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Sussex correspondence

Call Number: OSB MSS 58

Scope and Contents

The Sussex Correspondence consists of over 130 letters to Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, and approximately 30 letters addressed to his surgeon and librarian, Thomas Joseph Pettigrew. The letters, arranged alphabetically by author, span the dates 1812-1841 and document the Duke's book collecting as well as some of his patronage and charitable activities.

Letters from many correspondents originally accompanied presentation copies of works they had authored, including those by George Man Burrows, Bishop Samuel Butler, William Collyer, Thomas Agar Holland, George Skene Keith, César Moreau, William Müller, Sir Nicholas Harris Nicholas, Edward O'Reilly, Charles Hippolyte Paravey, George Petrie, George Skinner, William Smith, and Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy. Other letters seek the Duke's patronage for recent or proposed publications. Thomas Christopher Banks sought to sell a copy of his Stemmata Anglicana, for example, while P. Lauder solicited funds for the publication of his "Observations on the Defective State of British Timber", and Francis Nugent Macnamara requested a subscription from the Duke for his poem "The Liberator."

Some correspondence is more generally concerned with the Duke's library and literary interests, including requests to visit the library, offers to sell incunabula and manuscripts, and gifts of volumes on subjects of interest to the Duke, such as the gift of a catalogue of Egyptian antiquities in Turin from the chargé d'affaires of Sardinia, and the presentation by John Wylie, President of the Maitland Club, of a set of that club's antiquarian publications.

In addition, there are letters requesting financial assistance, patronage appointments, and small personal favors, some written by those in need of assistance, and others written in their behalf by friends and acquaintances of Augustus Frederick; correspondence concerning his membership in various learned societies; and a letter by the first earl of Donoughmore on resolutions recently approved by the Grand Lodges.


  • 1812-1841


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sussex 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

Gift of James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn.


0.8 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Letters to Augustus Frederick, mainly concerning the Duke's library and his literary interests; many originally accompanied presentation copies of works by the authors. Also letters requesting financial patronage, personal favors, or the Duke's participation in learned societies.


Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was the ninth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Educated on the Continent, he met and married Lady Augusta Murray secretly in 1793. George III declared the marriage invalid in accordance with the Royal Marriage Act of 1772, although the couple remained together for some years and had two children.

In 1801 Augustus Frederick was granted the title of Baron Arklow, Earl of Inverness and Duke of Sussex. He supported the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic emancipation, civil liberties for Jews and Dissenters, and Parliamentary reform. He became Grand Master of the Freemasons in 1811; was elected President of the Society of Arts in 1816; and served as President of the Royal Society from 1830 to 1838.

The Duke was an avid book collector, often bidding in competition with Sir Thomas Phillipps, and his library eventually contained over 50,000 volumes, including more than 1,000 editions of the Bible and many Hebrew manuscripts. In 1817 he appointed Thomas Joseph Pettigrew his surgeon; Pettigrew came to serve as his librarian for some years and published the first volumes of the Bibliotheca Sussexiana in 1827. The two men were estranged as a result of the Duke's embarrassingly narrow victory in the Royal Society elections of 1830, a contest that Pettigrew had persuaded the Duke to enter, but the next volumes of the Bibliotheca nevertheless appeared in 1839.

Augustus Frederick remarried late in life, to Cecelia, ninth daughter of the Earl of Arran and widow of Sir George Buggins; there were no children of this marriage. The Duke died of erysipelas on April 21, 1843.

Processing Information

This finding aid was produced from a previously existing card set in the Manuscripts Catalog, or from another inventory. All pertinent bibliographical information has been retained.

Guide to the Sussex Correspondence
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme
June 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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