calendars was defended by the government; but the legitimacy of Gilbert's criticisms was indirectly admitted in the fullest way by his association shortly afterwards with Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy [q. v.] in organising the new public record office at Dublin. On the constitution of this office in 1867 Gilbert was, with the general approval of the public, appointed secretary, and retained this post until 1875, when it was abolished.
From the date of the publication of his ‘History of Dublin’ to his death, Gilbert's life was devoted to historical and antiquarian research. In 1865 he published his ‘History of the Viceroys of Ireland’ [down to 1500], and from that time quitted the field of original authorship in exchange for that of research, ultimately revealing more of the hidden or forgotten sources of Irish history than had been done before by any single student. Although his work was not free from error, its value has been warmly acknowledged by Mr. Lecky and Mr. Gardiner in their respective histories.
A considerable part of Gilbert's time was given to the affairs of the Royal Irish Academy, of which he became a member in 1855, and was for more than thirty-four years librarian. At his suggestion the council of the academy began the publication, under his editorship, of their collection of ancient Irish manuscripts. He also acted for many years as an inspector under the historical manuscripts commission, reporting on many public and private collections, and editing for that commission a portion of the papers of the Marquis of Ormonde. He likewise edited for the corporation of Dublin the valuable ‘Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin,’ which had reached the year 1730 at the time of his death.
Gilbert held many honorary offices of public trust, such as the vice-presidency of the Royal Irish Academy. The Royal University conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D. in 1892. In 1897 he was knighted. Gilbert's life for nearly fifty years was passed at his house, Villa Nova, Blackrock, near Dublin, where he formed an almost unique collection of Irish historical and archæological works; this since his death was acquired by the corporation of Dublin.
Gilbert died on 23 May 1898, through heart failure. He married in 1891 Rosa, second daughter of Joseph Stevenson Mulholland, M.D., of Belfast, who survived him.
Gilbert wrote and edited the following:
- ‘Historical Essays on Ireland,’ from the ‘Irish Quarterly Review,’ 1851, 8vo.
- ‘Celtic Records and Historical Records of Ireland,’ from the ‘Irish Quarterly Review,’ 1852, 8vo.
- ‘History of the City of Dublin,’ 1854–9, 3 vols. 8vo.
- ‘Ancient Historical Irish Manuscripts,’ 1861, 8vo.
- ‘Public Records of Ireland. Letters by an Irish Archivist,’ 1863–4, 8vo.
- ‘History of the Viceroys of Ireland,’ 1865, 8vo.
- ‘Leabhar na H-Uidhre,’ R.I.A., 1870, fol.
- ‘Historic and Municipal Documents of Ireland,’ 1870, 8vo.
- ‘Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland,’ 1874–84, 5 vols. fol.
- ‘Leabhar Breac,’ R.I.A., 1876, fol.
- ‘A Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland from 1641 to 1652,’ 1879–80, 4 vols. 4to.
- ‘History of the Irish Confederation and the War in Ireland, 1641–9,’ 1882–91, 7 vols. 4to.
- ‘Chartularies of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin,’ 1884, 2 vols. 8vo.
- ‘Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland,’ 1884, 8vo.
- ‘Calendar of the Ancient Records of Dublin in possession of the Municipal Corporation, 1171–1730,’ 1889–98, 7 vols. 8vo.
- ‘Register of the Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin,’ 1889, 8vo.
- ‘A Jacobite Narrative of the War in Ireland, 1688–1691,’ 1892, 4to.
- ‘Documents relating to Ireland, 1795–1804,’ 1893, 4to.
- ‘Narrative of Clementina Maria Stuart, 1719–1735,’ 1894, 4to.
- ‘An Account of Parliament House, Dublin,’ 1896, 4to.
- ‘Crede Mihi, the most ancient Register of the Archbishops of Dublin before the Reformation, A.D. 1275,’ 1897, 4to.
He also left unfinished ‘Papers connected with the Jacobites of Ireland,’ and wrote numerous articles in the Reports Nos. I. to XV. of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, and in the ‘Athenæum,’ ‘Dublin Review,’ ‘Irish Times,’ ‘Freeman's Journal,’ Royal Irish Academy publications, ‘Irish Quarterly Review,’ and other periodicals.
[Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 3rd ser. vol. v. (Minutes), 309–12; information kindly supplied by Lady Gilbert.]
GILBERT, WILLIAM (1760?–1825?), poet, was born in Antigua, and was the son of Nathaniel Gilbert, speaker of the house of assembly in that island. Nathaniel Gilbert was a methodist, and in 1760, 'amidst torrents of reproach, he preached the gospel to the slaves and persevered until he had formed a society of nearly 200.' He died before 1778, when his work was continued by a methodist shipwright named Baxter.
William Gilbert was educated for the bar, and came to England about 1784 as counsel for the defendant in a court-martial. According to Cottle, in his reminiscences of Coleridge, he was unsuccessful, and his failure was the cause of the mental derangement