Anne Donnellan & Donnellan Lectures
(Daughter of the Baron)
I have always had an interest in learning more about
Anne and her connection to the Donnellan Lectures at TCD. Trinity
was kind enough to send me some information on the Lectures and
recently I discovered a source that gives more personal insight
to Anne herself. Surprisingly, it came from a newsletter dedicated
to the composer Handel. I also present data relating to her familial
relationships which helps to confirm genealogical information
presented elsewhere on this web
SOURCE: Picturesque Dublin
Old and New.
Written by Frances Gerard with illustrations by Rose Barton ARWS
and reproductions of old engravings. Published in 1898 by Hutchinson
and Company, Paternoster Row, London.
Chapter VI. Stephen's Green
"From 1729 Stephen's Green had been looked upon
as a desirable quarter wherein to build the new houses which were
rising on all sides to meet the exodus from the Liberties of the
nobility and gentry. In 1731 Mrs. Pendarves (afterwards Mrs.
Delany) was on a visit to Mrs. Clayton, wife to the Bishop of
Clogher, who had a handsome house on the south side of the Green,
All who have read Mrs. Delany's Memoirs, edited by her grandniece,
the late Lady Llanover, will remember the life-like account she
gives of the society assembled at the Bishop's house in Stephen's
Green. One seems to know all the characters, and to hear them
talk: the pretty group of young faces gathered round the commerce
table, while the elders played a solemn game of basset in another
room; the flirtations of the great Dean of St. Patrick's, now
with Ann Donnellan, Mrs. Clayton's sister, now with the fascinating
Kelly, lively Miss Ussher, that "little fairy Wesley,"
or with the more mature but still fascinating Mrs. Pendarves herself.
Not less amusing is the account of the grand airs the. Bishop's
wife gave herself after his preferment,
and how she queened it over poor Ann, her sister, and over Mrs.
Pendarves, even after she becomes a D.D.'s wife. It is all delightful
[The Bishop of Clogher, who came of the same family
as Lord Sundon, whose wife possessed so strong an influence over
Queen Caroline, was a man of much learning, although some of his
writings were considered unorthodox. Bishop Clayton had early
in his life embraced the tenets of the Arian heresy; but this
fact, not being known, did not interfere with his being made Bishop
of Killala, this preferment being due to the interest of his kinswoman,
Lady Sundon, the favourite of Caroline of Anspach, George II.'s
Queen. Further good fortune came in 1735, when he was translated
to the more important See of Clogher. He continued to write books
very unfit for one in his position. The last of these wandered
so far from the doctrines of the Established Church as to make
action in the matter necessary. Proceedings were accordingly taken
against the Bishop in the Ecclesiastical Court, followed by a
general summons to the superior clergy to meet at Primate Boulter's
mansion in Henrietta Street. Dr. Clayton was much alarmed at this
step, fearing he should lose his bishopric. This fear (which was,
in fact, a certainty) so preyed upon his mind as to induce a nervous
fever, from the effects of which he died in 1758.
Mrs. Clayton died at No.70, Stephen's Green; and after her death
the house was sold to Lord Mount Cashell."
[And later in the chapter] "through the now broken
panes in the windows the pretty faces of-Ann Donnellan and Mrs.
Pendarves had often looked for coming lovers. Ah! how pathetically
does a deserted house speak of its past histories, and lament
its present decay!
SOURCE: NEWSLETTER OF THE
AMERICAN HANDEL SOCIETY
Article - Three Ladies of Handel's Will
"On 11 April ---, [Handel] dictated and
signed the fourth and final codicil to
his will-----three-figure sums also went to personal friends----50-guinea
bequests went to ----Mrs. Donnalan of Charles Street Berkeley
Mrs. Donalan reveals herself as the rather well known Mrs Donnellan
(or Donellan, or various other spellings), friend of Mary Delany
(nee Granville) and makes the identification in a letter to her
sister of 5 May 1759, some three weeks after Handel's death:
' I was very much pleased with Court's [Court was Mrs. Delany's
grown nephew] lines on Mr. Handel; they are very pretty and very
just. D. D. [Doctor Delany] likes them extremely. I could not
help feeling a damp on my spirits, when I heard that great master
of music was no more, and I shall now be less able to bear any
other music than I used to be. I hear he has shewed his gratitude
and his regard to my brother [Bernard Granville] by leaving him
some of his pictures; he has very good ones. I believe when my
brother wrote last to me, which was from Calwich , he had not
an account of his legacy; it was from Mrs. Donellan I had it,
to whom Handel has left 50 pounds (4).'
