Tag Archives: Henry John Temple

The Nation mourns Princess Charlotte of Wales

On the morning of 6 November 1817, the country woke to the awful news that Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales had died after giving birth to a stillborn son.  She was just 21.  As the only legitimate grandchild of George III her death ended the line of succession and plunged the kingdom into deepest mourning.

Charlotte was the only child of the Prince of Wales, then Prince Regent (later George IV) and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick.  Her childhood was coloured by their unhappy marriage, and by their continual acrimonious disputes.  Allowed limited contact with her mother, Charlotte lived in a separate establishment, cared for by governesses and servants; but she had a warm relationship with her grandfather, George III.  Her biographer describes her as “fair and plump, bright, high spirited and boisterous” (J.S.Lewis, Oxford DNB).  She grew up to be hugely popular with the public, a bright hope for the future in contrast to the dissipation and extravagance of her father.  Her marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in May 1816 set the seal on her happiness and there were huge crowds and great celebrations in London on her wedding day.

The unexpected shock of Charlotte’s death just 18 months later swept the nation in a tide of grief.  The shops closed for two weeks.  The Royal Exchange, the Law Courts, and the docks followed suit.  The linen drapers ran out of black cloth as even the poor wore black armbands.  Popular composers of the day captured their feelings in words and music.  We can see this in a collection of sheet music held in the Special Collections at the University of Southampton.  George Kiallmark, for example, wrote: “Farewell bright Star! A tribute to the memory of her late Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales”.

The photo below shows the title page to a piece by John Parry in the same volume: “Mourn England Mourn. An elegy written and composed on the lamentable demise of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales.”

Title page to Mourn England Mourn, by John Parry, Rare books q M 341 SHI, Misses Shirreff collection of sheet music from late 18th to early 19th century, vol. 4

Title page to Mourn England Mourn, by John Parry, Rare books q M 341 SHI, Misses Shirreff collection of sheet music from late 18th to early 19th century, vol. 4

The words of the first verse read:

Mourn England mourn, thy lovely Rose is dead,
Its beauties faded and its fragrance shed,
Britannia’s brightest Hope, and Albion’s pride,
Fled and blighted, when Cambria’s Princess died,
What heart but feels, what breast but heaves a sigh?
What stoic seen without a tearful eye?
But ah! what must thy Parents, Husband feel?
Their grief is more than language can reveal!

Locally, the High Sheriff of Hampshire called a county meeting at Winchester to propose addresses of condolence to Prince Leopold and the Prince Regent – who were indeed grief stricken.  The latter was too prostrate to attend Charlotte’s funeral.  At the county meeting of nobility, gentry, clergy, freeholders, and other inhabitants “most respectable and numerous”, Lord Palmerston moved the address to the Prince Regent.  His words were reported in the local newspaper:

Newspaper report, 13 December 1817, MS62 BR112/11/28

Newspaper report, 13 December 1817, MS62 BR112/11/28

“Never, indeed, in the annals of our history had there existed so universal a feeling throughout the nation as that which had been excited by the loss we had lately sustained – it was felt by all, not merely as a public calamity, but with the same deep and personal affliction that follows the loss of a near and dear relation. The career of the Princess Charlotte had indeed been short; but in that short course she had in a most remarkable degree conciliated the affections and gained the esteem of the people; with all those milder virtues and gentler qualities which more peculiarly belong to and adorn her sex… she combined a vigour of intellect, and a masculine energy of mind that eminently qualified her for the high station which we had fondly hoped she was one day destined to fill…”

But while the public sympathised, the public also blamed. Charlotte had died after the ordeal of a fifty-hour labour.  While the Prince Regent refused to blame Sir Richard Croft – the accoucheur responsible for Charlotte’s care – many others did, and three months after the death of the Princess, he committed suicide.  These tragic deaths were to lead to significant changes in obstetric practices in the future.

Lock of hair of Princess Charlotte, 1799 MS69/4/2

Lock of hair of Princess Charlotte, 1799 MS69/4/2

Two other items held in the Special Collections show us a glimpse of Princess Charlotte. The first, is a lock of her hair, with its original wrapper, dated 1799, MS69/4/2.  Charlotte was born on 7 January 1796, and would have been a small child when this was cut.  In Victorian times it was popular to keep locks of hair from loved ones, and hair jewellery was very fashionable. This clipping may have been given to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, as a memento after her death. It survives amongst the papers of Christopher Collins, who was for many years the personal confidential servant to the Duke.

Lord Wellington's March, by Princess Charlotte MS 69/4/24

An extract from ‘Lord Wellington’s March’, by Princess Charlotte MS 69/4/24

The Collins archive also includes a manuscript copy of a piece of music called ‘Lord Wellington’s March’. A note on the colourful title page states: “Composed by Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales.”  Charlotte was an accomplished pianist and this piece is scored for piano. It is a rousing march in honour of the hero of Waterloo – bright and energetic, much like its young composer.

Click on the link below to hear an arrangement played by the Band of the Welsh Guards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uNqWu49xO0

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales 1796-1817.

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Richard Cockle Lucas 1800-1883: talented artist and engaging eccentric

Photograph of Richard Cockle Lucas taken by himself [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13789]

Photograph of Richard Cockle Lucas taken by himself [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13789]

R.C.Lucas was a local artist and sculptor of some renown, who spent the latter part of his life at Chilworth, a village just north of Southampton. He was born in Salisbury, where his father was a cloth manufacturer. Being an impressionable child, he was much affected by tales of the supernatural, and believed he had been visited by fairies, a belief which lasted for the rest of his life. This resulted in his publishing in 1875 Hetty Lottie and the proceedings of Little Dick showing how he woo’d and won a Fairy, two copies of which can be found on the open access shelves of the Cope Collection in the Special Collections area of the Hartley Library [73 LUC Cope], bound together with Palmerstonia, Lucas’s tribute to his friend, Lord Palmerston.

Title page of Hetty Lottie [Cope 73 LUC]

Title page of Hetty Lottie [Cope 73 LUC]

Lucas was apprenticed to a cutler in Winchester, where his aptitude at carving knife handles led him to take up sculpture. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools, later regularly exhibiting there. After some years, he moved with his wife, Eliza and son to Otterbourne, Hampshire and eventually to Chilworth. One of his sculptures, a wax bust of the goddess Flora, achieved notoriety when it was purchased after his death by a German gallery who believed it to be by Leonardo da Vinci. After some controversy, its true origin was revealed by the discovery of 19th-century fabric inside its structure. He created many other sculptures including a statue of Dr Johnson for Lichfield, and a model of the Parthenon acquired by the British Museum. Another of his statues was of Isaac Watts, the theologian and hymn writer, now in Watts Park, Southampton. It was unveiled with much ceremony in the presence of the Mayor and the Earl of Shaftesbury, followed by the singing of Handel’s Halleluja Chorus. It is described as “realistic and convincing” by David Lloyd in the Hampshire volume of The Buildings of England.

