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Letters from eminent people, surnames A-B, to Mary and William Somerville and others, autographs, and related papers, 1791-1969 and n.d.

Dep. c. 369
Held at the Weston Library

  • Request

(The contents of Folders CELE-2 - CELE-4 below were apparently assembled for occasional display at Somerville College.) Comprises:

Folder CELE-1: autographs removed from documents, n.d., including those of J.F.W. Herschel, [astronomer], T.S. Raffles, [colonial governor], John Soane, [architect], and J.M.W. Turner, [landscape painter]

Folder CELE-2: letters and papers by or relating to Mary, 1848-1969 and n.d. [c.1872], including:

  1. newspaper obituary, n.d. [c.1872]
  2. M.R. Apted, Two Painted Ceilings from Mary Somerville's House, Burntisland, from Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. XC1, 1957-58
  3. Elizabeth C. Patterson, Mary Somerville, from The British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. IV Part IV No. 16, Dec 1969

Folder CELE-3: correspondence regarding the composition of the ballad 'Flowers of the Forest' between Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Somerville and Jane Elliot, Jan-Feb 1801; letters and leaves from an autograph book containing whole letters and autographs, 1817-1835 and n.d., including a letter of introduction signed by [The Marquis de] Lafayette, no addressee, Paris, 9 Jul 1823

Folder CELE-4: papers relating to Anne Isabella Noel Byron, Lady Byron, and her daughter, Ada Lovelace, including:

  1. letter from [Lady] Byron to Mary, 12 Jan 1859, referring to her grandchildren, Annabella and Ralph
  2. letter from A[da] Lovelace to Agnes Greig regarding her research on poisons, 5 Feb 1841
  3. remedies for various complaints, n.d.
  4. sonnet, 'The Rainbow', by A[da] Lovelace, n.d.

Folder CELE-5: autographs removed from documents, n.d., including those of Charles Babbage, [mathematician], [Joseph Louis] Gay-Lussac, [scientist], and Roderick Murchison, [geologist]

(For folder CELE-6 see Dep. b. 157)

Folder CELE-7: index in Mary's hand of her 'Letters from celebrated people Scientific, Literary and Political, Diploma[t]s, Family papers and Ancient documents[,] autographs etc.', with alphabetical series of envelopes and covers which held the letters, n.d. [c.1860]

Folder MSA-1: letters received by Mary and William Somerville and others, 1826-1873 and n.d., from correspondents including:

  1. George Airy, [Astronomer Royal 1835-1881], inviting Mary and William to the Observatory at Cambridge, 30 Mar 1832; regarding a scientific paper by Sir W. Morison, 8 Jul 1848; and conveying information for Mary about methods of recording astronomical phenomena and changes of terrestrial magnetism and temperature, in a letter to J.B. Pentland, 11 Sep 1868
  2. the Duke of Argyll, regarding his writing on 'the Reign of Law', 25 Jan 1867, and family and other matters, 1867-1873
  3. Sarah Austin, [editor and translator], requesting an introduction for a friend, 22 Oct no year [c.1850]
  4. Other correspondents: Charles Adams, John Allen, Amici, Ampere, Antinori, Arago.

Folder MSB-1: letters received by Mary and William Somerville and others from Charles Babbage regarding progress with his 'Calculating Engine' and other matters, and referring to Mary's work, mathematical calculations and astronomical observations, 1828-1841 and n.d. [c.1840]

Folder MSB-2: three letters received by William Somerville from George Back, [Arctic explorer], regarding invitations to visit, Feb 1838; poem by [Anna] Barbauld, 'Lines written at the close of the year 1822. By Mrs Barbauld in her 80th year', n.d. [c.1822], 1822-1838

Folder MSB-3: letters received by Mary and William Somerville from Joanna Baillie, [poet and dramatist], and other members of the Baillie family, 1821-1851 and n.d., regarding Joanna Baillie's illness, her work, and other matters

Folder MSB-4: letters received by Mary and William Somerville and others, 1831-1870 and n.d., from correspondents including:

  1. Francis Baily, [astronomer], regarding his study of the compression of the earth and other matters, 1831-1836
  2. Dr Adolph Barth, regarding his translation of Physical Geography into German, 30 Oct 1850
  3. Other correspondents: H. Bailliere, M.J. Berkeley, Adrian de Balbi, Jean Baxter

