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Papers of Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert (1841-1924), Balliol 1860 (Fellow 1864, Bursar 1871-1874)

Biographical note

Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert (1841-1924), Balliol 1860 (Fellow 1864, Bursar 1871-1874) is the central figure of this Collection. He married, aged 34, Jessie Bradley (died ca 1924) in 1874. His papers were passed about and divided between various members of the family in the 60 years following his death and are now very scattered: see the National Archives Discovery catalogue and the Appendix on ”The Ilbert Papers”  to Mary Bennet, The Ilberts in India 1882-1886 . An Imperial Miniature (1995).

Tom Winnifrith writes:

'CPI was the eldest son of the Rev Peregrine Ilbert, rector of Thurlestone, Devon. The Ilberts were a family of Devon squires, still living in Bowringsleigh which has a two mile drive. At one stage an Ilbert married a Courtenay, the family name of the Earls of Devon. But there was little money for younger son.s CPI was a success at the newly founded Marlborough School, whose headmaster Cotton continued to correspond with CPI after he became Bishop of Calcutta. There are copesi of his letters in these files [see Ilbert 16].

'The next Headmaster of Marlborough was GG Bradley, one of Arnold's young masters [from Rugby School]. He became the Master of University College, Oxford, and it was his niece, Jessie Bradley, who married CPI in 1874. CPI's father-in-law was a clergyman... one of his sons went to Marlborough, the bad and Australia. Another daughter, Meta... became involved in a notorious scandal with Mark Pattison, Rector of Lincoln [College, Oxford]. In his [the Rev Bradley's] will he left her his forgiveness. By contrast Jessie was the soul of respectability.

'Jessie Bradley's grandfather was born in 1789. His first wife died, and in about 1840, his son, Jessie Bradley's [future] father, said that he wished his father to meet a young lady in whom he [the son] was interested. "The Lord's will be done" said the old man, and married the young lady himself, siring the philosopher FH Bradley and the literary critic AC Bradley (Balliol 1869).

'Jessie and CPI had five daughters. One, Olive Heseltine, a minor novelist, friend of Virginia Woolf, wrote a not very accurate account of the family, entitled Lost Content. One married HAL Fisher, Warden of New College. Her daughter, Mary Bennett, wrote The Ilberts of India. Another married Sir George Young.'

Provenance and Arrangement

The Collection had been arranged, bundled and annotated by more than one member of the Ilbert family before it arrived at Balliol. Because the bundles were loose, many  items had not remained in place. The whole was cleaned up and repackaged in acid-free folders and box, but the arrangement as found was preserved.  The papers were given to Balliol College by CP Ilbert and Tom Winnifirth, both great-grandsons of the main subject of the papers, some time after 1995.A further accrual was given to the College by Tom Winnifrith in 2014.

Extent: 2 archive boxes.

Related material: Marlborough School, India Office.


Ilbert 1. Provenance & accession

Ilbert 1.01. 1 letter by Thomas John Winnifrith,one of Ilbert’s great grandsons,  to PA Bulloch, then Fellow Librarian, 9 Oct 2007,

Ilbert 1.02. Ilbert’s  photographic carte de visite, nd, but Ilbert appears apparently aged about 30: sepia photograph by OG Rejlander, London. Enclosed with the above letter

Ilbert 1.03Notes on the Collection by JHJ, 2010-2013.

Ilbert 2. Letters by Ilbert to his parents and sister Helen Ilbert  (who died unmarried in 1934), 1860-1918.

|Ilbert 2.01. Ilbert to his father from Balliol, 14 Dec 1860 .....“I saw the Queen on Wednesday, she is dreadfully like a plain cook .She came in to see Balliol chapel , with Prince Albert & the other swells , Princess Alice &c”...

|Ilbert 2.02. Ilbert to his sister Helen from Lincoln’s Inn, 13 Feb 1868. Mostly in comic verse about a legal case.

|Ilbert 2.03. Ilbert to his sister Helen from Lincoln’s Inn, 21 Nov.

|Ilbert 2.04. Ilbert to his father from Lincoln’s Inn, 10 Nov 1870.

|Ilbert 2.05. Ilbert to his sister Helen from Lincoln’s Inn, 4 June 1872.

|Ilbert 2.06. Ilbert to his sister Helen from Lincoln’s Inn, 13 May 1874.

|Ilbert 2.07. Ilbert to his sister Helen from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, 12 Mar 1889.

|Ilbert 2.08. Ilbert to his sister Helen from Fox Warren Cobham 1July 1895.

|Ilbert 2.09. Ilbert to his mother Rose Ann Ilbert (née Owen; sister of Lewis Welsh Owen, Blundell Fellow of Balliol) from the Athenaeum, 15 June 1896.

|Ilbert 2.10. Ilbert to his sister Helen from 67 Gloucester Place Portman Square, 26 Dec 1897

Ilbert 2.11. Ilbert to his sister Helen from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, 2 Aug 1900.

Ilbert 2.12. Ilbert to his sister Helen from Speaker’s Court, 3 Nov 1918.

Ilbert 3. Congratulatory letters. 55 items

All to Ilbert, all in their original envelopes: (a) twenty-three re the Hertford Scholarship 1861 and (b) thirty-two re the Ireland Scholarship 1862.

Ilbert 4. Diaries

Printed engagement diaries used by Ilbert to make post-event and expenditure notes 1862, 1863, 1869, 1871, 1874, 1875; and a notebook used by him as a detailed diary 18 Oct-29 Nov 1873.

Ilbert 5 & 6. Undergraduate essays.

Two filled quarto notebooks containing undergraduate essays, all in Ilbert’s hand.

5. A brown notebook signed “CP Ilbert” on the front cover and dated at the end of the first essay 8 Nov 8 1861 and at the end of the last 28 Nov 1862.

6. A black notebook signed “CP Ilbert” and dated Dec 1862 on  the flyleaf; the last essay is dated 30 Nov 1863.

Ilbert 7. Letters. 21 items

Twenty-one congratulatory letters to Ilbert and his father on Ilbert’s election to a Balliol Fellowship, 1864. Mostly in their envelopes, but there has been some confusion.

Ilbert 8. Letters from CP Ilbert

Seven letters by Ilbert to his wife from Balliol, probably all or most ca 1877. None are dated as to year and only one has its envelope. Ilbert was acting as Bursar of Balliol when these letters were written, but resident in London almost all the time.    

Ilbert 9.

Papers re Ilbert’s call to the Bar, 1869, the Eldon Scholarship, 1867, and his proposed candidature for the Vinerian Readership, 1874, including original autograph testimonials for the last (writers: Henry Thring, Henry Jenkyns, TH Farrer, George  Osborne  Morgan, Horace Davey, and Charles Bowen, all of whom are in the ODNB). If he did stand for the Vinerian Readership in 1874, he was unsuccessful, as WR Anson was elected.

Ilbert 10. Jowett Letters. 69 items.

Letters from (67) or about (2) Jowett to Ilbert and his wife, many more to the latter than former, dated without years in many cases, but spanning at least 1880-1893. Arranged and numbered 1-68 by a member of the Ilbert family previously, but one which is now numbered 16a was missed. The ordering and numbering are not fully logical, but have not been corrected. The envelopes were with one exception not preserved. Except where stated they were written from Oxford.

Ilbert 10.01. Jowett to Ilbert himself, 17 January. Mentions Ilbert’s little daughter; Jowett is going abroad on Tuesday week. 

Ilbert 10.02. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 28 April.  

Ilbert 10.03. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 22 Oct.  

Ilbert 10.04. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, Thursday.  

Ilbert 10.05. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 12 Feb.

Ilbert 10.06. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 14 Jan.

Ilbert 10.07. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 28 Jan.

Ilbert 10.08. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 15 Dec on Eton notepaper.

Ilbert 10.09. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 13 Mar 1880.

Ilbert 10.10. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 17 July 1877. Invitation to meet the Campbells on Saturday. Jowett hopes the child is flourishing.

Ilbert 10.11. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, nd, on Airthrey Castle Stirling notepaper,as from Sir W Maxwell’s. Jowett will meet her at Crieff on Thursday.   

Ilbert 10.12. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, nd, no place.

Ilbert 10.13. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 9 April, from West Malvern.

Ilbert 10.14. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 21 Dec from Torquay (address after 26 Dec Oxford) .Poor Knight( Matthew Knight, Jowett’s Secretary)  is very ill.

Ilbert 10. 15. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 23 Dec 1880, on Addington Park Croydon notepaper, as from Oxford. Jowett passes on advice from Charles Bowen on Ilbert’s career plans, and adds his own, that Ilbert should “get the habit of training up younger men such as Milner to work for him”.

Ilbert 10.16. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 17 April 1881, on Abinger Hall notepaper as from Oxford .Jowett has been passing proofs for Thuycides; he asks her to deal with exchanging a large silver dish for a set of forks and a tea kettle.

Ilbert 10.16a. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 22 Jan 1882.

