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Recent acquisitions: manuscripts: eighteenth-century papers

Jeremy Black


THIS article seeks to draw attention to three valuable collections recently acquired by the British Library. Each contains correspondence that throws much light on a prominent individual, in the first case William Pitt the Elder, first Earl of Chatham, in the other two George III. Taking these collections in chronological order the earliest is Add. MS. 71170, purchased at Christie's on 7 May 1993. This consists of letters addressed to Francis Ayscough, Dean of Bristol, and Clerk of the Closet to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Ayscough (1700-63) was an able Whig who owed his advancement to the Lytteltons and Pitts. The volume includes a letter from Thomas Pitt of 1755, an anonymous account of the Lords debates over Byng in 1757, and ten letters from William Pitt. They reveal him in a more intimate light than he usually offered and are herewith printed. The first was sent on 15 November 1730 from Boconnoc, the Pitt estate in Cornwall. This anonymous letter is not described as by Pitt in the provisional catalogue entry, which mentions only nine of his letters, but Pitt was indeed at Boconnoc that month, 'more and more out of temper with the remoteness of this cursed hiding place'.

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