The archives of The Erasmus Smith Trust extend from about 1650 to the present day. They are reasonably complete although documentation of the schools founded by the Trust is slightly lacking in the late 18th century. The collection material has now been listed on an extensive database and is available for use by researchers interested in the history of Irish education, local history, or past pupils. There is also a database of High School past pupils.

General Outline

There is a complete set of minute books for meetings of the Board of Governors (The Governors of the Schools founded by Erasmus Smith Esq.) dating from 1674; accounts from 1673; legal papers, 1671-1959 and letter books, 1810-1930; material relating to scholarships, exhibitions, and appointments at Trinity College, Dublin, 1702-1984; minutes of the Standing Committee, 1803-1961; letter books, 1810-1951; and correspondence, 1831-c.1980.

The estates are well documented in maps, 1711-1980 and through property documents such as leases, fee farm grants, and conveyances, 1658-c.1980; rental books, 1658-c.1980 which give the names of tenants and sometimes also detail the quality and use made of the lands, with correspondence, 1857-c.1980; Irish Land Commission documents, 1879–1940 and valuations, 1818-c.1980. There are also land agent letter books for 1862-1911 and files of correspondence, 1859-c.1970 for agents and solicitors who took care of the estates on behalf of the Governors.

Records for The High School, Dublin date from 1870-present; Galway Grammar School (1678-1958), records 1715–1962; Drogheda Grammar School (1679-1938), records 1680–1956; Tipperary Grammar School [The Abbey School] (c.1676–c.1920), records 1760–1939; Ennis Grammar School (1777-1891), records 1832–1930. There are files of letters relating to maintenance and staffing, plans for alterations to school premises, and records of the events that shaped the schools. Other earlier references to these schools can be found in the Board Registers or minutes. For The High School, Dublin there are also photographs of class groups, sports teams, and school events dating from 1871.

The records of the English Schools - primary schools funded by the Trust and located in all counties in Ireland except Leitrim and Monaghan - contain letters from the teachers and superintendents to the Registrar regarding the running of the schools and any problems that may have arisen with correspondence, 1778-c.1980. There are also reports from teachers and inspectors on schools, 1852-1935. Plans and estimates for the building of some of the English Schools also exist in the archives including architectural plans for a total of 64 buildings, 1803-1902.

There are archives of the many court cases in which the Board of Governors were involved, mostly relating to tenants on the estates. There are letters and accounts relating to Christ’s Hospital, London, 1651-c.1912; The King’s Hospital, Dublin, 1679-1940; exhibitions, scholarships, professors' salaries, and other matters relating to Trinity College, Dublin, 1702-1956; Great Brunswick Street Commercial School, Dublin, 1871-1899; and reports on education in Ireland from the turn of the 20th century.


Researchers are invited to come to the Archive facility to conduct primary research. Access is strictly by appointment only. Hours of access are Monday to Wednesday 10.30 am to 5.00 pm. There is no charge for access although fees apply to requests by email or post. The Archive is located on the grounds of The High School. There is a separate website for the Erasmus Smith Trust Archive: please see link below for further information on access and fees.


Alan Phelan, Archivist, Danum, Zion Road, Dublin 6, Ireland
Telephone: +353 1 492 2611 extension 131 Fax: +353 1 492 4427

Archives website