Semantha Atkeson papers  [1856]-1861
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials related to the personal and political life of Irish politician and writer John Wilson Croker, who served as Secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830. The collection (approximately 25,000 items) includes correspondence and letter books, diaries, financial records, poetry, printed materials, and political, legal, and judicial manuscripts.

The Correspondence series is divided into 4 subseries: a chronological sequence, an alphabetical sequence, bundled groups of letters, and letter books. The Chronological , Alphabetical , and Bundled subseries contain personal and political letters that Croker exchanged with colleagues, including many items pertaining to his career as secretary to the Admiralty. These include material on the Napoleonic Wars, such as dispatches from the Duke of Wellington (1810-1852) and information on the locations of British troops and ships. Additional material concerns the War of 1812 and military news about the Iberian Peninsula; the series also contains Croker's correspondence with Lord Ashburton regarding peace negotiations with the United States. A letter from March 22, 1813, pertains to the battle between the USS Constitution and HMS Java off of the Brazilian coast.

The series also includes a list of transports awaiting convoy (April 24, 1813), information on Russian ships (May 10, 1813), and 2 printed bulletins in French regarding Napoleon Bonaparte (October 9, 1813, and June 14, 1814). Later material reflects Croker's literary career, particularly his contributions to The Quarterly Review. Croker's personal correspondence includes letters to and from family members and friends. Items post-dating Croker's death largely originated from Edward Gifford, who discussed the treatment of Croker's papers. Further letters in the collection are addressed to Croker's wife, Rosamund Carrington Pennell, and reflect Croker's family life as well as aspects of his political life in London.

The collection's 45 Letter Books include Croker's private letter books and their indexes, as well as bound groups of letters organized by correspondent. Croker kept his set of 28 "private" letter books between 1811 and 1857; they contain copies of letters he authored on personal and political matters. The bulk of the political correspondence relates to Croker's duties as secretary to the Admiralty and to his relationship with the Duke of Wellington. The series contains 3 indexes to these volumes.

The remaining 14 letter books contain letters that Croker received from individual correspondents:

  • "Canning, Holograph Letters to Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1812-1827) is comprised of letters from George Canning. Canning's letters relate to personal and political matters, including affairs of the Houses of Parliament and the Admiralty; he frequently inquired about the French Marine and about ships stationed in foreign waters. Some of the letters were composed during Canning's tenure as Ambassador to Portugal (1814-1816).
  • "Admiral Cockburn, His Holograph correspondence to the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1809-1830). These letters by Sir George Cockburn pertain to domestic politics within Great Britain, as well as to issues related to the Admiralty and to other members of government, including George Canning. Some private correspondence concerns affairs with the United States. This volume also contains "A Map intended to illustrate the threatened Invasion of England by Bonaparte," as well as a chart entitled "The No. and Description of guns carried by H.M.S. Victory at different periods." The volume also contains photocopies of letters that Croker wrote to Cockburn.
  • "Lockhart, His Holograph Correspondence to the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (6 volumes, 1819-1854) is comprised of letters by John Gibson Lockhart pertaining to the British Admiralty.
  • "Huskisson, His Original Holograph Correspondence with the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1815-1828). This volume contains letters by William Huskisson about the British Admiralty.
  • "Spencer Perceval, His Holograph Correspondence to the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker" (1 volume, 1808-1812) includes personal letters from Spencer Perceval. Perceval's letters focus on a political matters related Parliament and the British government.
  • Copies of letters from King George III to Lord Halifax, Duke of Cumberland, Lord Rockingham, and General Conway (1 volume, 1765-1770)
  • Copies of letters by King George III to Lord Weymouth (1 volume, 1768-1779)
  • Copies of letters by King George III to Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1 volume, 1804-1807), comprised of copied correspondence between King George III and Robert Stewart about British diplomacy and domestic politics.
  • Copies of letters from William IV, Duke of Clarence, to John W. Croker (1 volume, 1810-1828)

The Diaries series contains 24 diaries that Croker kept between 1797 and 1829, the bulk of which are dated between 1817 and 1829. Several of Croker's diaries are travel accounts. Additional diaries are 19th-century manuscript copies, including "Extract from the Journal of a Tour through England in the year 1735 written by Mr. Whaley Fellow of Kings Coll. Cambridge," and extracts from diaries by Lord Hertford (1822) and Sir Henry Hulford (1831).

A series of Political, Legal, and Judicial Manuscripts relates to contemporary British politics and to foreign relations, particularly with France. The series contains an essay draft written by Croker and annotated by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, entitled "Observations on Choumara's Book," May 16, 1838 (referring to Choumara's The Battle of Toulouse), as well as Croker's notes on conversations with the Duke. The series also contains an undated, 254-page speech by Croker.

Five bound volumes pertain to the contested will of Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquis of Hertford, including a copy of his will and codicils (1842) and records from Croker's legal case against Richard Seymour Conway regarding the will's validity (1844).

The Financial Records series contains miscellaneous receipts and accounts that document Croker's finances between 1842 and 1855. The series includes material such as a receipt for wine shipped to Haiding Gifford in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and 5 account books.

The Poetry series includes loose manuscript copies of poems and 2 bound volumes: Croker's translations of Greek poems (1799) and a poem by Hugh Warrender entitled "The Night."

A group of Lists and Indexes relate to Parliamentary elections, birth records, and other topics.

Three Subject Volumes include the following:

  • A volume containing journal articles and reviews of the works of Thomas Babington Macaulay, including an answer to his criticisms of Croker's edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson.
  • A volume of records, letters, and drawings related to the Croker family's property at West Molesey, Surrey, England. The volume contains 20 pen and ink drawings of architectural plans for the renovated house, as well as maps of the surrounding area. The volume also includes bills and contracts for the architectural work.
  • A volume pertaining to the Croker family, which contains letters, histories, family trees, and illustrations of the family's crests. A Latin document reflects the family's time in Dublin, and a gravestone rubbing depicts a knight laid to rest. Family tree sketches include around 12 versions of the family crest and trace its development over time.

The Printed Materials series consists of pamphlets, newspapers, and clippings about a variety of topics, particularly the French Revolution and issues in contemporary Irish politics.

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