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Bishop Edward Synge writes to his daughter Alicia

Edward Synge, bishop of Elphin (1691-1762), had only one surviving child, out of a family of six; his daughter Alicia (1733-1807). Motherless from the age of three, her father took on the role of mentor and, when he had to be absent from their Dublin home, he wrote to her.

It was not entirely surprising to discover in these letters that the bishop - a liberal man - expected his daughter to be well-educated, confident and independent. What was more surprising, in an age when men were not generally directly involved in raising their own children, was the range of subjects about which he spoke to Alicia. This included topics he could only speak about in French! What is most poignant is the language of affection that the bishop used. On his sixtieth birthday Edward Synge wrote to his daughter: 'Thanks be to God I have you, to gladden my eyes and heart. Nor do I fear anything hurting me, while I know that you are well.'

Shelfmark: TCD MS 11566

Jane Maxwell

Dr Jane Maxwell has worked for many years as an Archivist and Manuscripts Curator in the Department of Manuscripts & Archives. She has published, lectured, and curated exhibitions on subjects as diverse as the lives of 18th-century Irish women, and the literary archives of Samuel Beckett.