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CITATION: Sidgwick Family Papers, MSS 208, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
Mary Crofts Sidgwick (ca. 1811-1879) was married in 1833 to the Reverend
William Sidgwick (d. 1841), headmaster of Skipton grammar school in Skipton,
Yorkshire and a cleric in the Church of England. She had four surviving
children: William Carr Sidgwick (1834-1919), a Lecturer at Merton College,
Oxford; Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), celebrated Professor of Philosophy
at Cambridge and instrumental in the admission of women to university examinations
in 1881; Arthur Sidgwick (1840-1920), Assistant Master of Rugby School,
1864-1879 and Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 1882; and Mary
"Minnie" Sidgwick (1841-1919), who was married in 1859 to her second cousin,
Edward White Benson (1829-1896). Benson held the office of Archbishop
of Canterbury from 1883 until his death. Among their children were
the authors Arthur Christopher Benson (1862-1925) and Edward Frederic Benson
Sarah Isabella Thompson (d. 1918) was married in 1872 to William Carr Sidgwick and was the daughter-in-law of Mary Crofts Sidgwick. She grew up in the Belgravia section of London, the daughter of John Vincent Thompson (1785-1856), Serjeant-at-Law. Mrs. Sidgwick lived with her husband in Rugby, Warwickshire. She had one child, Nevil Vincent Sidgwick (1873-1952), Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford and Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University.
This collection consists of one handwritten letter and a handwritten manuscript. The eleven page letter is dated October 6, 1854 and was sent from Mrs. E. Attersoll to Mary Crofts Sidgwick in Rugby, Warwickshire. Mrs. Attersoll relates the current events, which include news from her niece's husband, who is fighting in Sevastopol during the Crimean War (1854-1856); the planning of a Roman Catholic school by Robert Isaac Wilberforce (1802-1857) and his brother, Henry William Wilberforce (1807-1873); and frictions between the Wilberforce brothers and the local Anglican Rector of Westport.
The manuscript is entitled "A Grandmother's Tales" and was published in MacMillan's Magazine in 1898. It was written by Mrs. William Sidgwick, wife of William Carr Sidgwick, and recounts her youth in early Victorian London and brief experiences with great figures of nineteenth-century Britain. In many cases these include mere glimpses of prominent personalities: the state visit of Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult, Minister of War under King Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) of France; Italian lessons from Napoleon's former private secretary, the Marchese di Moscati; and a piano concert by composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Mrs. Sidgwick also presents insightful descriptions of the poet Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) falling in love; the poet Robert Browning (1812-1889) relating his adventures in Florence with fellow writer Walter Savage Landor ( 1775-1864); the funeral of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852); and the debate regarding the theory of evolution sponsored by the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in 1860 between Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) and Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873), then Bishop of Oxford. Of interest to researchers will be Mrs. Sidgwick's recounting of mannerisms and customs prevalent in early Victorian society, as well as her descriptions of public ceremonies. The manuscript is twenty-seven pages, and includes marks and alterations made before publication.
Box Folder Description Date 1 1 Letter from Mrs. E. Attersoll to Mrs. Sidgwick 1854 Oct. 6 1 2 "A Grandmother's Tales" manuscript 1898