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Papers of the Earls of Clarendon (2nd Creation)


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Comprises working, family and personal correspondence; journals; working, financial and estate papers; official and personal printed material and ephemera including ephemera for many royal events; genealogical papers; photographs; and objects belonging to the Villiers family, the Earls of Clarendon (2nd Creation) and their immediate predecessor, Viscount Cornbury.

[N.B.: In this catalogue year dates prior to the 1752 switch to the Gregorian calendar use the year given in the record. In manuscripts pre-dating 1752 where the record dates from 1 January to the Julian calendar's New Year on 25 March, therefore, the year date by modern reckoning will be a year ahead of the one given. In some instances, the letter or manuscript writer has written the date as (for example) 2 February 1754/55, in which case the Gregorian year has been given (1755).]


  • Creation: 1612-1967, n.d.


61.5 Linear metres (370 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Material of a sensitive personal nature is closed, and some material is closed for preservation reasons.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to copy material must be obtained from the rights holder.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 16644/3].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 16644/1-350; MSS. 16644 photogr. 1-14; JL 1012, JL 1024-1025, JL 1044-1046

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16644


The family archive of the Earls of Clarendon (2nd Creation), including the papers of George W.F. Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon and Victorian statesman, and George H.H. Villiers, 6th Earl of Clarendon and Governor-General of South Africa in the 1930s.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Hyde, Viscount Cornbury and fifth Baron Hyde of Hindon (1710–1753), politician, was the third but eldest surviving son of Henry Hyde, fourth earl of Clarendon and second earl of Rochester (1672–1753). Cornbury died unmarried a few months before the death of his father, the 4th Earl of Clarendon (1st Creation). This left the Clarendon title extinct until it was claimed by Thomas Villiers, who was the husband of Cornbury's niece, Lady Charlotte Villiers (née Capell). Thomas Villiers then became the 1st Earl of Clarendon (2nd Creation). For full details on Viscount Cornbury see Dictionary of National Biography.

Thomas Villiers, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1709–1786), diplomatist, was the second son of William Villiers, second earl of Jersey (c. 1682–1721). He served as envoy-extraordinary to the court of Augustus III, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, and then resident minister at Berlin and the court of Frederick the Great. In 1748 he retired from diplomatic work and became a Member of Parliament, and then after being created Baron Hyde of Hinton joined the House of Lords. The Hyde baronetcy became the courtesy title of the eldest sons of the earls of Clarendon, and the house Thomas Villiers purchased, The Grove, near Watford, was the family's country seat until the 1920s. On 2 September 1763 Thomas Villiers joined the privy council, and later that month was appointed joint postmaster-general. He was chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster from 14 June 1771 to 1782. In 1776 he obtained the title Earl of Clarendon through his wife, Lady Charlotte, a descendent of the last earl of the first creation, Henry Hyde. For full details on Thomas Villiers see Dictionary of National Biography.

In 1786 the earldom was inherited by the eldest son of the 1st earl, Thomas Villiers, 2nd Earl of Clarendon (1752-1824) who was a Tory Member of Parliament for Christchurch from 1774-1780 and Helston from 1781-1786, until he joined the House of Lords in 1786. He died unmarried and was succeeded by his youger brother John Charles Villiers.

John Charles Villiers, 3rd Earl of Clarendon (1757-1838), politician and lawyer. In 1782 he was made joint king's counsel in the duchy court of Lancaster by his father the 1st Earl of Clarendon, who was then chancellor of the court. He became Member of Parliament for the "rotten" borough of Old Sarum in the administration of William Pitt and had several court appointments including comptroller of the king's household. In 1790 he became a commissioner in the Board of Trade, and was elected MP for Dartmouth, which he represented until 1802. Following the Villiers family tradition of diplomacy, he was briefly envoy to the court of Portugal from 1808-1810. He married his first cousin Maria Eleanor Forbes in 1791 but they had no surviving children. He was succeeded by his nephew, George William Frederick Villiers. For full details see Dictionary of National Biography.

George William Frederick Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon (1800-1870), diplomatist and liberal statesman, was ambassador at Madrid, 1833-1839, Lord Privy Seal, 1839-1841, President of the Board of Trade, 1846, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1847-1852, Foreign Secretary, 1853-1858, 1865-1866, 1868-1870 and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1864. In 1839 he married Lady Katharine Barham, the widow of politician John Foster Barham, the daughter of James Walter Grimston, 1st Earl of Verulam. For full details see Dictionary of National Biography.

George Villiers was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Edward Hyde Villiers, 5th Earl of Clarendon (1846-1914), politician. He was a Liberal Unionist peer (and briefly MP for Brecon before becoming earl in 1870) and lord-in-waiting to Queen Victoria (1895-1901) and Lord Chamberlain of the Household to Edward VII (1901-1905). He also served as Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire from 1893-1914. He married Lady Caroline Agar, daughter of James Agar, 3rd Earl of Normanton, in 1876. Lady Caroline (known as Nina) died in 1894 and in 1908 he married Emma Hatch. He had two children by his first marriage, including his only son, George, who inherited the title.

George Herbert Hyde Villiers, 6th Earl of Clarendon (1877-1955), public servant and courtier. Known as Bertie, the 6th Earl of Clarendon followed in the family footsteps as a courtier and colonial governor, serving as aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1902-1905, and as Governor-General of South Africa from Jan 1931-Mar 1937. He also served as the first chairman of the newly chartered British Broadcasting Corporation (1927-1930). Like his father, the 6th earl was appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household and served one of the longest tenures in history (1938-1952), retiring just before the coronation of Elizabeth II. He married Adeline Verena Ishbel Cocks, known as Verena, in 1905. They emigrated to Canada in 1911 to run a fruit farm near Toronto but returned after the 5th earl died in October 1914. In April 1935, the 6th Earl's eldest son, George, Lord Hyde (b. 6 May 1906) died in a hunting accident in South Africa, leaving behind a two year old son who would succeed to the title as the 7th Earl of Clarendon. For full details on the 6th Earl of Clarendon see Dictionary of National Biography.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased via Sotheby's, 2019.

Related Materials

There are numerous collections of Clarendon (Villiers) family papers in the Bodleian Library. The main collections are:

Papers of George William Frederick Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon, with papers of related families [MSS. Clar. dep. b. 33-38; c. 1-104, c. 125-149, c. 178-226, c. 246-278, c. 327-347, c. 357-426, c. 428-432, c. 441-510, c. 520-562; MSS. Clar. dep. Irish boxes 1-82, Clar. dep. Irish vols. 1-28; MS. Film 34]

Additional papers of George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon, with papers of Sir Thomas Villiers Lister [MSS. Eng. hist. c. 1034, d. 483; Eng. lett. c. 538, d. 514-19] Additional papers of the Earls of Clarendon (2nd creation) and the Villiers family [MSS. 11555/1-38, MS. 11555 photogr. 1]

Archive of Katharine Villiers, Countess of Clarendon, with letters of Lord Clarendon, and miscellaneous family papers [MSS. Eng. c. 2082-2181, d. 2048-2054, e. 2074-2132]

Catalogue of the papers of the Earls of Clarendon (2nd creation)
Charlotte McKillop-Mash
Language of description
Script of description
The archive was purchased with the generous support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Friends of the National Libraries, Kenneth Rose Trust Fund, Roy Davids Trust and Friends of the Bodleian.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom