John W. Croker papers, 1765-1860 (majority within 1765-1857)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Croker, John Wilson, 1780-1857
- This collection contains materials related to the personal and political life of Irish politician and writer John Wilson Croker, who served as secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830.
- 21 linear feet
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Erin Platte and Meg Hixon, January 2012
- Scope and Content:
This collection contains materials related to the personal and political life of Irish politician and writer John Wilson Croker, who served as Secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830. The collection (approximately 25,000 items) includes correspondence and letter books, diaries, financial records, poetry, printed materials, and political, legal, and judicial manuscripts.
The Correspondence series is divided into 4 subseries: a chronological sequence, an alphabetical sequence, bundled groups of letters, and letter books. The Chronological, Alphabetical, and Bundled subseries contain personal and political letters that Croker exchanged with colleagues, including many items pertaining to his career as secretary to the Admiralty. These include material on the Napoleonic Wars, such as dispatches from the Duke of Wellington (1810-1852) and information on the locations of British troops and ships. Additional material concerns the War of 1812 and military news about the Iberian Peninsula; the series also contains Croker's correspondence with Lord Ashburton regarding peace negotiations with the United States. A letter from March 22, 1813, pertains to the battle between the USS Constitution and HMS Java off of the Brazilian coast.
The series also includes a list of transports awaiting convoy (April 24, 1813), information on Russian ships (May 10, 1813), and 2 printed bulletins in French regarding Napoleon Bonaparte (October 9, 1813, and June 14, 1814). Later material reflects Croker's literary career, particularly his contributions to The Quarterly Review. Croker's personal correspondence includes letters to and from family members and friends. Items post-dating Croker's death largely originated from Edward Gifford, who discussed the treatment of Croker's papers. Further letters in the collection are addressed to Croker's wife, Rosamund Carrington Pennell, and reflect Croker's family life as well as aspects of his political life in London.
The collection's 45 Letter Books include Croker's private letter books and their indexes, as well as bound groups of letters organized by correspondent. Croker kept his set of 28 "private" letter books between 1811 and 1857; they contain copies of letters he authored on personal and political matters. The bulk of the political correspondence relates to Croker's duties as secretary to the Admiralty and to his relationship with the Duke of Wellington. The series contains 3 indexes to these volumes.The remaining 14 letter books contain letters that Croker received from individual correspondents:
- "Canning, Holograph Letters to Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1812-1827) is comprised of letters from George Canning. Canning's letters relate to personal and political matters, including affairs of the Houses of Parliament and the Admiralty; he frequently inquired about the French Marine and about ships stationed in foreign waters. Some of the letters were composed during Canning's tenure as Ambassador to Portugal (1814-1816).
- "Admiral Cockburn, His Holograph correspondence to the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1809-1830). These letters by Sir George Cockburn pertain to domestic politics within Great Britain, as well as to issues related to the Admiralty and to other members of government, including George Canning. Some private correspondence concerns affairs with the United States. This volume also contains "A Map intended to illustrate the threatened Invasion of England by Bonaparte," as well as a chart entitled "The No. and Description of guns carried by H.M.S. Victory at different periods." The volume also contains photocopies of letters that Croker wrote to Cockburn.
- "Lockhart, His Holograph Correspondence to the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (6 volumes, 1819-1854) is comprised of letters by John Gibson Lockhart pertaining to the British Admiralty.
- "Huskisson, His Original Holograph Correspondence with the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1815-1828). This volume contains letters by William Huskisson about the British Admiralty.
- "Spencer Perceval, His Holograph Correspondence to the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1808-1812) includes personal letters from Spencer Perceval. Perceval's letters focus on a political matters related Parliament and the British government.
- Copies of letters from King George III to Lord Halifax, Duke of Cumberland, Lord Rockingham, and General Conway (1 volume, 1765-1770)
- Copies of letters by King George III to Lord Weymouth (1 volume, 1768-1779)
- Copies of letters by King George III to Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1 volume, 1804-1807), comprised of copied correspondence between King George III and Robert Stewart about British diplomacy and domestic politics.
