- 1790-1914 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Nassau William Senior (1790-1864), lawyer, author and political economist, was born at Compton Beauchamp, Berkshire, on 26 September 1790. He enrolled at Eton College in 1803 and entered Magdalen College, Oxford in 1806, graduating with a first in Classics in 1811. By this time he had already begun his career in Lincoln's Inn and it was around this time that he began writing reviews and articles of a legal or literary nature for the Quarterly Review. In 1823 he joined the recently formed Political Economy Club, remaining an active member for the next forty years. Senior was Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford, 1826-1829 and 1847-1852, was a member of the Royal Commission of Education, 1858-1861, and acted as an advisor to successive Whig administrations. He became involved in several social concerns, including the rights of factory workers and the socio-economic problems of the poor. In 1837 he published his Letters on the Factory Act as it Affects the Cotton Manufacture and, in 1841, the parliamentary Report on the Condition of the Handloom Weavers. He held the then unorthodox view that government intervention in the form of capital investment should be carried out in an attempt to relieve the problems of the poor in Britain and Ireland. Senior's lifelong friendship with the political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville began when the two men met in London in 1833. Senior travelled widely through Europe, mainly France and Italy, but also to the Middle East, North Africa, Ireland, and Wales and Scotland. Senior married Mary Charlotte Mair in 1821; they had a son Nassau John Senior (1822-1891) and a daughter, Mary Charlotte Mair Senior (1825-1907), latterly Mrs M. C. M. Simpson. He died in Kensington on 4 June 1864. After his death Mrs Simpson published many of his journals.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
NLW MSS 23310-23311: Jeffrey Stern, antiquarian bookseller; Heslington, York; Purchase; 1994.
NLW MSS 23312-23316: Christie's; London; Purchased at auction, lots 60, 61 and 84; 12 October 1994.
NLW MSS 23857-23861: Sotheby's; London; Purchased at auction, lots 36, 37, 40, 55 and 56; 19 December 2000.
NLW MS 23965C: Quaritch Ltd; London; Purchase; July 2007; 004489383.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Papers, 1790-1914, of, or relating to, Nassau William Senior and his family. They include family correspondence, including transcripts, 1800-1912; correspondence, 1818-1863, of Nassau William Senior with various individuals, including Lord Lansdowne, [?1831]-[c. 1860], and John Murray Forbes, 1855-1863; letters to Senior from Alexis de Tocqueville, Edward Everett and George Sumner, 1842-1863, mainly relating to contemporary political events in France and the United States; papers, 1834-1837, concerning Poor Law legislation, social and religious issues in Ireland and factory regulation in the cotton industry; letters, 1855-1876, to Jane Elizabeth Senior; a journal of Senior's tour in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, [?1819]; and miscellaneous papers, including letters from statesmen and ecclesiastical dignitaries, 1790-1887, collected by Walter Nassau Senior.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 23310-23316, 23857-23861, 23965C.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
The contents of NLW MSS 23310-23316 are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003).
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Gwyn Jenkins, 'The Nassau Senior Papers', NLWJ, 21 (1979-80), 76-84.
Title based on contents.
Virtua system control number
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
April 2009-January 2021.
The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX (Aberystwyth, 2003); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online (viewed 2 April 2009).
Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS, and revised by Rhys Jones.