Letter from Lord Grey on Behalf of Prince Albert - Consort to Queen Victoria
The MacDonald Papers - MacDonald Scrapbook
Transcription and Historical Background

Michael C. Twomey



The genesis of this project is a primary source document assigned to me, a Graduate student of history at the College of Staten Island, from the Francis and Elizabeth MacDonald Collection. This collection of documents and ancient artifacts is on loan to the College of Staten Island through the generosity of the MacDonald family. In particular, this project pertains to one document which is but a part of the whole. The document in question, as assigned to me, was titled; letter from “lord Grey on behalf of Prince Albert, Consort to Queen Victoria. This being the case, and as the limited research time available dictates, this project aspires to no greater aspiration than to attempt to illuminate the sequence of events which conspired to produce this particular document one hundred and forty eight years ago. Before a detailed explanation of this document can be entertained however, I feel it is incumbent upon me to explain a few facts concerning the collection of which it is a part, and, perhaps more importantly, the individuals who successfully sought to own it.

The collection as a whole was compiled by Francis and Elizabeth MacDonald. As stated previously, this collection consists of both documentary and monumental specimens. Discourse attempting to detail the complete holdings the MacDonalds amassed would be superfluous to the parameters of this project, but an understanding of their desire to acquire a document such as the one which is central to my study is imperative. As Scottish Immigrants, the MacDonalds had an affinity to connections with their native land. The document which is the primary focus of this research project is one such connection, although tenuously so.

Francis MacDonald earned a comfortable living as the New York agent for the Anchor Shipping Line. An added bonus of this position was his constant interaction with intercontinental trade, particularly between Scotland and America, as they were two of the main foci of the Anchor Line. The document in question however, has but a slight connection to Scotland. The document is a letter, written on behalf of Prince Albert, the consort to Queen Victoria, informing a John Gray of his Majesties pleasure regarding both his reading, and presentation of a book while at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Assuredly, at first glance this would appear the slightest of connections to their homeland, but on further investigation, a more complex connection is revealed. Plainly obvious to the reader is the Balmoral/Scottish connection, but an affinity to a recently constructed edifice must have been nebulous at best. Another possibility is that the letter was purchased by the MacDonalds due to the Mention of the famous Scottish scientist James Watt. Perhaps so, but we shall never now know. Another, although less reasonable assumption due to the disparity with dates, is that the MacDonalds, or their agent, were mistaken as to the actual author of the letter.

I personally, after immense confusion, and untold hours of research, satisfied myself as to the authorship of the letter in question. This may appear but a small matter, but I assure you, verifying authorship of the letter to my satisfaction was the most complex, and perplexing operation of this entire project. For many weeks I labored under the misconception that the author was lord Grey. Unfortunately for me, I discovered during my research that the Grey clan was both extensive and prestigious. The son, brother, and father of men who held the title of Earl Grey, the author was invariably styled as General Grey. When the document in question was written, he was Private Secretary to Prince Albert, after whose death, he subsequently became, the first officially recognized Private Secretary to Queen Victoria. Perhaps a prestigious position of note one would think. Unfortunately for me, General Charles Grey’s achievement is overshadowed by many of his clan. It did not help my research that the two generations of Greys which preceded him were the progenitors of a prodigious number of male offspring. Included among their number were a British Prime Minister, numerous members of parliament, Generals, admirals, clergy, a colonial governor and a colonial Prime Minister, as well as politicians and statesmen at almost every level through to the twentieth century.

Never-the-less, having eventually zeroed in on the author, I was eventually able to find some biographical information regarding him. The other principles noted in the letter were considerably easier to research, except for the recipient of the letter, John Gray Esquire. As a commoner, records regarding his existence or considerably scarcer, and subsequently, details of his life are intrinsically more difficult to unearth. The obstacles posed by intercontinental research, while alleviated somewhat by the internet, are still considerable. The primary source document which is the focus of this project mentions five individuals, one book, and one building. The people mentioned are; Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Consort to the Queen, James Watt, scientist and engineer, General Charles Grey, Private Secretary to Prince Albert, and John Grey Esquire, secretary of the Watt club of Greenock. The book mentioned is; Memorials of The Lineage, Early Life, Education, And Development Of The Genius of James Watt. The building mentioned is Balmoral Castle, a royal residence in Scotland. These seven entities then shall form the focus of my project, for while attempting to formulate a better understanding of the people and places mentioned in the document, our perception of the world of the document itself may be enhanced.

The letter was written October 7th 1856, a time when man’s understanding of the world around him, and indeed himself, was undergoing a metamorphosis. Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking On The Origin of Species would be published three years after the letter was written. As the royal court was making its way to Balmoral during August 1856, bones, erroneously identified as belonging to an ancient bear, were being unearthed in a quarry in a glen named Neanderthal. Mankind was about to undergo unheralded scientific and technological advances, but the world of the Royal Court of Queen Victoria lagged behind. Cocooned and encapsulated, the royal court, especially after the death of Prince Albert, was a world of protocol and procedure. The epicenter, and raison d’etre of the royal court was Queen Victoria, a woman who was never meant to be queen, but who came to be given the sobriquet, grandmother of the royal houses of Europe. This briefly is the world of the document which is the focus of this project. Let us delve deeper into the existence of the principles mentioned in it, with the hope it will enable us to achieve a greater perspective of that past world.


                Balmoral Castle

                Oct[ober]: 7. 1856


I am commanded by

His Royal Highness Prince

Albert to acknowledge the

Receipt of your note of the

4th- inst[ant]- with the accompa-

nying very handsome copy

Of the Memorials of James

Watt, which you have been

[ od]

Page Two

Good enough to read for

Presentation to Her Majesty

Her Majesty cannot but

Admire the manner in

Which this volume is [ b]

[ h], [and] I am commanded to

[ rep] the pleasure with

Which she accepts it for

The Royal Library

I have the honour to be


[sq] very Obe[dien]t ser[ven]t

John Gray Esq[uire] C Gre

External & Internal Criticism:

The document I have been researching is a letter written by General (sometimes referred to as Lt. Gen. Hon.) Charles Grey. He has signed the letter and would be expected to write such a letter as part of his responsibilities as private secretary to Prince Albert. The location and date the letter was written coincided with the actual royal stay at Balmoral during 1856 (Aug .30th-Oct. 15th ). Research uncovered evidence which indicates a copy of this very document was included in the frontispiece of the James Watt book, although to date, despite laying hands on four copies, I have been unable to verify this. Contact with Buckingham Palace produced no evidence of the alleged book reading, but they claimed it could have been a private affair not covered in the court circulars.

The reading of the letter does not specify that an actual reading took place. The precise words are, “Which you have been good enough to read for presentation to her Majesty. Note the letter did not say read at a presentation to her Majesty. The matter is open to conjecture. Regardless, verification of Authorship is provided by comparing the MacDonald letter with the copy of an authenticated letter sent to my by Jane Hogan, the Assistant keeper of archives at Durham University. This is were a large holding of general greys papers are held among the 2nd Earl Greys Collection. When the two letters are compared side-by-side, the similarities become apparent. Most obvious is the length of the cross on the letter t’. The rounded upright of the letter D are also identical In both letters the words to, by, and the, are strikingly similar as is the letter w. While I am no expert on the matter, the writing in both letters appears similar enough to be judged as to have been written by the same hand.

