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Sterling family papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 306

Scope and Contents

The Sterling Family Papers consist primarily of manuscripts by John Sterling, along with diaries and writings by other family members. The papers are arranged in two series: I, Sterling Family Papers, and II, Related Material. The papers span the dates 1811-1950, with the bulk of the material dating from 1811 to 1844.

Series I, Sterling Family Papers , is arranged by family member into four subseries: Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling, Frances M. Sterling (granddaughter of JS), Hester Coningham Sterling (mother of AS and JS), and John Sterling. Material within each subseries is arranged alphabetically by title or type of material. Contents include diaries and commonplace books kept by A.C. Sterling and H.C. Sterling and a scrapbook and sketchbook kept by Frances M. Sterling, an accomplished painter.

Writings of John Sterling are located in folders 9-26 and include manuscripts of the poems "Coeur-de-Lion" and "The Swiss Peasant Girl"; a bound notebook of Thoughts in Rhyme; copies of letters to his son Edward; and several children's stories written for his family.

Series II, Related Material , consists of biographical material about John Sterling, A. C. Sterling, and Frank Stone, and a TLS from Marion Mabey to Elizabeth H. Butler regarding the history of the Sterling papers.


  • 1811-1950


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sterling Family 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

Purchased from Blackwell's with Library Associates Funds, 1950.


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


The collection consists of writings by John Sterling, including Coeur-de-Lion, The Swiss Peasant Girl, and Thoughts in Rhyme; letters from Sterling to his son Edward concerning his education; and commonplace books and diaries kept by other members of the family, including his brother, Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling, and his mother Hester. The collection also contains a sketchbook which belonged to Sterling's granddaughter, the painter Frances Sterling.


Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling, eldest son of Captain Edward Sterling and Hester Coningham Sterling, was born in Dundalk in 1805. After several terms at Trinity College, Cambridge, he enlisted in the military and married Charlotte Baird. He was highly decorated for his part in the Crimean campaign of 1854 but became the center of an internal military scandal after the Indian Mutiny (1857-58). He authored a number of books including a translation of Russia under Nicholas I (1841) and Letters from the Army in the Crimea, written by a Staff Officer (1857). Sterling died in London on March 1, 1871.

JOHN STERLING (1806-1844)

John Sterling, younger brother of Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling, was born on the island of Bute on July 20, 1806. While studying at Trinity College, Cambridge, under Julius Charles Hare, Sterling became a member of the Apostles and befriended Richard Chenevix Trench and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, among others. Upon his departure from Cambridge, Sterling purchased and briefly edited the Athenaeum with Frederick Denison Maurice before marrying Susannah Barton in 1830. Despite declining health, he published the novel Arthur Coningsby (1833) and Poems (1839) and gathered literary friends such as Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill together at his monthly "Sterling Club" entertainments. He died of tuberculosis on September 18, 1844. Sterling is perhaps best known today as the subject of Carlyle's Life of Sterling (1851).

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. If the collection also contains unlisted or unsorted material, this has been noted in the box-and-folder list.

Guide to the Sterling Family Papers
Under Revision
by Beinecke Staff
July 1997
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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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.