Manuscripts and Special Collections


Diary extracts (with transcripts) and other useful sources are discussed below.  Where possible, images of the source items have been provided and can be viewed online. 


Extracts from the Duke's diaries

12 Feb 1846 (Ne 2 F 7, p. 240)

The D. of Portland has been with me this morng. conferring about all passing matters especially about the elections here - he is most anxious to beat all the free traders - I cordially join him - my days are now passed in receiving & answering letters, giving audiences & foiling my treacherous agents -

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The 4th Duke of Newcastle under Lyne and the 4th Duke of Portland were neighbouring landowners in Nottinghamshire; Newcastle lived at Clumber Park and Portland at Welbeck Abbey. Their relationship before this period had not always been friendly. However, as this diary entry shows, they were united in their opposition to the repeal of the Corn Laws and combined their power and influence in order to defeat the free-trade candidates in the Nottinghamshire by-elections of 1846.

7 March 1846 (Ne 2 F 7, p. 248)

The D. of Portland called & remained some time to discuss election & other matters - he is as Keen & active as a young man - altho' [sic] he is nearly 78 year's [sic] old -

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Another entry demonstrating the interest which the 4th Duke of Portland took in the Nottinghamshire by-election contests. Portland's son, Lord George Bentinck, became the leading opponent of Sir Robert Peel's ministry and the repeal of the Corn Laws in parliament during this period.

22 Feb 1846 (Ne 2 F 7, p. 243)

I have had great pleasure in acting cordially with the D. of Portland & Ld Manvers, & I hoped that it was reciprocal among us each towards the others - but yesterday I perceived symptoms of hanging back on the part of the D. of P. & receding from his former good feeling towards Ld Manvers - I shall have a difficult card to play, I much fear, to keep them good friends.

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Another leading figure in Nottinghamshire politics and society was the 2nd Earl Manvers of Thoresby Park. This diary entry suggests that even their opposition to Sir Robert Peel and the repeal of the Corn Laws was not enough to prevent occasional difficulties and disagreements between them.

25 Feb 1846 (Ne 2 F 7, p. 244)

Went to Worksop to attend our justice meeting - I there saw almost every body I wished to see among others Ld Henry Bentinck who came to canvass, & Ld Galway - I took the opportunity of speaking to Ld Galway about standing for Bassetlaw - & I am sure that he was much pleased & will stand when the opportunity occurs - We shall now be prepared with proper candidates when required - About the same time as last night my express arrived Lincoln has been beaten by a large majority 688 or 689 - This is a noble triumph of principle - altho' [sic] I know that it will be a grievous blow to Lincoln, yet for his sake as well as the triumph of principle, I ought to hail the Salutary Check with thankfulness - for I trust that it may cause him to think of the sadly altered & mischievous course which he has adopted & so freely entered upon - not only in politics but towards me & others -

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The Earl of Lincoln was defeated in the South Nottinghamshire by-election on 25 February 1846, polling some 1049 votes to his opponent's 1736. Newcastle received the news by express the same evening and used his diary to record his feelings on the occasion.


Other relevant sources

Use the links to view images of these sources.  Transcripts are available for download:


The Duke of Newcastle asks for news of the North Nottinghamshire by-election

Within days of the Earl of Lincoln's defeat in the South Nottinghamshire contest, a poll was held for the Northern division of the county. The vacancy here was created by the death of one of the constituency's two M.P.s, Henry Gally Knight. Some doubts existed as to whether Lincoln would contest the seat on a free-trade platform. In the event, Lord Henry Bentinck, a younger son of the 4th Duke of Portland (who opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws) was elected.

The 4th Duke of Newcastle under Lyne wrote to Portland during the course of the election to gather news of the North Nottinghamshire by-election and to apologise for the difficulties caused by Lincoln's possible involvement in it. The letter demonstrates the extent to which personal relationships and national political events overlapped with one another in the South Nottinghamshire by-election and its aftermath.


The Duke of Hamilton offers support to Lord Lincoln's campaign

The Earl of Lincoln was married to the daughter of the 10th Duke of Hamilton, who was a leading Whig aristocrat. This letter shows the duke's attempts to encourage a reunion between Lincoln and his father, the 4th Duke of Newcastle. At the same time, Hamilton's own influence and resources allowed him to make a generous offer of financial and personal support for Lincoln's election campaign.


Lord Lincoln considers the influence of the Duke of Portland on the election

This letter reveals some of the hostility which the Earl of Lincoln felt towards the 4th Duke of Portland and his family for their role in his election defeat for South Nottinghamshire. The important financial role played by the duke in the contest is contrasted with the borrowed money which Lincoln has had to use to fight his own campaign.


Lord Lincoln expresses contempt for an opponent

The heated opposition raised by the repeal of the Corn Laws during the by-election for South Nottinghamshire is illustrated by this letter from the Earl of Lincoln. The letter indicates something of the bitterness which characterised relations between the two sides in the campaign, although Lincoln suggests that he has maintained friendly relations with the majority of those who opposed him in the contest.


Lord Lincoln receives expressions of support

This selection of letters indicates the respect and good standing in which the Earl of Lincoln was held both individually and as M.P. for South Nottinghamshire. The correspondents include those who have, or can exercise, influence on his behalf. Others, like E. W. Wilmot, are prevented from openly supporting Lincoln because of their close connection with the 4th Duke of Newcastle. Lincoln's popularity in the constituency was an important issue throughout the election campaign.


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