The handwritten letter head on my document claims it to have been written at Balmoral. As already noted, the dates indeed compare favorably, As does the content of the letter as Prince Albert had a keen interest in science and would appreciate such a book. If a reading of the book did in fact occur, it would be in standing with the type of entertainment enjoyed on a rainy day or late afternoon at Balmoral. Pleasant days were not squandered inside the castle however, not as long as there were stags to hunt. Other types of entertainment enjoyed at Balmoral would include plays like the one noted below.

Playbill from Balmoral Castle
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World

Visiting heads of state were also entertained at Balmoral, although Queen Victoria preferred to keep it as a private residence. Dinners were no thrown together pot luck no matter the case, with printed menu’s like the example below a daily item. Dated Saturday 9th November 1895, it offers Filet of Sole, Braised Beef, Chocolate Meringue, Swiss Cheese and a buffet of cold fowl, cold beef and unspecified tongue.

Menu from Balmoral Castle
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World

 Another favorite past time amidst the wilds of the Scottish Highlands was drawing and painting, Queen Victoria enjoyed drawing in her younger days, and there was plenty to draw at Balmoral. One of Queen Victoria’s Ladies-In-Waiting, Frieda Arnold, drew Balmoral Castle on September 8th 1856. Clearly the presentation of a book, along with a reading of a segment of its contents is then feasible. And the mention of Prince Albert indicates the letter could have been written no later than December 1861 when he died. Nor could the letter have been earlier that 1856, as that was when the James Watt book was published. But such speculation is pointless as the letter is clearly dated October 7th 1856, and I have no difficulty accepting it as correct.

Balmoral Castle September 8th 1856
After, Frieda Arnold.

The letter is a private note of gratitude to a John Gray Esq. For a small service he rendered towards the royal family.. That this service provided by an ordinary individual should elicit such a response would not be unusual. Queen Victoria was the proverbial queen bee, without her there could be no royal court, and no royal retainers. Her every word and whim was commented on. An act as simple as eating an apple reverberated throughout Britain as is seen from the letter below.

Letter from letter written by Marie Mallet
After, Mallet, Victor. Life With Queen Victoria: Marie Mallet’s Letters From Court 1887-1901.

The service provided by John Gray esq. garnered a response from a court official higher up the chain than did the apple incident, but both indicate how court life revolved around her royal personage. John Gray Esq., the addressee, is a more elusive character as far as posterity is concerned. As secretary of the Watt Club of Greenock, it is to be supposed that their archives would contain further information regarding him. Unfortunately, they have not as of the time of writing responded to my enquiries concerning the matter.

As an historical record, my research document sheds light on aspects of court etiquette during the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. It shows the interest of Prince Albert in scientific matters, and the degree of intelligence and sophistication he brought with him to court. Obviously the Watt Club of Greenock considered the letter a validation of their James Watt book, has they appear to have included a copy of it in at least some prints. A major collection of General Charles Grey’s papers can be found within the holdings of the archives of the Durham University. More information regarding said archive can be found within the bibliography at the end of the project.


Queen Victoria

Young Queen Victoria in full royal regalia
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World

Queen Victoria was never meant to be Queen. Her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent never ruled as monarch, yet she occupied the throne of England longer than any other Monarch before her. Her father was one of fifteen legitimate children sired by King George III. By 1817, shortly before Victoria’s birth, all twelve living offspring were without legitimate issue. They were as a whole a scandalous brood which brought the British monarchy down to it’s lowest ebb of popularity. Victoria’s father was a spendthrift who went into a semi self imposed exile to Brussels were he could life cheaply and perhaps by frugal living become solvent again in a few years. Accompanied by a fifty year old Mademoiselle de St. Laurent, with whom rumor had it he entered into marriage and sired several children, Edward departed for the continent. His plans were shortly upset when Princess Charlotte, the heir apparent, succumbed with her still born son to the rigors of childbirth. This brought about a crisis, and Parliament responded by ordering the four unmarried Royal Dukes to earn their money and breed a suitable heir to the throne. Three of the four responded to the challenge, and the incentives offered and an undignified race was of the starting blocks.

Edward had earlier engaged in a lukewarm suit with a widowed German princess with two children. She was titled the Princess Victoria of Leiningen. Edward had envisioned a marriage with her as a solution to his financial difficulties as he would then be granted more money from Parliament. The incentive offered after the death of Princess Charlotte increased his ardor, and the pair were married 11th July 1818. The anticipated rewards were not forthcoming and disgusted, Edward returned to Germany with his two months pregnant bride. The family returned to England for the royal birth and Victoria entered the world on 24th May 1819. She was to be an only child, and her father was dead eight months later.

Two portraits of the young Victoria as a baby and aged ten
After, Longford, Elizabeth. Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed

In an Ironic twist of fate, a few weeks after Victoria’s birth, the German Mid-wife and Doctor, Fraulein Siebold, who had traveled with Edward to supervise the birth of his child, returned to Germany to provided her expertise at the birth of Albert, Victoria’s future husband. That was for the future, for the present Victoria’s life was more akin to that of a gypsy than a royal Princess. Forced to live with family due to lack of funds,

Edward decided to return once again to Germany, but eventually settled back in England. As a young woman Victoria’s relationship with her domineering mother was an unhappy one. Her mother’s overbearing behavior was a yolk Victoria was unable to throw off until she became Queen, and then she did so immediately. As she grew into maturity, she realized how close to the thrown she had become, for despite the great race in which her father and uncles had participated in, the results had been meager. Victoria was third in line to the throne behind her now childless uncles King George IV and the future King William IV. King George IV died on 26th June 1830 and his successor King William IV died on 20th June 1837.

20th June 1837, Princess Victoria receives the news that she is Queen
After, Longford, Elizabeth. Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed

King William IV had lived just long enough for Victoria to reach maturity. He thus negated the necessity of a regency. On ascension to the throne of England, Victoria also achieved personal independence from her mother, although there were some last minute machinations to prevent this.

On Monday, February 10th, Queen Victoria was married to Albert of Saxe-Coberg-Gotha. This was a turning point in her life. He was to be her one true love, and on his death she entered into a state of mourning which lasted the rest of her long life. They created a life together outside of court, especially at Balmoral Castle, but also at Osbourne House. Together they produced nine children during what has been considered an extremely happy marriage which ended with Albert’s death at the age of 42 in 1861.It was mainly through the progeny of those nine children that queen Victoria earned one of her sobriquets, that of grandmother of the royal houses of Europe.

The Royal Pear (pair)
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.

Undated photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their children
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.

After the death of her beloved Prince Albert. Queen Victoria became more reclusive in her habits. She fostered the memory of Prince Albert until it reached proportions almost equal to a cult. Memorials, statuary, and buildings, all honoring this German prince, sprung up throughout the country, and indeed the Empire. He was laid to rest at a mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor with a place vacant by his side for Victoria. Queen Victoria lived for another forty years after the death of Albert. During that time the power of Britain extended over a considerable portion of the globe in an empire were it was said, “ the sun never sets.” So long did she reign that on her death in 1901, few Englishmen had known another monarch. So great was her impact that an age was named for her. On January 22nd 1901, an age ended, and Queen Victoria was once again with her Albert. She was buried by his side in the grand Mausoleum she had built for the purpose after his death.

Queen Victoria in mourning stares adoringly at a bust of Prince Albert
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.

Queen Victoria’s death notice
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.


Queen Victoria lying in state at Osborne House
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.

H.R.H. Albert, Prince Consort

HRH Prince Albert, Consort to Queen Victoria
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World

HRH Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria was born in the German Duchy of Saxe-Coberg three months after his cousin Victoria. His marriage to Queen Victoria elevated him from an obscure German Duchy, onto the world platform as father of the future King of England. It also required him to play second fiddle to a wife who had precedence over him on all matters. It was a difficult position for a man of his times and class, for he was of a class of men who were instructed from birth that they were leaders. Prince Albert dealt with the difficulties he faced admirably, but his position would have been envied by few.

His status and position became plain as soon as his courtship with Victoria turned more serious. As a mere Prince, it was inconceivable that Albert could ask for Queen Victoria’s hand in marriage. Instead, he was summoned into her presence, and she asked him to marry her. Once marriage was agreed to, Albert faced further embarrassment when it came to his financial annuity. Previously, consorts to the sovereign had a £ 50,000 annuity placed at their disposal by parliament, even princess Charlotte’s husband Leopold continued to receive that amount after her death. Prince Albert, much to the embarrassment of Queen Victoria, was only awarded an annuity of £ 30,000, and he had to pay a three percent Income tax on that. It could have been worse, a radical member of parliament pressed to give him less than that sum. 

Wedding portrait of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
After, Hough, Richard. Victoria and Albert.


A young Prince Albert
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.

It is probable that the cause of this reduction in annuity was more the result of parliament’s annoyance at the preceding generations of Hanoverian spendthrifts who were constantly begging for more money. Prince Albert feigned to make a major issue of the matter, and managed his affairs with what he had until the royal couple were left a bequest of an estimated £ 2,500,000, by a miser they had never known. It was this money with which he built his beloved Balmoral Castle.

Albert quickly settled into a life of married contentment. He busied himself with the details of building both Balmoral Castle and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The royal family then alternated between them and Windsor Castle throughout the year. He is credited with having a liberalizing influence on the Queen, as well as on British politics in general, but how much of this credit was postmortem I cannot say. During his lifetime many considered him cold and aloof, and he found it difficult to find full acceptance. He had a prodigious work ethic and labored unstintingly as the unofficial private secretary of Queen Victoria. He was also passionate on the matters of science, social welfare, and culture. He did his best to foster an interest in science, organizing the Crystal Palace Exhibition. It is therefore no surprise that General Grey, his private secretary, was commanded to write the letter regarding James Watt.

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their nine children
After, Hough, Richard. Victoria and Albert.

In the family front all seemed to bliss. Queen Victoria bore him nine children, and the family appeared to be a happy and content one. Then after a short illness, Prince Albert Was dead, a victim of typhus. On the 14th of December, 1861, Queen Victoria lost not only her Prince Consort, but also her greatest ally and confidant. Word spread throughout Europe that she had gone insane with grief, an exaggeration perhaps, but she was never the same again. Queen Victoria went into mourning, a mourning she never really came out of. Prince Albert was laid to rest in a fine mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor, with Queen Victoria ensuring there was a space beside him for when her time came.

Exterior of the mausoleum at Frogmore were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert lay together.


Interior of mausoleum at Frogmore. Victoria and Albert lay side by side
After, findagrave.com

Queen Victoria lived the life of a widow for another forty years. During that time she elevated the memory of her dear Albert to that of sainthood. Monuments were built throughout the empire in his honor and buildings, bridges, ships, and every other dignified structure imaginable was named in his honour. Eventually, this king without a crown, this foreign prince, had more monuments built in his honour than even the greatest of Britain’s native sons. Perhaps a hint of the public’s genuine feelings towards Prince Albert is best summed up by a contemporary. In December 1961, a young lord Hartington put It to his mistress in Paris,” Everybody here is very sorry about poor Prince Albert, though they did not seem to be very fond of him when he was alive; but he is a great loss now.”

The Albert Memorial London
After, Smith, Nicola C. “Imitation and Invention in Two Albert Memorials. Via JSTOR.

James Watt

Portrait of James Watt, F.R.S. (1736-1819)
After Williamson’s Memorials of James Watt

James Watt, scientist, engineer, and inventor, was born in Greenock Scotland on January 19th 1736. His father’s profession has been variously stated as that of ship’s chandler, carpenter, and builder and general merchant, perhaps he had been all three at one time or another. Whatever his profession, James Watt the elder was sufficiently successful to provide his family with a respectful and comfortable lifestyle. James Watt’s mother provided his early education, before he was sent to attend a local grammar school where he studied Greek, Latin, and Math. Watt’s mother also provided familial contacts with Glasgow University in the form of Professor of Humanity, George Muirhead. Perhaps his greatest influence however, was his father’s workshop where he eventually went to work after leaving school. Through the exposure he gained while working with his father, he developed an interest in all things mechanical.

In 1755, while still a teenager, Watt traveled to London to learn to serve an apprenticeship as a mathematical and philosophical instrument maker. He stayed only a year however, as ill health and financial constraints conspired to force him home to Glasgow. When his desire to open his own shop were thwarted by local craftsmen who protested his lack of apprenticeship, Watt accepted an offer extended to him by Glasgow University to open a shop there. Watt styled himself “Mathematical Instrument Maker to the University, but he didn’t restrict his endeavor’s to mechanical instruments, he also made music instruments. It was while he was thus situated that he was asked by a member of the faculty to repair a steam engine owned by the university. This was the request which was to change not only his life, but the lives of virtually every person born on the planet after that day. For Watts repair is claimed to be the fuse which caused the sudden eruption of the Industrial Revolution in England.

The aeolipile
After James’ Ancient Inventions. Pages 131-132

James Watt has often been credited with inventing the steam engine, this is of course mistaken. The use of steam as a source of power was noted as long ago as the time of Heron, and his design of the aeolipile or wind ball. When a sphere filled with water was heated, steam escaped from two nozzles, which caused the device to spin around . It is not known if this device served any practicable purpose, or was merely a novelty act, the fact that it existed does demonstrate a knowledge of some basic ability to harness steam as a power source. We shall never know what Heron’s intentions might have been for his interesting gadget, but the development of steam as a power source had to wait until the late seventeenth century.  

One of the earliest practical steam engines of note was that designed and patented by Thomas Savery in 1698. Savery’s steam engine was a primitive affair, but it was widely utilized in the tin mines of Cornwall to pump out water.

Savery’s engine 1698
Jones R.V. “The plain Story of James Watt: The Wilkins Lecture 1969”

Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London.
Vol. 24, No. 2 pp.199.

Online via JSTOR. <www.jstor.org/> (December 1 2004).

Among the mechanics who worked with the Savery engine was Thomas Newcomen. It is he who is credited with building the first working steam engine with a piston. As with Savery’s engine, Newcomen’s device was utilized by mine owners to pump out water. One of the reasons cited for the lack of wider use was it’s low efficiency. This did not matter when the engine was working at a coal mine, but would have been cost prohibitive elsewhere. Reducing this inefficiency was one of the tasks Watt set himself in 1763

An illustration of the Newcomen engine which James Watt worked on at the University of Glasgow
After Williamson’s Memorials of James Watt. Page 164.

