‘The Great Parchment Book of the Honourable The Irish Society is a major survey, compiled in 1639 by a Commission instituted under the Great Seal by Charles I, of all those estates in Derry managed by the City of London through the Irish Society and the City of London livery companies. It represents a hugely important source for the City of London’s role in the Protestant colonisation and administration of Ulster. Damaged as the result of a fire at Guildhall in 1786, it has been unavailable to researchers for over 200 years. However, the manuscript has remained part of the City of London’s collections held at London Metropolitan Archives.’ 165 folios survived the fire, but the uneven shrinkage and distortion caused by the fire had rendered much of the text illegible. The parchment sheets have now been flattened as far as possible. Following this, digital imaging has been used to gain legibility and to enable digital access to the volume.
There are two ways to navigate the contents of the book:
- Navigate from folio to folio using the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons.
- The website contains lists of people, places, and livery companies mentioned in the Great Parchment Book. It is possible to search these lists. By clicking on a name, a list of folios containing that name is shown. Clicking on an individual folio takes you to the image of this folio.
Folios are shown in both their original state and in the enhanced version. It is possible to zoom in on the images. Next to these images are transcriptions of the text: both an original transcript and the modernized version. Each folio has tags for the names of people, places, and livery companies mentioned, which allow you to find related folios.
The project represents a major partnership of international significance between a number of institutions.