[Sir] Thomas Stafford

fl.1611-1633; secretary to Sir George Carew, later Earl of Totnes (d.1629); reputed author of Pacata Hibernia, Ireland appeased and reduced; or, an historie of the late warres ... [ &c.] (1633), incl. ‘seventeene several mappes for the better understanding of the storie’; probably natural son of Sir George Carew under whom he served as a captain in Munster during the campaign against Hugh O’Neill; Carew (. 1629) bequeathed him a vast collection of MSS relating to Ireland, thirty nine vols. of which are in Lambeth library, and four vols. of which are in the Bodleian; a calendar of all these is edited by Brewer and Bullan in 6 vols. (1867-73); Stafford alleges that the original of Pacata was written by Carew ‘out of his retiyred Modestie’ but the consensus is that the book was composed by him, drawing on Carew’s papers; he was knighted by Chichester 1611; intended to be buried in Carew’s tomb at Stratford-on-Avon, but it is uncertain whether he was so or not since the stone was engraved in advance; his famous book is considered impartial but not very interesting. ODNB OCIL

[ top ]

Pacata Hibernia, Ireland Appeased and redvced; or, an Historie of the Late Warrs of Ireland, especially within the Province of Mounster, under the government of Sir George Carew ... Seige of Kinsale, defeat of Earl of Tyrone ... Expulsion and Sending Home of Don Juan d’Aguila, the Spanish General ... (London: A. M[athewes 1633) [part of the impresssion made over to be vented for the benefit of the children of J. Mynshew, deceased]; rep. as Pacata Hibernia; or, A History of the Wars in Ireland (Dublin: Hibernia Press Company 1810), 17 folding pls. and maps; 2 ports.; Standish O’Grady, ed., Do. [new edn.], 2 vols. (1896).

[ top ]

George A. Little, Dublin Before the Vikings (1957), educing Stafford’s testimony in relation to the 37 subsidiary roads mentioned by the Four Masters: ‘Their condition and construction is vouched for by the surprise and unwilling admiration expressed for them by leaders of English armies on first viewing those roads in a country which they despised but which they had not previously penetrated (Op. cit., p.77.)

[ top ]


Dictionary of National Biography: author of entry on Stafford considers that he may have been an Anglo-Irishman since ‘it is as an Irishman not an Englishman that he speaks [...] in his preface to Pacata’.

Belfast Public Library holds Ireland Appeased and Reduced (1633); Pacata Hibernia, or A History of the War in Ireland during the Reign of Elizabeth, 3 vols. (1810).

Belfast Linen Hall Library holds Pacata Hibernia [by T. Stafford] ([1628?], 1810, 1896); also Hibernia Pacata, trans. by Father Neri, being Narrative of Affairs of Ireland from the Battle of Clontarf to the Settlement under Henry II (1753). Note inverted title.

University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds Pacata Hibernia &c., 3 vols. (Hibernia Press 1810). A 1- vol. edn. also on open stacks.

[ top ]

Title page of 1810 Edition: Hibernia-Press Company, No. 1, Temple Lane, 1810; title page, 1633 ed., ... Siege of Kinsale etc, with an epigraph from Juvenal, Sat. 10, and printed by A.M., London. The correspondence between Carew and d’Aguila in 1601 / 2 includes a letter of thanks from the latter in Spain, ‘To say the truth, I am very glad that I am in Spaine ... much obliged ... for the honourable and good tearmes which the Lord Deputy and your Lordship used in the servic [sic] of your Prince’, promising free passport for Carew and his ship in Spaine, and offering wines and oranges [621]. A list of 120 Irish nobles shipped for Spain Dec-Feb 1601 / 2 is given, leading with O’Donnell, Redmond Burke, aand Hugh Mostian. The tone is generally as even as reported in ODNB, though the account of treacherous Irish and spying priests (apprehended with documents to or from Tyrone in their possession [and elaborated in O’Grady’s novel] is very hostile. The ‘jealous custom of their Nation’ refers to the custom of not admitting ‘strangers’ into castles ‘in their masters’ absence’ [599]. Large maps of Limerick, Kinsale, Youghal and Dunboy.

The naming of the book, in a scene between Stafford and Carew in 1602, is dramatised by Standish O’Grady in Ulick the Ready (1899).

Among the manuscripts in the library of TCD are genealogical notes on Irish kings extracted ‘out of an Irish booke’ owned by ‘Tho, Stafford eq.’. (Cited in Norman Vance, Irish Literature, A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990, p.26)

Standish O’Grady, ed., Pacata Hibernia (London 1896), cited in Foster’s Modern Ireland (Bibliog. Essay), p.644, where the work is said to have been written by Stafford from papers of George Carew.

In Ulrick the Ready, O’Grady characterises Pacata Hibernia as ‘the most famous of the Anglo-Irish historical classics’ (p. 181).

Standish O’Grady edition of Pacata Hibernia (London 1896) is cited in Roy Foster, Modern Ireland (London: Allen Lane 1988), Bibliog. Essay, p.644.

J. S. Brewer, ed., Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts, 6 vols (PRO 1867; rep. 1974), contains The Book of Howth (Vol. V), a late sixteenth-century manuscript record kept in Dublin Castle; found its way into the possession of Thomas Stafford upon the death of George Carew, Earl of Totnes; incl. English version of the dialogue between Ossian and Patrick along with colonial ‘descriptions’ of Ireland. [Information supplied by David Gardiner, Loyola College; taken from Newberry Coll.]

[ top ]