'Mrs. Donnellan never married, the address of Mrs.
being honorific. Her will, proved on 2 May 1762, identifies her
residence as the same as that stated in Handel's bequest: ' I
do will and appoint my executor named in England---to sell and
dispose of my house and stables and Coach House in Charles Street
Berkley Square, which I built myself, towards the discharge of
my several Legacies (5). Mrs. Donnellan was one of two daughters
of Nehemiah Donnellan, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland,
and his wife Martha. Mrs. Donnellan's only sister married Dr.
Robert Clayton, Bishop of Killala, Cork and Clogher; her favorite
brother Christopher, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, predeceased
her, leading to a long-term battle with her surviving brother
Nehemiah. Mrs. Donnellan takes pains in her will of 1758 to make
restitution for the bequests of her brother Christopher of which
her brother Nehemiah was able to take possession.'
'Her largest bequest-----to the segnior Fellows of Trinity College.
This bequest was undoubtably made in honor of her brother Christopher.'
[Additional details on this will follow-JLD].
'Mrs. Donnellan was best known as a singer, although
never a professional singer. Mrs. Delany's nicknames for her were
Philome (the bird of song) and Sylvia (a singing shepherdess).
She first appears in Mrs. Delany's letters in 1729, five years
after her first husband Mr. Pendarves had died and while she was
living the life of a widow. For the next decade the two ladies
were practically inseparable, and often in residence together
in London or Dublin. It was with Mrs. Donnellan present that Mrs.
Delany threw a party at which Handel played the harpsichord and
'all the ladies' sang (12 April 1734).'
'Both Mrs. Delany and Mrs. Donnellan also appear frequently
in the letters of Elizabeth (Robinson) Montagu (1720-1800), an
early feminist. In a letter of 25 January 1740, Montagu writes
to the Duchess of Portland about having met Mrs. Donnellan'-----stating
'as could introduce me to so agreeable an acquaintance as Mrs
Donnellan. I assure you what she says gives pleasure, and what
she sings delight.'
'It was thanks to Mrs. Donnellan that Mrs. Delany (then
the widow Mrs. Pendarves) traveled to Dublin and met her second
husband. Mrs. Donnellan, thus, is traceable through many Irish
sources in addition to Mrs. Delany's letters.----Mrs. Donnellan
also corresponded with Jonathan Swift. It was through Swift perhaps
that she met the poet Mary Barber.----Barber's published poems
of 1734----contain two short poems to Anne Donnellan. The first
was sent to as "To Mrs. Anne Donnellan [along with a gift
of] the Fourth Essay on Man [by Pope]:
Dear Philomela, oft you condescend
With Notes Seraphic, to transport your friend;
Then in return, let Verse your Soul rejoice,
Wise, as your Converse, rapt'rous as your Voice.'
'A portrait of Mrs. Donnellan survives by Rupert Barber..
She was also painted by Hogarth (12).----Mrs. Delany writes on
13 July 1731: ' I am grown passionately fond of Hogarth's painting,
there is more sense in it than any I have seen. I believe I wrote
you word that Mr. Wesley's family are drawn by him, and Mrs. Donnellan
with them. I have had the pleasure of seeing him paint the greatest
part of it ---'
"Mrs. Donnellan's bequests name her friends and
clearly indicate her interests. 'I leave to my kind friend Mr.
Bernard Granville his sister Delany's Picture in Oyle and also
his choice of any two pictures in my House. I leave to Mrs. Dewes
their sister all the pictures in my House done by Mrs. Delany
and my Mocho [?] Stone Ring with Rubys given me by Mr. Granville.
I leave to my dear friend Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu my great Indian
cabinet and also her picture which she gave me. I leave to my
cousin and Godson Lord Mornington---all my Musik books---I leave
my harpsichord----And finally, I leave Handel's picture in Enamel
to the British Museum.---An enamelled picture by Barber, set in
gold, of George Frederick Handel: left to this Museum by Mrs.
Donnellan, and presented by her executor, Edward Legrand, Esq.
Unfortunately, the picture itself can no longer be traced (13)."
(4) The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs.
Delany, ed., August Waddington Hall, Lady Llanover, 6 Vols, (London:
Richard Bentley, 1861-62), III, 550-51.
(5) Public Record Office (PRO) 11/875. I am most grateful to the
staff at the PRO and the Family Record Center for their assistance
during my research on this project.
(12) The Hogarth portrait of the Wesley (or Wellesley) family
with Mrs. Donnellan (c. 1731) survives in the private collection
of the Duke of Wellington.
(13)Department of Antiquities and Coins 1756-1836 (British Museum----)
I later found this entry on the Web:
"Women's history resources"
Repository: Ulster Museum, Belfast
Collection: Art Department
1889 'Mrs Anne Donnellan', miniature oval enamel by Rupert Barber,
From the Trinity College Library, Dublin with the compliments
Keeper of Manuscripts "The Dublin University Calendar for
Handel Chronology, Oratorio, 1741-1744
The later opera years 1738-1741
Apr. 11th, 1741
Miss Donellan to Miss Robinson: ... The only show we
have had since you left us was for Handel, his
last night, all the fashionable people were there.
The regulations on which this Lectureship was established
are contained in the following extract from the Registry, dated
February 22, 1794":
"Whereas a Legacy of f 1243 has been bequeathed
to the College of Dublin by Mrs. Anne Donnellan, of the parish
of St. George, Hanover-square, in the county of Middlesex, spinster,
for the encouragement of religion, learning and good manners;
the particular mode of application being left to the Provost and
1. Resolved: - That a Divinity Lecture, to which shall
be annexed a salary, arising from the interest of f 1200, shall
be established for ever, to be called Donnellan's Lecture.
2. That the Lecturer shall be forthwith elected from among the
Fellows of said College, and hereafter annually on the 20th of
3. That the subject or subjects of the Lectures shall be determined
at the time of election by the Board, to be treated of in six
sermons, which shall be delivered in the College Chapel after
morning Service on certain Sundays, to be appointed on the
20th of November next after the election of the Lecturer, and
within a year of said appointment.
4. That one moiety of the interest of the said f 1200 shall be
paid to the Lecturer as soon as he shall have delivered the wholenumber
of Lectures, and the other moiety as soon as he shall have published
fourof the said Lectures; one copy to be deposited in the Library
of the College; one in the Library of Armagh; one in the Library
Sepulcre; one to be given to the Chancellor of the University;
and one to the Provost of the College.
The foregoing regulations have been slightly modified
by recent order of the Board, containing the following provisions:-
1. The Donnellan Lectureship shall be open to all Masters
of Arts of the University, being Clergyman.
2. The Lecturer shall be elected every second year, on the last
Saturday in November.
3. The Lectures must be preached before the close of the second
year following his election.
4. The interest of the sum of the Donnellan Fund for the two years
shall be paid to the Lecturer, on the sermons being preached,
and approved by the Board"
"The sum now invested for the Donnellan Fund in
3 per cent. Stock is f 1510 5s - College Register, February 9,
There is a searchable site on the web with the address:
There are several DVs to be found on this site (enter
alternate spellings Donelan, Donnellan, Donellan, etc. to find
them). This one is most certainly the one for Anne Donnellan.
I found this one for Anne.
A History of the County Dublin
The people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to
the close of the eighteenth century. By Francis Elrington Ball.
This work covers almost all of Dublin and was originally published
in six volumes (1902-1920).
The Parish of Clonturk
(i.e. The Meadow of the Swine)
The Parish of Clonturk is stated in the 17th century
to have contained the townlands of Clonturk, Drishoge, Donnycarney,
"In the spring of 1762 a new house, on rising
ground, between Ballybough Bridge and Marino, was advertised to
be let. This house, which had been occupied by a Mrs. Donnellan,
had attached to it a large garden, which contained "all necessaries
for the kitchen as well as for pleasure," including two fish-ponds
well stocked with trout, and "choice fields" with running
water in them."