It was while wandering through Glasgow Green that Watt had is “eureka” moment. The site of his breakthrough is still marked by an inscribed boulder. His answer was to have a separate but linked condenser. This simple solution increased efficiency by as much as 75%. This vast increase in efficiency allowed the steam engine to be utilized in areas of manufacture which had been earlier deemed unfeasible James Watt filed a patent on his invention on the 9th of August 1768 for the period of 14 years. This period was later extended by royal decree until the year 1800. After initial delays due to his first choice as a business partner, James Watt established a partnership with a Birmingham manufacturer named Mathew Boulton. This was to be a prosperous partnership for both men, and their labors were rewarded with wealth and renown. Watt’s modification to Newcomen’s engine was all the impetus needed for Britain to burst forth as an industrial powerhouse.

The James Watt Boulder Glasgow Green.

James Watt left his native Scotland in 1774 and lived the rest of his life in Birmingham. He build Heathfield, his mansion in Handsworth, Birmingham, were he lived until his death in 1819 aged 83. Unfortunately this house was demolished in 1927.

James Watt’s garret workshop at Heathfield c.1901
After Miles, Bob. At

During his lifetime, James Watt received many honors as a result of his innovation. Here listed are a sample: Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, from the University of Glasgow, and Foreign Associate of the French Academy. He continued experimenting and tinkering in his workshop at his mansion until his death. Among the many inventions credited to him

are: an early form of copier, a means of measuring dimensions, furnace temperatures etc., the term “horsepower”, a rev. counter, and a machine for copying sculpture. As a member of the Lunar Society, Watt was familiar with the most prominent inventive minds of his age. After his death, the university of Edinburgh, now Heriot-Watt University, was named after him. Perhaps the greatest use of his name is in the term Watt, the name which the British Association gave to the unit of electrical power in his honor. James Watt is buried with his friend and partner, Mathew Boulton at St. Mary’s church, Handsworth, Birmingham.


General Charles Grey

General Charles Grey
After, Queen Victoria: Images of Her World.


General Charles Grey was a member of an extended family which was as prodigious as it was esteemed. He was the son, brother, and father to respective Earls of Grey, but he never held the title himself. His father, also named Charles, was the second born of nine children. He became Prime Minister of England, and inherited the title second Earl Grey upon the death of his father. The General Grey who wrote the letter which is the focus of this project was one of six daughters and ten sons the 2nd Earl Greys marriage to Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby produced.

General Charles Grey was born into a wealthy aristocracy family on March 15th 1804. General Grey began a military career in 1920 when he became a 2nd lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade. Like many of his class at the time however, life in the military was merely a part-time affair, almost akin to a big boys club. This atmosphere was fostered by the fact that until 1871, commissions and promotions could be purchased rather than earned. Obviously, this meant that only the wealthier stratum of society could afford to become officers, and that was how that social class wanted to keep it. General Grey never appeared to have seen actual combat, but still managed to rise through the ranks by exchange and purchase. He reached the rank of General in 1865, even though he had been on half pay since 1842 and never returned to active duty. Obviously his royal connections were beneficial.

General Grey also ventured into the political scene for a short time representing High Wycombe in parliament from 1831-1837. Similar to military commissions of the time however, districts to represent in parliament were often bought or otherwise acquired as the electorate was miniscule and usually loyal to the landlords who controlled their destinies. During 1831-1833 he also maintained a third career, that of private secretary to his father. This perhaps of all his careers prepared him most for his future path. It must have been during this period that he gained a detailed knowledge of his father’s political career. This knowledge was brought to the fore when he wrote an account of his father’s political career.

In 1837, General Grey began his long association with the royal family when he became equerry-in-waiting to Queen Victoria. On 14th January 1840, Grey, who was then a colonel, was a member of the party dispatched to Gotha to fetch Albert to England for his marriage to Queen Victoria. In 1849 Grey became private secretary to Prince Albert, a position he held until Albert’s death. He then spent several years working as Queen Victoria’s unofficial private secretary as there was no such official court position until 1867, at which time his position became official. H held this position until his death shortly after suffering a series of strokes soon after 7a.m. 26th March 1870. The Queen paid General Grey the unusual honour of paying her respects by visiting body his at his home on 1st April 1870.

General. Charles Grey; Private Secretary to Queen Victoria
After, De-la-Noy, Michael. Queen Victoria at Home, page 188

Queen Victoria noted in her private diaries and journals many times how highly she thought of him, and how deeply he was missed by her. there is a sneaking suspicion that she may have been more than a touch self indulgent in her sorrow of their parting. In a letter to the Crown Princess of Prussia dated 9th April 1870, she discusses Grey’s successor and relation, a colonel Ponsonby: -“and very discreet which our poor Dear General was not.” Queen Victoria’s despair at his loss must be looked at within the overall context of her persona of the grieving widow who has now lost the man she had relied so heavily on. Her comments regarding his successor are probably closer to the truth regarding her feelings towards Grey. The woe-is-me attitude she adopted after the death of Prince Albert cut no ice with Grey. While Queen Victoria wished for nothing more than to wallow in her self pity, Grey continuously attempted to coerce her to perform her public duties. Worse still, in an act Queen Victoria would consider just short of treason, Grey constantly informed the Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone, that the queens cries of ill health should be met by demands for more public appearances, and not pity and sympathy. Writing of Grey’s death, Gladstone wrote, “The loss was serious, as Grey had struggled hard against her tendency to make herself a recluse, and his long service to the crown lent weight to his opinions.” His successors apparently, were made of lesser material. 

General Grey was a constant companion of Prince Albert’s ever since escorting him to England to wed Queen Victoria. He shared in adventures among the Scottish Highlands, and accompanied the royal couple aboard their yacht when they reviewed the fleet in April 1856. He was also obviously with then at Balmoral on October 7th 1856 when he wrote the letter which is the focus of this project. It should hardly be surprising then that he would be chosen to act as a pallbearer at Prince Albert’s funeral. In the cult of sainthood which Queen Victoria built up around her departed husband, it was Grey whom she asked to write a book about Prince Albert’s early life. Some how despite the weight of his official duties, he managed to marry Caroline Eliza Farquhar on 26th July 1836. Together they raised a family of four Girls and two boys.


John Gray Esquire

Mr. John Gray Esq. Is the most elusive of the five people mentioned in General Grey’s letter. In fact, his name at the bottom of General Grey’s letter is only one of two places I can find any mention of him at all, and this despite rather extensive research. I must mention however, that I am still awaiting information from the Watt Club of Greenock’s archives, but any information at this stage will be to late for inclusion into this project before its presentation date. It is entirely possible that Mr. Gray was a native of Greenock, pictured above, but at this stage I can not be sure. One of the few facts I could ascertain through research was that he was for some time secretary of the Watt Club of Greenock. James Williamson, editor of the book, and son of the writer, applies this designation to him while thanking him for the work he performed in assisting the preparation of same book. The actual title he is designated is John Gray Esq. This would infer a modicum of respectability, as would the fact that he was elected secretary of the Watt Club of Greenock.

