Florence MacMoyer

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Florence MacMoyer (fl. 1662-12 February 1713), a native of Ballymoyer, County Armagh, Ireland was the last hereditary keeper of the Book of Armagh, a 9th-century Irish manuscript written mainly in Latin. The document is valuable for containing early texts relating to St Patrick and some of the oldest surviving specimens of Old Irish, and for being one of the earliest manuscripts produced by an insular church to contain a near complete copy of the New Testament.

Life[edit]

The MacMoyer family had lived at Ballymacmoyer since the 14th century.

He was born at Ballymyre. He became a schoolteacher. He pawned the book for five pounds.[1] He used this money to travel to London to give evidence at the trial of Archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunkett, with his cousion, Friar John MacMoyer.

Florence MacMoyer was imprisoned for some time after his return to Ireland, and was unable to reclaim the Book of Armagh. He died in 1713 and was buried in Ballymoyer Old Graveyard. A headstone marking his grave was later moved into Ballymoyer House.

Book of Armagh[edit]

A Compendium of Irish Biography relates:

"This precious relic was in MacMoyer's care on 29th June 1662, as appears from an entry on the reverse of the 104th leaf. MacMoyer was one of the witnesses against Archbishop Plunket in London in 1681. Previously he had pawned the volume for £5. He died, 12th February 1713, and was buried at Ballymoyer.

On account of his connexion with Archbishop Plunket's death, his memory is held in the greatest abhorrence by the country people, who believed, until a recent period, that he was annually cursed by the Pope. After passing through various hands, the Book of Armagh came in 1858, by the care of the Rev. William Reeves, and the munificence of the then Lord Primate, into the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. The particulars of the life of John Moyers, given in his evidence against Archbishop Plunket, do not exactly correspond with those generally given of MacMoyer, the hereditary keeper, so that they may have been different persons, and Florence MacMoyer may have given his evidence privately."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^  Moore, Norman (1893). "MacMoyer, Florence". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ Florence MacMoyer biography. Library Ireland.

Further reading[edit]