Edward Synge (bishop of Elphin)

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Styles of
Edward Synge
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Reference styleThe Right Reverend
Spoken styleMy Lord or Bishop

Edward Synge (1691–1762) was an Anglican bishop in the Church of Ireland who was the Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh (1730–1732), Bishop of Cloyne (1732–1734), Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin (1734–1740) and Bishop of Elphin (1740–1762).

His father was Edward Synge, Archbishop of Tuam. His grandfather was Edward Synge, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross and his brother Nicholas Synge Bishop of Killaloe. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, obtaining a Master of Arts degree in 1712 and a Doctorate of Divinity in 1728. He was briefly Provost of Tuam and Chancellor of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, before he was nominated the Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh on 14 May 1730 and consecrated on 7 June 1730.[1] He was subsequently translated to Cloyne on 22 March 1732,[2] then to Ferns and Leighlin on 8 February 1734,[3] and finally to Elphin on 15 May 1740.[4]

Synge's musical ability made a strong impression on Handel when the composer was in Dublin; Handel referred to Synge as 'a Nobleman very learned in Musick'. Synge was in attendance at the first performance of Handel's Messiah and his written comments on the performance are quoted in Richard Luckett's Handel's Messiah: a celebration (1992).

Synge is particularly well known for his 221 letters to his daughter Alicia (1733-1807) the only survivor out of the six children of the Bishop and his wife Jane Curtis (d. 1737) whom he married in 1720. These are principally taken up with advice to Alicia whom Mary Delany said was being 'brought up like a princess' . There is almost no aspect of the young girl's life upon which her father did not comment including dress, health, diet, exercise and behaviour in social situations. His principal concern was with her education generally and specifically her ability to write letters well; his advice to her on this score was to copy Swift for grammar and punctuation. These letters also provide valuable insight into domestic life and the lives of servants. The bequest of these letters to Trinity College Library, University of Dublin, by Synge's descendant Marie-Louise Jenner, has revolutionised eighteenth-century Irish social and women's history.

Synge died in office on 27 January 1762, aged 71.

His daughter Alicia married Joshua Cooper MP (1732–1800) of Markree Castle in County Sligo.[5] She was said to have a fortune of £50,000.


  1. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 383.
  2. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 385.
  3. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 393.
  4. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 392.
  5. ^ Aspinall, Arthur (1986). R. Thorne, ed. "COOPER, Edward Synge (1762-1830), of Markree Castle, co. Sligo and Boden Park, co. Westmeath". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820. Boydell and Brewer. Retrieved 12 July 2014.


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I., eds. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd, reprinted 2003 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.

Legg, Marie-Louise (ed.), The Synge Letters 1746-1752, (Lilliput Press: Dublin 1996)

Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
Arthur Price
Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh
Succeeded by
Mordecai Cary
Preceded by
Henry Maule
Bishop of Cloyne
Succeeded by
George Berkeley
Preceded by
Arthur Price
Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin
Succeeded by
George Stone
Preceded by
Robert Howard
Bishop of Elphin
Succeeded by
William Gore