Robert Dudley Edwards

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Robert Walter Dudley Edwards (4 June 1909 – 5 June 1988) was an Irish historian.


Robert Walter Dudley Edwards, known to his friends as Robin and his students as 'Dudley'[1][2] was born in Dublin. His father was Walter Dudley Edwards, a journalist who came to Ireland with his wife, Bridget Teresa MacInerney from Clare, and became a civil servant.[2][3] His mother was a supporter of women's rights and Dudley recalled that he had a 'Votes for Women' flag on his pram. Robert's mother was a suffragette and a member of Cumann na mBan, a women's organisation designed to support the Irish Volunteers. Members of Cumann na mBan gathered intelligence, transported arms, nursed wounded men, provided safe houses, and organised support for IRA men in prison.[1] Educated first at the Catholic University School, Robert moved to St. Enda's School (a school set up by one of the Irish revolutionary 1916 leaders, Pádraig Pearse) after the 1916 rising, and then Synge Street CBS, finally returning to the Catholic University School. In his final exams he failed French and Irish but gained first place in Ireland in history.[2] In 1933, Edwards married Sheila O'Sullivan, a folklorist and teacher. They had three children: Mary Dudley Edwards a mother of two, a teacher, rights activist and a really great laugher, Ruth Dudley Edwards, a historian, crime novelist, journalist and broadcaster, and Owen Dudley Edwards, a historian at the University of Edinburgh. Sheila died in April 1985.[4] Robert Dudley Edwards died in 1988 in St. Vincent's Hospital after a short illness.[1]

Academic career[edit]

In University College Dublin, Edwards was auditor of the Literary and Historical Society, gained a first-class degree in history in 1929 followed by a first class master's degree in 1931 with the National University of Ireland prize.[2] He carried out postgraduate work at the University of London and earned his PhD in 1933, published in 1935 as Church and State in Tudor Ireland. Along with Theo Moody he founded the Irish Historical Society in 1936, and its journal Irish Historical Studies was first published in 1938.

In 1937 he was awarded a DLitt by the National University of Ireland and in 1939 was appointed to a statutory lectureship in Modern Irish History at University College Dublin. He succeeded Mary Hayden to the Chair of Modern Irish History in 1944, which he held until he retired in 1979. His contribution to the discipline of History in Ireland was substantial, and included the setting up of University College Dublin Archives Department, now part of the School of History and Archives.

The introduction to David Edwards' book Age of Atrocity records how the leading Irish history journal, Irish Historical Studies (edited by Dudley Edwards and TW Moody), for the first half-century and more of its existence, systematically avoided the theme of violence, killing and atrocity during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Published works[edit]

  • Church and State in Tudor Ireland. A history of penal laws against Irish Catholics, 1534-1603 (Longmans and Company, London: 1935)
  • The great famine: studies in Irish History 1845-52 (Editor, with Desmond Williams; Browne and Nolan, Dublin: 1956)
  • A New History of Ireland, (Gill and Macmillan, Dublin: 1972)
  • Irish Families: the archival aspect, (National University of Ireland, Dublin: 1974)
  • Daniel O'Connell and his world, (Thames and Hudson, London: 1975)
  • Ireland in the age of the Tudors : the destruction of Hiberno-Norman civilization, (Croom Helm, London; Barnes and Noble, New York: 1977)
  • Sources for Early Modern Irish History, 1534-1641, (with Mary O'Dowd, Cambridge University Press: 1985)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Dr Robin Dudley Edwards dies in Dublin", Irish Times, 6 June 1988
  2. ^ a b c d Aidan Clarke, "Robert Dudley Edwards (1909-88)", Irish Historical Studies, Vol. 26, No. 102 (Nov., 1988), pp. 121-127
  3. ^ National Archives of Ireland, Census 1911
  4. ^ "Mrs Sheila Dudley Edwards", Irish Times, 22 April 1985.

External links[edit]