Archive of the Month
The Caddy Cartoons
In addition to approximately 80,000 books, the RCB Library is the repository for the records of some 1110 parishes. These registers often contain baptism, marriage, and burial records, but can also contain numerous other items, such as vestry books, account minutes, confirmation records, as well as other miscellaneous items. All these records capture the unique aspects of the life of a community at the local level and, on very rare occasions, allow the recovery of human stories. This might be in the form of correspondence between the rector and parishioners, but occasionally may even extend to such rare and unusual items as sketches and “doodles” on blank leaves within volumes, which uncover fascinating hidden stories.
One such example was revealed last year, when a visitor to Ireland, Kathryn Roberts, came to the RCB Library in August 2017. Kathryn was researching her husband’s maternal line back to a Rebecca Caddy, who married James Leslie at St Nicholas Collegiate Church (the parish church for Galway) on 2 April 1799. During her travels, she had met a person who was also tracing the same family line, and had been informed by a sexton of the church of the existence of the drawings. Kathryn visited the RCB Library in August 2017, and during her investigation of the earliest register (P.519.01.1), which records baptisms (1800–40), marriages (1792–1839), and burials (1832–38), Kathryn noticed that there were many blank pages at the end of the register. Deciding to take a chance to see if there was any further family history, Kathryn leafed through all the blank pages and came across the sketches.
At least one of the images is clearly in the hand of a child, and perhaps both (although one is suggestive of an older hand). These images all contain numerous names, most certainly of a Caddy family, although some of the Christian names are difficult to decipher. One such name that is clearly legible is Henry Caddy (c1790–1853) who was a sexton of the church from around 1837 to 1847. These dates fit perfectly with the period in which the register ends. Interestingly, Henry Caddy had a son, also called Henry. Furthermore, an older son of Henry, was Edward Caddy (1821–1902). Edward succeeded his father in becoming Sexton of St Nicholas serving from 1848 to May 1854 (when he and his family emigrated to America). The first image depicts what is perhaps an older man, complete with a hat and a sword, although we are left to ponder exactly what is being depicted in this image. There are some handwritten words on this page, more than likely from a younger person, but we can only guess as to what some of them say. It is possible that it says ‘From Bes’ but definitely ends with ‘Galway’. Does the line above this refer to a queen?
The second is an image surely done by a more mature hand, as we can see ‘preliminary’ sketches in a lighter mark to determine aspects such as crossed legs, and the bulge of the under seat of the chair. This image again shows an older man – perhaps the same as the first image – this time smoking a pipe with a relaxed and content look on his face. There is no handwriting to decipher on this page. It is blank apart from the image.
Despite the names that we have been able to decipher, there is still a question mark over who drew these images, and also who was being depicted. If there are any budding graphologists or local historians who would like to take a guess, we would love to hear from you!
A published edition of the original register: Register of the Parish of St Nicholas Galway 1792–1840 with an index of surnames and biographical notes on the clergy edited by Brigid Clesham is among the Library’s Parish Register publications, and available for purchase here: