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Papers of the Morier Family


 The Morier Papers begin with Isaac Morier (1750-1817), a merchant of Swiss extraction who went out to Smyrna, first to find work with his uncle, and then, on the uncle's death, joining the business of David Van Lennep, the Dutch consul, as a clerk. He became a British subject a year later, in order to join the British Levant Company, and in 1778 married Clara Van Lennep, the consul's eldest daughter.

 Due to the disastrous effect of the war upon trade, Isaac went bankrupt in 1803, and was obliged to spend the rest of his life away from his family, working in Constantinople as the first consul-general of the Levant Company until 1806, then as the British Consul and agent to the East India Company, until his death in 1817.

 His papers, from 1778 up to his death, are from Smyrna, Malta and Constantinople, and contain information on the commercial and political life of the region.

 Isaac's wife, Clara Morier (1760-1834), was one of a large family, and the archive contains not just her letters, but those from the families of two of her sisters. Cornelia Jacoba Van Lennep married Captain the Hon William Waldegrave, later the 1st Baron Radstock, and letters from both him and his son, Captain Granville Waldegrave (the 2nd Baron Radstock), are listed. Anna Van Lennep married the Comte (later Marquis) de Chabannes la Palice, and there are also letters from the Chabannes children to their Morier cousins.

Clara Morier established herself in England, writing regularly to her four sons, and especially to David Morier, while they in turn wrote back, describing their work to her and their three sisters, Emily, Maria (who married the Rev Vyvyan Arundell, and went back to live in Smyrna), and Clara, known as Tolla.

The eldest Morier son, John Philip Morier, or Jack (1778-1853), also went out to Smyrna in 1794, to work in the family business. There are about a hundred letters from him while in Smyrna, with interesting information about the area, and the commercial life there, but in 1799 he became private secretary to the ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Elgin, and was sent to report on the Ottoman expedition in Egypt against General Kléber, remaining with the army for six months. Both his letters from that time and his printed account of the campaign are in the archive.

In 1803, John Philip was made Consul General for Albania, and a few letters from this period survive; in 1810 he went to Washington as secretary of legation, then on to Spanish America as a commissioner, and was sent on a special mission to Norway in 1814. On his return to England he was for a short time acting under-secretary for foreign affairs in August 1815. Very little information is held in the archive about these posts, apart from one packet of letters from Norway. Letters from him and his wife Horatia, or Racey (née Seymour), whom he married in 1814, do however survive from his final posting, when he went as envoy extraordinary to Dresden, from 1816 to 1825, after which he retired to England.

The next of the Moriers, James Justinian Morier (1782-1849), also followed a diplomatic career, but is better remembered as an author. Like his elder brother, he went into the family business at Smyrna in 1799, without having the slightest taste for it, as his letters from that period, again with plenty of information on Smyrna life and business, make clear. However, in 1807 he joined Sir Harford Jones's diplomatic mission to Persia as his private secretary. He remained in Persia until 1816 (with two visits back to England, out of which came two records of his travels, A Journey through Persia, Armenia, and Asia Minor to Constantinople in the Years 1808 and 1809, and A Second Journey through Persia), serving first under Sir Harford, then his successor, Sir Gore Ouseley. His highly descriptive letters and drawings from this time form a particularly interesting part of the archive.

Apart from a brief period of special service as a commissioner in Mexico (1824-1826), from which some letters survive, James Morier spent the rest of his life as a writer. Most of his works hark back to his time in Persia, and the best-known of them, The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824), is supposed to have been based on the Persian envoy to England in 1819, whom James Morier had to look after, Mirza Abul Hasan Khan. This and other works are frequently mentioned in the Morier letters.

James Morier married Harriet Fulke Greville in 1820, and their son Greville has a place in the archive, from his journal of a trip to Rio de Janeiro and North America 1847-48.

By far the largest set of papers in the archive is taken up by the letters of the third Morier son, David Richard Morier (1784-1877), as both he and his wife were indefatigable correspondents, keeping up a steady stream of extremely informative letters throughout his career.

Unlike his brothers, David Morier went straight into the diplomatic service in 1804, joining John Morier in Albania, first as secretary to the mission, then, in 1807, becoming his brother's deputy when John Morier returned home. In the next year he was attached to Sir Arthur Paget's mission to the Dardanelles, taking part in the negotiations leading to the 1809 treaty, and those to release British prisoners of war from Egypt. With Robert Adair, he went on a secret mission to the Greek islands, afterwards joining Adair's embassy at Constantinople. He then spent eight months from 1809-10 with Sir Harford Jones in Persia, before returning to Adair at Constantinople, and remaining there from 1810-12, as secretary of legation under Adair's successor, Stratford Canning.