Copy of a drawing of Greenock c.1768
After, Memorials of etc., George Williamson, page 78-79.


Copy of James Watt produced from original owned by Gray
After Memorials of, etc.

John Gray Esq. Is also noted as the owner of the original copy of the illustration of James Watt which appears on the frontispiece of the book. Other than his visit to Balmoral, these are the few hints of his existence my research has unearthed. The visit to Balmoral must have been an event of a lifetime for him. To be able to read from the James Watt book before the royal court, and to then be allowed to present it to the Queen for the Royal Library was a signal honour. The fact that he was probably bestowed the honour by his colleagues at the Watt Club is another indication of his respectability. Obviously he must have been an erudite individual with the self assurance to read before his monarch.

Balmoral Castle

Modern Balmoral Castle
After, medieval castles.com

The Location of Balmoral Castle
Courtesy of the New York Times, Aug., 29, 1939

Balmoral Castle is the private property of the King or Queen of England. The estate is situated in the highlands of Aberdeenshire, Scotland and was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Nestled within the heart of a vast region of mountains and forests which abound with magnificent deer, the royal couple fell in love with Balmoral at first site in 1848. The old living quarters quickly became cramped for an expanding royal family, and Prince Albert set his mind to home improvements.

Old Balmoral Castle
After , Victoria and Albert at home.

 The funds for the demolition of the old building, and construction of the new castle came from an extremely unusual source. An eccentric miser named John Camden Neild had amassed an estate, the value of which was estimated at £ 2,500,000. An extremely substantial sum in1852. Neild gave no reason for his royal beneficence, and it is not known how much of his bequest was spent on Balmoral as no accounts were kept of expenditure. William Smith from Aberdeen was the architect chosen by Prince Albert to work with him on the new Balmoral Castle. Once Prince Albert decided the castle should be in the Scottish baronial style, the work began in earnest. Queen Victoria herself laid the foundation stone in 1853.

Work progressed on the royal retreat, and in a note to her journal during the 1856 sojourn which the document which is the focus of this project was written, Queen Victoria noted; August 30, 1856. On arriving at Balmoral at seven o’clock in the evening, we found the tower finished as well as the offices, and the poor old house gone! The effect of the whole is very fine. Balmoral was the place Queen Victoria and Prince Albert went to escape from the etiquette of court life at Windsor. In the highlands of Scotland, Prince Albert indulged himself in hunting the stags who were otherwise safe on the estate. In this less formal atmosphere, the young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert went on overland trips, ostensibly incognito. The Author of the document which is the focus of this project, General Charles Grey, accompanied the couple on one such trip under the unimaginative alias of Dr. Grey. Local people were treated, and reacted back with, more familiarly than would have been tolerated at court down south, and behavior was overlooked which would have been punished at Windsor or Osbourne.

Ground floor plan of the new Balmoral Castle
After, Victoria and Albert at home.

Prince Albert played a major role in the planning of Balmoral Castle, ensuring it blended with its natural surroundings. As can be seen from the colored illustration on the next page, Tartan designs were incorporated into decorative fabrics. Prince Albert even Designed a Balmoral tartan, and the royal family dressed up in pseudo Scottish costumes on many occasions. Queen Victoria never tired of praising Prince Albert for the effort  He expended turning Balmoral into a cozy retreat for them. An entry into her journal dated October 13th, 1856, that is a mere six days after my research document was penned, provides a clear indication as to her thoughts. She writes:

“Every year my heart becomes more fixed in this dear Paradise, and so much more so now that all has become my dearest Albert’s own creation, own work, own building, own laying out, as at Osborne; and his great taste, and the impress of his dear hand, have been stamped everywhere. He was very busy to-day, settling and arranging many things for next year.”

This journal entry also clearly indicates how much the royal couple enjoyed Balmoral, for as one seasons stay draws to a close, thoughts are already turning to next years stay. Balmoral was their personal paradise, and throughout her long years of widowhood, Queen Victoria spent long spells there finding solace among the very walls built by her beloved Albert.

The Queen’s Sitting-Room at Balmoral Castle
After, Arnold, Freda, The Letters of. My Mistress the Queen.

The New Balmoral Castle Under Construction 1854
After, Victoria and Albert at Home.


Memorials of The Lineage, Early Life, Education, And Development Of The Genius of James Watt

Cover page of book
After, memorials of, etc.,

The book mentioned in the General Grey letter which I am researching is a book dedicated to preserving the memory of the great Scottish scientist, engineer, and inventor, James Watt of Greenock. The book is titled; Memorials Of The Lineage, Early Life, Education, And Development Of The Genius Of James Watt. The title itself is fairly self-explanatory. The book was written by George Williamson, and edited after his death by his son James Williamson. It is printed by Thomas Constable, printer to her Majesty (Queen Victoria), under the auspices of the Watt Club of Greenock. It is possible that John Gray of the Watt Club gave a reading of this book before the royal family at Balmoral in 1856, although General Grey’s words on this matter leave room for doubt.

The book opens with an illustration of James Watt in the frontispiece. Research has brought forth enough evidence to suggest a copy of General Grey’s letter, as well as a printed transcription, was also inserted in the frontispiece on some copies. I have procured four different of the books during my research yet none of these contained such a letter. A fifth book supposedly on the way from the British Library claims to contain this letter, but I have not yet seen it. There is next a dedication written by James Williamson, followed by a postscript thanking several individuals, including our elusive John Gray, for their effort and assistance. The table of contents follows the Nineteenth century fashion of providing a brief Summary of each chapter, as does each chapter heading. While this may be a little disconcerting to the modern reader, it is a useful research device. A list of sixteen illustrations is followed by an introduction of eleven pages which details the origins and the premise of the book We then enter into the main narrative of the book which consists of eleven chapters in two sections. There is no bibliography or index, but appendix A and B complete the book.

Example of summary at the head of each chapter
Williamson, George, Memorials of Etc.

The Illustrations include examples of the handwriting of Watt the engineer, as well as those of his ancestors. Facsimiles of several letters penned by Watt throughout his life time are also illustrated, as are several steamships. The first section of the book, consisting of 118 pages out of a total of 262, explore the ancestry of James Watt in great detail. Extensive use is made of footnotes in this section, as is the case throughout the entire book. The second section of the book concentrates on James Watt the engineer. There is an illustration of the Newcomen steam engine which he was asked to fix while at Glasgow University, as well as copious notes and printed letters from Watt himself. Of the four copies of the book I managed to lay my hands on, two were microform, and two were in actual book form.. The two copies in book form, one from the New York Public Library, the other from the library of Freedonia SUNY, followed the same exact format, but were different in size. If the copy book of the book from the British Library actually contains a copy of the General Grey letter as it claims, that would indicate at least three different printings of this book exist.

One of the aspects of the book which I personally found most interesting was the comparison of the two steamships. The illustration purported to be of the first steam powered boat, the Comet, built by Henry Bell, is dated 1811. While the illustration of the Steamship Atrato is not dated, it must obviously pre-date the 1856 printing of the book. Therefore, in the space of less than 45 years, steam powered vessels evolved from small boats with primitive steam power traveling in calm inland waters, to magnificent ships which dwarfed sail powered ships and ventured into the roughest of the oceans waters at will. This was the great promise of Watt’s innovation. By maximizing efficiency, Watt made it possible for the steam engine to leave the colliery and its constant supply of coal. A manufacturing boom in Britain would have been for naught without a cheap, rapid, and relatively safe mode of overseas transport with which to unload the surplus. In these two illustrations, it is possible to see one of the prime reasons that Britain took an early lead in the Industrial Revolution.

