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Nassau William Senior papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-HUT-012

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the holographic diary of English economist and author, Nassau William Senior. The diary, written between September 1 and October 23, 1862, formed one segment of Senior's travel diaries, later published as Journals, Conversations and Essays related to Ireland in 1868. The published edition covers the period 1852-1862.

Corrections have been made in the manuscript, most likely by the persons in conversation with Senior, and this is noted. Names omitted in the published volume are included in the manuscript. There are a few discrepancies in dates. For example, in Senior's recorded conversation with Stephen Spring-Rice (October 4), the work "received" has been changed to "secured," and the published page dates the meeting for October 5.

Entries in the diary begin with Senior's arrival in Dublin, accompanied by his daughter, Mary Charlottte Mair Simpson. They traveled to Londonderry, Westport, Killarney, Galway, Limerick, Mount Trenchard, and Cardtown. Senior describes the difficulties and inconveniences of travel in Ireland, but he adds interesting descriptions of the countryside, villages, and farms.

Senior recorded his conversations with Lord Monteagle, an advocate for Irish reform; Lord Monteagle's son, Septhen Spring-Rice, chairman of the Board of Customs; Stephen de Vere, Catholic member of parliament for Limerick; Lord Rosse, English astronomer; and Thomas Trench, an estate manager. Conversational subject included landlord-tenant problems, the clergy, agrarian crimes, workhouses, land subdivision, and differences between English and Irish labor. The final entries for October, 1862, take place at Birr Castle, Parsontown, the estate of Lord Rosse.


  • Creation: 1862


Use Restrictions

Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Biographical Note

Nassau William Senior was an English economist and author. He was born at Compton Beauchamp, Berkshire, September 26, 1790. He was educated at Oxford, receiving a B.A. (1812) and an M.A. (1815). He was called to the bar in 1819, but his life's work was in the field of political economy. Senior's father, the Rev. John Raven Senior, was the vicar of Durnford Wiltshire, and the younger Senior came to believe that charity in his father's parish was often misdirected. Early in his career, he resolved to reform the English poor law.

Senior became a member of the Political Economy Club in 1823, and he was chosen as the first professor of political economy at Oxford in 1825. Many of his lectures were published which helped to establish his reputation in England and in France. In 1830, he prepared a report on trade combinations for Lord Melbourne, the home secretary. The report was the substance of Historical and Philosophical Essays published in 1865. In 1833, he was appointed to the poor-law commission and was the author of a report which established the poor-law of 1834. Senior served on several royal commissions dealing with factories and trade.He had a particular interest in the state of affairs in Ireland. He traveled there often and wrote pamphlets, letters, and reviews discussing the critical problems in that country. In 1831, he published A Letter to Lord Howick, on a Legal Provision for the Irish Poor: Commutation of Tithes, and a Provision for the Irish Roman Catholic Clergy.

Senior was in Paris in May 1848 when an attack was made on the national assembly. At that time, Senior began a practice which he found useful in many of his writings. He began to keep a full journal and to record conversations with prominent persons. His own observations and opinions formed part of the narrative. He made use of this convention in his travel diaries written during trips to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Malta, and Ireland. To avoid any misrepresentation, he sometimes allowed the original speakers to revise the writings. Senior's daughter, Mary Charlotte Mair, (later Mrs. C. J. Simpson), published parts of his journals after his death. Titles include: A Journal Kept in Turkey and Greece (1859), Journals, Conversations and Essays Relating to Ireland (1868), Journals Kept in France and Italy from 1848 to 1852 (1871), and Conversations with Distinguished Persons During the Second Empire (1880).

Nassau William Senior died in Kensington, June 4, 1864.


0.19 Cubic Feet (1 letter half-size document box)

Language of Materials



The diary was formerly part of the Hutzler Collection of Economic Classics. It was transferred to the Manuscript Unit in July, 1991.

General Physical Description note

1 volume

Senior (Nassau William) 1790-1864Papers 1862MS Hut 15
Joan Grattan
June 18, 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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