- Copies of letters from William IV, Duke of Clarence, to John W. Croker (1 volume, 1810-1828)
The Diaries series contains 24 diaries that Croker kept between 1797 and 1829, the bulk of which are dated between 1817 and 1829. Several of Croker's diaries are travel accounts. Additional diaries are 19th-century manuscript copies, including "Extract from the Journal of a Tour through England in the year 1735 written by Mr. Whaley Fellow of Kings Coll. Cambridge," and extracts from diaries by Lord Hertford (1822) and Sir Henry Hulford (1831).
A series of Political, Legal, and Judicial Manuscripts relates to contemporary British politics and to foreign relations, particularly with France. The series contains an essay draft written by Croker and annotated by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, entitled "Observations on Choumara's Book," May 16, 1838 (referring to Choumara's The Battle of Toulouse), as well as Croker's notes on conversations with the Duke. The series also contains an undated, 254-page speech by Croker.
Five bound volumes pertain to the contested will of Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquis of Hertford, including a copy of his will and codicils (1842) and records from Croker's legal case against Richard Seymour Conway regarding the will's validity (1844).
The Financial Records series contains miscellaneous receipts and accounts that document Croker's finances between 1842 and 1855. The series includes material such as a receipt for wine shipped to Haiding Gifford in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and 5 account books.
The Poetry series includes loose manuscript copies of poems and 2 bound volumes: Croker's translations of Greek poems (1799) and a poem by Hugh Warrender entitled "The Night."
A group of Lists and Indexes relate to Parliamentary elections, birth records, and other topics.Three Subject Volumes include the following:
- A volume containing journal articles and reviews of the works of Thomas Babington Macaulay, including an answer to his criticisms of Croker's edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson.
- A volume of records, letters, and drawings related to the Croker family's property at West Molesey, Surrey, England. The volume contains 20 pen and ink drawings of architectural plans for the renovated house, as well as maps of the surrounding area. The volume also includes bills and contracts for the architectural work.
- A volume pertaining to the Croker family, which contains letters, histories, family trees, and illustrations of the family's crests. A Latin document reflects the family's time in Dublin, and a gravestone rubbing depicts a knight laid to rest. Family tree sketches include around 12 versions of the family crest and trace its development over time.
The Printed Materials series consists of pamphlets, newspapers, and clippings about a variety of topics, particularly the French Revolution and issues in contemporary Irish politics.
- Biographical / Historical:
John Wilson Croker was born in Galway, Ireland, on December 10, 1780, the son of John Croker and Hester Rathbone. After attending school in Cork, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1796, and was admitted to the Irish Bar in 1802. He then spent time on the Munster circuit, where he met Daniel O'Connell. He entered Parliament as a representative for Downpatrick in 1807, and became secretary to the Admiralty in 1809, a position he held until 1830. He lost a parliamentary election in 1812, but soon reentered the House of Commons, where he represented multiple different districts until 1832. Although he was a Tory, Croker supported Catholic emancipation in Ireland and maintained close political ties with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, and Sir Robert Peel. He was also a frequent contributor to The Quarterly Review and the editor of an updated edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson. He married Rosamund Carrington Pennell in May 1806. He died on August 10, 1857.
John Gibson Lockhart was born in Scotland on July 14, 1794, and worked as a biographer, critic, and novelist; he published his seven-volume Life of Sir Walter Scott in 1837-1838. His wife Sophia was Scott's daughter. A frequent contributor to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Lockhart became editor of The Quarterly Review in 1825. He died on November 25, 1854.
Thomas Babington Macaulay was born on October 25, 1800, and became a politician, historian, and essayist. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and afterward studied law at Lincolns Inn, London. A Whig, Macaulay served in the House of Commons as well as on the Board of Control for the East India Company. He died on December 28, 1859.
William Huskisson was born on March 11, 1770, and served as a member of Parliament and as secretary to the Treasury. In 1823, he helped to negotiate a free-trade policy as president of the Board of Trade. He was fatally injured in an accident during the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway on September 15, 1830.
