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National Library of Wales
Crawshay, manuscripts

Reference code(s): GB 0210 MSCRAWSHAY

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Crawshay MSS

Short Title: Crawshay, manuscripts

Creation date(s): 1772-1990

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 5 volumes

Name of creator(s): George Crawshay; Florence Esdaile; and others.


Administrative/Biographical history: George Crawshay, ironmaster and politician, was born in London, the son of George Crawshay, iron merchant (1794-1873), and grandson of the south Wales 'Iron King' William Crawshay (1764-1834). The family of Crawshay's mother, Josephe Louise Dufaud (1802-1883), owned the largest ironworks in France, at Fourchambault. Crawshay was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and, although he did not graduate, subsequently entered the Inner Temple. However, the death of his brother-in-law, Francis William Stanley, obliged Crawshay and his younger brother Edmund to take over the management of the Hawks, Stanley & Co. ironworks at Gateshead. By the mid-1840s the factory had become the largest ironworks on Tyneside, employing over a thousand workers and producing a vast range of iron goods, many of which were exported to India and the Far East. Crawshay was also prominent in both local and wider-ranging social and political issues. He was elected town councillor for West Gateshead in 1854 and served as mayor three times, in 1856, 1859 and 1863. A Radical and Dissenter who advocated religious tolerance, he was very much involved in the Anti-Corn-Law League, the Chartist movement and foreign nationalist issues, including the oppression of the Turkish people during the 1870s. In 1889, disaster struck Crawshay when the 'New Greenwich' ironworks of Hawks, Crawshay & Sons at Gateshead suddenly closed amid accusations of neglect and incompetency - claims which were never fully verified. Crawshay retired to his daughter Florence's home in Sussex, where he died leaving an estate of just £25. George Crawshay was a man of eclectic interests, an able scientist and mathematician, with a flair for foreign languages. He also demonstrated literary talents in poetry, prose and drama: his semi-autobiographical romance A Silver Shape was finally published in 1980. In 1847 George Crawshay married Elizabeth Fife (1826-1889), daughter of surgeon and prominent Tyneside politician Sir John Fife (1795-1871). Their daughter, Florence (1849-1936), married James Kennedy Esdaile (d. 1918).


Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1772-1990, mainly comprising correspondence and papers of George Crawshay of Haughton Castle, Northumberland, which include letters, 1840-1874, from George Crawshay to his mother Louise Crawshay, his wife Eliza, and other family members; letters, 1840-1890, to George Crawshay from political figures and which reflect Crawshay's active political rôle; a journal, 1836-1837, of George Crawshay whilst in Freiburg under the care of a German tutor; miscellaneous papers, [1830s]-1890, of George and Eliza Crawshay; and letters and papers, 1772-1950, of Florence and James Kennedy Esdaile, daughter and son-in-law of George Crawshay.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 23283-23287.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Finding aids: Description based on Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX (Aberystwyth, 2003).


Accruals: Accruals not expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Purchased from Mr Edmund Esdaile of Hertford, grandson of Florence Esdaile, in 1993.


Related material: Press cuttings, printed items, and other miscellaneous papers included in the purchase are NLW ex 1608.

Publication note: See the semi-autobiographical Crawshay, George (ed. Edmund Esdaile), A Silver Shape. Recollections of a Victorian Romance (London, 1980).


Note: Title based on contents.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography WWW site.

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

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2009

Crawshay, George, 1821-1896 | Correspondence
Crawshay, George, 1821-1896 | Family | Correspondence

Personal names
Crawshay , George , 1821-1896.

Corporate names


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