Statue of Isaac Watts photographed by Lucas [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Statue of Isaac Watts photographed by Lucas [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

The monument to John Fleming in North Stoneham Church, near Southampton, was created in 1854, showing a relief portrait of Fleming. The Southampton Times of 24 September 1864 describes in great detail a monument to Robert Pearce, a banker, still standing in Southampton Old Cemetery. It consists of three life-sized winged figures representing Faith, Hope and Charity supporting an urn from which a butterfly emerges. “We congratulate the people of Southampton on having such a beautiful art work in their midst” [BR115/10/20/3]. Lucas considered this to have been his master work.

Lucas made over 300 etchings, including a volume now in the British Museum. He also pioneered a technique of making prints from natural objects such as ferns, which he called nature prints. The Hartley Library holds two albums of his photographs, which include images of his own works, and photographs of himself as characters from Shakespeare, also dressed as a necromancer and in other guises [rare books Cope 73 LUC].

In later life, he became increasingly eccentric and built a house for himself at Chilworth in 1854, which he called the Tower of the Winds, apparently on the site of or near the modern house called Chilworth Tower on Chilworth Drove. Later accounts of this building are confused by the fact that in 1862 or 1863 he sold this house and began building another about half a mile away, on the other side of the main road to Romsey from the Clump Inn. This was possibly due to problems with damp in the first house as mentioned in his letter to Palmerston (see below). This appears to be the house of which a photograph exists in one of the albums held in the Hartley Library, which is dated 1864.

Tower of the Winds photographed by Lucas in 1864 [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Tower of the Winds photographed by Lucas in 1864 [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

It was apparently 60 feet high with a studio and study on the top floor, which Lucas called his Sky Parlour. He was very fond of heights, and it is alleged that he once climbed the spire of Salisbury Cathedral with his baby son tied on his back, though this may well be literally a tall story! His tower included stained glass which Lucas thought may have come from the Tudor palace of Nonsuch, though some did come from Salisbury Cathedral. The first tower is said to have burnt down in 1893. John Arlott states in an article in Hampshire Magazine for March 1963 that the second tower was demolished in 1955 to make way for a modern house called Chilworth Court. But an article published in 1934 in the Hampshire Advertiser states that the building had already disappeared. Arlott describes a slab inscribed R. C. Lucas 1863, presumably the foundation stone, which is set in the garden path of Chilworth Court. One account in Hampshire Magazine for December 1992 describes how the wooden structure on top eventually fell down some time after Lucas’s death, and afterwards the name was changed to Chilworth Court, the name being perpetuated by the modern house.

Lucas was well-known locally in his lifetime for his eccentric behaviour, which included riding down Southampton High Street in a horse-drawn chariot dressed in a toga as a Roman emperor. He entered into a dispute with Joseph Toomer, a Southampton man who described him as “a crazy old infidel” [BR115/9/8], but was defended by Lord Palmerston. His friendship with Palmerston lasted for many years, who apparently esteemed him highly as an artist and conversationalist. Palmerston obtained a civil list pension for him in 1865, and planted various specimen trees on his property including Wellingtonias and cedars.

Medallion of Palmerston “in speech, peace and war”. Photograph taken by the artist [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Medallion of Palmerston “in speech, peace and war”. Photograph taken by the artist [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]
This ivory carving is described in a letter to Lord Palmerston in 1863 [BR115/9/62]. It is accompanied by a slip of paper containing the amusing idea that “it was discovered in the ruins of Windsor Castle which Theodosis the seventh Australian Emperor destroyed in 2899″.

Letter to Palmerston, Oct 1864, offering to sell his works of art and his tower in exchange for an annuity. [BR115/10/20/2]

Letter to Palmerston, Oct 1864, offering to sell his works of art and his tower in exchange for an annuity. [BR115/10/20/2]
“My old Tower I could not keep dry- therefore I sold it and have now built one handsome and substantial….. I sent my son as a mediator to Mr Fleming [local estate owner]- instead of which he got a lease for himself elsewhere and I had to go to the dogs. So unhandsome did my son sever his fortunes from mine that I would rather march to the Union than have support from him.” Palmerston replied that he has no room to display the art works at Broadlands, and that “your new tower, though a a handsome and substantial Building is too far from Broadlands to be a desirable acquisition.” [BR115/10/20/4]

In the Archives here, there are also letters from Lucas to the Duke of Wellington. He wrote to Wellington in 1851 asking him to sit for a medallion, but by this time the Duke was an old man and rather tired of sitting for portraits (he died the following year). [WP2/168/23-24]

Lucas is buried in the churchyard of Chilworth parish church. There is a memorial inside the church, made by Lucas himself, in the form of a marble medallion bearing his profile. He was survived by his son, Albert Durer Lucas, 1828-1918, who was also an artist. Lucas wrote his own epitaph as early as 1850 (33 years before his death), part of which reads “his habits were simple, he was honest, conscientious, of industry untiring …his intellect was enquiring, acute and penetrating.”

In recent years Harry Willis Fleming has done a considerable amount of work on Lucas’s life and work, including the creation of the R. C. Lucas Archive, containing photographs, scrapbooks, etchings and other artefacts. His website can be accessed at http://www.richardcocklelucas.org.uk/

“He was always a minor figure and never had the skill or enjoyed the popularity of a major talent like Chantrey. But as a human being he was not negligible and should be remembered not only for his best small-scale works but also for his perseverance, industry and enquiring mind” Trevor Fawcett, art historian, quoted in Chilworth Tower and R C Lucas, a bound collection of unpublished typescripts, MSS and photocopied articles made by M C Durrant and held on the open shelves of the Cope Collection [Cope q CHL 72 TOW].

“…my great delight is to comprehend truth and to reproduce it” Richard Cockle Lucas On the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (bound in Chilworth Tower and R. C. Lucas, as above)

The Accession of Queen Alexandrina Victoria I, 20 June 1837

Queen Victoria, at the time of her accession, aged 18, Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911

Queen Victoria, at the time of her accession, aged 18, (Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911)

William IV died, after a lingering illness, early on the morning of Tuesday 20 June 1837. He had lived to see his niece Princess Victoria celebrate her 18th birthday – and therefore her majority – on 24th May, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that Victoria would succeed to the throne in her own right, without being subject to a regency.

The King died at Windsor Castle. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain went immediately to Kensington Palace to inform Princess Victoria. She noted in her journal that she was woken at 6 o’clock by her mother, who told her that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham had arrived and wished to see her. She got out of bed and went into her sitting room, in her dressing gown. “Lord Conyngham (the Lord Chamberlain) then acquainted me” she wrote “that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning and consequently that I am Queen”.

Queen Victoria awakened to hear news of her accession, Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911

Queen Victoria awakened to hear the news of her accession, (Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911)

The Lords of the Privy Council assembled that same morning at Kensington Palace and gave orders for proclaiming her majesty, with the usual ceremonies, as ‘Queen Alexandrina Victoria I.’

The name Victoria was rare in England. There had been a major family row at the christening of the young princess on 24 June 1819: the Prince Regent (later George IV, Victoria’s uncle and godfather) had forbidden the names Victoire Georgiana Alexandrina Charlotte Augusta, after her mother and godparents. He eventually agreed to ‘Alexandrina Victoria’ – which honoured the tsar of Russia (her godfather), and her mother (born Princess Marie Luise Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Duchess of Kent) – but he would not permit his niece to have any of the names traditionally given to British royal princesses.  Although known as ‘Drina’ for a while as a child, she preferred ‘Victoria’ and quickly dropped the official use of her first name.

At just 18, the Queen was young and inexperienced – but she had been carefully educated and was determined to fill the role to the best of her ability.

It was generally felt that Victoria quitted herself well at her first Privy Council. The Duke of Wellington, who was in attendance, certainly thought so. He wrote the same day to Charlotte Percy, Duchess of Northumberland (who had been governess to the princess), and her reply survives in the Wellington papers at the University of Southampton:

Letter from Charlotte Florentia Percy, Duchess of Northumberland to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, WP2/46/124-5, 20 June 1837

Letter from Charlotte Florentia Percy, Duchess of Northumberland, to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, 20 June 1837, with autograph docket by the Duke, WP2/46/124-5

Northumberland House, 20 June 1837
“My Dear Duke
“I have read your gratifying testimony of the successful manner in which the young Queen made her first appearance before the Privy Council, with sensations of real delight. Your opinion is always invaluable to me, and your kind recollection of what must be my feelings at this moment I most gratefully acknowledge. I always have had the greatest confidence in her character, calmness and presence of mind, so essential to her high station and I look forward to her realizing all those bright expectations which her truth, her uprightness of mind have taught me to expect from her.”

Victoria was quickly immersed in the business of state and government.   This is clear from the papers of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, who was the Queen’s first Foreign Secretary, later Home Secretary, and Prime Minister. The royal correspondence in the Palmerston Papers shows the Queen struggling to understand and even to read all the state papers that were put before her in these early days, however, her determination to get to grips with the work is unmistakable:

“As the Queen has got a great many Foreign Dispatches, which, from want of time she has been unable to read, as yet, she requests Lord Palmerston not to send any more until she has done with those which she already has with her, & which she hopes will be the case by tomorrow  evening.”

Note the use of the third person by the Queen, who did not sign the letter (Queen Victoria to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, 12 August 1837, MS 62 Palmerston Papers RC/F/15/1).

Victoria was to reign – as Queen and Empress – for more than 63 years. She remains one of our most enduringly popular monarchs. The ITV drama Victoria, which aired last year, was a roaring success, attracting more than 7 million viewers per episode. As her rule has gone down in history, so her name – that obscure and foreign name at the time of her christening – has become popular across the English-speaking world. 180 years on, Victoria is, indisputably, a truly royal British name.

Love stories from the Broadlands Archives

Saint Valentine’s Day, or The Feast of Saint Valentine, has been associated with romantic love since the fourteenth century and the time of Geoffrey Chaucer when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By eighteenth-century England, it had evolved into an occasion which resembled our modern-day celebration where people express their love by sending flowers, chocolate and greetings cards.  To mark Valentine’s Day 2017, we’re going to delve again into the wonderful resource that is the Broadlands Archives.

ms62_br46_133_r

Nineteenth century valentine card from the collection [BR46]

Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, resident of Broadlands house near Romsey wrote on 24 June [1767] to “my dearest Miss Poole”:

I will not attempt to describe how melancholy and uncomfortable I have felt ever since you have been gone. I never in any solitude felt so much alone as I have done in this town these last five days, and most of all as when I have been in company. [BR16/9/1]

The object of his affections, Frances, was the daughter of Sir Francis Poole and his wife, also called Frances. Palmerston felt she had “all the qualities he could wish for in a wife” but did not want to press her for a decision “at this time”: one of Frances’s brothers, Henry, was very ill – and in fact died the following month – which was partly the cause of the delay in their marriage negotiations.  Frances appears more cautious than Henry: “you deserve a woman beautiful & young, & with every quality of the mind that can make her amiable.” [BR16/9/3].

Frances was 34 and six years senior to her suitor, hardly old, but possibly more unusual by eighteenth century standards. Henry attempted to reassure her:

The disproportion of age is nothing: the consideration with me is not about years but qualities and I am fully convinced that no woman in the world but yourself possesses all those that are requisite to my happiness [BR16/9/16]

Frances did marry Henry, the second Viscount, on 6 October 1767 but sadly died, only two years later, in childbirth at his Lordship’s house in the Admiralty on 1 June 1769.

Matrimonial ladder

Matrimonial ladder [BR34/6]

Palmerston was lucky enough to find love a second time, this time with Mary Mee, the daughter of Benjamin Mee, a London merchant living in Dublin.  Towards the end of 1782 he writes to her:

br20-1

Letter from Henry to Mary dating from when they were courting in 1782 [BR20/1/9]

My dearest M:M’s [Miss Mee’s] kind note found me just beginning to write a few lines to her (tho with such a headache I can hardly see) as I could not refrain from telling her how much I think of her and long for her society. [BR20/1/9]

They married on 4 January 1783.  The Broadlands Archives contains extensive correspondence between the couple who were clearly in love and wrote frequently whenever apart. Towards the end of his life, in November 1801, he reflects on his relationship with his first wife to his second:

I cannot conceive why one is never to speak of what one has felt the most; and why the subjects that lie the deepest in one’s heart and are the dearest to one’s remembrance are to be eternally banished from one’s lips [BR20/18/8]

A few days later, 12 November 1801, he comments that he has been going through his deceased wife’s papers. [BR20/18/9]. He passed away less than six months later on 16 April 1802 of “ossification of the throat”.

Mary was clearly distraught at the loss of her soul mate.  She writes from Lavender House, home of her sister and brother-in-law near Henley-on-Thames, in early May 1802 to an unknown recipient:

My heart is so loaded with sorrow that I hardly know how to support myself […] alas if I do not unburthen my sorrow to some friendly bosom my heart with surely break. [BR19/15/3]

Henry and Mary had four surviving children, the eldest being Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, future Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. A week after his father’s death, 23 April 1802, Mary sent her son a long letter full of advice.  Among many things, she advises that he marry “at no very early age”, how he should treat his wife and the qualities he should look for in one, including “to be sure neither madness or evil affects her family”. [BR21/8/19]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17

Palmerston married the widow Emily Cowper, née Lamb in 1839, aged 55, although they had likely been having an affair from around 1808: not sure if this was exactly what his mother had in mind!  If you would like to read an excerpt from a poem Palmerston sent to Emily on their tenth wedding anniversary – as well as other love stories from the Broadlands Archives – take a look at last year’s Valentine’s Day blog post.

If you are interested to know more about the development of Valentines – in the second week of February 1841, for example, an extra half million letters were delivered, one eighth of all the mail, because of the traffic in Valentines – you could take a look at this post from Chris Woolgar from 2015.

