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Manchester papers

Call Number: OSB MSS fc.37

Scope and Contents

The Manchester Papers are a group of over 1,000 letters and other documents concerning the professional and political activities of Charles Montagu, 1st Duke of Manchester. The collection spans the dates 1697-1737, but the bulk of the material dates from between 1698 and 1708, the years of Manchester's embassies to Venice and Paris.

The collection consists of fifteen albums, two letterbooks, and one box of unbound letters. The items in the albums are arranged in a rough chronological order.

Volume 16 contains copies of letters written by Manchester to William Blathwayt and James Vernon during his service as Ambassador to Paris in 1700-01. The letters provide much information on political events, including the proclamation of the duc d'Anjou as King of Spain, the mounting preparations for war, and the break in relations between England and France following Louis XIV's recognition of James III in violation of the Treaty of Ryswick. There are descriptions of "Jacobite intrigues," life at Versailles, and events in the Low Countries.

Volume 17 contains copies of thirty letters written by Manchester in French between January and April of 1702. They are mainly brief business letters or requests for information. The letters in Box 18 consist mainly of business letters by Manchester to William Blathwayt written between 1699 and 1701.


  • 1697-1737


Language of Materials

In English, French, Latin, Italian and Dutch.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Manchester Papers are 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

The Manchester Papers were purchased in 1987 from Sotheby's on Osborn funds.


3.5 Linear Feet ((1 box) + 17 volumes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers contain correspondence, copies of treaties, speeches and credentials, orders, memoranda, reports, newsletters and other papers mostly relating to diplomatic, political and military affairs in western Europe during the War of the Spanish Succession. In addition to documenting Manchester's missions to the republic of Venice and the court of France, the papers provide much detail on shifting relations among the northern powers, the break between France and England following the former's recognition of James III, English concern over Jacobite activities on the Continent, and negotiations with the Low Countries and Savoy.
Major correspondents writing from England on politics and diplomacy include the Earls of Albemarle, Jersey, Shrewsbury and Sunderland, and secretaries James Vernon, Robert Yard, Joseph Addison and Matthew Prior. Other correspondents include the Duke of Marlborough and J. Chetwynd, writing on military matters, and Sir P. Medows, William Blathwayt, James Cresset, Francis Schonenberg, Abraham Stanyan and Alexander Stanhope, addressing affairs in various countries. Manchester's letters to Blathwayt, located in Series II, describe life at the French court and events leading up to the French violation of the Treaty of Ryswick.

Processing Information

This register reproduces the calendar of the fifteen Manchester albums that appeared in the Appendix to the Eighth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (1881). No attempt has been made to correct or revise these item-level descriptions. The two letterbooks were not included in the original calendar. These letters have been listed by recipient, place, and date, but summaries have not been provided.

Guide to the Manchester Papers
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme and Carolyn Gillette
May 1993
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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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.