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Spring-Rice Collection

Date range: 1788–1911

Medium: Manuscript

Over 500 letters and papers of the Spring-Rice family were presented to the John Rylands Library in 1957 by Mrs Charles Booth of Ulverscroft, Leicestershire.

The bulk, some 300 items, comprises correspondence of Rt. Hon. Thomas Spring-Rice (1790-1866), 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, and his two sons, Stephen (1814-65) and Charles (1819-70). Monteagle was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1835 to 1839, and Comptroller General from 1839 to 1865. His sons served in the Board of Customs and the Foreign Office respectively.

The letters are varied in content and, in addition to the information they contain about the family itself, provide many valuable comments on political and economic events at home and abroad, and on the troubles in Ireland in the 1840s. Among the letters is a lengthy epistle from Thomas Macaulay to Monteagle, written in August 1834 from India, dealing with party politics and parliamentary affairs.

A further 200 letters were exchanged between Monteagle’s grandsons, Cecil and Stephen Spring Rice, and the latter’s wife Julia, 1873-1902. Cecil Spring-Rice (1859-1918) was a career diplomat who held posts in America, Japan, Berlin, Persia and Russia, before serving as Ambassador in Washington from 1913 to 1918.

The collection also contains over 400 letters, papers, newspaper cuttings and photographs relating to Julia’s father, Sir Peter Fitzgerald (1808-80), 19th Knight of Kerry, and fifty letters of his son Sir Maurice (1844-1916), 20th Knight. The material dates mainly from the 1870s and ’80s, when Sir Maurice was equerry to Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. Among the correspondents are Prince Arthur, William Ewart Gladstone, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster, and Lord Lansdowne.

The collection provides useful insights into 19th-century British Court life and elite society, diplomacy and international relations, and contemporary political events. There is also important material for the histories of the United States, Ireland and India.

Further information:

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.


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