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Description found in Archives

Private Letters exchanged with the Colonial Secretary [textual record] 

Sub-sub-series consists of


8 December 1846-22 March 1855

Place of creation

Various places

27.5 cm of textual records.

Scope and content

This sub-sub-series brings together the Private Letters received from Lord Grey, 1846-1852, and from his successors at the Colonial Office, to January 1855, with a few letters from subordinate officials there; plus drafts and copies of private letters sent by Lord Elgin to Lord Grey and his successors, 1846-1854. Enclosures generally remain with the incoming letters. Some enclosures (as originals or as copies) appear with the outgoing letters, as noted in the descriptions of individual items. In one case, Elgin forwarded the text of a formal despatch he had decided to cancel, with commentary on his reasons for so doing. Envelopes, wrappers or postal covers are conspicuous by their absence from this series. Lord Elgin expanded a long-standing practice of writing Private Letters to address issues considered too personal or too sensitive for the official channel of communication by despatches between the governor and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. At the Colonial Office, despatches were routinely read and digested by subordinate officials. Private letters, however, came under the eyes of only their author and addressee, and their trusted private secretaries. Comparison of the drafts and copies in this series with the letters received by Lord Grey (in MG 24, A 10), and Lord Grey's drafts or copies (especially where both formats survive) with the letters received by Lord Elgin will reveal much about the process of composition, and the part played by trusted secretaries (notably Elgin's brother Robert Bruce) in compiling the texts or making copies. Note that the dating of drafts occasionally differs from that of the letters received by Lord Grey.

Textual records
90: Open
from 30 to 35
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Additional information

Custodial history
As received, the bundles of private letters appeared undisturbed, bar one missing letter (to Benjamin Hawes, 18 July 1854). The page numbering is consecutive through volumes 30-31, but separate for each of volumes 32-35. The incorporation of the 20 original drafts found astray with the Walrond transcripts REMAINS TO BE VERIFIED. The placement of SIX transcripts, for which no originals have been found, REMAINS TO BE VERIFIED. The subtleties of distinguishing between the original drafts and Walrond transcripts resulted in several errors in selection for filming. Bundle 2A contained one transcript where a draft exists, and bundle 2B contained several instances of both drafts and transcripts of August-September 1854 being filmed.

Availability of other formats note
The entire series of letters received by Lord Elgin is available on microfilm (reel A-397, as Bundle 3). Two drafts of letters to Lord Grey, and all drafts of letters to his successors and their subordinates at the Colonial Office are available on microfilm (ree A-396, as bundles 2A and 2B, respectively.)