Quin, Edwin Richard Windham Wyndham- (1812–71), 3rd earl of Dunraven and Mount Earl , antiquarian, and MP, was born 19 May 1812 in London, only son of Windham Henry Quin, 2nd earl of Dunraven and MP for Co. Limerick (1806–20), and his wife Caroline (d. May 1870), daughter and sole heir of Thomas Wyndham of Dunraven Castle, Glamorganshire. In 1815 his father was granted a royal licence and thenceforth adopted the name Wyndham-Quin. Edwin was initially educated by a private tutor and later attended Eton (1826–9) before entering TCD in November 1831 and graduating BA (1833).
Interested in astronomy, he decided to establish an observatory on his estate at Adare Manor, Co. Limerick, and studied for three years at the Dunsink observatory under Sir William Rowan Hamilton (qv). He threw himself into astronomy with such intensity that he damaged his eyesight through overuse of the telescopes and had to abandon his plans for the observatory at Adare. He devoted himself instead to the study of Irish history, archaeology, and the Irish language, spending much of his time in antiquarian studies. Described as ‘a lover and patron of everything Irish, a resident landlord and an amiable and accomplished gentleman’ (Annual Reg., 1871, pt ii, 161), he was a prominent member of many of the learned societies of his day, being elected MRIA (1830) and to fellowships in the Royal Antiquarian Society (1831), the Royal Society (1834), the Society of Antiquaries (1836), and the Royal Geographical Society (1837). One of the founding members of the Irish Archaeological Society (1840) and the Celtic Society (1845), he was also a member of the Cambrian Society. In 1852 he was appointed to the RIA's museum catalogue committee, but found the task so difficult that he later referred to the academy's antiquities collection as ‘an incubus’ (Ó Raifeartaigh, 62). In 1862 he accompanied the French historian and politician Charles de Montalembert (180–70) on a research tour of Scotland, and Montalembert dedicated a volume of his Monks of the west to him. Dunraven later toured France and Italy, making a special study of medieval Italian campaniles.
He represented Glamorganshire as a conservative in the commons 1837–51, and entered the lords in 1851, having succeeded as 3rd earl of Dunraven on the death of his father (August 1850). A supporter of Lord John Russell's educational reforms, he served as a commissioner of national education in Ireland 1861–71. Appointed as lord lieutenant of Limerick in 1864, he became a knight of St Patrick in March 1866, and in June 1866 was created a peer of the UK, taking the title of Baron Kenry .
A close friend of the antiquarians George Petrie (qv), William Stokes (qv), and Margaret Stokes (qv), he toured the country visiting early Christian and medieval sites. He became an acknowledged expert on monastic and church architecture, being especially knowledgeable on high crosses, round towers, and the Irish Romanesque. During his tours of such sites he always employed the services of a photographer and compiled a large photographic record. His mother was also interested in antiquarian studies; he edited her papers as Memoirs of Adare Manor by Caroline, countess of Dunraven (1865), which included some of his own research on local archaeological remains, and notes on the genealogy of the O'Quins of Inchiquin and the Quins of Adare. The book was illustrated throughout with a series of very fine colour plates. He published some papers in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy and was elected president of a section of the Royal Archaeological Institute in 1871. Interested in spiritualism, he attended the séances held by the medium Daniel Dunglas Home.
During the course of his researches, he toured all over Ireland and spent much time on the various islands off the west coast. In October 1871 he became ill, his health ruined by over-exertion, and he died on 6 October at the Imperial Hotel in Great Malvern. His remains were returned to Adare and buried in the family vault. Margaret Stokes edited his research papers, which were published as Notes on Irish architecture (2 vols, 1875–7). While much of his research may seem dated, it remains of interest due to the high standard of the illustrations and maps. Indeed, his illustrations are the only source of accurate information on some sites that have since been damaged. Of exceptionable quality, both Memoirs of Adare and Notes on Irish architecture still fetch high prices at rare-book auctions.
There is a substantial collection of his papers in the NLI. These include letters on archaeological matters to George Petrie and William Stokes and letters to political figures such as Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (qv). In 1855 he converted to catholicism, and there is a series of letters to Cardinal Paul Cullen (qv), Cardinal Manning, Standish O'Grady (qv), and his fellow-convert Aubrey de Vere (qv). There is also a collection of his letters in the Cardinal John Henry Newman (qv) papers in the Oratory of St Philip Neri, Birmingham. Aubrey de Vere dedicated a poem to him: ‘Once more I pace thy pillared halls’, which appeared in the Irish Monthly of January 1874.
He married first (August 1836) Augusta (d. November 1866), third daughter of Thomas Goold (qv) of Merrion Square, Dublin, master in chancery; they had one son and five daughters. Their son, Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin (qv), succeeded as 4th earl of Dunraven. He married secondly (January 1870) Anne, daughter of Henry Lambert, MP, of Carnagh, Co. Wexford.