Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shirley, Evelyn Philip

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SHIRLEY, EVELYN PHILIP (1812–1882), archæologist, born in South Audley Street, London, on 22 Jan. 1812, was the eldest son of Evelyn John Shirley (d. 31 Dec. 1856) of Eatington or Ettington Park, Warwickshire (the representative of a younger branch of the earls of Ferrers), who married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London, on 16 Aug. 1810, Eliza (d. 1859), only daughter of Arthur Stanhope. The boy was sent at the age of eight to a preparatory school at Twyford, near Winchester, was afterwards placed under a private tutor near Oxford, and in 1826 went to Eton. He matriculated as a gentleman-commoner from Magdalen College, Oxford, on 15 Oct. 1830, graduated B.A. in 1834 and M.A. in 1837.

Shirley possessed property at Lough Fea in Monaghan, Lower Eatington or Ettington in Warwickshire, and Houndshill on the borders of Worcestershire. The management of his Irish estate is described by W. S. Trench, his agent for two years from March 1843, in his book of ‘Realities of Irish Life’ (5th edit. pp. 63–95). At Eatington Park he made considerable alterations, which were completed in 1862, and gathered together a library and many valuable pictures. At Lough Fea he collected a library of books relating to Ireland. He travelled much on the continent, and was all his life a lover of history and antiquity. He was also an enthusiast for horticulture. Lord Beaconsfield introduced him into ‘Lothair’ under the name of Mr. Ardenne, ‘a man of ancient pedigree himself, who knew everybody else's.’

In 1837 Shirley served as high sheriff for the county of Monaghan, and in 1867 he filled the same position for Warwickshire. In the parliament from 1841 to 1847 he was member for Monaghan, and from 3 Dec. 1853 to the dissolution in 1865 he represented the southern division of Warwickshire. But he rarely took part in the debates, and threw his energies into the study of archæology. He was elected F.S.A. on 22 March 1860, admitted corresponding member of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society on 20 Oct. 1880, and created honorary LL.D. of Dublin in 1881. He was also a trustee of Rugby school and of the National Portrait Gallery. After a laborious life he died of an apoplectic fit at Eatington Park, near Stratford-on-Avon, on 19 Sept. 1882, and was buried in the family vault at Eatington on 26 Sept. He married, at Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, on 4 Aug. 1842, Mary Clara Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Edmund Hungerford Lechmere. She was born on 22 Oct. 1823, died after a long illness at 2 Belgrave Place, London, on 25 Aug. 1894, and was also buried at Eatington. She supported by her donations and influence the school of Irish lace, which was established at Carrickmacross, near Lough Fea. They had issue a son and three daughters. Shirley's portrait was painted by T. C. Thompson in 1839; that of his wife and their youngest daughter was painted by Catterson Smith in 1868.

Shirley's works comprised: 1. ‘Stemmata Shirleiana: or the Annals of the Shirley Family,’ privately printed, 1841 (a hundred copies). It soon became very scarce. A second edition, corrected and enlarged, 1873. 2. ‘Some Account of the Territory of Farney,’ 1845; this was afterwards embodied in his ‘History of Monaghan.’ 3. ‘The Sherley Brothers: Sir Thomas, Sir Anthony, and Sir Robert,’ printed for the Roxburghe Club, 1848. 4. ‘Original Letters and Papers on the Church in Ireland during Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth,’ 1851. 5. ‘The Noble and Gentle Men of England, or Notes on their Arms and Descents,’ 1859; 2nd edit. 1860; 3rd edit. 1866. He is said to have made collections for a similar work on Ireland. 6. ‘Lough Fea,’ privately printed, 1859; 2nd edit. 1869. 7. ‘Some Account of English Deer Parks, with Notes on the Management of Deer,’ 1867. 8. ‘Lower Eatington, its Manor House and Church,’ privately printed, 1869. 9. ‘Catalogue of the Library at Lough Fea, in illustration of the History and Antiquities of Ireland,’ privately printed, 1872. 10. ‘Ettington versus Eatington,’ 1873. 11. ‘History of the County of Monaghan,’ 1879; issued in five parts between 1877 and 1879. 12. ‘Hanley and the House of Lechmere,’ 1883; a posthumous work. Shirley was also the author of the following tracts: 13. ‘The Church in Ireland,’ by Spes, 1868. 14. ‘The Reformation in Ireland,’ by Spes, 1868. 15. ‘Why is the Church in Ireland to be Robbed?’ by Spes, 1868. 16. ‘Historical Sketch of the Endowments of the Church in Ireland,’ 1869. 17. ‘On Revision: a Letter to the Primate,’ 1872; 2nd edit. 1873. 18. ‘On Tenant-right,’ 1874. The introduction and index to Thomas Dineley's ‘Observations on a Voyage through Ireland in 1681,’ which was printed at Dublin in 1870, were supplied by Shirley, and the cuts, in facsimile of Dineley's drawings, were executed at his expense. He wrote the introduction to William Reader's translation of ‘The Domesday Book for Warwick,’ 2nd edit. 1879, and he contributed a memoir of Chief-justice Heath to the ‘Miscellanies’ of the Philobiblon Society, vol. i. The ‘Transactions’ of the chief archæological societies contained articles from his pen, and to ‘Notes and Queries’ he was a constant contributor from its foundation.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Stemmata Shirleiana, ed. 1873, p. 231; New England Reg. xxxvii. 97–8; Academy, 7 Oct. 1882, pp. 260–1, by E. C. Waters; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. x. 113; Garden, 7 Oct. 1882, p. 326; Foster's Peerage, sub ‘Ferrers;’ Times, 28 Aug. 1894 p. 1, 29 Aug. p. 8; Guardian, 12 Sept. 1894, p. 1378.]

W. P. C.