Parnell at Cambridge: the shreds and patches of a 1914 lecture

On 15 May 1914, L.P. Carolan McQuaid delivered a lecture on "Parnell and Cambridge" to the University's Hibernian Club. In 1898, Parnell's biographer, R. Barry O'Brien, had assembled some evidence about his time at Magdalene College, enough to sketch a faint picture, but Carolan McQuaid's exploration would form the only attempt at an overview of Parnell's student days for another sixty years.

As a resident of Cambridge, McQuaid had the advantage of being able to collect reminiscences from veteran college servants and local senior citizens, but perhaps he did not confront the accompanying hazard that those who claimed to recall the undergraduate Parnell from half a century earlier may have suffered from hazy memories, or perhaps been tempted by the hope that a salty anecdote might trigger a tip. As discussed below, he had also appealed for information through the press three years earlier. This Note seeks to extract and evaluate Carolan McQuaid's principal anecdotes.[1]

Carolan McQuaid  Believed to be from County Monaghan and born in the mid eighteen-fifties, Ludgater Patrick Carolan McQuaid obviously did not come from a mud cabin. He married, in July 1892, at Cambridge's Catholic church, Our Lady and the English Martyrs, but it was locally believed that he had studied at Trinity College Dublin, an institution that – in the mid-twentieth century – his namesake Archbishop John Charles McQuaid would keep firmly closed to members of his faith. He spent his career in England, working as a civil servant in the Inland Revenue, apparently as a Customs and Excise officer.[2] His connection with the town came about by accident of marriage. His bride, Agnes Ivatt, was 37 at the time of the 1891 census and described herself as an art student. She lived with her widowed mother in St Barnabas Road, a comfortable street off Cambridge's Mill Road, in a house which in due course she inherited. McQuaid had an address in Kensington but, when he retired in his mid-fifties, in 1910, he evidently preferred the agreeable atmosphere of a university town. A supporter of cultural causes such as the movement for the revival of the Gaelic language, he found Cambridge an indulgent environment for the expression of his Irish-Ireland enthusiasms. Rejecting trousers as a symbol of anglicisation, he preferred to wear a kilt, reportedly specially adapted so that he could ride a bicycle. Although he had no formal affiliation with the University, he was naturally drawn to the Hibernian Club, which he addressed in April 1911 on the subject of "Tobacco and Ireland". In June 1914, a few weeks after his lecture on Parnell, Carolan McQuaid was the subject of some affectionately mocking verses by A.A. Robb, a Belfast man at St John's, which are the source of some of the information about him. They were  published by the Connacht Tribune, which described the target as "a well-known Cambridge character".[3]

Carolan McQuaid regarded his retirement from the civil service in 1910 as an appropriate opportunity to enter politics. Long years of fruitless opposition had generated centrifugal factionalism in the Home Rule movement, exacerbated by personality conflicts. At election time, rival groups sought standard-bearers. The United Irish League (UIL), founded in 1898, had declined to little more than a splinter group, but in the election of December 1910 it wanted to field a candidate in South Monaghan, and Carolan McQuaid was available. It should be remembered that members of parliament were not paid a salary until 1911, and candidates often had to fund their own constituency campaigns. As a result, political parties were sometimes compelled to nominate inexperienced, even implausible, candidates. In mid-November, UIL headquarters in Dublin recommended McQuaid, informing their South Monaghan branch that he "was an officer of the Customs, and was about to retire". Unfortunately, the local activists refused to endorse anyone who lacked a record of at least ten years of service to Ireland. In reality, as an outsider and a very late entrant, McQuaid had not the slightest chance of toppling the sitting MP, who was returned unopposed. Nonetheless, his brief dash for the hustings permitted him to urge the voters of East Anglia to support the Liberals, in a rousing call from one who was "formerly a Conservative, an Ulster man to boot, and contesting an Ulster constituency".[4]

If Carolan McQuaid's attempt to get to Westminster had been brief and inglorious, he remained enthusiastic about politics. He relished political argumentation, about tariffs and workhouses and Home Rule. He cherished political gossip, especially the confidences of the famous: "Mr. Healy told me years ago that he wrote nearly all Parnell's early speeches, especially the American ones." By 1913, it was clear that the Asquith Liberal government was determined to force through Home Rule over the objections of the House of Lords, and McQuaid revived his gambition of representing South Monaghan, this time in the projected legislature on College Green – indeed, he was even claimed as the first declared aspirant for a parliament that was not yet in existence. Between August and December of that year, he made an extended visit to Ireland in search of support. The candidature of someone who had spent his career in England and lived in Cambridge might seem to represent a curious interpretation of the imperative need for devolved self-government in Ireland, and his identification with his native county was probably more intense than any sense of solidarity that South Monaghan felt in return. Perhaps he felt that the novice legislators of an Irish parliament would benefit from his knowledge of taxation, the more so as the new regime was likely to be strapped for cash. The high spot of his proto-electioneering tour came in Belfast, where he challenged a Unionist speaker at an open-air rally attended by over three thousand Orangemen. They did not make him welcome and hastily returned to Cambridge, bearing a "Carson rifle" as a trophy. This was a wooden contraption, used for training Ulster Volunteers and equipped, so McQuaid insisted, to fire dried peas. Not everyone shared the joke. During his absence in Ireland, the St Barnabas Road house had been burgled. This was a relatively rare nuisance in Edwardian Cambridge, and it is possible that the motive was political. There followed anonymous threats to poison McQuaid's Irish wolfhound, which caused the local police to take Bamba's safety very seriously.[5]

McQuaid on Parnell at Cambridge Carolan McQuaid's enthusiasm for Home Rule and his preference for living in Cambridge might seem an odd combination, but jointly they impelled him towards a study of Parnell's undergraduate days, which produced the May 1914 lecture to the Hibernian Club. In 1911, he had issued an appeal for information, describing himself as "for some time engaged in a biography of the late C.S. Parnell". In July, he had used the English newspapers to request information about Parnell's time at Cambridge. Shortly after, he repeated the call through the Dublin dailies, stating that the "Cambridge portion" of his proposed book was "already almost complete". The latter apparently produced responses from contemporaries who were avowed Unionists. These reinforced his denial of the fantastical tale published in 1905 over the name of Parnell's sister, Emily Dickinson, which claimed that the future Irish leader had been expelled for seducing a country maiden and driving her to suicide, presumably – although this was discreetly not spelt out – upon discovering that she was pregnant.[6] McQuaid's biography never appeared, and the May 1914 lecture was perhaps an attempt to rescue something from the project. He secured from the Master of Magdalene, S.A. Donaldson, a transcript of the relevant entry in the College Order Book, describing Parnell's rustication. This ran as follows:  "May 26th, 1869. At a college meeting, called by the Master, it was decided to send down Parnell tor the remainder of the Term in consequence of gross misconduct. (Signed) Latimer Neville, Master, Mynors Bright, President. John Roberts. Francis Pattrick." Donaldson was careful to imply that the dons had dealt mildly with the case. "It will be noticed that it was a case not of 'expulsion' but of 'rustication', and he might have returned to Magdalene the ensuing Term had he wished, but he preferred not to come back."

