Skip to main content

Memoranda and brief diary kept by Thomas Rowcroft (1769-1824), British Consul General in Peru, the first British diplomatic representative there

 Single Item
MS. 16168

  • Request

The diary is kept in a printed memorandum book, Dunn's Law and Commercial Remembrancer, 1824. It briefly records Rowcroft's passage to South America on board the HMS Cambridge, arriving at Rio de Janeiro 21 Feb, Montevideo 25 Mar, transferring to the 'Moscow River' packet to Buenos Aires 1 Apr, arriving 2 Apr. The remainder of the journey to Lima was overland. Rowcroft notes the distances, and (13 Apr) a detour caused by an 'Indian incursion'. His party rejoin HMS Cambridge at Valparaiso, 8 May. They leave on 27 May and arrive in Lima 8 June where Rowcroft records sending 'dispatch no. 1' to Canning the Foreign Secretary on 11 June.

When Rowcroft arrived in Peru, the country was in a state of civil war, with the Spanish-backed royalists still holding out in Lima against General Simon Bolívar. The diary shows that Rowcroft was in frequent communication with General José Ramón Rodil (1789-1853), commander of Callao, the last Spanish stronghold on Peruvian territory. From October Rowcroft's entries reflect an increasingly disturbed scene as the Patriots close in on Lima. Rowcroft believes the royalists can hold out (2 Nov), and notes (13 Nov) that the suggestion of a congratulatory letter to Bolívar is 'ill judged'. On 3 Nov he records the 'first entry of the Patriots - with about 800 men – soon beat back'. On 17-18 Nov he purchases silver and gold, shipping it to the Bank of England on the 'Arab' Transport (25 Nov). On 21 Nov Bolívar dines on HMS Cambridge on its return from Chancay. 2 Dec Rowcroft notes 'Bolivars Cavalry entered & occupied Lima about 400'. The last entry is dated 3 Dec when Rowcroft asks for a passport to cross the lines back into Lima, having visited HMS Cambridge in the port of Callao. There follows a memorandum on the next page (4 Dec) apparently written by his son Charles: 'met with his death-wound 4th Decr/died on 7th Decr 3 o'clock - Tuesday'.

Three newspaper cuttings are pasted into the diary, one pasted on the page for 14 May advocating the establishment of passenger railways in Britain (an article by Thomas Gray the railway advocate, possibly from the Kaleidoscope; or, Literary and Scientific Mirror.

The name 'H.D. Scott esq 16 Clarges Street' is inscribed at the beginning of the volume. This is Henry Dundas Scott, a clerk in the Chief Clerk's Department at the Foreign Office. Rowcroft several times records sending letters to him, so this appears to be a memorandum rather than an ownership inscription.


  • Creation: 1824


1 volume

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 16168].

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


MS. 16168

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16168


Memoranda and brief diary kept by Thomas Rowcroft (1769-1824), British Consul General in Peru.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Edward Rowcroft (1769-1824) was a merchant and an alderman of the City of London. The diary records his birthday as 3 Sep 1769. He was appointed as the first British diplomatic representative in Peru in 1823, arriving in June 1824 to take up the post of consul general. Lima was still under royalist control when Rowcroft arrived, and on the approach of Patriot forces under Simón Bolívar, Rowcroft asked for safe conduct through the Patriot lines to deliver letters for England to HMS Cambridge in the port of Callao. He was however killed, probably accidentally, by Patriot forces on return from the ship (see Wikipedia entry for Thomas Rowcroft).

Custodial History

The initials 'T.R.' are written on the spine. On the front cover is written 'C.R. Cincinnati January 1st 1855'. Rowcroft's son Charles (1798-1856) was a novelist. He settled in Australia in 1821, but on his father's death returned to London. In 1852 he was appointed as the first ever British consul at Cincinnati in the United States. He was expelled for allegedly attempting to recruit American citizens for the British army in the Crimean war. He died at sea on returning to England, 23 Aug 1856.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from The Kernoozers Gallery (via Ebay), Aug 2019

Catalogue of a diary kept by Thomas Rowcroft (1769-1824), British Consul General in Peru, 1824
Finding aid prepared by Mike Webb
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom