Manuscripts and Special Collections

Catalogue records

The Newcastle archive (Ne) and parts of the Portland papers (Pw) have been the subject of two significant funding grants in recent years, resulting in the creation of detailed, item level descriptions with full indexes. These descriptions can be searched via the Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

Papers relating to General Clinton in the Mellish archive (Me), and items within the Galway archive (Ga), and the remaining parts of the Portland papers (Pw) also relate to the subject themes illustrated within 'Conflict'. Detailed catalogues for these collections are also available on the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, but they have not been indexed.


Using the Manuscripts Online Catalogue

From the opening search screen of the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, click on 'Search the main catalogue - Catalogue records'. You can conduct a free text search across multiple fields by typing a keyword into the 'AnyText' box.

Users should note the following:

  • A record will only be returned if it contains the exact search term - any differences in spelling, etc, will mean that some documents may not be retrieved.
  • When using a commonly used term, users may find themselves faced with numerous false hits. For example, if you wished to retrieve documents by or about General Clinton, and used 'Clinton' as a search term, you would also retrieve every document relating to other members of the Clinton family.

If you find you are retrieving a number of false hits, you can narrow your search down by using the other search options. For instance, type your required search term into the 'AnyText' box, and also type 'Me' into the 'DocumentRef' box. This will ensure that only results from the Mellish archive are retrieved.

Searches can also be narrowed down by date. Type your required search term into 'AnyText', and also type the exact year, or a range of years, into the 'Date' field. You can even combine this with a 'DocumentRef' search to target the search still further.

Remember to try alternative spellings if there are no initial results. 


Name indexes (selected collections only)

By selecting 'Search the main catalogue - Indexing - person/corporate name' in the opening search screen of the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, you will be able to access individual name authority terms. When you view a name authority record, you can choose to see all manuscript catalogue records associated with it. For example, you can view the record for the 1st Earl of Portland (enter ‘Bentinck' as surname and 'William' as forename) and then choose to view the manuscript catalogue records that relate to that name.

For more information about people mentioned in 'Conflict', see the series of Biographies.


Place indexes (selected collections only)

By selecting 'Search the main catalogue - Indexing - place' in the opening search screen of the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, you can search all of the place name authorities included within the system. Therefore, if you wish to know more about events in a particular place, you could access information by entering the place name in the 'PlaceEntry' field. This will retrieve the name authority term for that place, and will enable you to link to every catalogue record containing information about the place. 


Suggested searches using subject terms (selected collections only)

Free text searching cannot provide access to concepts - that is, terms or ideas which are not mentioned explicitly in the description. For example, a letter to William Bentinck, later 1st Earl of Portland, may be all about the Glorious Revolution, but may not say so specifically. The Newcastle and most of the Portland papers have been catalogued using subject terms including the following:

  • revolutions, Glorious Revolution 1688
  • diplomacy
  • armies, troops
  • intelligence, reports
  • religious affairs
  • navies, fleets
  • Jacobites
  • Scottish affairs, 1745 uprising
  • armies, Jacobite
  • parliamentary business
  • military campaigns, Scotland
  • military campaigns, North America
  • wars, American War of Independence
  • American affairs
  • naval actions


To search for these subjects in the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, go to 'Search the main catalogue - Catalogue records', and enter the words into the 'Term' box.

You can search for more than one subject term at a time. There are two ways of doing this:
  • search for a term, choose 'search again' and narrow/widen/exclude the search each time
  • specify multiple terms (single words only) in the same search, and choose the Word option 'OR'.

Both are demonstrated by the following examples.

Bentinck's friendship with William of Orange and his role in helping him to the English throne, 1668-1689
Search for:
'Bentinck' in Title/Description and '1668-1689' in Date
Browse results

The religious atmosphere in Britain, 1679-1689
First search:
'1679-1689' in Date and 'religious affairs' in Term
Second search (exclude):
'AN' in Document ref
Browse results

This search excludes records from the Archdeaconry of Nottingham collection (AN). These are concerned with presentments to the ecclesiastical court for failures in religious observance. Although interesting from a local perspective, they are not directly relevant to this wider question.

The 'Glorious Revolution' in general
Search for:
'Glorious Revolution' in Term and '1687-1689' in Date
See results

Jacobites in 1745-1746
First search:
'Jacobite Jacobites' in Term, with 'match any of the words (OR)' selected
Second search:
'1745-1746' in Date
See results

Military affairs in Scotland, 1745-1746
First search:
'Scottish affairs' in Term and '1746-1746' in Date
Second search (narrow):
'military' in Term
See results

Jacobitism in general (1689-1755)
Search for:
'Jacobite Jacobites' in Term, with 'match any of the words (OR)' selected; and 'Item/File' selected in Level
See results

The American War of Independence
First search:
'American war of independence' in Term
Second search (widen):
'1775-1783' in Date, and 'military campaigns, north America' in Term
See results

Naval actions during the period of the American war
'1775-1783' in Date; and 'naval actions' in Term
See results

This search brings up correspondence relating to naval actions in Europe and Asia as well as the Caribbean and America. 


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651