McQuaid's account of the fight in Station Road that led to Parnell's downfall is intriguing. He had consulted local newspaper files and tracked down the report of the court case in which Parnell's antagonist, Edward Charles Hamilton, successfully sued for assault. However, his summary contained details which may have resulted from an over-imaginative reconstruction, but could also suggest scraps of evidence from hearsay evidence. "One evening Parnell and two Magdalene friends went up to the Great Eastern Refreshment Rooms [i.e. the railway station] after hall. The two remained at the station, but Parnell walked back alone towards college and on the way sat down on the pathway in Station-road, where there were then no houses – in front of a farmstead, occupied by Mr Robert Sayle [of Sayle and Co., the town's department store until the early 21st century]…. A farmer and his man drove up in an old high gig. The farmer, pointing towards Parnell, in a scornful way, said to his man, 'Oh, he's drunk'. Up jumped Parnell (who overheard the remark), 'I’ll show you who’s drunk', and promptly knocked out the farmer and five of his teeth! He then quietly continued his walk, and was soon joined by his two friends. The farmer, streaming with blood, and his man raised the hue and cry, ran after Parnell, and overtook him on Hills-road. They handed him over to a police constable, who escorted him to the police station, where he was charged with assault." Hamilton stated that he lived in Harston, a village to the south-west, which could explain the assumption that he was a farmer, but there are several details here that had not appeared in the contemporary newspaper reports, such as the dislocation of five of his teeth. (Judging by his general sense of outrage, Hamilton would have made a great deal of any dental damage when he had his day in court.) The "old high gig" is a puzzle, not least because it is hard to see how Parnell could have attacked its inmates, while I have been unable to identify Robert Sayle's farmstead: by 1914, the eastern end of Station Road was enmeshed in shunting yards. The most intriguing cameo is the apprehension of Parnell on Hills Road. The received account of the episode has P. C. Carter coming upon the combatants outside the station, and responding to Hamilton's complaints by marching Parnell to the police station. Since the police headquarters was almost a mile away, this would have involved something of a trek. Because Parnell was fairly drunk when the three undergraduates emerged from the railway station refreshment rooms, one of his companions had gone off to locate a cab while the other Magdalene student had stood guard over the recumbent Irishman. It was this scene that had moved Hamilton to derision, and goaded Parnell to violence. In the aftermath of the fight, the obvious response of the three students would have been to vanish on foot into the night. (If they were observed boarding a cab, their ultimate destination would have been easy to discover.)  McQuaid's amended version is plausible. On locating an officer of the law, Hamilton would have had no difficulty in depicting himself as the victim of an assault, and a fast-moving police constable could easily have overtaken an unsteady inebriate.

Carolan McQuaid added another detail about Parnell's departure from Magdalene that has not been traced elsewhere. It is one that possesses the very dangerous quality of innate verisimilitude.  "On going down he sold all his wine and other effects and was his own auctioneer! The reason for this – as he afterwards told an Irish friend – was to enable him to leave Cambridge free of debt and without any risk of being dunned by debt-collectors for money he did not owe local tradesmen. He stored his wine in an oak chest in rooms over Mr Jolly's shop near the Bridge". If McQuaid's source was indeed Irish, then the core of the tale presumably came, at least indirectly, from Parnell himself, although the local detail suggests either an undergraduate contemporary or a Magdalene employee. Benjamin Jolley & Sons were furniture dealers at 33 Bridge Street, the first premises on the right over the bridge.[7] The shop no doubt displayed oak chests, and it would have made sense to rent out the space as storage. If Parnell did indeed auction his personal effects, the story would suggest that he had decided to leave Cambridge for good. Indeed, as he was rusticated on 26 May and departed the following day, he may have recognised that the Fellows' decision would go against him soon after he had lost the court case on the twenty-first. He would have been anxious to settle all outstanding tradesmen's accounts in order to recover his caution money, a deposit paid to the College to cover potential bad debts in the Town. This hypothesis receives support from the comment from his brother Henry in 1906, who explained that "the affairs of Avondale" had compelled Parnell to sever his links with Magdalene "in order to have the balance of his caution money returned".[8]

Unfortunately, most of the rest of Carolan McQuaid's information is less impressive. In one case, he seems to have misread evidence presented by R. Barry O'Brien. "His tutor, Mr Pattrick, has left it on record that Parnell was one of the ablest men up at Cambridge in his time, but, alas, one of the laziest!" In fact, Pattrick had described to colleagues "how Parnell, when he had been given the ordinary solution to a [mathematical] problem, would generally set about to discover whether it could not be solved equally well by some other method".[9] McQuaid hinted at an authoritative source for another unfounded barb. "I am informed by a very well-known contemporary of his at Magdalene that Parnell never passed, or even tried to pass, an examination when up at Cambridge." In reality, Parnell's record in University examinations was creditable.[10] The origin of the story could perhaps be the report in the Cambridge Chronicle on 9 June 1866 which indicates that Parnell was absent from the Magdalene freshman examination. (Contrary to mythology, the College kept its undergraduates up to the mark, which probably explains why many of the hunting men did not survive for three years.) Of course, Parnell missed the examination because he had not come into residence in the Easter Term of 1865. More intriguing is the identity of the "very well-known contemporary" who spun this tale. By 1914, mortality had made considerable inroads into Parnell's Magdalene cohort, and few of them had become famous. It is tempting to suggest that the source might have been Arthur Balfour, Parnell's exact contemporary at Trinity, who was quietly proud of having achieved an Honours degree in Moral Sciences. An Eton nexus linked Magdalene and Trinity, which could explain how Balfour knew of him, although it is as difficult to imagine Balfour either on friendly terms with Parnell or in nostalgic conversation with McQuaid.

With one of Carolan McQuaid's stories, it is possible to assess both the provenance, which is impressive, and the accuracy, which is not. The Fifth of November was usually an occasion for Town versus Gown disturbances.  The Guy Fawkes Night of 1866 was particularly violent, with one young Trinity aristocrat, the Marquess of Huntly, being left for dead in the street. The affront called for vengeance. "An old college servant at Magdalene, the late Mr Jack French, recounted to me, shortly before his death, how on the 5th of November, I866, Parnell, after hall, assembled the Magdalene men, marched them up to Rose-crescent, collecting the Johnians and Trinity men en route, the townsmen, prize-fighters, and Barnwell roughs meanwhile, assembling on Market-hill. The inevitable row began in the middle of the Crescent. After a preliminary skirmish the town leader inquired of Police-Inspector Kirbyshire, happily still alive and hearty, if Parnell was with the Varsity, and on hearing that he was he and his men trooped back to the Marketplace whence they quickly dispersed." Jack French, who died in December 1912, had risen through the ranks of Magdalene's small support staff, starting as gate porter and retiring as Fellows' butler. Edward Kirbyshire had been a police constable in the early eighteen-sixties, promotion to the detective branch by 1867 marking the start of a long advancement through the local force. It was a measure of the advance of democracy that Jack French was a Town councillor at the time of his death – Conservative, as befitted a retainer at feudal Magdalene – while Kirbyshire had risen to the head of the Borough Police. Neither was likely to invent stories in the hustle for tips but, in both cases, memory had become compacted and confused.  When Samuel Sproston entered Magdalene in 1868, he met "undergraduates still in residence" who "told of how a certain Scottish Nobleman of Trinity, who, having been caught alone and severely handled on the Fifth of November, mustered his friends of Trinity and Magdalene and wreaked a summary and satisfying vengeance on the Ninth".[11] Parnell might well have accompanied them: he was remembered as enthusiastically volunteering to protect Pattrick when he investigated a late-night disturbance in Magdalene Street.[12] Nonetheless, it is difficult to imagine him in command of a Magdalene-Trinity aristocratic mob. Rather, the memory of Lord Huntly had faded and, in their recollections and reminiscences, French and Kirbyside had allowed Parnell to take his place. Another longtime local resident, who happened to be a namesake, had also encountered the Magdalene undergraduate, and was evidently proud of their acquaintance. Henry Parnell recalled in 1906 that his brother had been "introduced to a policeman of that name while at Cambridge". PC James Parnell was certainly active patrolling the streets of Cambridge in the eighteen-sixties, before leaving the Force to become a porter at Trinity College. An active Liberal partisan, he was presumably a supporter of Home Rule, and perhaps exaggerated the bond that he had shared with the future Irish leader. Carolan McQuaid made a muddled allusion to their presumed friendship, hinting that it somehow compensated Parnell for his isolation in Magdalene.[13]

A similar process elided Parnell with the riding men, with whom in fact he had nothing in common. "An old groom who was in the employ of the Pickerel Hotel in Parnell’s time, told me that one Magdalene man stabled as many as 15 horses there; Parnell spent much of his time in the hotel yard of the Pickerel, that is to say whenever he was not on the river, or the college cricket fields, riding with the Drag, or at Callaby’s on the Common." The first part of the reminiscence is highly likely: E.R. Yerburgh, a student at Magdalene around 1880, recalled as many as twenty mounts being led up and down Magdalene Street on hunting days.[14] Along a street crowded with licensed premises – some of them mean beerhouses – the Pickerel was the principal inn and its stables would have attracted enthusiasts for horseflesh. Parnell may well have patronised Richard Callaby, a dog breeder at Midsummer Common, but he did not row, was only twice selected for the Magdalene cricket team and simply lacked the cash to hire, let alone, stable horses. Another of McQuaid's glimpses may suggest that he was even driven to experiment with a haphazard and, indeed, dangerous emerging form of locomotion. "An old college friend of Parnell’s told me some years ago that Parnell and he had an antiquated 'high velocipede' upon which they practised on the Milton-road; but he naively added that they were more frequently in the ditch than on the top of the 'bone-shaker'." The boneshaker was a missing link between the penny-farthing and the modern bicycle. It was not manufactured in Britain until 1869, but earlier examples from France may have been imported – or pirated by local craftsmen. While it is pleasant to imagine Parnell attempting to ride the unwieldy and uncomfortable contraption along the main road to Ely, sadly the information adds nothing to our understanding of his personality or his politics. There is certainly no subsequent report of the Irish leader wobbling on two wheels.

