Narcissus Marsh
1679 – 1683 (c. 1638-1713)

Narcissus Marsh was born in Wiltshire in England and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1658. 1 In the same year he was elected a Fellow of Exeter College, and in 1673 became principal of St Alban’s Hall.  In 1673 he was appointed Provost of Trinity College Dublin on the nomination of the Duke of Ormonde, Chancellor and Lord Lieutenant, but less than five years later he resigned on appointment as Bishop of Ferns.  He later held three archbishoprics: Cashel (1691-4), Dublin (1694-1703) and Armagh (1703-13). Marsh was essentially a scholar and a pastor.  He wrote on logic and acoustics and his textbook on the former was for a long time used in the College. Marsh’s encouragement of Irish was an interesting and unexpected aspect of his provostship.2 He acquired a good knowledge of the language and encouraged the Irish scholars to learn it, appointing a native speaker as a lecturer to teach them. He also cooperated with Robert Boyle, the celebrated chemist, in the production of an edition of the Bible in Irish. His most enduring monument, however, is the fine public library which he established in 1701-03 adjacent to St Patrick's Cathedral, where it survives today with little change.3

Painting Details

By an unknown artist
Oil on canvas

  1. Anne Crookshank and David Webb, Paintings and Sculptures in Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, 1990), p. 97.
  2. J.V. Luce, Trinity College Dublin, The First 400 Years (Dublin, 1992), pp 29-30.
  3. Anne Crookshank and David Webb, Paintings and Sculptures in Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, 1990), p. 97.