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Personal and Family Papers of Wilhelmine, Lady Harrod
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Personal and Family Papers of Wilhelmine, Lady Harrod

  • WMH
  • Fonds
  • 19th century-21st century

Personal papers, including diaries and correspondence (correspondents include Penelope Betjeman, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Diana Mosley (née Mitford)) of Wilhelmine (Billa) Harrod, 1929-2005, and some correspondence and other personal papers of her husband, the economist (Henry) Roy Forbes Harrod (1900-1978; knighted, 1959), 1904-1978. Family papers inherited by Lady Harrod relate to the Cresswells of King's Lynn and related families, 19th-20th centuries, including Captain Samuel Gurney Cresswell, RN (1827-1867), the Gurney family of North Runcton, Elizabeth Fry, and the Boileaus of Ketteringham (Lady Catherine, Sarah Boileau and three of her children, Charles, Anna Maria and Caroline Mary), 1821-1873, and the Folkes family of Hillington, with some papers and photographs of General Sir (Edward) Peter Strickland (1869-1951). Papers of Lady Harrod from the 1970s onwards relate extensively to her work with the Norfolk Churches Trust and other conservation-related matters.

Henry Birkbeck; fl 1825

Papers and Correspondence of the Cresswell family of King's Lynn

Francis Cresswell (1789-1861), a former naval officer with the East India Company, married Rachel Elizabeth Fry (1803-1888), daughter of Joseph Fry (1777-1861) and his wife Elizabeth Fry, née Gurney (1780-1845), the social reformer and philanthropist. The Cresswells lived at Bank House, King's Lynn, where Francis Cresswell, his son F.J. Cresswell, and his grandson G.F.A. Cresswell were partners in Gurneys, Birkbeck, Barclay, Buxton and Cresswell's Bank at King's Lynn (later Barclay's Bank).

Francis and Rachel Cresswell had six sons and one daughter: Francis Joseph (1822-1882), John Addison (1824-1867), Samuel Gurney (1827-1867), William Edward (1835-1857), Gerard Oswin (1837-1865), Oswald (1839-1872), and Harriet Frances Elizabeth (1842-1849).

The collection includes ninety-eight letters (WMH 3/1/B1) from Elizabeth Fry, 1803-1845, mainly addressed to her daughter Rachel Cresswell, but with some to other members of the Fry and Gurney families. Many of these describe her journeys in Britain and France advocating the cause of prison reform.

However, the largest part of this collection consists of the papers (WMH 3/1/C-D) of Francis and Rachel's third son, Samuel Gurney Cresswell (1827-1867), naval captain and Arctic explorer, who first went to sea at the age of fourteen, who served and fought in China and the Baltic, and who was the first man to traverse the North-West Passage. His letters to his parents (WMH 3/1/C) cover all stages of his career and many have been published in 'War, Ice & Piracy, The Remarkable Career of a Victorian Sailor', edited by Dominick Harrod (Chatham Publishing, 2000). Page references to these transcripts are given below, and a copy of the book is available in the Searchroom of the Norfolk Record Office.

Samuel Gurney Cresswell was also a talented artist, some of whose watercolour views of the Arctic were presented to Queen Victoria and published in 1854. The bulk of his work however is contained in an album in this collection (WMH 3/1/D4).

Cresswell sailed to the Arctic on HMS Investigator in 1850, which was trapped in the ice between 1851-53, with the crew unable to send word to England. His unexpected return to England in 1853, as living proof of the existence of the North-West Passage, was greeted with rapture by his family, the inhabitants of King's Lynn, and the British press, all of whom expected that he would be promoted immediately. But the promotion that followed was slow, although no slower than that of many young officers in peacetime. However deserving an officer might be, his chances of promotion were increased by the 'interest' his family could wield, and this collection provides a good illustration of this process. Cresswell's mother Rachel was a daughter of Elizabeth Fry and she seems to have inherited much of her mother's drive and perseverance. She mustered all the support she could from her wide circle of relatives and acquaintances, and helped by her husband and his family, and the connections of her daughter-in-law Charlotte, wife of her eldest son Francis Joseph and daughter of Lord Calthorpe, she firmly brought her son's claims to the attention of the Admiralty.

Rachel attributed his death in 1867 at the age of thirty-nine to the hardships he had endured in the service and to disappointment at his lack of promotion; however it must be noted that most of Rachel's sons died young, and all pre-deceased her. After Samuel Gurney Cresswell's death she carefully preserved his letters with their original envelopes and compiled two scrapbooks (WMH 3/1/D5) of his life for her grandsons.

Cresswell family; 19th century; King's Lynn, Norfolk

'Testimonials Capt Gurney Cresswell'

Letters from: Captain Edward Bird to Francis Cresswell, 1853; Rear Admiral H.W. Bruce to F.C., 1853; Sir Thomas Cochrane to Sir Cresswell Cresswell, 1847, and to F.C., 1849; Morton Eden to F.C., ?1853; Captain Edmund Heathcote to R.E.C., 1854, and to S.G.C., 1856 (2); Captain Robert McClure to F.C. and R.E.C., 1854 (4); Harriet, duchess of Sutherland to RC, 1856, with copy of letter to the duchess from Sir Charles Wood, 1856; Sir Charles Wood to William Henry Leatham, 1855. Original bundle with wrapper and envelopes.

Letters to Francis Cresswell

From Henry Ducie Chads, HMS Excellent, ?1848; Sir Edward Parry, arctic explorer, 1851-53, including letter from John Barrow, Admiralty, forwarded by Parry to F.C., 1852, and from Catharine, Lady Parry, 1856, with copy letter from Parry to the duke of Northumberland, 1852, recommending the provisioning of Melville Island. With envelopes.

Letters to Frank Cresswell (many addressed jointly to F.C. and his wife) mainly congratulating him on the safe return from the Arctic of his son Samuel Gurney Cresswell, about the address presented to S.G.C. at Lynn, and discussing prospects of promotion

From: William Cornwallis Aldham, 27 May 1853, news of S.G.C. and crew of HMS Investigator when encountered at Sandwich Islands; Sir George Back; W.S/J Brodie; Edward North Buxton; 4th baron Calthorpe; H. Cattley, Wimbledon (2); Henry Ducie Chads; Chapman, Wanstead; Robert Cole, Upper Norton Street; A.J. Baker Cresswell [brother]; Charlotte Cresswell [daughter-in-law]; Sir Cresswell Cresswell [brother]; Elizabeth Mary Baker Cresswell [sister-in-law] (with letter from Duchess of Northumberland); Francis Joseph Cresswell [son, copy]; John Addison Cresswell [son]; Oswald Joseph Cresswell [brother]; Oswin A.B. Cresswell [nephew]; William Cresswell [brother]; J. Davy, Ingoldisthorpe; William Everard; John Gurney Fry [brother-in-law]; Revd Sydney Gedge; Daniel Gurney, forwarding letter from Lord Adolphus FitzClarence; J.H. Gurney, Norwich; Sir Graham E. Hamond, 1853 (2); Robert N. Hamond, Fakenham; Edward Hodges; Lord Jocelyn (2, with copy letter to Jocelyn from F.C.); Andrew Johnston, Halesworth; C.F.N. Rolfe, Sedgeford Hall; B.J. Sulivan, Guildford; Emmeline Way; Revd W.G. Wilson, Forncett; Robert M. Young. With envelopes.

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