Manuscripts and Special Collections

Key themes

The emphasis of the material selected for this site is largely political in nature, though each of the chosen themes provides some insight into wider social and economic developments of the period.

This resource has a section for each theme, containing:

  • An overview of the theme, based on a particular diary entry
  • Other diary entries with commentary explaining their relevance (letters are sometimes used in lieu of relevant diary entries)
  • Full-size images of the diary entries, with embedded transcripts of the relevant sections
  • A list of other primary sources with commentary explaining their relevance
  • Full-size images of these primary sources, with downloadable transcripts
  • Suggested further reading for each theme

More information about these themes, and why they have been identified, is given below. 


Theme 1: The South Nottinghamshire Election of 1846

The by-election in this parliamentary constituency was necessitated by the decision of Newcastle’s son, the Earl of Lincoln, to accept the office of Chief Secretary to Ireland, having recently come out in support of the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Newcastle’s public opposition to repeal, and to his son’s political choice, stimulated a severe election contest. This raised issues relating to the degree of electoral influence which leading property owners like Newcastle could deploy, as well as insights in to the personal relationship between the duke, his heir and the county.


Theme 2: Working Class Unrest - Luddism, Riots and Reform, and Chartism

'Working Class Unrest - Luddism, Riots and Reform, and Chartism' explores the Duke of Newcastle's responses to three popular movements advocating change which emerged during the early-nineteenth century. Luddism in the 1810s and Chartism in the 1830s and 1840s found active support in Nottinghamshire; Luddism in particular was closely associated with changes in the economic life of the county. The agitation in favour of the Great Reform Bill in the early 1830s in Nottingham culminated in October 1831 with riots, and the burning down of Nottingham Castle and a silk mill in Beeston.

Newcastle’s role as Lord Lieutenant (1809-39) and his attitude towards those movements offer an insight into the ways in which an aristocrat and country gentleman confronted problems associated with social, economic and industrial change during the period.


Theme 3: Ireland

The British connection with Ireland, formalised through the Act of Union of 1800, was at the heart of many of the political debates of the 1820s-1840s. Religious, economic and political differences between the two nations caused tensions between those who supported reform in Britain and Ireland, and those (like Newcastle) who were firm advocates of the Union and the Protestant supremacy.

Newcastle was a vehement opponent of Catholic Emancipation, which was granted in 1829, and of the proposed 'Maynooth Grant'. His 'Two Letters, In Opposition to Any Increased Grant Or Endowment of Maynooth College in Ireland', published in 1845, provoked responses from both sides of the argument.

In addition to exploring these two issues, 'Ireland' presents background material on the social and economic condition of the country prior to the Famine of the late 1840s.


Next page: Overview for South Nottinghamshire Election 1846


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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