Private papers form a very important part of a county archive. They complement the traditional, more administrative records of a local authority archive by introducing a personal element to the collections. They are the records that truly give a voice to the people living in a county. When a collection is donated to an archive, the archivist drafts a contract with the owner of the papers to ensure the future of the collection.
The Bartons of Annamoe
The Barton family descend from Thomas Barton, a Protestant soldier from Lancashire who came to Ireland with the Earl of Essex’s army in 1599. Ten years later, Thomas was awarded an estate of 1,000 acres in Co. Fermanagh for his services to the Crown. In 1831, Hugh Barton purchased the estate of Straffan in Co. Kildare. His son, Thomas Johnston Barton, purchased the Glendalough (or Drummin, Dromeen) estate at Annamoe, Co. Wicklow. Situated between Djouce Mountain and close to the waters of Lough Dan, the estate previously belonged to the Hugos, an English Protestant family settled in Wicklow since the late 17th century. Thomas and Frances Barton raised four sons and four daughters in Glendalough. Thomas served as Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Co. Wicklow. He died on 4 September 1864.
Robert Barton - Anglo-Irish Rebel
The eldest of the Barton boys, Robert, was educated in Christchurch College, Oxford, and at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester. By the time of his road trip with his cousin Erskine Childers in 1908, he was seen as a progressive landlord. He was elected Sinn Fein MP for West Wicklow in 1918. He was simultaneously appointed Chairman of Wicklow County Council.
In February 1919, Robert was arrested for making seditious speeches and imprisoned at Mountjoy. Michael Collins helped him escape on 16 March (Robert left a note for the Governor explaining that he could no longer stay as the service was dissatisfactory. Moreover, he wondered, would they mind looking after his luggage until he sent for it?). He was re-arrested in 1920 and sentenced to three years in England’s Portland Gaol. Barton was released on the signing of the Truce in 1921.
After Erskine’s execution in 1922, Robert Barton continued to support Eámon de Valera. He was elected to the Dáil in June 1922 but did not take his seat or seek re-election later. He died peacefully in Glendalough on 8 August 1975, aged 95.