The publication of the notes of Archdeacon Edward Irons (1851-1923) by the Rutland Village Studies Group should prove of tremendous interest to local historians and genealogists. This website reproduces transcriptions and images of Irons’s notes on ecclesiastical court cases, bishops’ visitations and the parish records of Rutland, dealing with thousands of individuals stretching back to the sixteenth century. Irons was blessed with a neat, legible hand, but these are rough, working notes, summarising and translating his sources – some of which were in Latin – as he went. It is important to stress that his notes were selective, and do not provide a comprehensive account of their primary sources. Although a well-educated Latin scholar he was an experienced palaeographer, his notes are not infallible and wherever possible the primary sources he studied should still be consulted by serious researchers. However, Irons’s notes have tremendous value because they indicate what a clergyman a century ago found worthy of recording. Much of this material related to spiritual offences prosecuted by church courts such as fornication, adultery and defamation. These sources continue to remain of central interest to leading early modern historians such as Bernard Capp, Laura Gowing, Martin Ingram and James Sharpe in debating the role of gossip, neighbourhood, conflict-resolution and personal reputation in early modern communities. For local historians, they offer a particularly useful source towards reconstituting parish communities, as they throw light upon much of the business of parish government and ecclesiastical discipline. Irons was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, graduating with an MA in 1874, in which year he was also ordained a priest in the Church of England. He served as curate at St Matthew’s in Smethwick, Staffordshire and was employed as Assistant Master at King Edward’s School in Birmingham until 1895. Thereafter he spent three years as Headmaster of Bishop Cotton School at Simla, in India, from 1897. He returned to England to become Rector of North Luffenham in 1900, where he is commemorated in a stained glass window of the parish church’s tower. He also became Archdeacon of Oakham. There he developed his interests in local and church history, producing notes on the history of Rutland and Northamptonshire. His collection of North Luffenham documents and notes is held at the Northamptonshire Record Office. Irons’s Rutland notes are held in the Special Collections of the University of Leicester Library. They were considered reliable enough to have been extensively used, with acknowledgement, in the Victoria County History of Rutland volumes (1908-1935). They were donated to the University by Archdeacon Irons’s daughter, V.M. Irons, after negotiations with Professor Jack Simmons, chair of history at University College, Leicester from 1947. The date of their deposit is unknown but is thought to have been in the 1950s or 1960s, as the collection was re- catalogued in 1978. The on-line and digital publication of Irons’s notes has been a model of good practice. Transcriptions have been subject to two independent checks. Furthermore, the website’s reproduction of digital images of Irons’s original notes, published alongside the text entered by the group’s researchers, enables readers to verify the transcriptions without having to travel to Leicester or consult the originals. The Rutland Village Studies Group certainly deserves warm congratulation for making this interesting resource so widely accessible to so many. Dr Andrew Hopper Centre for English Local History University of Leicester
The Notes of Archdeacon Edward Irons Researching Rutland	Registered Charity No 700273 Rutland Local History & Record Society Return to Irons index Return to Irons index Return to Irons index Return to Irons index