The Comet
After, Williamson, George, Memorials of Etc.

West India Royal Mail Steam=Ship Atrato
After, Williamson, George, Memorials of Etc.


Research Log:

October 28th 2004:

Began Initial draft transcription of primary source document titled “Lord Grey on behalf of Prince Albert Consort to Queen Victoria. Surveyed personal library for books which touch on subjects mentioned in letter.

October 29th 2004:

Drew up brief initial research plan which included all the information I then had available.

October 30th 2004:

Researched the College of Staten Island’s library holdings for books pertaining to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Took several home for further study.

October 31st 2004:

Looked up material on JSTOR from home, when I realized the volume of printing involved I decided to go to CSI library next day to continue same research.

November 1st 2004:

Researched articles online at CSI library via JSTOR. Found some useful material which I copied for further research at home.

November 2nd 2004:

Began reading through some of the JSTOR material I brought home from the library

November 3rd 2004:

Went online to research photographs or pictures of the three individuals I have thus far identified as being mentioned in the James Watt letter. Find blurred pictures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. O.K. for temporary use, but will surely find better.

November 5th 2004:

Went online to research statuary of individuals mentioned in James Watt letter. Found monument material for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, but once again feel I can do better when I have more time for a more thorough search.

November 6th 2004:

Spent the full day, a Saturday, at the CSI library attempting to pin down Lord Grey. Discover an extensive Grey family of politicians, soldiers, naval officers, clergy and colonial administrators. Pin down several possibilities, but finally consider George Grey, the Home Secretary as the best candidate for letter writer I have found so far. Although not still totally convinced.

November 7th 2004:

Researched James Watt online from home utilizing both Yahoo and Google. Specifically searching for mention of memorial of James Watt. No success finding desired information so I extended my search to the Library of Congress were I locate; Memorials of the Lineage, Early Life, Education, and development of the genius of James Watt. Call# TA140.W3

November 8th 2004:

Utilizing CATNYP: The New York Public Library’s online catalog, I find a copy of the Watt Book held in the Humanities-General Research Division. Call# AN (Watt) (Williamson, G Memorials of the lineage).

Via the College of Staten Island site, I accessed WorldCat in an attempt to find other copies of the James Watt book. My search showed up 70 copies held by various libraries worldwide.

Submitted a request for the James Watt book via the Interlibrary Loan service online from home.

November 9th 2004:

Found information regarding Balmoral castle during moderately short research session. Material found includes pictures of railway station, as well as Balmoral itself.

November 10th 2004:

Called CSI library attempting to verify my ILL request went through as I was unsure if I had completed it correctly. I was informed that the records indicated my loan request was successfully processed and they would notify me when it arrived.

November 11th 2004:

Professor Ivison hands me a copy of a web page from abebooks.com during class. Page offers a description of the James Watt book, which is for sale. The description indicates the book is “ Neatly bound in before frontispiece is a double-page letter in facsimile from the Honorable Charles Grey acknowledging, on behalf of HRH Prince Albert, receipt of a copy of the book for the Royal Library. The letter repeats complimentary made by Queen Victoria in respect of the work.” It further claims to include a transcription of the letter. The description of this letter is to similar to my project document to be something else. I am troubled by the stated authorship of Charles Grey however, as I have not come across any individual who fit’s the bill. Perhaps they are mistaking, as George the home secretary remains my strongest candidate. All I need is another Grey to add to the growing clan I have already researched, considered, and discarded.

November 13th 2004:

Went to CSI library intend on finally answering my lingering doubts regarding the lord Grey confusion. Only information I am turning up continues to push me towards George Grey the home secretary as the document writer. Still, I have had misgivings about him from the start as even he does not completely fulfill the criteria for letter writer. For one thing, why would he be at Balmoral, and why would a government minister concern himself with such trivial minutiae. After a full day of research at the library I appear no closer to solving my puzzle than when I started. Just as I was about to give up and leave, the library was closing, my eye was drawn to a book. The Passing of the Whigs 1832-1886. I understood that several of the Grey clan had been prominent members of the Whig party, including George the home secretary. The index offered the usual list of Grey family suspects so was of little help. I was just about to put it down when I noticed a folded document. With barely a hint of interest, and no hope what-so-ever, I opened the document. It turned out to be a genealogical record of several famous Whig families, including the Greys. Suddenly my author was revealed before my eyes. “Gen. Hon. Chas. Grey, M.P. 1804-1870 P.S. to Queen. I had little doubt he was my man. Now I could begin a more focused research. I knew it would be difficult however, due to the seemingly overbearing fame of several of his extended family.

November 15th 2004:

Spent the day attempting to research General Charles Grey without success.

November 18th 2004:

Went to the main branch of the NYPL in Manhattan to research a copy of the James Watt book I found via there internet catalog. Book did not contain copy O letter written by General Grey. Found brief mention of the John Grey Esq. Mentioned in the letter. Tracked down a copy of a book written by General Grey detailing the political career of his father, the 2nd Earl Grey.

November 22nd 2004:

Notified by CSI-ILL that the copy of the James Watt book I ordered had arrived. I went to pick it up that afternoon. Unfortunately the book was in microform cards. ILL Librarian Raymond Wang informed me CSI did not possess a machine with which to read this format. He spent over an hour on the phone for me attempting to track down one with which I could decipher my book. Found one at both NYU and Columbia University. He was writing out metro cards so I could use these facilities when he happened to show the microform to the chief Librarian. She stated their was a machine which could read it covered up in a corner. Sure enough we found it hidden away, but it needed a good cleaning before it could be used.

November 23rd 2004:

Returned back to the CSI library to read my microform book. The book came from Ohio University, unfortunately, it didn’t contain a copy of General Grey’s letter as I had anticipated it would. Dead-End.

Explained my dilemma to ILL Librarian Raymond Wang, and he once again kindly offered his assistance. He managed to track down a copy of the James Watt book with a description detailing the copy of General Grey’s letter. The book however, is at the British Library in London. Raymond assured me he could get the book, it was just a matter of time. He also requested a second copy from a New York State University which did not give a description of its contents on the off chance we might be lucky.

November 24th 2004:

Reading and organizing material.

November 27th 2004:

Researched via the internet attempting to track down the Watt Club which published the book mentioned in my primary source document. Found the Watt Club at the Heriot-Watt University at Edinburgh Scotland which looked promising. Researched further and was able to obtain e-mail addresses for several archivists.

Sent an e-mail to the archive division of the Heriot-Watt University at Edinburgh Scotland. Copied it to several archivists noted on their web-site in the hope one would reply. For copy of e-mail, see Appendix B-I.

November 28th 2004:

Reading small amount of material at home on loan from CSI library

November 29th 2004:

Likewise spent several hours reading and becoming familiar with my project’s characters.

