Historical Manuscripts Commission

Summary report on the correspondence and papers 


Sir George Walter Prothero (1848-1922),

the property of the


(reference: GB-1551-Prothero)

R Olney and M Pendleton, December 2000
Historical Manuscripts Commission

Table of Contents



Summary report

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Enquiries regarding access to these papers should be directed to The Executive Secretary, Royal Historical Society.


George Walter Prothero (1848-1922) was history tutor at King’s College, Cambridge from 1876 and university lecturer in history from 1884. In 1894 he was appointed to the newly created chair of modern history at Edinburgh University, but in 1899 moved to London to take up the editorship of the Quarterly Review. He was President of the Royal Historical Society 1901-5, and bequeathed his papers to the Society.

The papers are kept in two deed boxes and part of a third, together with a separate drawer of index cards, at the offices of the Society at University College, London, where they were inspected on 29 November by kind permission of the Society. The following summary is based on a more detailed list compiled in 1966-7, when the collection was given the reference PP.

This collection does not represent the whole of the Prothero papers. Prothero himself presented papers mainly relating to his biography of Henry Bradshaw to King’s College, Cambridge in 1889 (NRA 41733). In 1935 the Royal Historical Society transferred twenty boxes and one parcel of lecture notes to Edinburgh University Library (DK 542-62). Finally in 1988 Mr CW Crawley presented to King’s College journals and notebooks that had been given to him by Lady Prothero (NRA 33931).

The Commission is grateful to the Royal Historical Society for allowing it to inspect these papers, and the compilers of this list would like to add their own thanks to Mrs Joy McCarthy for her help and hospitality on the occasion of their visit.


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Summary report

I. Personal correspondence 1886-1922 and nd. 15 bundles.

Correspondents include AC Benson, Oscar Browning, James Bryce, JB Bury, Algernon Cecil, J Gairdner, SR Gardiner, RE Prothero (Lord Ernle, GWP’s brother), RW Seton-Watson and AW Ward.

II. Papers arranged by subject 1866-1921 and nd. 7 large bundles (originally envelopes), subdivided as follows:

  1. 1866-99, 16 bundles. Includes papers relating to his early academic career and publications, his memoir of Henry Bradshaw (with letters from him 1869-84), the RL Nettleship memorial 1892-4, Lord Acton (letters from him 1896-8) and the Quarterly Review 1898.
  2. 1900-1. 8 bundles. Includes papers relating to the British Academy, the death of Bishop Creighton, and Prothero’s Presidency of the Royal Historical Society.
  3. 1902-4. 5 bundles. Includes correspondence and papers relating to bibliography and the teaching of modern history.
  4. 1905-10. 12 bundles. Creighton and Harvard Lectures, ‘Colonial administration’, etc.
  5. 1911-12. 8 bundles. Monypenny’s Life of Disraeli, AJ Butler, Sir H Lyall, etc.
  6. 1914-20. 7 bundles. Quarterly Review, British Academy, Lady Ritchie Fund, pamphlet on the War (and related correspondence), etc.
  7. 1921, nd. 4 bundles. A letter from CH Firth about foreign archives and a related paper, a collection of autograph letters, etc.

III. Correspondence about the First World War 1914-22. 6 bundles, arranged by GWP.

Numerous letters from the Countess Martinengo Cesarisco, Miss Norton and other British, European and American correspondents.

IV. Papers relating to historical studies c1871-1914. 5 bundles.

Undergraduate and other notebooks, papers on 16th and 17th century historical documents (Statutes, Court of High Commission, etc), notes for his Creighton Lectures on Napoleon III, MSS on contemporary international relations, etc.

V. Papers relating to the Bibliography of Modern British History mainly 1904-14. 5 bundles.

Including correspondence, notes on British and foreign libraries and archives, and other working papers. A drawer of index cards (V/5) is kept separately.

VI. Printed papers. 6 bundles.

Including newspaper cuttings, a scrapbook (VI/1/3, separately stored in metal box labelled ‘GW Prothero Litt D’), articles (for the Quarterly Review, etc) and papers relating to societies and associations.

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