One of the longest passages in Carolan McQuaid's lecture managed to attribute to Parnell, who had departed in 1869, the leadership of an attack on the house of a local resident in 1875, an episode that was telescoped with the exploits of an undergraduate who was (briefly) in residence in 1891. The extract throws no light whatsoever on Parnell, but it does illustrate the haphazard way in which McQuaid assembled evidence. Its chief significance probably lies in the way in which the so-called New Magdalene of S.A. Donaldson and A.C. Benson sought to neutralise the College's disreputable nineteenth century nadir. The problem with this mythology is that it obscured the extent to which, even within a small institution, there had always been multiple identities. At the very least, there was a duality between the frivolous and the serious. "There were always two sets," an anonymous Cambridge graduate wrote of Latimer Neville's era (1853-1904), adding that "the fast set at Magdalene was about the fastest [in the University]."[15] That was no doubt true, but by endorsing a picture that equated the equine rich with the whole College, McQuaid trapped himself in a dilemma of his own creation: Parnell was lonely and alienated at Magdalene, but he was also a natural leader of privileged mischief and aristocratic vandalism.

Here is McQuaid's invocation of the Magdalene of horse and hound. "A regular procession of some 40 or 50 horses and tandems on Cambridgeshire meet-days used to parade from Chesterton-road down to the Magdalene Bridge. Six members of the College formed themselves into a sporting club, and each man in turn paid for the hunt breakfast, consisting of chops and poached eggs on one day, and filleted steak on the next; the porter who brought up the modest repast to the men's rooms invariably got ten shillings as a pour-boire [tip] for his trouble. The members pledged themselves not to attend a single lecture nor keep a Chapel, (except on Sundays). During the matins they frequently played 'pitch and toss' for sovereigns, and one of them (Mr. Seton), on his return from Cottenham Steeplechases, once won a bet with a friend that he would enter on horseback through the front gate of the college and ride as far as the Pepys’ Library and return backwards alter parading the cloisters! He won his bet!" It is certainly true that, by the eighteen-seventies, a minority of very rich undergraduates cultivated an indecently lavish lifestyle. In 1852, Magdalene had been able to insist that the food served in Hall was so varied and tasty that undergraduates rarely absented themselves. Twenty years later, private dinner parties were not unusual. "At the present time," the Students' Guide admitted in 1874, "the general style of living in England is more luxurious than it has ever been, and children are brought up to habits which would formerly have been considered self-indulgent."[16] It was probably true that, for its super-rich minority, Magdalene in the mid-eighteen seventies was "a little oasis of idleness and insubordination to University rules and regulations…. more like a club than a college", in the words of Harry de Windt, later a famous explorer, who was there for a year before heading for Sarawak.[17] However, this does not mean that every story of gilded irresponsibility should be believed, and still less should it be credited that Parnell was involved in any of them. As a Catholic, McQuaid had probably never entered Magdalene Chapel, and could have had little comprehension of its internal configuration: it hardly provides the secluded space for gaming at pitch-and-toss. The dressage exploit in the College courtyards – if true – seems to have dated from a decade and a half later. The Seton brothers came to Cambridge in the early eighteen-nineties. One graduated, the other – Charles Henry Seton – did not. Forty years later, the legend had grown: an undergraduate once "drove his own coach through the gateway, around First Court and out again".[18] If it did indeed take place, the Seton episode symbolised a phase that was coming to its unlamented close. In 1891, a former Magdalene undergraduate, A.S. Wilson, was implicated – along with the Prince of Wales – in the deeply shocking Tranby Croft baccarat scandal, prompting the presiding judge to mock the College and its "fast" reputation. "Magdalene was my college," the wastrel Wilson told the court. "I was only up there a year. I did not do much work and rather thought it a waste of time. … I believe I played baccarat at Cambridge."[19] It was an earthquake moment that would shake any institution. Magdalene in the eighteen-nineties became a more serious place of study, and we hear much less of the ultra-wealthy hunting men.[20] 

Carolan McQuaid evaluated Overall, it seems fair to conclude that Carolan McQuaid's 1914 lecture was much what might have been expected from "a well-known Cambridge character", a personality who combined the outward manifestation of a stage Irishman with his own inner convictions that the land of his birth had a right to its own government and its own culture. In a sense, his inability to reconcile the images of Parnell as alienated outsider and carefree insider reflected the ambiguity of his own self-projection, as a devoted Irishman who chose to reside in England. The lecture, then, tells us most about Carolan McQuaid himself. Yet it does throw some light upon Parnell and, in particular, the way in which he was remembered. The few scraps attributed to his University contemporaries, who were social equals and mostly political opponents, were unfair and unfounded: Parnell was not a lazy student and he neither dodged nor failed examinations. More interesting is the way in which he seems to have been remembered by those who ministered to undergraduate needs and endured undergraduate misbehaviour. Both James Parnell, the Liberal porter at Trinity, and James French, the Conservative butler at Magdalene, seem to have honoured his memory, if in sharply different ways. The old ostler at the Pickerel who talked of Parnell as an enthusiast for dogs and horses probably calculated that portraying the future Irish leader as a tearaway was likely to produce a generous tip, but it is striking that there were no stories of him as a scoundrel or a seducer – despite the obvious market among respectable enquirers for both.

Of course, the actual snippets quoted by McQuaid would be more persuasive if we could establish their provenance. Glimpses of Parnell trying to master a primitive bicycle on the Ely road or storing his wine at a furniture store across Magdalene Bridge seem so random that they were probably genuine, even if they contribute precious little to the biographical big picture. Of potentially more importance are two details in McQuaid's account of the Station Road fight that led to Parnell's rustication, first that he was apprehended on Hills Road and, second, that he auctioned his effects, wine included, before leaving Cambridge. The first indicates that PC Carter did not inadvertently come upon the aftermath of an exchange of blows outside the railway station, but was sufficiently persuaded that an assault had been committed upon Hamilton to give chase and apprehend the alleged offender. The second would confirm that Parnell determined to leave Cambridge permanently upon failing to persuade the Fellows of Magdalene to accept his version of events, rejecting outright their olive branch of eventual return. There is a ring of truth about both cameos, but verisimilitude can be dangerously misleading.

Carolan McQuaid last appears in Cambridge in May 1916, as the organiser of a flag day to raise money for wounded Irish soldiers. He would by then have been around sixty. I have not traced a report of his death, but if he was an exotic figure on the outer fringe of Irish affairs in 1914, he would have been a total irrelevance by 1922. His attempt to review Parnell's undergraduate career remains a worthy attempt that can still provide an intriguing quarry of miscellaneous material, however difficult it may be to evaluate.

ENDNOTES  I am grateful to Dr Andrew Jones for his comments on an earlier draft. For a full list of material relating to Charles Stewart Parnell on martinalia, including discussions of his time at Cambridge, see

 [1] Cambridge Independent Press, 22 May 1914. The Cork Examiner, 19 May 1914, reported that an account also appeared in the Cambridge Review, but I have been unable to check this. McQuaid's lecture was referred to by David Cook in Irish Times, 29 April 1966. In evaluating his material, I have drawn upon my own explorations of the subject, including "Parnell at Cambridge: the Education of an Irish Nationalist", Irish Historical Studies, xix (1974), 72-82; "Magdalene College Cambridge in Mid-Victorian Times" (; "Charles Stewart Parnell at Cambridge: New Evidence (1992)", Magdalene College Magazine and Record, xxxvi (1992), 37-41 (; "The Cambridge Academic Record of Charles Stewart Parnell" (; "The departure of Charles Stewart Parnell from Cambridge, 1869": By curious coincidence, McQuaid delivered his lecture just as Parnell's widow was about to publish her sensational two-volume account of their love life. Since Katharine O'Shea entered his life a decade after he left Cambridge, her book did not refer to his student days. There is no indication that McQuaid had read any of the advanced published extracts, which began to appear on 5 May 1914.

[2] In 1902, he prosecuted a Cambridge publican for a minor infringement in record-keeping, an unsporting initiative since the accused was illiterate. Cambridge Independent Press, 14 March 1902. McQuaid is a widespread surname in the counties of Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone. There is no suggestion that Carolan McQuaid was related to the future Archbishop, who came from Cavan.

[3] Census information kindly provided by Gail Wood; Cambridge Independent Press, 29 July 1892. Robb's verses were published in the Connacht Tribune, 13 July 1914. He was a distinguished mathematical physicist. McQuaid was photographed in the company of Douglas Hyde in 1911 (Cork Examiner, 11 October 1911, and see also 2 September 1914). His previous address to the Cambridge University Hibernian Club was reported in the Northern Standard (Belfast), 29 April 1911.

[4] Irish Times, 12 November; Cambridge Independent Press, 9 December 1910.

[5] Cambridge Independent Press, 12, 26 December 1913.

[6] McQuaid wrote to the Manchester Guardian (9 July 1911) and apparently to other English newspapers (Freeman's Journal, 14 July 1911). A further appeal was published Freeman's Journal, Irish Independent and Irish Times on 31 August, with an acknowledgement of replies on 9 September 1911. For the (absurd) tale of a maiden's seduction, E.M. Dickinson, A Patriot's Mistake … (Dublin, 1905), 49-59.

[7] In 2023, 33 Bridge Street was occupied by Galleria. The building was remodelled in the 1980s. There is a photograph of 33 Bridge Street in the time of Jolley & Sons on However, Jolleys only took over the premises in 1885. 

[8] Magdalene College Archives, H.T. Parnell to S.A. Donaldson, 22 February 1906.

[9] O'Brien, The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell..., ii, 41. Pattrick had died in October 1896. His comments were passed to O'Brien by his friend, Wilfred Gill, who died in 1899. It is possible that Carolan McQuaid had discussed Parnell with Pattrick, but not very likely.


[11] Cambridge Chronicle, 10, 17 November 1866 (Huntly); Cambridge Independent Press, 21 September 1867 (Kirbyside); Magdalene College Magazine, July 1910, 105-6 (Sproston). The appointment of Jack French as College Porter on 14 October 1869 was recorded in the Magdalene College Order Book, the next entry from the rustication of Parnell. He would have been promoted from under-porter.

[12] O'Brien, The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell..., ii, 41.

[13] Magdalene College Archives, H.T. Parnell, letter in Daily News, 6 March 1906; Cambridge Independent Press, 7 March 1919.

[14] E.R. Yerburgh, "Reminiscences", Magdalene College Magazine, 2001, 81-9.

[15] Cambridge Independent Press, 15 January 1904.

[16] British Parliamentary Papers, 1852-3, xliv, 408; The Student's Guide to the University of Cambridge (3rd ed., 1874), 71. There was something of the fragile vulgarity of Anthony Trollope's 1875 novel, The Way We Live Now, about plutocratic Magdalene at this time. Samuel Sproston's snobbish recollections of the College in the late 1860s make no mention of private dinner parties, which seem to have been a new (and deplorable) feature of the mid-1870s. 

[17] H. de Windt, My Restless Life (London, 1909), 68.

[18] The Magdalene Boat Club 1828-1928 (Cambridge, 1930), 43.

[19] The Times, 4 June 1891.

[20] By the time of Latimer Neville's death in 1904, Magdalene was in the doldrums. But its problems arose less from academic shortcomings or social inequality as from a combination of financial pressure and a fall in enrolments, associated with the war in South Africa, which drew some young men into the Army who might otherwise have spent some time at the College. 76 students entered the College between 1896 and 1900 (average about 15), but only 41 between 1901 and 1904 (average about 10). Magdalene's "Near Collapse" is analysed by Ronald Hyam in P. Cunich, et al., A History of Magdalene College Cambridge 1428-1988 (Cambridge, 1994), 217-19, 306.