ARCHIVE OF DOCUMENTS RELATING TO SIR ARTHUR VICARS
Archive: Sir Arthur Edward Vicars (1860-1921) was born in Warwickshire, the youngest of five children of Col W.H. Vicars, 61st Regt, and Jane Mary Gun Cuninghame of Mount Kennedy, Co Wicklow. His mother had previously been married to Peirce K. Mahony of Kilmorna, Co Kerry, and Vicars identified strongly with the Ireland of his half-brothers. He developed a passionate interest in Irish heraldry and genealogy, and in 1893 was appointed Ulster King of Arms in succession to Sir Bernard Burke. He did much to develop the office, expanding its archival collection and giving it a permanent home at the Bedford Tower in Dublin Castle. Unfortunately, his reputation has been permanently tarnished by the unexplained disappearance of the so-called “Irish Crown Jewels” from his custody in 1907, which led to his dismissal. He retired to Kilmorna, where he was shot dead when the house was looted and burned by the IRA in 1921.
The Archive contains briefly,
A file of letters, many of them copies but also some originals, relating to Vicars’s ambitions to receive some heraldic appointment. In 1892 he applied for the post of Athlone Pursuivant (a junior officer of arms in Ireland) on the death of Bernard Louis Burke, but on the death of Sir Bernard Burke at the end of the same year he applied to be made Ulster King of Arms, to which he was appointed on 23 February 1893 at the early age of thirty.
The file includes testimonials (mostly MS or printed copies) from prominent heralds and scholars and a Catholic bishop (Kildare and Leighlin); copies of letters written by Vicars; letters from peers (Lord Cloncurry, the Duke of Leinster, Lord Mayo), including Lady Wolseley whose husband was Commander in Chief, Ireland.
On 2 October 1892 Vicars’s half-brother Peirce Mahony writes that Sir Bernard Burke is dying and urges him: “You should move at once.”
As a collection, w.a.f. (1)