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Letters of Edward Lyulph Stanley

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 232

Scope and Contents

Eight exercise books containing copies of letters, which were written by Stanley during a tour of Civil War America in 1864, undertaken in the period between his leaving Oxford and being called to the Bar. Most are addressed to his mother and sister, but were intended to be circulated and read together, providing a single picture. Stanley was very interested in examining the causes and course of the conflict from both the Union and Confederate perspectives, and secured introductions to leading political, military, social and intellectual figures through his father, who was a cabinet minister in Lord Palmerston’s government. Stanley prepared for his visit, assiduously recorded his observations and became a shrewder interpreter as he developed knowledge and confidence. Stanley spent much time in New York and Washington, and had several interviews with Secretary of State William Seward, who introduced him to President Abraham Lincoln. Stanley was the guest of General George Meade during a visit to the Army of the Potomac and dined with General Ulysses S. Grant. He visited the battlefields of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, a camp for black troops at Arlington Heights, Confederate prisoners of war at Fort McHenry, and a large military hospital outside Philadelphia.

Stanley reported at length upon conversations revealing Northern wartime opinion, and discussed the violent Anti-Draft Riots that convulsed New York City in 1863, and the views of the Copperheads (anti-war Democrats). He attempted to diffuse hostility towards Britain caused by its recognition of the South’s status as a belligerent. Stanley also had introductions to a galaxy of American literary figures including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was able to gauge Southern opinion during visits to Baltimore, and during a lengthy stay in Louisiana. Keen to observe slavery and the plantation system at first hand, he visited a sugar plantation near New Orleans, where conditions were said to have changed little since Emancipation. Travel by railway and steamship gave him the opportunity to hear the views of more ordinary Americans. Stanley’s letters reveal a keen interest in American education, and he visited many public, charitable and Negro schools, anticipating his future career as an educationalist. Finally, his travels also took him briefly to the province of Canada, where plans for the federation of British North America were gathering pace, in part in response to tensions created by the Civil War. In Quebec Stanley met the Attorney General George-Étienne Cartier, who played a critical role in the Confederation of Canada in 1867.


  • Creation: 1864-03-12 - 1864-09-23

Conditions Governing Access

For conservation reasons, this collection may only be consulted on microfilm reel MC88.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Lyulph Stanley, fourth Baron Sheffield, fourth Baron Stanley of Alderley, and third Baron Eddisbury (1839-1925) was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford. He was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1865. Stanley became interested in public education and was a firm supporter of its popular, secular control. In 1876 he was elected a member of the London school board, representing Marylebone, and served until 1904 (with one break during 1885-88). Stanley was elected Liberal MP for Oldham in 1880 but was defeated in the 1885 election. He served on royal commissions examining the housing of the poor and the Elementary Education Acts, and was one of the founding members of the National Education Association in 1888. In 1897, Stanley was appointed vice-chairman of the London school board, a position he occupied for seven years. Between 1904 and 1919, he served as Chairman of the Anglesey education committee. From 1895, Stanley expounded his views on education in a number of journal articles, some of which were collected as 'Our National Education' (1899).


1 archive box(es) (8 vols in 1 box) : paper

Language of Materials


Related Materials

A letter from Stanley to John Massie, dated 25 June 1910, is filed in the Manuscripts Department at MS Add.8988/150.


This catalogue entry was entered by MJC.


Stanley, Edward Lyulph (1839-1925) 4th Baron Sheffield, educationist

Includes index.
2016-07-08 11:41:45+00:00
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Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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