Shortly after David Morier's return to England with Canning, he was attached to Lord Aberdeen's mission to Vienna. From 1813-15, he was in the thick of the negotiations over the settlement of Europe, first with Aberdeen, then with Castlereagh at Chatillon-sur-Seine, Paris, and the Congress of Vienna, where he also served as one of Wellington's secretaries.

In 1815 Morier accompanied Castlereagh to Paris, and when work on the treaties was completed, took up his post as Consul General there, also becoming a commissioner for the settlement of the claims of British subjects on the French government. He held the position of Consul General until 1832, and then, after a very brief retirement, was made minister plenopotentiary to the Swiss Confederation at Berne until his final retirement in 1847, following a serious disagreement with Lord Palmerston. There are a large number of official letters in the archive from his time in Switzerland, including several from Palmerston and Lord Granville.

There is a separate class for those who were regular correspondents of David Morier, mostly old friends from his days in Persia and Turkey, most notably Stratford Canning.

David Morier's wife, Anna Morier, (d.1855), whom Morier married in 1815, daughter of Robert Burnet Jones, Attorney-General for Barbados, likewise sent out a constant correspondence from Paris and Berne, mainly with her mother, Elizabeth Jones. Her letters, although mostly concerned with her own family, also contain a fair amount of political comment on events in France and England, besides giving a lot of information on Parisian society, particularly on the English community in Paris.

The fourth Morier brother, William Robert Morier, (1790-1864), did not take up a diplomatic career. He went into the navy instead, seeing service in the Mediterranean and off Lisbon from c1807 to c1813, and commanding the sloops "Harrier" and "Childers" on the North Sea station in 1828. He retired after becoming post-captain in 1830, and attained the rank of retired rear-admiral in 1855, and vice-admiral in 1862, marrying Fanny Bevan in 1841.

William Morier's letters are mainly from his time in the Mediterranean, and after his retirement.

David Morier's son, Sir Robert Burnet Morier, (1826-1893) (see separate catalogue), together with his four sisters, also has a number of letters in the collection, mainly from his early days at school and at Oxford. He followed his father into the diplomatic service, starting off as unpaid attaché at Vienna in 1853, then paid attaché at Berlin in 1858, and from 1866 to 1876 served at Frankfurt-with-Darmstadt, Stuttgart and Munich, finally leaving Germany to become minister at Lisbon.

Nearly all his letters in this archive are from this early period in his career; later, after five years in Lisbon, he was transferred to Madrid in 1881, which post he held for three further years. Finally, he took up his last position as ambassador at St Petersburg, which he held from 1884 until his death in 1893.

In 1861 Burnet Morier married Alice Peel, the daughter of General Jonathan Peel (1799-1879), (younger brother of Sir Robert Peel) and Lady Alice Peel (daughter of Archibald Kennedy, first marquis of Ailsa).

Peel joined the army in 1815, too late to see active service, but reached the rank of lieutenant-general by purchase, selling out in 1863. His main career lay elsewhere, as he entered parliament in 1826 as one of the members for Norwich, exchanging in 1831 for the borough of Huntingdon. He continued to hold this seat for the rest of his political career, finally retiring from parliament in 1868.

During Sir Robert Peel's second period of office, 1841-46, his brother held the position of surveyor-general of the ordnance, then, first in 1858, and again in 1866-67, became secretary of state for the war department under Derby. He resigned in 1867, rather than support Disraeli's scheme of reform.

The archive holds some of his letters, which give his views on various political issues, but there are more letters received by him, from 1828-73, some of them from his colleagues in government, such as Lord Aberdeen, Lord Derby, and his brother Robert, mostly concerned with Peel's duties in the War Office. There are also letters from various other important figures, most notably Queen Victoria, who held Peel in affection and respect, and wrote to him on both political matters, and about her own family.

There are no letters written by Peel's wife, Lady Alice Peel, in the archive, but there are letters received by her from almost every figure of note from both England and France. Those from her French friends in particular (Achille Fould, the Orléans family, Thiers and Guizot, for instance), can almost be said to form a running commentary on French politics from 1837 to 1876. She could also count the British royal family, the Peels, most of the society hostesses of her day, and several Prime Ministers among her correspondents.

- Katrina Wilson, Modern MSS Asst, 1994

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