Trinity College, properly the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592. It was the first Irish university. At the time England had two universities, at Oxford and Cambridge. Scotland had four, at St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

Until the 1830s the undergraduate curriculum was a prescribed general course, embracing classics, mathematics, a limited exposure to science and some philosophical texts.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin began with the founding of Trinity College. It now occupies several buildings but the building built between 1712 and 1732, now the oldest library building, is particularly magnificent. It houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. In 1860, the Long Room’s roof was raised to accommodate an upper gallery; my forebears would have known the Long Room as a single-story gallery.

The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin. Photo by DAVID ILIFF retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Trinity College Library: The “Long Room” in the 18th century, watercolour of James Malton. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1924 a list of those who had attended Trinity College Dublin was published. Four of my direct forebears attended the university. They were:

  • My sixth great grandfather Arthur Grueber was a pupil of the well-known Anglican divine Thomas Sheridan, a friend of Jonathan Swift. Grueber studied at Trinity College, Dublin, gaining his MA in 1737 and DD in 1757. He was ordained as a deacon in 1736.
  • Michael Furnell, another of sixth great grandfathers, was admitted as a pensioner at the age of 18 in 1750. He was the son of Patrick, Generosus [well-bred or gentleman], born County Limerick. He appears not to have graduated.
  • Henry Bayley, one of my fifth great grandfathers, was first educated by a Mr Brown of Castlelyons.  In 1774, at the age of 17, he enrolled at Trinity College Dublin, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree five years later.
  • William Mitchell, one of my fourth great grandfathers, was admitted as a pensioner to Trinity College Dublin on November 3 1823 aged 22, son of William defunctus [deceased], born Monaghan. He did not receive a degree.

The Alumni Dublinenses can be viewed at the Trinity College website and searched through FindMyPast.

Burtchaell, George Dames & Sadleir, Thomas U., Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland) Alumni Dublinenses : a register of the students, graduates,professors and provosts of Trinity College in the University of Dublin (1593-1860). Williams and Norgate, London, England, 1924.

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