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Archive of the Noel, Byron and Lovelace Families


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The main part of this collection of papers belonged to Annabella, Lady Byron. It includes the correspondence of her parents, Sir Ralph and Judith Milbanke (later Noel) and other members of the Noel family, which formed the basis of Malcolm Elwin's The Noels and the Milbankes (1967). Lady Byron's own correspondence, much of it with eminent contemporaries, as well as with her parents, her husband, the poet Byron, and her daughter, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, forms the bulk of the collection. There are also letters from Lord Byron to his sister Augusta, and holograph verse by him. The collection also contains correspondence of Ada and her husband William, 1st Earl of Lovelace, used by Doris Langley Moore in her biography Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1978). These papers all came to Ada's son Ralph, who became Baron Wentworth in 1862 and Earl of Lovelace in 1893. He worked through them, making extensive transcripts, and printed extracts from them in Lady Noel Byron and the Leighs (1887) and Astarte (1905). The transcripts and his own correspondence and personal papers were added to the family collection, and were in turn used by his widow Mary for her Ralph, Earl of Lovelace: A Memoir (1920).


  • Creation: 1669-1930


50.6 Linear metres (460 Shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • German
  • Greek, Ancient (to 1453)

Conditions Governing Use

No publication without the written permission of Paper Lion Ltd. ( on behalf of the owner.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. Dep. Lovelace Byron 1, fols. 1-3].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

Dep. Lovelace Byron 1-460

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 13844


Papers of Annabella, Lady Byron (1792-1860), including papers of her parents, Sir Ralph and Judith Milbanke (later Noel), papers of her daughter, Ada Byron (later Lady Lovelace), and her grand-children, Ralph King (2nd Earl of Lovelace) and Anne Blunt.

Biographical / Historical

Sir Ralph Milbanke (1747-1825), 6th Baronet of Halnaby and MP for Durham, married Judith Noel (1751-1822), eldest daughter of 1st Viscount Wentworth in 1777. On the death of Judith's brother, Thomas Noel, 2nd Viscount Wentworth in 1815, Ralph and Judith changed their surname to Noel. They had only one child, Anne Isabella, known as Annabella (1792-1860), although they had previously adopted Sophie Curzon, the daughter of Judith's sister Sophia who died in 1782. Annabella Milbanke married the poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) in 1815 but the marriage was unhappy and the couple separated in 1816, having had one child, Ada, born the previous year. Annabella, a philanthropist and social reformer, brought her daughter up alone. She took the name Noel when her mother died in 1822 but continued to be known as Lady Byron. She became Baroness Wentworth in 1856 on the death of her cousin Nathaniel Curzon, Baron Scarsdale. Her daughter, Ada Byron (1815-1852), a mathematician and computer pioneer, married William King (1805-1893), 8th Baron King of Ockham in 1835. He was created Earl of Lovelace in 1838. They had three children: Byron Noel (1836-1862), Anne Isabelle Noel (1837-1917) and Ralph Gordon (1839-1906). The sons were successively Baron Wentworth, and the younger son, Ralph, succeeded his father as the 2nd Earl of Lovelace. Further biographical details can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which has entries for Lady Byron, Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace and her daughter Anne Blunt.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers descended through the Wentworth title to their present owner, John, Earl of Lytton, who deposited them in the Bodleian Library in 1972 and 1974.


  • The correspondence of the Noel family formed the basis of Malcolm Elwin's The Noels and the Milbankes (1967)
  • The correspondence of Ada and William King was used by Doris Langley Moore in her biography Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1978)
  • Ralph Milbanke made extensive use of the collection in Lady Noel Byron and the Leighs (1887) and Astarte (1905).
  • Ralph's widow, Mary, used his correspondence and personal papers for Ralph, Earl of Lovelace: A Memoir (1920).
Catalogue of the archive of the Noel, Byron and Lovelace families
Finding aid prepared by Mary Clapinson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom