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Papers of Lieutenant Colonel James Lynn, Royal Engineers, Assistant Commissioner in the British Legion attached to the Spanish Army during the 1st Carlist War


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The papers comprise Lynn's correspondence and journals 1837-1847 kept while he was Assistant Commissioner in the Headquarters of the British Military Commission attached to the Spanish Army of the North in the later stages of the 1st Carlist War (1833-1840) and its aftermath; with letters, diplomas and certificates from the Spanish Government attesting to Lynn's services and conferring various medals and awards.

Lynn's papers were used by Major Francis Duncan for his book The English in Spain, or the Story of the War of Succession ... (John Murray, London, 1877).


  • Creation: Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk, 1837-1847
  • Creation: Creation: 1837-1879, n.d.


0.50 Linear metres (5 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 11892, fols. 1-2].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 11892/1-3,11892 Photogr. 1; JL 989

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 11892


Papers of Lieutenant Colonel James Lynn, Royal Engineers.

Biographical / Historical

Lieutenant Colonel James Lynn, Royal Engineers, was born in 1804 in Suffolk. He was educated at Bury St Edmund's Grammar School and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, entering the Royal Engineers in 1826, and reaching the rank of 1st Lieutenant in 1831

In the 1st Carlist War of 1833-1840, a civil war in Spain, the British government supported the liberals, known from the names of the queen and regent as 'Isebelinos' or 'Cristinos', against the supporters of the claimant Don Carlos ('Carlists'), sending the British Auxiliary Legion, a volunteer force funded by the Spanish Crown, to Spain in 1835. The government also attached some regular military units to this force, including Royal Engineers. In 1837 Lieutenant Lynn was appointed as one of the Assistant Commissioners in the Headquarters of the Spanish (Isabelino) Army of the North, under the Commissioner Colonel Wylde, which was a joint military and diplomatic posting. In this capacity, he took an active part in the campaigns against the Carlists, and maintained correspondence with the Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, and the ambassador in Madrid, George Villiers, later 4th Earl of Clarendon. There is a recital of his career in Spain in the certificate of service issued by the commander of the Army of the North, Don Baldomero Espartero, Duke of Victoria and Count of Luchana (see the original, with a translation, in MS. 11892/3, folder 5, items 10 and 11; and a later printed version, folder 6, item 2). From this we learn that Lynn took part in numerous actions between 1837 and 1840, and received a number of rewards and honours from the Spanish Government.

The statement of service held among the War Office records at the National Archives (WO 25/3913/1) notes that Lynn's period of 'special service' in Spain lasted until 16 Aug 1843. From July 1844 to June 1846 he was on special service in Prussia, and then from April to September 1847, on special service in Portugal (see MS. 11892/3, folders 3-4).

In 1843 Lynn was made 2nd Captain, and then Major. He was subsequently promoted to 1st Captain in 1847, and retired in 1850, being promoted to brevet Lieutenant Colonel in 1854. After his retirement he lived at Wickham Market, Suffolk, with his sister, Mary Emma Lynn, who was an amateur photographer (see the biographical appendix in Grace Seiberling and Carolyn Bloore, Amateurs, Photography, and the Mid-Victorian Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 1986). He died there on 12 November 1878 and was buried at Ufford.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased, John Hart, Catalogue 100 (Manuscripts), Feb 2016

Related Materials

See the papers of George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon, (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) which include his papers as ambassador to Spain 1833-1839.

Catalogue of the papers of Lieutenant Colonel James Lynn, Royal Engineers
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