Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lascelles, Rowley

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LASCELLES, ROWLEY (1771–1841), antiquary and miscellaneous writer, born in the parish of St. James, Westminster, in 1771, received his education at Harrow School, and was called to the bar at the Middle Temple 10 Feb. 1797. Afterwards he practised for about twenty years at the Irish bar.

In 1813 the record commissioners for Ireland selected Lascelles, in succession to Bartholomew Thomas Duhigg [q. v.], to edit lists of all public officers recorded in the Irish court of chancery from 1540 to 1774. The lists formed part of the extensive manuscript collections concerning the history of Ireland made by John Lodge [q.v.], deputy-keeper of the rolls in Ireland; these collections had been purchased after Lodge's death in 1774 from his widow by the Irish government, and were deposited in Dublin Castle. After a time Lascelles quarrelled with the commissioners; but having gained the favour of Lord Redesdale, he was authorised by Goulburn, then chief secretary for Ireland, to carry on the work in London, where it was printed, under the immediate authority of the treasury, in two folio volumes dated respectively 1824 and 1830. Its title ran: 'Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniæ, ab an. 1152 usque ad 1827; or, the Establishments of Ireland from the nineteenth of King Stephen to the seventh of George IV, during a period of six hundred and seventy-five years.' A history of Ireland, styled 'Res Gestæ Anglorum in Hibernia,' written by Lascelles in a partisan spirit, was prefixed on his own authority, and gave so much offence that, although copies of the book were distributed to public libraries, it was practically suppressed, and Lascelles's employment ceased. Archdeacon Cotton remarks that the work contains 'a great mass of curious information carelessly put together, and disfigured by flippant and impertinent remarks of the compiler, most unbefitting a government employé' (Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, 2nd edit. 1851, vol. i. Pref.). A financial dispute between Lascelles and the treasury followed. Lascelles maintained before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1836 that he was entitled to 500l. a year till the completion of the work. He received 200l. in 1832, and 300l. in 1834. Two petitions which he addressed to the House of Commons on the subject led to no result. He died on 19 March 1841.

In 1852 the volumes were issued to the public at the price of two guineas, with an introduction by F. S. Thomas of the Public Record Office, 'showing the origin of the work and the cause of its being published in its present imperfect state.' A partial index to the multifarious contents of the book is printed in the 'Ninth Report of the Deputy-Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland,' Dublin, 1877, pp. 21–58. A full abstract of its contents is given in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for 1829, pt. ii. p. 253.

Lascelles's other works are: 1. 'A General Outline of the Swiss Landscapes,' copious extracts from which appeared in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for July, August, and September 1815. 2. 'Letters of Publicola, or a modest Defence of the Established Church,' Dublin, 1816, 8vo; letters originally issued in the 'Patriot' Dublin newspaper, and afterwards reprinted under the title of 'Letters of Yorick, or a Good-humoured Remonstrance in favour of the Established Church,' 3 pts., Dublin, 1817, 8vo. 3. 'The Heraldic Origin of Gothic Architecture. In answer to all foregoing systems on the subject; on occasion of the approaching ceremonial of the Coronation in Westminster Abbey,' 1820, 8vo. A very conceited and bombastic production. 4. 'The University and City of Oxford; displayed in a series of seventy-two Views drawn and engraved by J. and H. S. Storer. Accompanied with a Dialogue after the manner of Castiglione,' London, 1821, 8vo. 5. 'The Ultimate Remedy for Ireland' (anon.), 1831, 8vo; a copy in the British Museum, revised in March 1832, has numerous manuscript additions by the author.

[Gent. Mag. 1841 pt. ii. pp. 323–5, 1854 pt. ii. pp. 263, 457, 1859 pt. i. pp. 33, 606; Thomas's Introd. to Liber Hiberniæ; Ninth Report of the Deputy-Keeper of Public Records in Ireland, pp. 6, 7; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1314; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vi. 350.]

T. C.