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Ralph W. E. Beckett, 3rd Baron Grimthorpe, World War I papers

Identifier: MS-0901

Content Description

This collection contains materials relating to Ralph W. E. Beckett and his military service with the Yorkshire Hussars during World War I. The bulk of the material consists of correspondence such as letters and postcards written to Beckett from his family and friends between 1914 and 1917. The majority of correspondence was written by his wife Mary Alice Archdale and his sister Lucille (Lucy) Katherine Beckett, with some other correspondence written by a relative referred to as “Aunt Queenie,” various friends, and an unidentified writer. The contents of the letters primarily concern the war effort, the Beckett family’s Italian villa Cimbrone, and family news. Lucy Beckett’s letters also describe her thoughts on the revolutionary movements in Italy and Russia at the time as well as her work with the Red Cross.

The collection also contains photographs and financial records relating to Beckett and his family. The photographs portray Beckett in his Yorkshire Hussar’s uniform as well as various family members and friends. Several of the photographs are labeled and mounted on cardstock. One of the prominent figures shown in the photographs is Russian artist Pierre Troubetzkoy. The financial records are dated from 1916 to 1917 and include various receipts and a receipt book. The receipts concern purchases of uniform pieces and supplies. The receipt book is embossed with ‘The Hon. Ralph Beckett’ and concerns the family business ‘Beckett and Co.’ bank.


  • Creation: 1909 - 1917
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1916 - 1917


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Ralph W. E. Beckett biographical note

Ralph William Ernest Beckett was born on May 3, 1891 to Ernest William Beckett, 2nd Baron Grimthorpe, and Lucy “Luie” Tracy Lee. Lucy died shortly after giving birth to him, leaving Ralph with two older sisters Lucille Katherine Beckett and Helen Muriel (b.1886-d.1916). Ralph graduated from Eton College in Windsor in 1903 and from University College in Oxford. After British entry into World War War I in August, 1914, Beckett enlisted with the Yorkshire Hussars in which he served as Second Lieutenant. He then married Mary Alice Archdale in September 1914. After attaining the rank of Captain, Ralph received the title of 3rd Baron Grimthorpe after his father Ernest’s death in May 1917. After the war, Beckett worked for the family’s banking firm ‘Beckett and Co.’ in Leeds, England. During World War II he served as Lieutenant Colonel of the Yorkshire Hussars. Ralph divorced Mary Alice in 1945 and remarried Angela Courage. He died on February 22, 1963.


Derived from dealer's description.

“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Aberdeen Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), May 10, 1917.

Debrett's Peerage, and Titles of Courtesy, in which is included full information respecting the collateral branches of Peers, Privy Councillors, Lords of Session, etc. London: Dean, 1921.

"Rt Honorable Ralph William Ernest '3rd Lord Grimthorpe' Beckett." Find A Grave. Accessed April 21, 2022.

“Roll of Honor.” Hull Daily Mail (Hull, England), May 10, 1917.

“Service Appointments.” Chelmsford Chronicle (Chelmsford, England), July 9, 1915.

“A War Wedding.” Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (Manchester, England), September 4, 1914.

Lucille Katherine Beckett biographical note

Lucille (Lucy) Katherine Beckett was born in 1884 to Ernest William Beckett, 2nd Baron Grimthorpe and Lucy “Luie” Tracy Lee. In 1903 she married Count Otto Czernin, Councilor to the Austro-Hungarian Embassy in Petrograd [Saint Petersburg]. In 1914 she received a judicial separation from her husband and during World War I worked with the British Embassy in Rome as well as the American Red Cross. Lucy died in 1979.


Derived from dealer's description.

“The Estate of an Austrian Count’s Wife.” Derby Daily Telegraphy (Derby, England), January 16, 1918.

“Woman’s Second Attempt to Swim Channel.” Evening Telegraph (Dundee, Scotland), July 15, 1921.

“Peer’s Nephew Shot.” Aberdeen Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), June 4, 1923.

Mary Alice Archdale biographical note

Mary Alice Archdale was born in 1890 to Colonel Mervyn Henry Archdale and Mary de Bath. She married Ralph W. E. Beckett in September, 1914, and had four children with him: Christopher John Beckett (b.1915-d.2003), Oliver Ralph Beckett (b.1918-d.1999), Bryan Rupert Beckett (b.1922-d.1943), and Lucy Clare Beckett (b.1926-d.1999). Mary divorced Ralph in 1945. She died on April 28, 1962.

Sources: “Lord Grimpthorpe Divorced.” Hull Daily Mail (Hull, England), January 26, 1945.

“Mary Alice Archdale.” Accessed April 21, 2022.

“Rt Hon Mary Alice “Lady Grimthorpe” Archdale Beckett.” Find A Grave. Accessed April 21, 2022.

Yorkshire Hussars historical note

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Yorkshire Hussars were mobilized on August 5th into four squadrons: A, stationed in Leeds; B, stationed in York; C, stationed in Knaresborough; D, stationed in Middlesbrough. In 1915, squadrons A through C were reassigned to divisions stationed overseas in le Havre, France, while squadron D was dissolved. By May 1916, the squadrons were reunited into a regiment that became the Corps Cavalry to the 17th Corps of the British Expeditionary Force at Gouy-en-Ternois during the Arras Offensive. The regiment was dismounted in 1917 to receive infantry training and serve as reinforcements with the 9th Batallion, West Yorkshire Regiment fighting in France. The regiment was disbanded in February 1919.


Baker, Chris. “Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own).” The Long, Long Trail Researching soldiers of the British Army in the Great War of 1914-1919. Accessed April 28, 2022.

“Yorkshire Hussars.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 28, 2022.

“Yorkshire Hussars.” Wartime Memories Project. Accessed April 28, 2022.


0.57 Cubic Feet (1 letter document box and 1 half-size letter document box)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of correspondence, photographs, and financial records dated between 1909 and 1917 relating to Ralph W. E. Beckett's family and service during World War I.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Voyager Press in October 2017.

Processing Information

This collection was processed between February and April 2022 by Julia Deros.

Guide to the Ralph W. E. Beckett, 3rd Baron Grimthorpe, World War I papers
Julia Deros
2022 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA