Welcome to Theo’s Blog, March 2014

Welcome to Theo’s Blog, March 2014

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Welcome to our spring blog from Theophilius Moore, founder of Old Moore’s Almanac 250 years ago.

This newsletter will focus on just how extraordinary it is to be writing to you from the helm of a 250 year-old publication. Old Moore’s Almanac was first distributed in 1764. That year was an era of unrest, with Brits continuing to move in and take land, and of funny-looking clothes.

So who were the people of this time in Ireland? In Ireland in 1764, things were still quite tumultuous. Breaking news of the day was that The Brooke Baronetcy, in the County of Fermanagh was created. So what the hell is this and why do we care? Well, we don’t anymore. But back then people did. When the Brits came over and planted themselves in Ireland, and shooed away the locals (by force) they brought with them their weird and posh social system. A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown. The practice of awarding baronetcies was originally introduced in England in the 1300s and was used by James I of England in 1611 in order to raise funds. More or less, rich people who wanted everyone to know that they were officially of high breeding paid the king or queen an annual fee to have it officially announced. Yes rich people bought titles. The royals then used the money to fund their armies.

So, people came to Ireland from Britain, and paid to be called Sir, or Dame. And, if the holder of the Baronetcy died, the title would pass to their offspring with some conditions. The current-day hereditary Order of Baronets in England dates from 1611, introduced by James I. He gave (sold) titles to 200 gentlemen of good birth with an income of at least £1000 a year. He needed money to pay for soldiers to carry out the “pacification” of Ireland. Yes, thanks for that.

At the time that Old Moore’s Almanac was just starting to hit the streets, the Order of Baronets was well underway in Britain. But it had only just reached Ireland when the first issue of Old Moore’s Almanac was published. (The idea came from the Earl of Salisbury, who said, “The Honour will do the Gentry very little Harm, while doing the Exchequer a lot of good.”)

The Brooke Baronetcy in the County of Fermanagh, was created for Arthur Brooke, who represented Fermanagh and Maryborough in the Irish House of Commons. He had no surviving male issue and the title became extinct in 1785. The baronetcy was revived in 1822 in favour of his nephew, Henry Brooke.

The Brooke Baronetcy in Castleknock, Dublin, was created in 1903 for George Brooke, head of George F. Brooke and Son, wine merchants, and a Director and Governor of the Bank of Ireland. As of 2014 the baronetcy is held by his great-grandson (the title having descended from father to son), the fourth Baronet, who succeeded in 1982.

Of course all this means nothing to you and me in 2014. I couldn’t give a flying fig if some dude in Castleknock is a Baronet. And nor does he, probably. But as the Almanac went into publication for the very first time, the Irish people reading the magazine knew that the power and money on the Emerald Isle was of foreign origin. And it was being used to “pacify” them.

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