Ilbert 10.17. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 20 Feb 1882. The Ilberts are soon to go to India.

Ilbert 10.18. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 1 April from West Malvern, as from Oxford. Jowett is sorry to  have read in the newspaper that day about the death of her father, whom he had met when he had visited the Ilberts to say goodbye, After reminiscing about her father (who had belonged, Jowett believed ,to  a “marvellous family of 21 children”), Jowett continues about the lives and deaths of Arnold  Toynbee and HJS Smith.

Ilbert 10.19. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 2 Sept 1883 .He has heard that the Ilberts are “a good deal spoken against in Calcutta society” and sends his advice Indian politics.

Ilbert 10.20. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, from West Malvern 23 Mar 1883.A long letter, much of it reflective re lost close friends (AP Stanley, TH Green, Hugh Pearson, AC Tait, HJS Smith, Arnold Toynbee).  Jowett’s “dear Sister” had passed away. The College was “flourishing” and the Vice Chancellorship had enabled Jowett to do some things he could not otherwise have done “especially for the non collegiate students”. ”We all hear of ‘Mr Ilbert’s Bill‘ in England…. I certainly see no reason why an English blackguard should not be sentenced by a respectable native”.

Ilbert 10.21. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 1 Jan 1884. A long letter with comment on political matters especially re India, and the compromise over the Ilbert Bill .The Rector of Lincoln is dying. Oxford will be found much changed when the Ilberts return. ”The Ladies are coming to be examined & I expect they will appear in great numbers for they can come without residence for any Examination or part of an Examination. They have clearly got a better bargain than the men.”

Ilbert 10.22. not found 2013.

Ilbert 10.23. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 20 Aug 1883. A long letter similar in content to numbers 20 and 21.

Ilbert 10.24. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 21 Sept 1884 from St Andrews. A long letter similar in content to numbers 20, 21, and 23.

Ilbert 10.25. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 5 Nov 1885. . A long letter similar in content to numbers 20, 21, 23, and 24.

Ilbert 10.26. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 26 Aug 1886. He is glad to hear that the Ilberts are coming home.

Ilbert 10.27. Jowett to Ilbert himself, 7 Dec 1886. He is glad the Ilberts are back in England, and hopes they will all visit soon. 

Ilbert 10.28. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife,  nd , no place.

Ilbert 10.29. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 19 Jan 1887. He wants Ilbert’s help settling his will; Ilbert has agreed to be an Executor.

Ilbert 10.30. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 13 July. He invites her to come with her children for as long as she likes.

Ilbert 10.31. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 16 July. He sends his thoughts on her impending “critical day” and urges that she takes it easy  afterwards; would she like Miss Knight to come? ”She has the advantage of being a friend & servant in one “.

Ilbert 10.32. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 25 July 1887, from West Malvern. Quoted in Letters of Benjamin Jowett, 221.

Ilbert 10.33. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 28 July, from West Malvern. He is shortly to attend a meeting at Westminster Deanery re the “troublesome and difficult subject- the life of Arthur Stanley”. Quoted in Letters of Benjamin Jowett, 222. 

Ilbert 10.34. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 16 Dec.

Ilbert 10.35. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, nd, from St Andrews.

Ilbert 10.36. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 19 Sept, on Camperdown notepaper as from Oxford.

Ilbert 10.37. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 23 Sept, from Airlie Castle, as from Oxford.  

Ilbert 10.38. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 18 Jan.

Ilbert 10.39. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 4 Mar.

Ilbert 10.40. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 24 Jan 1890. 

Ilbert 10.41. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 6 June 1890.

Ilbert 10.42. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 9 July 1890.

Ilbert 10.43. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 9 Oct 1890.

Ilbert 10.44. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 3 Feb. With its envelope postmarked Oxford 4 Feb 1991 and 4 Feb 1991 London.

Ilbert 10.45. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 2 July 1891.

Ilbert 10.46. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 6 July 1891.

Ilbert 10.47. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, postcard postmarked Ottery St Mary 4 Sept 1891, in an untidy unfamiliar hand, with a brief message from ”J” saying he is going north to Mereval Abbey on Tuesday.

Ilbert 10.48. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 5 Oct 1891, dictated to Martha  Knight ( Jowett’s housekeeper) but signed by Jowett although he was unwell. He writes about seeing Florence Nightingale a few days previously; she had said that young ladies could be taken in at the London Hospital for a few months, and he suggested “giving Lettice & her sisters a taste of this noble art”.

Ilbert 10.49. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 16 Oct 1891, dictated to Martha Knight and signed by her as from him. In valedictory style, he writes of death and nursing, mentioning his ”two friends, Nurse … and Nurse Holbrook” who could not have nursed him better.

Ilbert 10.50. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, dictated to Martha Knight but closed and signed by him, nd, no place. He mentions being engaged with a College meeting and an architect; he also thanks her for the tomatoes.  

Ilbert 10.51. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, dictated to Martha Knight but signed by him, 24 Nov. He says he has been eating the tomatoes (thereby confirming the dating of number 50) but his main point is to ask her to get Ilbert to give Evan Charteris  (Balliol 1887), Lord Wemyss’s youngest son, a trial; his mother is Jowett’s old friend.

Ilbert 10.52. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 1 Dec, dictated to Martha Knight but closed and signed by Jowett. He thanks her regarding “young Charteris”.

Ilbert 10.53. Martha Knight herself to Ilbert’s wife, nd, no place. ”The Master is, I quite think, better than he himself believes “.The tomatoes are mentioned, thereby dating the letter.

Ilbert 10.54. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 13 Mar.

Ilbert 10.55. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, nd from Blackmoor, Petersfield. ”We are in great …at Balliol ….death of our dear friend Nettleship”.  

Ilbert 10.56. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife,  nd no place but dated “-/92” in another hand .Evidently written just before number 55, because Jowett says he will be at Lord Selborne’s Blackmoor Petersfield in  a day or two.

Ilbert 10.57. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 21 Jun 1892. Introducing BJ Watkin.

Ilbert 10.58. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 4 Oct .He seeks her help in doing up his house.

Ilbert 10.59. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 24 Oct.

Ilbert 10.60. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 9 Oct 1892.He has consulted Charles Bowen over whether Ilbert should apply for silk.

Ilbert 10.61. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 6 Dec 1892.

Ilbert 10.62. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 4 Jan, from Headley Park Hants.

Ilbert 10.63. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 15 Mar 1893.

Ilbert 10.64. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 15 May 1893.

Ilbert 10.65. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, 25 Aug 1893.

Ilbert 10.66. Sir William Henry Broadbent (ODNB) to Ilbert’s wife, 18 Aug 1893.

Ilbert 10.67. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, dictated to Martha Knight but signed by him, 30 Aug. Quoted in Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett  II ,429.

Ilbert 10.68. Jowett to Ilbert’s wife, dictated to Martha Knight but signed by him, 12 Sept. Quoted in Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett II ,430.

Ilbert 11. Blackburn Correspondence. 45 items

Forty-five cards and brief letters from John Morley, 1st Viscount Blackburn (ODNB) to Ilbert’s wife 1887-1913, mostly trivial in content (re dinner invitations and so on ) .

Ilbert 12. Broadbent Letters. 6 items

Six letters to Ilbert and his wife from and about Sir William Henry Broadbent (“Jessie’s Doctor”) 1902-1907.

Ilbert 13. Letters, ca 100 items

Two bundles of about fifty congratulatory letters each, mostly to Ilbert’s wife, from friends and family, on (a) Ilbert’s appointment as Clerk to The House of Commons, 1902, and (b) his KCB 1908.

Ilbert 14. Letters to Ilbert and his wife 1865-1901. 19 items

Ilbert 14.01. Edward Colquhoun Boyle (matriculated Trinity College Oxford 1856) to Ilbert from the Hotel de Crocelle Naples Jan 16 1865. A long emotional farewell letter.

Ilbert 14.02. Arnold Toynbee (ODNB) to Ilbert from 5 Bevington Road 12 March 1882, advising in detail on books to read in preparation for his work in India.

Ilbert 14.03. William Rogers (ODNB) from Bishopsgate Rectory to Ilbert, 25 March 1887 inviting him to dine and meet Jowett.

Ilbert 14.04. JW Mackail (ODNB) to Ilbert from 6 Pembroke Gardens, 21 Dec 1903 attaching one of the same date from his wife Margaret Mackail to Ilbert’s wife

Ilbert 14.05. Francis W Hirst (ODNB) to Ilbert’s wife from 1 Mitre Court Buildings, 18 July 1903.

Ilbert 14.06. LS Amery (ODNB) to Ilbert’s wife from 2 Temple Gardens, 23 Nov 1903. He thanks her for her good wishes.

Ilbert 14.07. John Shearne Thomas, to Ilbert from his sisters’ house, W Stafford Dorchester Dorset, 28 Aug 1897. He tells Ilbert. He will soon die from inoperable cancer (he did a month later); he congratulates Ilbert on his daughters “monopoly of the First Class” and reports Marlborough College (of which he was for many years Bursar) successes with affection.

Ilbert 14.08. Ilbert’s father from Thurlestone Rectory to Ilbert at 20(sic) Davies Street London, 14 Feb 1867, with its envelope.

Ilbert 14.09. Ilbert’s father from Thurlestone Rectory to Ilbert at 28(sic) Davies Street London, 23 Mar 1867, with its envelope.

Ilbert 14.10. AMS Methuen (ODNB as AMM Methuen formerly Stedman) to Ilbert’s wife from New Place Haslemere, 6 May 1901. He mentions Mr Belloc (Hilaire Belloc),”a very clever fellow” and refers to “the whole problem (South Africa) - military and political “, on which Belloc has warned: he sends a draft of a book he has written on the subject for comment.

Ilbert 14.11. HAL Fisher from the Examination Schools Oxford to Ilbert’s wife (“Dear Lettice’s mother “), 12 July  1899.

Ilbert 14.12. HAL Fisher from 19 Second Avenue 19 Jan 1903 to Ilbert’s wife (“My dear Mother-in-Law”) about the death of his father.
George Granville Bradley (ODNB) to Ilbert (“Dear Courtenay”) from the Deanery Westminster 26 May 1889. He was Ilbert’s  sometime Marlborough College Headmaster as well as an uncle by marriage.

Ilbert 14.13. GG Bradley to Ilbert’s wife (“Dearest Jessie”) from the Deanery Westminster 30 May 1889. He was her paternal uncle.

Ilbert 14.14. GG Bradley to Ilbert’s wife (“Dearest Jessie”)  from the Albion Hotel Eastbourne, as from the Deanery Westminster, 26 May 1889.
Morris Hudson to Ilbert from the Hermitage Guildford, 28 April 1901. Gossip from Mr Partington of Newman St the picture cleaner and restorer re the Gainsborough (Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire)  stolen 25 years before which had just been recovered  .

Ilbert 14.15. “Effie Smith” (in a childish hand) from The Knoll Harrow, Thursday  25 June 1874, to Ilbert wishing him and Jessie Bradley well .She was EF Boswell Smith, the eight-year old daughter of Ilbert’s Marlborough College  friend Reginald Bosworth Smith.

Ilbert 14.16. Reginald Bosworth Smith from The Knoll Harrow to Ilbert. Three long letters, none dated, but one acknowledging a letter from Delhi and alluding to the Ilbert Bill, so about 1883.

Ilbert 14.17. Francis Glynne Hume from Oakeley Rectory 5 May 1904 to Ilbert’s wife.  

Ilbert 14.18. Reginald Stephen Copleston (ODNB) from Ceylon, signing RS Colombo, 17 Jan 1899 to Ilbert’s wife.

Ilbert 14.19. Reginald Stephen Copleston from Chittagong on The Palace Calcutta notepaper 16 Jan 1905, signing RJ Calcutta, to Ilbert’s wife.

Ilbert 15. Miscellaneous Papers 1864-1900. 4 items

Ilbert 15.01. An empty envelope addressed to Ilbert, postmarked Tiverton 2 Dec 1864 and Oxford 3 Dec 1864.

Ilbert 15.02. A printed visiting card from Mr & Mrs Robert Campbell of 37 Elvaston Place Queens Gate in an unaddressed unsealed envelope bearing an elaborate monogram RC on the outside of the flap and the printed name Marian Lucy Ilbert on the inside of the flap. Marian Lucy Ilbert married Robert Campbell in 1867. She was Ilbert’s sister.

Ilbert 15.03. Some translations from Greek verse in Ilbert’s hand, nd in a postal envelope addressed Miss Helen Ilbert postmarked London 2 Aug 1900 and   Kingsbridge 3 Aug 1900: the envelope flap is embossed Parliamentary Counsel Office.

Ilbert 15.04. “Christmas Week at Lincoln’s Inn. An Elegy”. Comic verse.  signed C.P.I. Lincoln’s Inn 30 Dec  1871.

Ilbert 16. 2014 accession

This material has not yet been described at item level. It consists of more than 100 letters, including

  • most of the letters CPI and his wife wrote to each other during separations in their courtship and early married life, before the family joined CPI in India, and when he was based in Calcutta (Kolkata) while the family were at their summer residence in Simla (Shimla).
  • copies of letters from Cotton (Headmaster of Marlborough)
  • documents from CPI's time in India
  • letters on special occasions
  • letters from CPI to his sister Helen

- John Jones December 2010, rev. 2012 and 2013, ed. & augmented by Anna Sander.

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