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National Library of Wales
Senior, Nassau, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 NASSAUS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Nassau Senior Papers

Short Title: Senior, Nassau, papers

Creation date(s): 1764-1946

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.378 cubic metres (18 boxes, 61 volumes)

Name of creator(s): Nassau Senior


Administrative/Biographical history: Nassau William Senior (1790-1864) was a critical essayist, classical economist and a government adviser. From 1826-1829 and between 1847-1852, Nassau Senior was Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford. Nassau Senior travelled widely through Europe, mainly France and Italy, but also to the Middle East, North Africa, Ireland, and Wales and Scotland. He met Adolphe Thiers, King Leopold I of Belgium, John Bright, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe and Richard Whatley. His journals provide a deep insight in the history of the Mid-Victorian time. Nassau Senior acted as an advisor to successive Whig administrations. He corresponded with Richard Whatley (1787-1863), Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. He courted Harriet Cooke in the 1810s, but following her parent's opposition to the match, he married Mary Charlotte Mair in 1821. They had one daughter, Mary Charlotte Mair Senior, latterly Mrs M. C. M. Simpson. Nassau Senior was a member of the Royal Commission of Education, 1858-1861. Senior disagreed with the notion of Malthusianism. His general view on laissez-faire and the intervention of government formed the most radical position taken by any classical economists. After his death, Mrs Simpson published many of his journals and was an active correspondent with literary figures of the time; she corresponded extensively with Rev. Stopford Augustus Brooke on theological matters. Her daughter, Mrs Amy St Loe Strachey, compiled material for a biography of Nassau Senior, but following the loan of some of the Senior papers to S. Leon Levy this was not completed.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers relating to Nassau Senior, 1764-1945, comprising travel journals, particularly to France and Italy, 1848-1863; lecture notes, 1826-1852; correspondence and papers of the Senior family, 1764-1907; diaries of Nassau Senior and his wife, 1830-1882; correspondence, 1764-1862, including substantial correspondence with Richard Whately, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin; papers relating to the Poor Law in England and Ireland, 1831-1864; papers on economic, social and political matters, 1821-1862; general letters 1764-1910, and papers of the Strachey family, 1911-1946.


Language/scripts of material: English, French

System of arrangement: Arranged into the following: Senior journals; Oxford lectures; Senior correspondence; Senior documents; Senior family papers; and Strachey documents.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Physical characteristics: Many of the papers have been marked in pencil, crayon and ink by S. Leon Levy.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue can be accessed online.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history: Senior's grand-daughter, Mrs Amy St. Loë Strachey, had inherited the Papers from her mother, Mrs M. C. M. Simpson, who was Senior's only daughter. Mrs Strachey's husband, John St. Loë Strachey (editor of the Spectator), had loaned the Senior Papers to S. Leon Levy in 1912, on the understanding that Levy would confine his studies to the economic aspects of Senior's career. Having published his much-criticised study of Senior's economic theories in 1929, Levy proceeded to write a book on Senior's controversial theological views. Mrs Strachey disapproved and demanded that the remaining MSS in Levy's possession be returned. Despite repeated efforts, not all the missing Senior MSS were recovered.

Immediate source of acquisition: The Nassau Senior Papers were first deposited (in 1941) and subsequently (in 1944) donated to the National Library of Wales by Senior's grand-daughter Mrs Amy St. Loë Strachey.


Related material: In July 1976 a small collection of Senior MSS was sold at Sotheby's to the National Library of Ireland. [Sotheby's Sale Catalogue, 19-20 July 1976, Lot 357. Now National Library of Ireland MS 21286. See NLW Microfilm 389. A description of this MS is to be found in Appendix I of the schedule of Senior Papers]. It is apparent that this collection at the National Library of Ireland is in fact part of the hitherto missing Senior MSS

Publication note: S. Leon Levy, Nassau W. Senior, The Prophet of Modern Capitalism (Boston, 1943; rev. ed. London, 1970)


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds. The papers pre-date the life of Nassau Senior.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Annette Strauch for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Schedule of Nassau Senior Papers; Personal Homepages website (, viewed 21 March 2003; Nassau Senior website (, viewed 21 March 2003.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2 and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2003

Poor laws | England
Poor laws | Ireland
Senior, Nassau William, | 1790-1864 | Archives
Social scientists | Great Britain | Archives

Personal names
Senior , Nassau William , 1790-1864

Corporate names


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