November 30th 2004:

Received an e-mail from Brian D.A. Kelvin, records management of the Archive, Records Management& Museum Service at Heriot-Watt University in reply to my enquiry of Nov, 27th 2004. For copy of e-mail, see Appendix B-II.

Phoned my nephew who is attending New York University enquiring if he was going to be going to the BOBST library within the next few days, and if so could he check a book for me. He replied positively and asked me to e-mail him the pertinent details.

E- mailed my nephew Steve who is a student at NYU requesting him to check the library there to see if the copy of the book mentioned in my primary source document has General Charles Grey’s letter attached. I know NYU holds a copy of the book from my research into the resources available via Inter-Library Loan facilities at CSI. I also know from previous research that at least some prints of the book include copy of my primary source document in the frontispiece. For a copy of the e-mail see Appendix B-III.

Sent an e-mail reply to Brian D.A. Kelvin, records management of the Archive, Records Management& Museum Service at Heriot-Watt University. E-mail is basically a reiteration of information requested earlier, with a brief explanation of my primary source document which he had enquired about. For copy of e-mail, see Appendix B-IV.

December 1st 2004:

Attempted to call the Watt Club of Greenock at the number forwarded to me but was unable to get connected. Same situation repeated several times without success until it became to late to continue due to international time zones.

December 2nd 2004:

My cousin Siobhan who is living in London called me today. During our discussion I managed to rope her into assisting me in my research. She agreed to get in touch with the Watt Club at Greenock for me and see what information she could find concerning both John Grey Esq., and his book reading. She also agreed to give a trip to the British Library’s main branch to see if she could find out anything.

December 3rd 2004:

Phoned my nephew Steve to discern if he was able to ascertain if the NYU book had a copy of the letter I am researching in the frontispiece like the description Prof. Ivison obtained from an internet auction site. He said the book was in the library, but he was unable to check it as someone had checked it out for the day? Dead-End.

December 4th 2004:

Utilizing the Metro pass given to me by the CSI-ILL librarian, I went into Manhattan to NYU’S Bobst Library in an attempt to find the copy of the James Watt book which I knew they held. Found the book, but unfortunately it was a microform version, an exact copy of the version I received from Ohio University via Interlibrary Loan. Checked to see if it contained a copy of General Grey’s letter, but it did not. Dead-end.

Decided to make use of NYU’S magnificent Bobst Library holdings while I was there. Spent approximately seven hours researching Queen Victoria’s letters and journals. Pinpointed the dates of the royal stay at Balmoral during 1856 as well as other pertinent information. Also obtained some important data concerning General Charles Grey, including a drawing and biographical information.

December 6th 2004:

Reread and organized information and other information found at the NYU Bobst library.

December 7th 2004:

Received notification via phone that my second ILL James Watt book had just arrived. Went to pick it up immediately. The book from SUNY College at Fredonia, Reed Library was a different version of the one I researched at the NYPL. Unfortunately, this one didn’t contain a copy of the General Grey letter either. Kept book for research, but for comparison purposes it was my fourth Dead-End.

December 8th 2004:

First e-mail attempt to the library at Durham University at address found with General Grey catalogue site returned as undeliverable.

Second attempt at e-mailing information request to Durham University library successfully completed. For copy of e-mail see Appendix B-V

December 9th 2004:

Assistant Keeper Jane Hogan, from the Archives and Special Collections section of Durham University England responded to my e-mail enquiry regarding General Charles Grey. See copy of e-mail attached to Appendix B-VI.

Received a phone call from my cousin, Siobhan O’ Shea, who was attempting to obtain information regarding the date of the book reading mentioned in my primary source document, and also any biographical information on the reader John Grey Esquire. To This end she began her research at the British Library. She was unsuccessful there, but was advised to contact Buckingham Palace and the Watt Club at Greenock via phone numbers provided. On doing so she was told they would get back to her in due time.

December 10th 2004:

Author’s response to e-mail from Jane Hogan of Durham University Archive and Special Collections section. Specific documents from the General Grey collection requested. See Appendix A for catalogue of the General Grey Collection. See Appendix B-VII for copy of e-mail response.

Author telephoned Jane Hogan to verify her receipt of e-mail. Unfortunately she was not at work that day, but I was informed she would be in on the following Monday and would be notified of my call.

December 11th 2004:

Research of Victoria and Albert utilizing books at the College of Staten Island Library and formatting cover sheets with the assistance of a librarian.

December 12th 2004:

Collated, organized and separated the multitude of information I have Gathered during my research for this project. Began laying out format for project paper.

December 13th 2004:

Received a call from my cousin Siobhan in London. Buckingham palace had informed her that a search of their records, including court circulars, revealed no information regarding the reading of the James Watt book before Queen Victoria. They suggested the reading may have been a private function and therefore not noted in the public record. Dead End.

December 14th 2004:

Received an e-mail from Jane Hogan at Durham University stating she had faxed a copy of General Grey’s handwriting to the number I had Provided. For copy of e-mail, see Appendix B-VIII.

I sent back an e-mail to Jane Hogan thanking her for her assistance. For copy of e-mail, see Appendix B-IX

December 15th 2004:

Received a phone call from my cousin Siobhan in London. The Watt Club at Greenock got back to her. They had some information on a few individuals, but nothing that could verify their identities as the John Gray Esq. I was interested in. Dead-End.

Appendix A

Authenticated copy of General Grey’s handwriting from Grey collection, archives, Durham University

Handwritten letter by Lt.-Gen, Hon. Charles Grey
Courtesy of the Earl Grey Collection held in the archives at Durham University.

Note letter is dated July 1862.

Appendix B-I

I hope you will be able to assist me in obtaining information for a research project I am involved with. I am a history Graduate student in New York and was assigned to research a primary document from the archive collection at the College of Staten Island. The document is a letter written on Lt. Gen. Right Hon. Charles Grey, on behalf of Albert, Prince Consort to Queen Victoria, to a John Gray Esquire, secretary of the Watt Club. The letter concerns the acceptance of a book published by the Watt Club (Memorials of the Lineage, early life, education and development of the genius of James Watt. By George Williamson, 1956 ). I am especially interested in any information you may have access to regarding the John Gray Esquire who was secretary of the Watt Club during that time. Please feel free to contact me. I appreciate any assistance you my be able to provide me in this manner.

Sincerely yours,
Michael C. Twomey

Appendix B-II

Hi, Michael

Sorry for not getting back to you earlier. I am a little confused by the date you give in your email - what is the date of the letter you refer to? Queen Victoria was long dead by the time Williamson's book was published if it was 1956!  I am also curious as to how the letter comes to be in the possession of the College of Staten Island - there does not seem to any obvious connection. According to the Annual Report of the Directors of the School of Arts for 1856/57, a copy of Williamson's Memorial was presented to the School of Arts Library by a Mr. Mackenzie of the Greenock Advertiser. We have no record of a John Gray, Secretary of the Watt Club. This is not surprising, as the Watt Club referred to in the book is actually the Watt Club of Greenock. 

Contact details : Watt Library, 9 Union Street, Greenock, Scotland, PA168JH
Tel: 01475 720186

Opening hours: Mon, Thu 2-5, 6-8; Tue, Fri 10-1, 2-5; Wed, Sat 10-1

I regret to say that there does not appear to be an email address for them. Sorry I cannot be of more help to you.