Folder MSB-5: letters received by Mary and William Somerville, 1834-1836, from correspondents including:

  1. [Rear Admiral] F[rancis] Beaufort, [Hydrographer of the Navy], regarding the naming of a vessel 'Mary Somerville' by William Potter, merchant in Liverpool, 27 Oct 1834
  2. Henry Beaufoy, [son of Colonel Mark Beaufoy, astronomer and explorer], presenting the first volume of his father's Nautical and Hydraulic Experiments to Mary, 7 Jul 1834
  3. Other correspondents: William Potter.

Folder MSB-6: Correspondent: Mary Berry, [author], 1831-1838

Folder MSB-7: Correspondent: Caterina Bon-Brenzoni, [poet], 1853-1856

Folder MSB-8: Correspondent: [Jean-Baptiste] Biot, [physicist, astronomer and mathematician], 1817-1833

Folder MSB-9: letters received by Mary and others, 1791-1848 and n.d., from correspondents including:

  1. Hugh Blair, [minister of religion, author and rhetorician] commenting on Mary's landscape painting, n.d. [c.1795]
  2. George Birkbeck, [doctor and founder of Birkbeck College, London], regarding Mary's attendance at an event at the London Mechanics' Institution, 17 May 1834
  3. George Boole, [mathematician and logician], regarding the gift of some mathematical tracts and drawing Mary's attention to the publication of a paper on the 'Calculus of Logic', 26 Apr 1848
  4. Other correspondents: Elizabeth Blackwood, F. Booth

Folder MSB-10: letters received by Mary and William Somerville from [Alexis] Bouvard, [astronomer], 1831-1834, one to William, 25 Sep 1834, annotated in Mary's hand 'from M. Bouvard giving me some important Astronomical results'

Folder MSB-11: letters received by Mary and William Somerville from [Sir] David Brewster, [natural philosopher], mainly regarding his reviews of Mary's publications, 1834-1847 and n.d.

Folder MSB-12: letters received by Mary and other family members, 1832-1867, from correspondents including:

  1. W[illiam] Broderip, lawyer and naturalist, regarding Himalayan plants, 15 Mar 1832
  2. H[enry] Bowditch, regarding a possible review by Mary of work by his father, Nathaniel Bowditch, [mathematician], and other matters, 1835-1838
  3. Other correspondents: Charles Bronson, Alex Young

Folder MSB-13: letters received by Mary and William Somerville from Henry Brougham, [Lord Brougham and Vaux, Lord Chancellor 1830-1834], 1826-1860 and n.d., including correspondence regarding Mary's writing of the work to be published as The Mechanism of the Heavens

Folder MSB-14: letter from [Lord] B[yron], to John Murray referring to an alteration to his work, 12 Apr 1814

Folder MSB-15: letters received by Mary and other family members, 1832-1869 and n.d., from correspondents including Josephine Butler, [social reformer and women's activist], 1869 and n.d. [1869 and c.1869]

  1. requesting a contribution from Mary for a volume of essays that she is editing
  2. regarding scientific education for women
  3. regarding claims that an attempt is to be made in Parliament to legalise prostitution
  4. encouraging Mary to join a new association of women, involving Harriet Martineau and Florence Nightingale, [the Ladies National Association]
  5. Other correspondents: William Buckland, Charles Buller, Sir Henry Bunbury.

Folder MSB-16: manuscripts by Charles Babbage, comprising

  1. 'An Essay Towards The Calculus Of Functions', n.d., in two parts, published in Philosophical Transactions [15 Jun 1815 and 14 Mar 1816]
  2. 'Observations on The Analogy Which Subsists between the Calculus of Functions and other branches of Analysis', n.d., published in Philosophical Transactions [17 Apr 1817]
  3. 'Observations on the Notation Employed in the Calculus of Functions', n.d. , published in Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society [1 May 1820]
  4. 'On the Influence of Signs in Mathematical Reasoning', n.d., published in Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society [16 Dec 1821]


  • Creation: 1791-1969 and n.d.


1 box (23 folders)

Language of Materials

  • English


Dep. c. 369

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom