/2d. besides additional advantages enjoyed by 9. Number of benefices without churches, 9; with churches, 94. Total of churches, 99; sittings, 20,727. Cost of building 56, building and enlarging 4, enlarging 4, and repairing 4 of the churches, £79,850 19s. 4 1/2d.; of which £16,507 13s. 9 1/4d. were gifted by the late Board of First Fruits, £32,173 5s. 7 1/4d. were lent by that Board, £20,684 5s. 8d. were private donations, and £10,301 2s. 0 1/4d. were raised by parochial assessment. Since the appointment of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 3 churches have been rebuilt and 4 enlarged, chiefly by means of funds which they have supplied.
Number of Presbyterian meeting houses, 3; of meeting houses belonging to other bodies of Protestant dissenters, 18; of Roman Catholic chapels, 156.  In 1834, the population consisted of 25,626 Churchmen, 672 Presbyterians, 199 Protestant dissenters, and 377,562 Roman Catholics; and 2 benefices contained no member of the Established Church, each of 5 contained not more than 20 members of the Established Church, each of 11 not more than 50, each of 20 not more than 100, each of 25 not more than 200, each of 28 not more than 500, each of 11 not more than 1,000, and each of 3 not more than 2,000.  In the same year, 456 daily schools, which made returns of their attendance, had on their books 17,701 males and 11,184 females; and 123 daily schools, which made no returns of their attendance, were estimated to be attended by 7,686 children.  Of the total of daily schools, 373 were supported wholly by fees, and 205 wholly or partially by endowment or subscription; and of the latter, 45 were in connection with the National Board, 21 with the Association for Discountenancing Vice, 2 with the Board of Erasmus Smith, 3 with the Kildare Place Society, and 18 with the London Hibernian Society.