Cheers, Brian

Brian DA Kelvin
Records Manager
Archive, Records Management & Museum Service
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh EH14 4AS

Appendix B-III

The name of the book is "Memorials of the lineage, early life, education, and development of the genius of James Watt. By George Williamson Ed. by J. Williamson. 1856 edition I am researching a letter from the college's archive collection. The letter is from the Hon. Charles Grey, private secretary to Queen Victoria, to a John Gray, esq. secretary of the Watt Club.

A copy of this letter is supposed to be included in the frontispiece, along with a printed transcription of the letter. This letter is what I need to see as the original is the one I am researching.

I have managed to get my hands on two other copies of the book, but neither one contained the letter. I have another copy which does contain the letter enroute from the British Library, but it might not arrive in time. If you could check to see if the book at NYU (I know it is there) has this letter, I will go in Saturday to work on it. Book without the letter is of no use to me, so you might save me a wasted journey.

I appreciate the help with this, it's driving me insane. I was on the phone with Scotland this morning, and then spent the rest of the day at the library trying to get more info on this.

Thanks again,

Appendix B-IV

 Thanks for getting back to me.

Date of letter in my email was a misprint. The year was 1856. The letter is on loan to the College of Staten Island from the collection of the MacDonald family. The letter is the original sent by the Hon. Charles Grey, to John Gray esq., a reading and presentation of the book to Queen Victoria for her library. A copy of this letter, along with a printed transcription, should be found in the frontispiece of the book. Mr. MacDonald, the collector, was a Scottish immigrant, and much of his collection has a Scottish connection.

I appreciate the information regarding Watt Club at Greenock. I tried the phone number, but could not be connected. If I could just verify the number once again as 011-44-(147) 572-0186

I appreciate your assistance on this matter,

Michael C. Twomey.


Appendix B-V

I am a Graduate student of History at the College of Staten Island researching a primary source document from the archives held at the College of Staten Island in New York. The document pertains to a letter written by General Charles Grey on behalf of HRH Albert, Prince Consort to Queen Victoria. I am having difficulty accessing other letters written by General Charles Grey for a comparative study which would enable me to verify his authorship. My research led me to your website, but I was unable to access any of the pertinent documents. I was wondering if there was any way to do this. Failing that option, I was hoping a member of staff might possibly be able to guide me to a site were this may be possible.

As I am attempting this research from New York I am reliant on the Web. I would greatly appreciate any assistance you may be able to offer in this matter as I appear to have reached a dead end in my options.

Yours Sincerely,
Michael C. Twomey.

Appendix B-VI

Dear Mr. Twomey,

Thank you for your e-mail about your research on General Charles Grey.   I assume you have seen the catalogue of Grey's papers on our website at http://flambard.dur.ac.uk/dynaweb/handlist/gre/greychas/   If you simply wish to see another document in Grey's handwriting for comparative purposes, you could identify one for the relevant period from the catalogue and I would be happy to send you a photocopy (we would send up to 10 sheets free of charge). For more than that the cost would be 25p per sheet, plus handling charge of £5 and postage. Unfortunately none of these documents have been digitized. Some of the
files have been microfilmed, but these consist of Grey's in-letters and so may not be as useful to you.

Let me know if you would like me to send some samples and if so, for what date.

Yours sincerely,
Jane Hogan
Assistant Keeper, Archives and Special Collections
Durham University Library,
Palace Green,
Tel: 0191 334 1218
Fax: 0191 334 2942

E-Mail: j.r.hogan@durham.ac.uk

Appendix B-VII

You are my savior and angel. I was just about to despair of ever finding a copy of General Grey's handwriting for comparison. The letter I am researching concerns the reading of a book before Queen Victoria at Balmoral Castle between August 30 and Oct 7 1856. I see from the catalogue your archives include his pocket diary for 1856. I know it is asking a huge favour, but I was wondering if you might possibly scan through those dates to see if he mentions the reading of the book, Memorials of the lineage, Early Life, Education, and Development of The Genius of James Watt. If he makes mention of it a copy would be superb. Also if possible, since my letter was written October 7th 1856, if I had an entry from that day, and something before and after it would help verification of time and place. For vanity purposes, and to add a touch of grandeur, I found a collection of 70 letters from Queen Victoria to General Grey. One or two would be a welcome addition indicating his stature at court.

I appreciate the fact that I am asking for a lot, but you are pretty much my last resort. I have been researching this letter for three weeks, but only found your site the night of my e-mail. Copies of the book were advertised as containing copies of my letter, so I had hoped to use one for a comparative study. Unfortunately having tracked down four copies, none still contained my letter. I have a fifth copy on the way from the British Library, but it might not arrive in time. Thus the crux of my problem. The research project is due December 16. Copies from your collection probably would not reach me in time. I was wondering if it might be possible for you to e-mail or fax copies instead. If not, believe me I will understand for you have been more than generous with your time already. I will include all the pertinent information below just in case it may be possible. I will also include my address if that is the only delivery method available. You will find the fax# and second e-mail address or for my Wife's workplace as it is my only fax access. If you are able to send by fax, could you please e-mail her first so she can retrieve it. If sending by e-mail this address is mine.

GRE/DIXIII/3-5; 7-11 1862-1869. Grey to Queen Victoria.

D6/12 1856. General Grey's pocket diary.

I apologize for imposing on your generous offer of assistance to the degree I am, but a sampling of examples from the two collections noted above would make all the difference to my project. Any problems or questions please do not hesitate to contact me for I am in your dept.

Yours Sincerely.
Michael C. Twomey

Appendix B-VIII

Dear Mr. Twomey,

We had a look at Grey's diary for the relevant year. It is a small  pocket diary with tiny writing and references to fairly mundane things like the weather (very British). Sending a copy by fax would probably not help you as the writing is so small, but I am faxing a copy of a page of a letter written by General Charles Grey in 1862 and also a letter written by the Queen to Grey in 1851. You'll see that she writes in the third person.

I hope that these will help. If your deadline had not been so close we could have sent further copies by post.

Best wishes,
Jane Hogan

Assistant Keeper, Archives and Special Collections
Durham University Library,
Palace Green,
Tel: 0191 334 1218
Fax: 0191 334 2942
E-Mail: j.r.hogan@durham.ac.uk

Appendix B-IX

Dear Jane.

I received your e-mail with great relief. I have not yet seen the fax you so generously sent, as my wife has not yet returned from work. I am sure the copy of General Grey's letter you sent me will be more than sufficient for verification purposes. I must once again express my gratitude to you for your assistance, especially considering the tight time constraints I unfortunately placed upon you.

Yours sincerely,
Michael C. Twomey.

Primary Sources:
Secondary Sources:

 Internet Articles:

Internet Sources:

Unplished Sources:

Special thanks to Professor Eric Ivison - History Department, The College of Staten Island (CSI)

Article © 2004 Michael C. Twomey.
Layout © 2006 John Rocco Roberto.

All documents are from the MacDonald Scrapbook compiled by Mrs. Eliza MacDonald of Clifton, Staten Island, in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Loaned to the College of staten Island in 2004 by Barbara Gardner, Great-Granddaughter of Eliza and present owner of the Scrapbook.