“Sans peur and sans reproache”: Emily, Lady Palmerston

Writing from Paris in 1826, Emily, Countess Cowper – later Lady Palmerston – described herself as “without fear and without reproach”: while the city is full of gossip “if you should hear anything of me you may not believe it” she assures her brother Frederick. [BR30/6/13]

At a time when government appeared ostensibly to be a male domain, Emily’s life illustrates the significant role played by women in the political arena of the nineteenth century. Beautiful, charming and intelligent and although not a political thinker, she was astutely aware of the realities of the political system and a great believer in the power of social influence. She was the première political hostess in London of her time – a leading lady in Almack’s, an upper-class social club – and anyone who was anyone attended her parties.

ms62_br28_11_3_0002

Lady Palmerston and her daughters Fanny (right) and Minny (left) BR28/11/3

Emily was born to Peniston Lamb and his wife Elizabeth in 1787. She had three brothers, William (twice Prime Minister), Frederick (a diplomat) and George (a playwright).  Her first marriage was to Peter Clavering-Cowper, fifth Earl Cowper. In 1839, two years after his death, she married her long-term lover Lord Palmerston.  Emily had three sons and two daughters, all born during her marriage to Lord Cowper, although unlikely to all have been fathered by him: George Cowper, sixth Earl Cowper (Fordwich); William Cowper-Temple, first Baron Mount Temple; Charles; Frances (Fanny) Jocelyn, Viscountess Jocelyn and Emily (Minny), wife of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, seventh Earl of Shatesbury.

The University’s archives holds a collection of Emily’s letters; the bulk of the correspondence is to Emily’s brother, Honourable Frederick Lamb; from 1844, there is also correspondence with her second husband, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Emily covers a wide range of topics in her letters.  In terms of political affairs, the Reform Bill and Catholic Emancipation Act feature heavily and she usually includes society gossip.  As she is writing to her brother, it is natural that she should frequently discuss their parents, siblings and her children: “whatever else may be said of me nobody shall ever doubt my being a good mother and a good daughter” she comments in March 1820. [BR29/3/7]

The letters make reference to Emily’s brother William’s marriage to Caroline Lamb. Their son George Augustus was born with severe mental health problems.  Unusually for an aristocratic family of the time, William and Caroline cared for their son at home; his “fits” are often mentioned.

LadyPfuneral

Lady Palmerston’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, 1869

The letters shed a little light on Emily’s first marriage to Earl Cowper. Married in 1805 aged 18, Emily is remembered as beautiful and charming, In contrast, her husband is described – in the more favourable portraits – as quiet and shy, and less sympathetically as dull and slow.  When advising her brother Frederick about affairs of the heart in 1821 she comments how “at best [marriage] must always be a lottery.”  She still, however, recommends that he should marry:

From a man’s comfort it is almost better to have a bad wife than to have no wife. Besides it is always a man’s own fault if his wife is very bad.  [BR30/2/3]

The following year, 9 November 1822, she wrote to her friend, Fanny, Lady Burrell “I well know how unpleasant (and often hurtful to the tranquillity of a ménages) a third person is and I well know if you cannot get rid of her now you never will.” [BR2815/10]. A few years later, circa 1826, she wrote to Frederick:

Dear Ld C. in the most sheepish way asked me the other night if I had any objection to [?Lady] Sarah coming to P[anshanger] [BR30/6/18]

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston pictured at his country residence, Broadlands

While Emily’s affair with Lord Palmerston was long standing, she was discrete about these matters in her correspondence. She reported to Frederick in 1825 that “Lord Palmerston went to call upon Fordwich in the course of his canvass and was quite delighted with him.” [BR30/5/14]. Being her eldest son and heir, she was anxious regarding Fordwich’s education and future prospects and expresses these concerns in February 1827:

Ld C. takes no trouble about him tho’ he is very fond of him[…] Ld Palmerston whom I have consulted for want of better advice says he might go back to Cambridge now…[BR29/13/2]

Emily lived during a time when women were not permitted to vote let alone serve in Parliament. Her social status would likely have afforded her considerable independence and influence.  Despite commenting in 1822, “women in general may be wise for keeping out of politics” [BR29/7/14] that same year she was happy to intercede with the King on Frederick’s behalf: “for so shy a person as I am it is astonishing how bold and determined I can be when it is worthwhile”. [BR29/8/4]

In later letters the support Emily provided for her husband Lord Palmerston is referenced. In November 1840 she tells Frederick she has come to Brighton for the sea breeze having spent the last “two months doggedly to help fight [Palmerston’s] battles”: at this point Palmerston was Foreign Secretary. [BR29/15/3]. A few months later (February 1841) she comments how her “brilliant Saturday parties […] do much good”  [BR30/13/3].

Wellington_portrait

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington

Emily refers frequently to the victor of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington; the highs and lows of his career are charted through her letters. Rather acerbically in 1821: “he is better seen at a distance when the glitter looks like gold”, with reference to his concern at his waning popularity. [BR30/2/4] She clearly has a soft spot for the Iron Duke, however, and ensures that Mrs Arbuthnot has been invited to a party in July 1825 because “there is nothing I would not do to please him, he is such a love’. [BR30/5/6]”

Emily’s correspondence, held by the University’s Special Collections, provides an insight into her life, influence and opinions. Recently listed at item level, these letter-by-letter descriptions will facilitate greater access to a resource detailing the life of this fascinating nineteenth-century aristocratic woman.

The Suez Crisis of 1956

The Suez Crisis began on 29 October 1956 when Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. The invasion took place in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s announcement in July 1956 of the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company and the closure of the canal to all Israeli shipping.

The Suez Canal Company was a joint British-French enterprise which had owned and operated the canal since its construction in 1869. The canal, an important maritime route connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, represented the main source of supply of oil for Britain and France. During the post-war period there had been an upsurge of nationalism in Egypt and, in the lead up to the crisis, there was mounting opposition to the political influence of European powers in the region.

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On 30 October, the day after the initial invasion by Israeli forces, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum for an end to hostilities. The ultimatum was rejected by Nassar and a week later, on the night of 5-6 November, British and French troops joined the Israeli invasion and quickly succeeded in taking control of the area around the canal.

However, while the invasion was a military success, it was a political disaster. Not only was there widespread outrage in Britain, the invasion was condemned internationally. Opposition was particularly strong in the United States which saw the action as opening the possibility of Russian intervention in the Middle East. In response to mounting international pressure, British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, was forced into calling a ceasefire on 7 November. A United Nations peacekeeping force was then sent in to supervise the ceasefire and to restore order following the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli troops.

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Special Collections holds material relating to both the canal and the crisis. Prior to 1869, the construction of the canal had been long under consideration. Proposals can be found discussed among the papers of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. In a letter from Lord Ponsonby, dated 26 March 1841, a scheme for cutting a canal across the Suez is outlined, as are the many serious political evils which may be a consequence of its execution. [MS 62 PP/ GC/PO/508] One of the key objections was the fear that the canal might interfere with Britain’s India trade. In the end, the British decided on an alternative railway connection linking Alexandria and Suez, via Cairo. The Suez Canal Company was later formed by French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1858.

Memorandum from Sir G.C.Lewis, J.Campbell, Lord Argyll and Lord Granville, concerning the plans for a Suez canal, 23 January [1860] [MS 62 PP/GC/LE/124]

Memorandum from Sir G.C.Lewis, J.Campbell, Lord Argyll and Lord Granville, concerning the plans for a Suez canal, 23 January [1860] [MS 62 PP/GC/LE/124]

Lord Mountbatten was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet during the crisis. While he co-operated with preparations to send a naval force to the area, he protested against British military intervention, favouring psychological warfare and pressure from the United Nations. In a draft of a letter to Anthony Eden, dated 1 August 1956, Mountbatten strongly advises against the immediate use of force against Egypt, stressing that “the absolutely paramount consideration is the marshalling of world opinion on our side.” [MS 62 MB1/N106] The letter was vetoed by the First Lord and never sent.

The crisis had a fundamental impact on British politics: Britain’s prestige as a world power was dealt a severe blow, with Eden resigning from office on 9 January 1957.

Turbulent times for PMs

This week parliament returns after the summer recess with a new Prime Minister taking charge of the UK at one of the most turbulent times in recent political history. We take the opportunity to look at the challenges facing two former PMs whose papers are held by Special Collections…

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), became a national hero after successes against the French in the Peninsular War, 1808–14, and the Waterloo campaign, 1815. While he is best remembered for his military service, the Duke had a parallel political career. Starting as aide de camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1787, he sat in both the Irish and UK Parliaments, 1790–7 and 1806–9 respectively, and was Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1807-9.

Illustration of the Duke of Wellington writing the despatches after the Battle of Waterloo, 1815: Illustrated London News, 20 November 1852 [Rare Books quarto per A]

Illustration of the Duke of Wellington writing the despatches after the Battle of Waterloo, 1815: Illustrated London News, 20 November 1852 [Rare Books quarto per A]

His ability to manage the politics of the war was a crucial element in the success of his command in the wars against Napoleon and in the occupation of France, 1815–18. The Duke returned to Britain and politics, taking a seat in Lord Liverpool’s Cabinet in 1818 as Master General of the Ordnance. However, in post-war politics he was characterised as a reactionary, and his reputation waxed and waned through the debates on Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform.

Wellington became Prime Minister in 1828. One of his first achievements was overseeing Catholic emancipation, the most significant measure of which was the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 which permitted members of the Catholic Church to sit in the parliament at Westminster. Wellington had been converted to the cause when he came to realise the role emancipation could play in ending the conflict which had arisen from the Act of Union between Britain and Ireland in 1801. However, there was strong opposition to the bill which was seen as a threat to both the Protestant constitution and the supremacy of the Church of England. Lord Winchilsea, a popular hero of Protestant constitutionalists, was one of those hostile to the bill and his criticism of Wellington led to a duel between the two men which took place in Battersea Park in March 1829. They both deliberately missed each other in firing, and honour was satisfied.

In a letter dated 22 March 1829, Jeremy Bentham remonstrates with Wellington for fighting the duel:

Ill-advised man! Think of the confusion, in which the whole fabric of government would have been thrown had you been killed or had the trial of you for the murder of another man been substituted in the House of Lords to the passing of the emancipation Bill!
[MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1004/17]

By 1830 the need for parliamentary reform was gaining broad support. The current system was recognised as neither representative nor balanced, with many urban areas underrepresented and qualifications for voting limited. When the issue was raised in Parliament on 2 November, Wellington took a strong stance against reform, defending the existing system and refusing to support expansion of the political franchise. His anti-reform position led a high degree of personal and political unpopularity.

The same year saw the Swing Riots, centred in many areas on the economic difficulties of agricultural labourers, with machine-breaking and rural unrest. The fictitious Captain Swing also expressed general discontent with the Wellington government and lack of progress with the popular cause of reform. The Wellington papers contain a series of letters attributed to Swing in which the Duke is threaten, including the following, dated 4 November 1830:

Sir, Your base vile conduct to and treatment of your fellow subjects, your determination to turn a deaf ear to their remonstrances, has made you an object of popular vengeance and of popular hatred.

Take my advice, act openly and nobly as becomes a Briton: reform that vile nest of corruption which is bred in Downing Street, destroy those vultures that prey on the public liver or beware! I say beware! Beware! Beware!
[MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1159/93]

Later that month, on 15 November 1830, Wellington was forced to resign after he was defeated in a motion of no confidence. He was replaced by Earl Grey, leading a Whig government, and continued to fight reform in opposition before finally consenting to the Great Reform Bill in 1832.

Illustration of the funeral procession for the Duke of Wellington passing Apsley House: Illustrated London News, 27 November 1852 [Rare Books quarto per A]

Illustration of the funeral procession for the Duke of Wellington passing Apsley House: Illustrated London News, 27 November 1852 [Rare Books quarto per A]

Wellington briefly returned to the role of Prime Minister in 1834 while waiting for Peel to return from the Continent, after which he held the positions of Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. Much of his later political career was spent leading the Conservative peers in the House of Lords, and he sat in Peel’s Cabinet of 1841–6 as a minister without portfolio. He was Commander-in-Chief of the army for the third time from 1842 until his death: on earlier occasions conflict with his political duties brought his tenure of office to an abrupt conclusion. Nonetheless he remained popular in the mind of the nation. His death in 1852 was marked by unprecedented scenes of public mourning and, as befitted his status as a national hero, Wellington was given a state funeral.

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston
The renown of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865), rests on his service in high political office: he was Foreign Secretary, 1830–4, 1835–41 and 1846–51; Home Secretary, 1852–5; and Prime Minister, 1855–8, 1859–65. These posts he held in Whig/Liberal governments. He had formerly served in Tory administrations, as a junior minister — a Lord of the Admiralty in 1807–9 and Secretary at War, 1809–28, joining Wellington’s cabinet for an uneasy five months in the last year, departing with Huskisson after disagreements with Wellington on foreign affairs and parliamentary reform. The Duke had said little to Palmerston at the end, reporting later that ‘he did not choose to fire great guns at sparrows.’ While Palmerston’s commitment to service can be seen in terms of national rather than party interest, he became increasingly reliant on Liberal support, especially during his time as Prime Minister.

Illustration of Lord Palmerston making the Ministerial Statement on Dano-German Affairs in the House of Commons: Illustrated London News, 2 July 1864 [quarto per A]

Illustration of Lord Palmerston making the Ministerial Statement on Dano-German Affairs in the House of Commons: Illustrated London News, 2 July 1864 [quarto per A]

Palmerston was serving as Home Secretary when the Crimean War broke out in March 1854. As such, he had limited control over British policy during the lead up to the war. In a memorandum, date 20 January 1855, he writes of the “present lamentable condition of our army in the Crimea” and places the blame directly on those in authority. [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/1/96] Palmerston’s view that poor administration was to blame for the current state of the war was widely shared. Shortly after Parliament passed a bill to investigate the conduct of the war, Lord Aberdeen was compelled to resign as Prime Minister. Despite Queen Victoria’s reservations, Palmerston was generally seen as the best man for the job and was invited to form a government on 4 February 1855.

Palmerston was over 70 when he finally became Prime Minister, a position he was to hold almost continuously from 1855 until his death in October 1865. On his accession to the premiership, the resolution of the Crimean conflict was a pressing concern. Palmerston took a hard line on the war with the aim of permanently reducing the Russian threat to Europe. Following the surrender of Sebastopolin in September 1855, Russia came to terms and the war ended in the spring of 1856 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 30 March.

During the remainder of his first term in office Palmerston oversaw British responses to Second Opium War in China, beginning in 1856 when Chinese authorities’ seized a British-registered ship engaged in piracy, and the Indian Mutiny of 1857. The following year, an assassination attempt on Napoleon III by Italian republican Felice Orsini led Palmerston to introduce a Conspiracy Bill, making it a felony to conspire in Britain to murder someone outside the jurisdiction. The bill was defeated on its second reading and Palmerston was forced to resign in February 1858. However, Lord Derby’s subsequent minority government was short lived and resigned after only one year. In reply to a letter from Disraeli asking him to join a Conservative led administration, Palmerston writes:

I am very much obliged to you for the kind and friendly terms of your letter, and if I say in answer that many reasons which it is unnecessary to go into would prevent me from entering into such an arrangement as that which you suggest might be possible, I trust it is needless for me to assure you that no want of personal good feeling towards Lord Derby or yourself, or towards any others members of your government, could form a part of those reasons.
[MS 62 Palmerston Papers GC/DI/140]

Palmerston formed a Liberal government the following month, returning to power in June 1859. His second terms saw his support for Italian unification during the period 1859-61 and commitment to British neutrality during the course of the American Civil War, despite his personal sympathies lying with the secessionist Southern Confederacy. While he was strongly opposed to slavery and the slave trade, he had a fraught relationship with the United States throughout his career and felt that successful Southern secession was in Britain’s best interests. In a letter to Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Secretary of State for War, dated 30 December [1862], he writes of the likelihood of an attempted invasion of Canada by the Northern States:

I cannot say that I believe there is much real danger of an American invasion of Canada. They are making no progress towards the subjugation of the South, and if they were to gain some decisive victories, and compel the south to sign a treaty, they would be compelled to occupy the country with troops, in order to prevent rebellion from again raising its head. At the same time, the language of the Washington government is so insolent and menacing, and their demands so unreasonable, that they may at any moment render it impossible for us to avoid war any longer.
[MS 62 Palmerston Papers GC/LE/167]

Having served fifteen years as Foreign Secretary, foreign policy continued to be Palmerston’s main strength during his time as Prime Minister. However, in terms of domestic policy, he oversaw the passage of important legislation, including reform of the divorce laws in 1857, the Companies Acts of 1858 and 1862, Offences against the Person Act of 1861, and the Poor Law Act of 1865.

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17]

Three months after winning another general election in July 1865, Palmerston died on 18 October, aged 80. He was the fourth person not of royalty to be granted a state funeral, after Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Nelson, and the Duke of Wellington.

Evelyn Ashley in America

As it is the Fourth of July we have decided to take a look at Evelyn Ashley’s tour of the United States from 1858 to 1859…

(Anthony) Evelyn Melbourne Ashley (1836–1907) was the fourth son of Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh earl of Shaftesbury (1801–1885), and his wife, Emily (1810–1872). He was born in London on 24 July 1836 and was later educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. After his graduation in 1858, he became private secretary to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, then in his first term as prime minister. After the defeat of the government in the same year, Ashley toured the United States and Canada from June 1858 to [May] 1859 with Lord Frederick Cavendish and Lord Richard Grosvenor.

Portrait of Evelyn Ashely [Broadlands Archives MB2/H1]

Portrait of Evelyn Ashely [Broadlands Archives MB2/H1]

Among his papers, which now form part of the Broadlands archives, are a range of items relating to his travels in the United States. These include correspondence (BR61 and BR62), photographs (MB2/H1), a series of notebooks and journals (BR68), and three notebooks containing a lecture given by Ashley reflecting on his time in North America (BR60/6/3).

Black and white engraving of a scene entitled ‘Philadelphia’ from a letter from Evelyn Ashley to his sister Lady Victoria Ashley, 1 February 1859 [Broadlands Archives BR60/1/7]

Black and white engraving of a scene entitled ‘Philadelphia’ from a letter from Evelyn Ashley to his sister Lady Victoria Ashley, 1 February 1859 [Broadlands Archives BR60/1/7]

During his travels he visited many of the major American cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Washington. The above engraving of Philadelphia is from a letter written to his sister Lady Victoria Ashley, on 1 February 1859, of which he writes:

I beg leave by means of the engraving above to introduce you to the city of ‘Brotherly Love’ and if by ‘brethren’ is also meant ‘cousins’, transatlantic or others, it assuredly deserves its name for I was received into a family and lived with them a whole week, besides being most hospitably entertained everywhere… In other respects also this city deserves its name for in charitable and philanthropic institutions it is prominent. The large building with columns is the Girard College – Stephen Girard was an eccentric old French bachelor who by unremitting industry made a prodigious fortune and when dying about 30 years ago left the whole of it to found and maintain this institution where 300 orphans and boys are brought up and educated in a course of five years residence the whole entirely gratuitous and it is a noble institution and he has buried himself in the centre of the building surrounded by proofs of his not having lived and laboured in vain… [Broadlands Archives BR60/1/7]

 While he describes Baltimore as a ‘cheery bright city’, he views Washington as a ‘most curious rambling place’, writing:

Tell Papa that I presented my letter of introduction which he gave me to the President and that I dine on Friday in consequence at the White House where once a week takes place one of these large political gatherings called by the natives ‘steamboat dinners’, as the size and miscellaneous character of the guests is only parallelled by the meals on the Mississippi Steamers… [Broadlands Archives BR60/1/7]

New Orleans, 1858 [Broadlands Archives MB2/H1]

New Orleans, 1858 [Broadlands Archives MB2/H1]

During his travels in Illinois he visited Chicago and was witness to one of the famous Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858. He describes the scene as follows:

We attended one gathering; it was remarkable. A rough platform had been raise in the middle of a wood, all around were farmers’ carts and gigs; the horses unyoked and browsing at a distance. These had come from far to hear and judge for themselves of the merits of the rival candidates. Every bough of each overhanging tree had its occupant […] I took my seat at the back of the raised structure by the side of an American friend of mine, who introduced me to one of the champions as he stepped up to the cleared space in front, leaving the procession at the head of which he had arrived. That friend was General McClellan, since that time G[eneral] in Chief of the American Army; that champion was Abraham Lincoln, then a small unknown prairie farmer, now President of the U.S. [Broadlands Archives BR60/6/3]

On the nature of the debate he observes:

The politics of America are very elaborate and it was wonderful to see how all the points were caught. But they do not cheer like we do, but howl their approbation. It was like a pack of hounds waiting for their quarry to be thrown to them to devour in the shape of a telling hit or smart repartee. [Broadlands Archives BR60/6/3]

However, his view of Lincoln is somewhat less favourable:

Tall and lank with a suit of black cloth very grey from dust, a slouched hat and large awkward feet and hands he did not come up to my idea of a “leader of men”. [Broadlands Archives BR60/6/3]

Evelyn Ashley’s guide in the States [Broadlands Archives MB2/H1]

Evelyn Ashley’s guide in the States [Broadlands Archives MB2/H1]

In October 1858 his party struck out towards the prairies and plains of the North West, travelling through Minnesota and modern day North Dakota. In a letter to his brother Anthony, dated 2 October [1858], Ashley writes from Crow Wing, Minnesota, an Indian trading post, which he describes as ‘the last outpost of civilization in the North West of the American possessions…’ [Broadlands Archives BR60/1/2/4]. While there he meets with the Chippewa Indians and discusses their ongoing conflict with the Sioux. He also provides a description of his party, their supplies and the intended route: travelling first to Pembina and then on to Fort Garry at the Red River settlement of Selkirk, before joining an expedition on the plains to hunt buffalo.

Of the journey to the frontier Ashley writes:

The want of good water was now and then felt, but generally we camped by the side of a well flowing stream. The novelty, the delight of life in the wilds is indescribably fascinating to those who have lived in a settled country. The independence, the excitement of when and where to camp, the new animals, the boisterous health, all these concomitants of a journey to regions yet untamed by man compensate amply for any provisions which are incident to the mode of life. The very small matter of waking up and looking full into the stars above while your companions lie unconscious around you induces in the mind of the novice a succession of most pleasurable emotions. The slight danger of Indians, slight then but from last accounts anything but slight now, increases the zest with which the preparations for each night are completed and stirs up the imagination to people the darkness with fancies. [Broadlands Archives BR60/6/3]

Despite rumours in the newspapers of Ashley’s demise at the hand of the Sioux, the party returned safely from their excursion to the frontier in December 1858. They arrived in Cincinnati in time for New Year’s Day and continued their tour of the States for several more months.

‘President Lincoln delivering his inaugural address in front of the capital at Washington’, Illustrated London News, March 1861 [quarto per A]

‘President Lincoln delivering his inaugural address in front of the capital at Washington’, Illustrated London News, March 1861 [quarto per A]

In June 1859 Palmerston was return to office with Ashley recommencing his role as the Prime Minister’s private secretary, a position he held until Palmerston’s death in 1865. During this time Palmerston oversaw the British response to the American Civil War. Around 1864, while giving a lecture on his American tour, Ashley outlined his own views on the war, which he believed would soon come to an end. Reflecting on the situation he writes:

The Americans have great qualities some inherited from us, some all their own. They are brave, energetic and warm hearted with a real desire for improvement and progress for its own sake. I thanks heaven also that, tho at the 11th hour they have vindicated their love of freedom. I feared for one moment that the sacred flame was flickering which had been handed to them by their ancestors, the great principle for which their forefathers fought and died. [Broadlands Archives BR60/6/3]

As celebrations take place across the United States, we would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Fourth of July!

End of the Crimean War

Today marks 160 years since the end of the Crimean War, the most important Great Power conflict fought between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

The war took place mainly on the Crimean Peninsula between an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia on one side, and Russia on the other. Beginning in 1853, the immediate cause of the conflict resulted from religious tensions in the Middle East, including a dispute between Russia and France over the privileges of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in the Holy Land. The Holy Land was then part of the Ottoman Empire ruled by Turkey and Tsar Nicholas I demanded that the Turks resolve the dispute in favour of the Orthodox Church. Nicholas’ demands, however, were not met, leading to the mobilisation of Russian forces against Turkey.

‘Siege of Sebastopol – General View’, Illustrated London News, 18 November 1854 [quarto per A]

‘Siege of Sebastopol – General View’, Illustrated London News, 18 November 1854 [quarto per A]

Turkey, by this time, was beginning to lose its grip on its empire and both Britain and France were concerned about Russian expansion and the potential danger posed to their trade routes. Turkey declared war on Russia on 5 October 1853, in response to initial Russian operations. The following month the Russian Black Sea fleet destroyed a Turkish squadron at Sinope, on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. The British and French responded by aligning themselves with Turkey and both declared war on Russia in March 1854.

An allied army of over 60,000 British, French and Turkish troops was initially stationed in Turkey, ready to defend Istanbul from attack. In a letter from Major Edward Wellesley to his wife, Annot, dated 4 May 1854, he complains of the inexperience of staff and attendant confusion of arrangements as the British and French forces set up their bases in the Bosphorus:

A number of our Artillery Transports are hourly arriving and are stationed about 4 miles from here, the bustle and confusion attendant on all these arrivals are immense more particularly as all the staff nearly are new and there is too much discussion and too little actual work. You can imagine I have had enough to do and undo.
[MS 63 A904/4/18]

In order to strengthen their naval supremacy, the allies adopted a plan to land in the Crimea and conduct an all-out attack on Russian forces in the region, with the aim of seizing the naval base at Sebastopol and destroying the fleet and dockyard. In mid-September 1854, the joint allied invasion force landed at Kalamatia Bay. In order to advance on Sebastopol, the allies first had to cross the River Alma and attack heavily defended Russian positions on higher ground. With the advantage of new rifled muskets, together with superior skill and numbers, the allies were able to conduct a powerful offensive and force the Russians to flee their positions.

However, they failed to pursue the Russians directly, losing an opportunity to easily capture Sebastopol. This provided time for the Russians to fortify the city and stage two flank attacks. The first of these took place on 25 October, with Russian forces moving towards the British position at Balaclava. The Battle of Balaclava is best remembered for the infamous ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ in which miscommunication in the chain of command led to the British Light Brigade conducting a frontal assault against well-fortified Russian artillery. The brigade suffered heavy casualties under a bombardment of direct fire. While criticised as a major blunder at the time, the charge also came to symbolise the valour and bravery of the British cavalry. The result of the battle was indecisive, with the Russians failing to break through the British lines. A further attempt was made to defeat the British with a surprise attack at Inkerman on 5 November 1854. The intense fighting resulted in massive losses, mostly on the Russian side, and ended with the allied troops continuing to hold their ground.

‘Charge of the Light Cavalry, at Balaclava’, Illustrated London News, 23 December 1854 [quarto per A]

‘Charge of the Light Cavalry, at Balaclava’, Illustrated London News, 23 December 1854 [quarto per A]

Soon after the Battle of Inkerman, winter set in. The winter of 1854 was a harrowing one for the troops. Not only were living conditions extremely poor, but medical supplies in the field were also inadequate. Media reporting from the front line highlighted the dreadful conditions and the level of maladministration in the army which led to widespread public outrage.

Even before the first significant battle of the war the allied forces found their numbers depleted by a wave of fever and cholera, as is noted by Major Edward Wellesley in a letter to his sister-in-law, Mary, on 25 August 1854:

The troops have suffered much from fever and cholera and the French army most dreadfully, we have lost many officers and soldiers and the fleet has also suffered materially… There is no doubt this is the most unhealthy place at this season of the year, in fact the Russians lost half their army when they besieged the town in 1828 and we are fortunate in escaping as we have…
[MS 63 A904/4/34]

Having twice acted as Foreign Secretary between 1830 and 1851, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, was serving as Home Secretary when the Crimean War broke out. As such, he had limited control over British policy during the lead up to the war. In a memorandum, date 20 January 1855, Palmerston writes of the “present lamentable condition of our army in the Crimea” and places the blame on those in authority. He suggests that they should be removed with the exception of Lord Fitzroy James Henry Somerset, first Baron Raglan, despite his having shown himself to be “deficient” in caring for his officers and troops. Palmerston continues by declaring that if a remedy is not found, the reinforcements would be “victims sent to the slaughter” and that “defeat and disgrace must be the inevitable result”. He also criticises the decision to attack Sebastopol, believing that the “first thing then to be done is to put the army into a good condition”. [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/1/96]

The public outcry eventually led to a number of organisations and individuals setting out for the war zone to minister to the troops. Among the nurses was Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. She emphasised the need for well trained nurses and clean hospitals to aid in the recovery of the sick and wounded. Following the war she continued to campaign tirelessly to improve health standards.

In the spring of 1855 the allies, now joined by the Sardinians, resumed their siege of Sebastopol. The siege continued until September 1855 when, having defended the city for almost a year, the Russians finally evacuated. By now Palmerston had become Prime Minister and was involved in negotiating the terms of peace. The Crimean War ended in the spring of 1856 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 30 March.

In his diary entry, dated 31 March 1856, Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, writes:

Yesterday Sunday. Peace was signed and the intelligence sent by electric telegraph. The guns announced it to the people. Let us bless the Lord who has brought us out of so many and great dangers, who has shown us such unspeakable and undeserved mercies, and who has taught us how and why to thank Him! May it be a true peace, a lasting peace, a fruitful peace. May it give double energy and double capacity to our thoughts, desires and efforts.
[MS 62 Broadlands Archives SHA/PD/7]

Alongside the Palmerston Papers, Special Collections houses a range of other material providing perspectives on the Crimean War. These include the diaries of Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (MS 62); the letters of the Major Edward Wellesley (MS 63); a diary and notebook of General Sir John St. George, who served as an artillery officer in the Crimea (MS 59); and the Crimea journal of Henry Parnell, fourth Baron Congleton (MS 64). Parnell joined the Buffs or the Third Regiment of Foot in 1855 at the age of 16 years of age. He served with them in the Crimea after the fall of Sebastapol in 1856 and his journal presents a very different picture from the records of officers in a combat situation.

Family correspondence of Sir William Temple

This week archivist John Rooney discusses his recent cataloguing of the family papers of Sir William Temple as part of ongoing work on the Broadlands archives.

Sir William Temple was the third child of Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, and his second wife Mary Mee. Born on 19 January 1788, he was the younger brother of Henry John Temple, later third Viscount Palmerston. Alongside the two boys were three Temple sisters: Frances (the eldest), Elizabeth, and Mary. However, Mary, the youngest of the siblings, died when she was still a young child as a result of smallpox inoculation.

Letter from William Temple, Munich, to his mother Mary (Mee), Viscountess Palmerston, 11 July [1794]

Letter from William Temple, Munich, to his mother Mary (Mee), Viscountess Palmerston, 11 July [1794]

Section BR32 of the Broadlands archives contains letters from William Temple to his mother, his brother Henry, and his sisters Frances and Elizabeth between 1794 and 1811, covering his early life and education. It begins when William is six years old and initially consists of letters to his mother, primarily relating to family life at Broadlands. In 1798 William followed his brother Henry to Harrow School where he studied until 1803. The correspondence from this period provides insights into his life at Harrow, as he discusses his studies and social engagements, together with details of Henry’s life at the University of Edinburgh, from 1800 to 1803, and subsequent tour of the Highlands. William and Henry were to maintain a close relationship throughout their lives with many of the letters in the collection containing references to (and reflections on) the future Prime Minister’s education and early political career.

It was with the death of their father on 17 April 1802 that Henry inherited the titled of third Viscount Palmerston. The following year he attended St John’s College, Cambridge, while William proceeded to the University of Edinburgh where he studied from 1803 to 1806. Correspondence from this period contains details of William’s life at Edinburgh, including his views on the controversial “Leslie affair” in which John Leslie, a suspected atheist, was appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University over the clergyman Thomas McKnight. Letters from 1805 also contain William’s views on the British victory at Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson, of which he writes: “If the report I have heard is true […] the late victory gained over the combined fleets, considering the number of the enemy’s ships taken, and the inferiority of our force; seems to me to be one of the most glorious and decisive that has ever taken place. It is impossible however to contemplate it with any feelings, but what are mixed with the deepest regret, when we consider how dearly it has been purchased; purchased with the loss of undoubtedly the greatest admiral Britain, or perhaps even the whole world, has ever produced.” [BR32/10/6]

As William made the move to Cambridge in 1806, Henry (now Lord Palmerston) was busy establishing his political career. He twice ran as a Tory candidate for the University of Cambridge constituency (first in 1806 and then again in 1807) but was defeated both times. He finally entered Parliament as Tory MP for the pocket borough of Newport in June 1807 and made his maiden speech on 3 February 1808, in which he defended the recent expedition against Copenhagen. Of the speech William writes: “I was surprised to hear him speak with such fluency and with so little hesitation, as speaking at all for the first night, but particularly before so large an audience and on so important a subject must be a most formidable undertaking. He performed however with very great success, and I am very happy to find that Sir Vicary Gibbs has written to Wood mentioning Harry’s debut in high terms of commendation…” [BR32/13/1]

Broadlands, the family home of the Temple children was later inherited by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

Broadlands, the family home of the Temple children was later inherited by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

A small selection of correspondence covers the period 1833 to 1837 during which time William is serving as British ambassador in Naples (1832-56). The letters from this period are from his sisters Frances (now married to William Bowles) and Elizabeth (now married to Laurence Sullivan), and Emily Ashley Cooper, Countess of Shaftesbury, primarily concerning family life, recent events at Broadlands, and William’s life in Naples. The final two letters date from 1856, the year of William’s death, with one being from Dr. William Ferguson to Lord Palmerston concerning his attending William during his final illness. Sir William Temple died on 24 July 1856, leaving no issue.

The accompanying section BR31 consists of two letters concerning the settlement of William’s estate, including a letter relating to a major collection of antiques bequeathed to the British Museum. By the time of his death both Frances and Elizabeth had passed away, leaving Henry, the eldest, the last surviving of the Temple children.