George Canning was born on April 11, 1770, and served as treasurer of the Navy under Prime Minister William Pitt in 1804. He held the position of prime minister for four months in 1827, until his death on August 8 of that year.
Spencer Perceval was born on November 1, 1762, and was trained as a lawyer. He entered Parliament in 1796 and succeeded the 3rd Duke of Portland as Prime Minister on October 4, 1809. He remained in office until he was assassinated in the House of Commons in 1812.
Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet, was born on April 22, 1772. He joined the Royal Navy in 1781, eventually ascending to the rank of rear admiral. He served during the Napoleonic wars and in the War of 1812, during which he commanded the burning of Washington, D.C., and was later elected to Parliament. He died on August 19, 1853.
- Acquisition Information:
- 1934-1991. M-234, M-271, M-273, M-510, M-514, M-1512, M-2714.5 .
- Processing information:
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I: Correspondence
- Subseries I: Chronological Correspondence
- Subseries II: Alphabetical Correspondence
- Subseries III: Bundled Correspondence
- Subseries IV: Letter Books
- Series II: Diaries
- Series III: Political, Legal, and Judicial Manuscripts
- Series IV: Financial Records
- Series V: Poetry
- Series VI: Lists and Indexes
- Series VII: Subject Volumes
- Series VIII: Printed Materials
- Series I: Correspondence
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Alternate LocationsThe following maps are housed in the Map Division:
- From Plan Published at the Imprimerie Imperiale, 1806. 1806.
- From Thier's Atlas. 1806.
- [Vicinity of Alessandria And Marengo]. 1806.
- Whitehaven Harbour, 1836. 1836.
The following map has been cataloged in the library's online catalog: Shawe, Matthew. [Positions of French and British Armies Outside Bayonne]. St. Jean de Luz, 1813.Selected letters from this collection are published in the following volumes:
Several other collections in the Manuscripts Division hold material by and related to Croker, including the following:
- Croker, John Wilson, and Bernard Pool. The Croker Papers 1808-1857. New and abridged edition. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1967.
- Croker, John Wilson, and Louis John Jennings. The Croker Papers: The Correspondence and Diaries of the Late Right Honourable John Wilson Croker...1809 to 1830. Second edition, revised. London: J. Murray, 1885.
- George Canning papers
- Henry Peter Brougham, Baron Brougham and Vaux papers
- Henry Goulburn papers
- Pulteney Malcolm papers
- Viscounts Melville papers
- John Baker Holroyd, Earl of Sheffield papers
- War of 1812 collection
- The Clements Library also holds several books by and about Croker. Search for these on the University's online catalog.
- A partial bibliography of other collections of John W. Croker papers is available in the Manuscripts Division.
- A report on the provenance of the Croker papers is available in the Manuscripts Division.
- A list of pen and ink drawings within the Croker papers is available in the Manuscripts Division.
Aspinall, Arthur C. V. D. "George Canning." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 14 August 2013.
Extract from a Diary of Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, with Particular Reference to Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte, on Board H.M.S. "Northumberland," Bearing the Rear-Admiral Flag. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1888.
Knowles, Michael David. "Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 14 August 2013.
"Spencer Perceval." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 14 August 2013.
Thomas, William. "Croker, John Wilson (1780-1857)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online edition. Oxford University Press, 2004. DOI: 10.1093/ref:odnb/6738
"William Huskisson." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 14 August 2013.
- Alternative Form Available:
Some letters have been published. See the additional descriptive data below.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
- Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815.
Great Britain. Admiralty.
Great Britain. Parliament.
Quarterly review (London, England)
Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821.
Canning, George, 1770-1827.
Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount, 1769-1822.
Cockburn, George, Sir, 1772-1853.
George III, King of Great Britain, 1738-1820.
Huskisson, W. (William), 1770-1830.
Lockhart, J. G. (John Gibson), 1794-1854.
Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859.
Perceval, Spencer, 1762-1812.
Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of, 1769-1852.
Dublin (Ireland)--Description and travel--Early works to 1800.
France--Description and travel.
Great Britain--Politics and government--1789-1820.
Great Britain--Politics and government--1830-1837.
United States--History--War of 1812.