Because of their historical importance the Aberdare and Lyndhurst papers have been accepted by the Government in lieu of tax from their owners and will now be available for the nation to enjoy.
The Aberdare papers are the records of the Bruce family, Barons Aberdare and they not only shed light on the history of south Wales through the family estate papers, but also on some of the foremost politicians, artists and authors of the mid-nineteenth century through the correspondence of Henry Austin Bruce (1815-1895).
He was created first Baron Aberdare in 1873 and served as Liberal MP for Merthyr Tydfil, as well as holding a number of political offices including Home Secretary.
Among his correspondents are such prominent figures as Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, Edward Lear, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Anthony Trollope and Queen Victoria.
The topics range from Gladstone’s anxiety over troubles in Ireland, Queen Victoria’s concern for Bruce’s sick child to light-hearted banter from poet and artist Edward Lear. Other members of the Bruce household were also in correspondence with other celebrities of the day, including J.M. Barrie, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, said:
“I’m delighted these papers have been permanently allocated to the Glamorgan Archives through the Acceptance in lieu scheme. Members of the public will continue to be able to enjoy these interesting and historically important documents.”
Susan Edwards, of Glamorgan Archives, where the papers have been held on deposit since the1960s, said:
“It is a particular pleasure to celebrate the opening of our new archives building in Cardiff with the presentation of such a fine collection of records.”
Lord Lyndhurst, John Singleton Copley (1772-1863), son of the famous painter of the same name, was linked to the Bruce family and his papers will also be available at the Glamorgan Archives.
John Singleton Copley junior was born in Boston, Massachusetts and later moved to England where he became a barrister, rising through the ranks to become Lord Chancellor. He also moved in interesting circles and corresponded with leading politicians, artists and authors of his day.
Both the Aberdare and Lyndhurst papers can be accessed by the public at the new Glamorgan Archives in Leckwith, Cardiff.
Volunteers and work experience students at the Archives are currently transcribing some of Henry Austin Bruce’s correspondence making them even more accessible to the public.