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Papers of the Harcourt family


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The papers comprise A. miscellaneous correspondence and papers of the early Harcourts, (mainly that of Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, and his immediate family), 1638-1749; B. correspondence and papers of the Earls Harcourt, Feb. 1731-Jan. 1829; C. correspondence and papers of the Vernon-Harcourt family, Jan. 1777-Mar. 1884; D. royal letters (predominantly to the Earls Harcourt), 1751-1826, 1885-1910; E. volumes of verse and literary works, [1710?]-1871; and F. guard-book of loose items found in bound volumes, 1707-1908.


  • Creation: 1600-1910, n.d.


7.2 Linear metres (72 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • French

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. d. 3828, fols. 1-2].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. c. 7559-7568; d. 3828-3888; e. 3653

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6231-2


Correspondence and papers, mainly 18th-19th cent., of the Harcourt family of Stanton Harcourt and Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire, 1600-1910.

Biographical / Historical

Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, was born c.1661, the son of Sir Philip Harcourt and his first wife Anne (nee Waller). He was called to the Bar in November 1683. He served as MP for Abingdon, 1690-1705. In May 1703 he was appointed Solicitor-General and was knighted on 1 June. He was elected as MP for Bossiney, Cornwall, in 1705, having lost his Abingdon seat. In April 1707 he was appointed Attorney-General and held the office until his resignation in February 1708. He was again elected MP for Abingdon in 1708 but was unseated on petition in January 1709. In 1710 he acted as defence counsel for Henry Sacheverell at his impeachment trial in the House of Lords. He was elected MP for Cardigan boroughs in 1710 and in September again took office as Attorney-General before being appointed Lord Keeper in October. He was created Baron Harcourt on 3 September 1710. In April 1713 he was appointed Lord Chancellor. He retained the Lord Chancellorship until September 1714. He was created Viscount Harcourt on 24 July 1721. He was married three times. His first wife, whom he married in 1680, was Rebecca, daughter of Thomas Clarke, who died in May 1687. He married his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Spencer, c.1695. She died in June 1724. He married his third wife Elizabeth (c.1678-1748), daughter of Sir Thomas Vernon and widow of Sir John Walter, in September 1724. He died 29 July 1727. (see ODNB for a full biography).

Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt, was born in 1714, the only son of the Hon. Simon Harcourt (c.1684-1720) and his wife Elizabeth (d.1760), daughter of John Evelyn. The Hon. Simon Harcourt was the only son of Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, and his first wife Rebecca to survive to adulthood. Harcourt became 2nd Viscount Harcourt upon the death of his grandfather in July 1727. He undertook the grand tour, 1730-4. In May 1735 he was appointed a lord of the bedchamber to George II. He served during the Dettingen campaign of 1743. In 1749 he was created Earl Harcourt. In 1751 he was appointed governor to George, Prince of Wales, but resigned in November 1752. In July 1761 he was appointed ambassador and plenipotentiary to negotiate the marriage of George III to Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1768 Harcourt was appointed ambassador to France and served until his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in June 1772. He served as Lord Lieutenant until his retirement in January 1777. He died at Nuneham Park on 16 September 1777. He wife Rebecca, daughter of Charles Sambourne Le Bas, whom he married in 1735, predeceased him in 1765. (See ODNB for a full biography).

George Simon Harcourt, 2nd Earl Harcourt, was born 1 August 1736, the eldest son of Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt, and his wife Rebecca. He was styled Viscount Nuneham until his succession as 2nd Earl Harcourt in September 1777. He attended the grand tour, 1754-6. He married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter of George Venables-Vernon, 1st Baron Vernon, and Martha, daughter of the Hon. Simon Harcourt, in September 1765. His wife Elizabeth Harcourt, Countess Harcourt, was appointed a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte in 1783. The 2nd Earl Harcourt died in April 1809. His wife died in January 1826.

William Harcourt, 3rd Earl Harcourt, was born 20 March 1743, the second son of Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt. He was commissioned a Captain of dragoons in October 1759 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in November 1764. He served in the war against Britain's rebelling American colonies, 1775-8. He was promoted to Colonel in August 1777 following his capture of the American Major-General Charles Lee in December 1776. He attained the rank of Major-General in 1782. He commanded the 1st brigade of cavalry in the army commanded by the Duke of York in Flanders, 1793-5. He was promoted to Lieutenant-General in October 1793 and took command of the Flanders army in December 1794. He succeeded as 3rd Earl Harcourt upon the death of his brother George Simon Harcourt, 2nd Earl Harcourt, in April 1809. In 1821 he was elevated to the rank of Field Marshall. He died on 17 June 1830. He married Mary (1750-1833), daughter of William Danby and widow of Thomas Lockhart, in September 1778. They had no children. (See ODNB for a full biography).

Edward Harcourt (formerly Venables-Vernon) was born 10 October 1757, the second son of George Venables-Vernon, 1st Baron Vernon, and his wife Martha, daughter of the Hon. Simon Harcourt. He was consecrated Bishop of Carlisle in November 1791. He was elevated to the archbishopric of York in January 1808. From 1811-18 he served as a member of the council appointed to advise Queen Charlotte during the illness of George III. In June 1830 he succeeded to the estates of his cousin William Harcourt, 3rd Earl Harcourt, and from thence assumed the surname Harcourt. He married Lady Anne (1761-1832), daughter of Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Gower, in February 1784. They had sixteen children. Harcourt died 5 November 1847. (See ODNB for a full biography).

George Granville Harcourt (formerly Venables-Vernon) was born 9 June 1788, the eldest son of Edward Harcourt, Archbishop of York. He served as MP for Lichfield, 1806-31, and as MP for Oxford, 1831-61. He succeeded to the Harcourt estates upon his father's death in 1847. He was married twice. He married his first wife Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Bingham, 2nd Earl of Lucan, in 1815. They had one daughter, Elizabeth Lavinia. Lady Elizabeth died in 1838. He married his second wife Frances Waldegrave, Dowager Countess Waldegrave (1821-79), in September 1847. They had no children. Harcourt died 17 December 1861.

William Vernon Harcourt (formerly Venables-Vernon) was born 1 June 1789, the fourth son of Edward Harcourt, Archbishop of York. He served in the navy, 1801-6. He was ordained in 1814. He served as canon residentiary of York Minster, 1824-63. He was the first president of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, 1823-31, and played a pivotal role in the construction of the Yorkshire Museum. He was one of the founders of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1831 and served as its first general secretary, 1832-7. His own scientific interests centred on geology. He succeeded to the Harcourt estates in December 1861 following the death of his brother George Granville Harcourt. He married Matilda Mary Gooch (1804-76) in 1824. They had seven children including the Liberal politician Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904) and Matilda Maria Louisa Vernon Harcourt (1826-39). Vernon Harcourt died 1 April 1871. (see ODNB for a full biography).

Edward William Harcourt was born 26 June 1825, the eldest son of William Vernon Harcourt. He served as MP for Oxford, 1878-86. He married Lady Susan (d.1894), daughter of George Holroyd, 2nd Earl of Sheffield, in June 1849. They had two children. He died in 1891.


The papers were arranged and bound into volumes by Edward William Harcourt during the last quarter of the nineteenth century in preparation for their publication as The Harcourt Papers (1876-1901). MSS. Eng. d. 3842-6, however, were arranged and bound in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, almost certainly by George Simon Harcourt, 2nd Earl Harcourt. The papers in MS. Eng. c. 7562 were given to Lewis Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcout, in 1907 by a Mrs Deedes. Mrs Deedes had come into possession of the papers through her father William Bernard Harcourt (d.1847) and her grandfather Marquess Amédée Harcourt's inheritance of William Harcourt, 3rd Earl Harcourt's St. Leonard's Hill estate. MSS. Eng. c. 7564-7 were arranged and bound by Lewis Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, during the first quarter of the twentieth century. MS. Eng. d. 3858 was given to Lewis Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, by Philip Morrell in 1908. The papers appear to have been arranged on a largely ad hoc basis with the result that the correspondence of multiple individuals has been mixed within the same volume. A series based arrangement has been produced by placing a volume into the series of the individual or family whose correspondence comprises the majority of the volume.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were allocated under the Acceptance in Lieu of Tax Scheme on 6 March 2008.

Catalogue of papers of the Harcourt family, 1600-1910
Finding aid prepared by Matthew Neely
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom