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Letters from Maude and Mary Herbert to Hubert Parry


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Letters mainly from Maude Herbert and Mary Herbert, some written jointly, to Hubert Parry. Dating mainly from 1864 to 1871, they were written in secret from Lady Herbert, who strongly disapproved of the affinity between her daughter Maud and the composer. Although presenting only one side of the correspondence, the letters confirm that, despite Lady Herbert's determination to separate the young lovers, they met and exchanged letters with the help of Maud's sister Mary. Eventually, Maud and Hubert became secretly engaged in 1870. On hearing the news, Maude’s brother George, 13th Earl of Pembroke, insisted that Lady Herbert was informed. In consequence, Lady Herbert ordered Parry to break contact with her daughter. The present collection includes a draft of Parry's reply (dated 9 July 1870) promising to comply with her wishes yet at the same time expressing his intention 'at the end of a sufficient period … to come forward', if their feelings towards each other have not changed. At one point, Maude herself appears resigned to the situation: 'There is no earthly chance of your ever being permitted to return to Wilton, so we may not meet for years, & during that interval you may forget me. Better you should for your own happiness'. It is known from other sources that in order to satisfy his father’s expectations and to pacify Lady Herbert, Parry reluctantly entered into an insurance business partnership at Lloyds of London. Lady Herbert’s opinion of him improved and he and Maude were eventually married in 1873. Other correspondents include Agnes Gladstone and Mary Gladstone, daughter and sister-in-law respectively of William Gladstone (1809-1898).


  • Creation: 1864-1871, n.d.


0.2 Linear metres (2 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 6873].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 6873/1-2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6873


A group of more than 70 previously unrecorded letters, written to the composer Sir Hubert Parry, chiefly by Lady Elizabeth Maude Herbert (1851-1933) and her sister Mary, 1864-1871, n.d.

Biographical / Historical

Sir (Charles) Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), baronet, was a composer and historian of music. For details of his life and work see Oxford Music Online. Parry and Maude Herbert, daughter of Lord Herbert of Lea, were childhood friends and in their teens they grew closer to each other. Lady Herbert hoped for a more aristocratic marriage for her daughter and strongly disapproved of the alliance. Nonentheless, Hubert and Maud were meeting and exchanging letters with the help of Maud's sister Mary. The present letters provide insight into the family tensions prior to the couple’s wedding in 1873. Previous owners of the letters have not been identified and documents do not seem to have been available to Parry's biographers, Charles L. Graves (1926) and Jeremy Dibble (1992).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from John Wilson Manuscripts Ltd., October 2011.

Sponsored in part by Rev. David Selwyn and an anonymous donor, Duke Humfrey’s Night, 12 Oct 2013.

Catalogue of the letters from Maude and Mary Herbert to Hubert Parry, 1864-1871
Margaret Czepiel
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom