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Eardley-Wilmot correspondence

Call Number: OSB MSS 54

Scope and Contents

The John Eardley-Wilmot Correspondence consists of three boxes of letters to and copies of letters by John Eardley-Wilmot, as well as a small number of personal papers and related items. The papers span the dates 1769-1912; the bulk of the material dates from between 1793 and 1810.

The letters are alphabetically arranged by author; retained draft copies of letters by John Eardley-Wilmot himself are arranged alphabetically by recipient under the entry for Eardley-Wilmot.

The collection reflects the variety of Eardley-Wilmot's intellectual and charitable interests. Letters from Christopher Anstey, John Anstey, Sir Joseph Banks, Benjamin Incledon, and Mark Noble discuss Oliver Cromwell's correspondence; Wilmot's writings are the subject of letters from Wynley Blair, Charles Butler, Robert Cadell, Daniel Coke, James Ross and others. Wilmot's early letters to his lifelong friend Henry Michell are in Latin and Greek, drawing upon their literary studies at Cambridge.

Eardley-Wilmot's participation in the political patronage systems of his day can be traced in the letters of Thomas Blomefield, Isaac Crakell, Baron Harrowby, Bishop Hurd, John Phillips, and WIlliam Pitt. A 1779 letter to Nathaniel Ryder discusses Eardley-Wilmot's views on the American Revolution, while a later letter to Benjamin West comments on the compensation claims made to the Crown by American Loyalists.

Eardley-Wilmot was the executor of the estate of William Petty, 1st Marquis of Lansdowne, and his role in the purchase by the British Museum of Lansdowne's manuscripts is documented in letters by Sir Francis Baring; Sir Henry Ellis; William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd marquis of Lansdowne; Joseph Planta, and Spencer Perceval. His abiding interest in King's College, Nova Scotia, is seen in letters from Shute Barrington, Charles Inglis, and John Inglis; while his activities on behalf of French refugees are noted in letters by the 1st marquis of Buckingham, Edmund Burke, Jean François de la Marche, Samuel Parr, John Hampden Trevor, and an unidentified contributor to his fund who signed himself "Philo-Caritos".

Other correspondents of note include William Franklin; John Bowles, who in an 1807 letter expressed fear that dancing and music "naturally lead to licentiousness and debauchery" in the poor; and Warren Dawson, who was likewise concerned with "mirth and jollity among the lower classes." The letters of Martha Wilmot, Edward Wilmot, and John Henry Michell are largely personal in nature.

Box 3, folder 157 contains a small number of personal papers of John Eardley-Wilmot, including his call to Temple Bar. Folders 158-160 contain bibliographical and biographical information.

Descriptions of individual letters or correspondences can be found in the notes appended to many of the folder entries in the finding aid.


  • 1768-1817


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Eardley-Wilmot Correspondence is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Consult the appropriate curator.


1.04 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence between Eardley-Wilmot and his friends and colleagues. Included are letters from Spencer Perceval and Henry Ellis about the Lansdowne Manuscripts, which Eardley-Wilmot was trying to place at the British Museum; from Mark Noble about Eardley-Wilmot's book on Bishop Hough; and from William Franklin about a Silas Deane letter that Eardley-Wilmot sent to Franklin. There are also many letters about Eardley-Wilmot's book on his father; about political patronage in British parliament; and about political developments in Great Britain after the French Revolution.


John Eardley-Wilmot was the second son of Lord Chief Justice Sir John Eardley-Wilmot. Born in 1750, he graduated from University College, Oxford in 1769, was chosen fellow of All Souls' College, and was called to the Inner Temple bar in 1773. From 1781 to 1804 he held a Mastership in Chancery. He served in Parliament from 1776 to 1796, first as M.P. for Tiverton and later for Coventry.

A Whig, in 1783 he was appointed head of the Commission for Inquiring into the Losses, Services and Claims of the American Loyalists, reporting on claims for compensation filed by Loyalists after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. Eardley-Wilmot published his "Historical View of the Commission....." in 1815. He organized the Freemasons' Hall Committee for the relief of French refugees in 1790.

In addition to his professional and political activities, Eardley-Wilmot was a book collector and antiquarian whose materials were essential to John Raynor's edition of Glanville's Tractatus de Legibus (1780), and who furthered the British Museum's purchase of the Lansdowne manuscript collection in 1807. He was also an early supporter of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Other publications by Eardley-Wilmot include Memoirs of the Life of the Right Hon. Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Knt., with some original letters (1802, 1811) and The Life of the Reverend John Hough, D.D..... (1813).

Eardley-Wilmot died at Bruce Castle on June 26, 1815. His only son, John, was created Sir John Eardley Eardley-Wilmot in 1822, appointed lieutenant-governor of Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) in 1843, and died in Hobart in 1847.

Guide to the Eardley-Wilmot Correspondence
Under Revision
by Beinecke Staff
July 1996
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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