Caulfield, Richard (1823–87), antiquary and local historian, was born 23 April 1823 in Cork, one of five sons of a merchant, William Caulfield, and his wife Catherine, who was the daughter of Henry Gosnell, a Cork doctor and surgeon. Richard was educated at Bandon endowed school, entered TCD in October 1840, and graduated BA in 1845, LLB in 1864, and LLD in 1866. He abandoned early plans of entering the church to concentrate on antiquarian research, and in 1854 published Sigilla ecclesiae hibernicae illustrata, a book on ecclesiastical seals, in two volumes. This was followed by other scholarly works, including The diary of Rowland Davies, DD, dean of Cork (1857), a transcription of a manuscript dealing with the siege of Cork in 1690, which Caulfield edited for the Camden Society; Rotulus pipae Clonenisis (the Pipe Roll of Cloyne) (1859); Life of St Fin Barr (1864), transcribed from manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; The register of the parish of Christ Church, Cork (1877); and Annals of the cathedral of St Colman, Cloyne (1882). Transcriptions of other local parish records were published, while others remained in manuscript. Caulfield's most important work, Council book of the corporation of Cork (1876), was followed by similar publications on the corporations of Youghal (1878) and Kinsale (1879), the latter the result of extensive research in Belgium. He contributed numerous articles to antiquarian journals, particularly Notes and Queries and the journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, which later became the journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, which he co-edited for many years. He was also secretary of the latter society from 1877 until his death.
An enthusiastic genealogist and a pioneering amateur field archaeologist, Caulfield knew many of the local men of science, as well as antiquarians throughout the British Isles. In 1864 he was appointed librarian of the Royal Cork Institution, and from 1876 until his death was librarian of QCC. Caulfield was a founding member of the Library Association of Great Britain in a period when the profession of librarianship was just developing. He was president of the Cuvierian Society in Cork on several occasions, and was a member of the Cork Literary and Scientific Society and of the Société des Antiquaires de Normandie. In 1862 he was made a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and in 1882 received honorary membership of the Royal Academy of History, Madrid. He was for many years associated with both the building committee and the select vestry of St Fin Barre's cathedral, Cork. He died after suffering from bronchitis, at his residence in Cork, 3 February 1887, and was buried in Douglas cemetery, Co. Cork. His wife Dora (née Dowden) survived him; they had married 21 August 1869. She was from Bandon, Co. Cork, and presumably related to Edmund Dowden (qv) and John Dowden (qv).
Subscribers paid for a bronze door in St Fin Barre's cathedral as a memorial to Caulfield. Unfortunately Caulfield's important collection of manuscripts, artefacts, and books was dispersed in an auction in 1888. Had it been possible to keep the collection together, it would have formed an even more appropriate memorial to Caulfield's scholarly achievements.