The Edward Hermon Papers

During the nineteenth century great fortunes were made by various entrepreneurs in the cotton industry of Lancashire. One of the most remarkable of these cotton masters was Edwards Hermon (1821?-1881), the managing partner of Horrocks, Miller & Company, an early giant in the field. Hermon became the conservative M.P. for Preston (1868-1881) as well as an eminent art collector, sportsman, philantropist and builder. His papers, dating between 1864 and 1867, cover a variety of topics, but for the most part deal with the building of Wyfold Court, his hunting preserves in Scotland, the division of the Hermon estate, and the insanity of Mrs. Hermon.

Correspondence for the years 1872 to 1876 concerns the construction of Hermon's country house, Wyfold Court. This fabulous mansion, described in Mark Girouards' The Victorian Country House (1979), is still today unique for its size, style and construction. Located near Henley, Oxfordshire, Wyfold Court was built under the direction of the noted architect, George Somers Clarke (1825-1882), a former pupil of Sir Charles Barry. The letters of Somers Clarke to Hermon are filled with valuable details about the house's construction and decoration. In addition, the collection includes a variety of of related expenditure statements, estimates, and sketches and drawings.

Hermon also had an abinding interest in games sports, and there is a considerable material about the game preserves in Scotland, which were rented on long term leases from various owners. Included in this segment of the collection are letters from Sir John William Ramsden (1831-1914), who leased hunting and fishing rights in Glensbero, Glen Roy, to Hermon in 1875. Ramsden was a prominent politician and owner of some 150,000 acres throughout Britain. During the same period, there are numerous letters about the leasing of Balnacoil on the estate of the Duke of Sutherland. Hermon was in correspondence over the terms of the lease with the Duke's representative, General Sir Arnold Burrowes Kemball (1820-1908), famous for his military exploits in India and the Middle East. (A full account of Kemball's career may be found in the Dictionary of National Biography .) Also present are a related series of sketches, expenditure statements, and maps, all concerning the Scotish game preserves.

Edward Hermon died in May 1881. His death and the distribution of his property is the main subject of the letters after that date. Most of them are from family and friends to Hermon's longtime solicitor, J. James,of the firm of Garrand, James and Wolfe. James continued to be the family's solicitor even following Hermon's death and there is correspondence with George and Fanny Hermon, Edward's children, and with their spouses, Mary May Hermon and Robert Hodge. Hodge, (1851-1937) who became first Baron Wyfold in 1919, assumed the name of Hermon in addition to that of Hodge, became Robert Hermon-Hodge. He and Fanny Hermon inherited Wyfold Court. Moreover, in 1886 became the conservative M.P. for North Lancashire, and afterwards became M.P. for South Oxfordshire (twice, 1895-1906 and 1917-18) and Croydon (1909-10).

Other family correspondence includes letters from Hermon's brother, Richard Hermon, a niece, Gertrude Palmer, and from Mrs. Hermon's son, Colonel Edward Ryan, by her first marriage to a son of the noted judge, Sir Edward Ryan ( 1783-1875, see DNB). While most of the papers in the collection are organized chronologically, the letters concerning Colonel Ryan and Mrs Hermon are separated from the rest. Colonel Ryan's abundant letters, together with his wife Adeline's letters, can be found in box number two, folder number seven.

The correspondence regarding Emily Hermon, Edward's wife, is of unique value for the study of Victorian psychiatric practices. Emily Hermon was the daughter of George Udny and sister of Sir Richard Udny of the Bengal Civil service, famous for his many campaigns on that frontier. Mrs. Hermon developed a serious mental condition that required her to be committed for lunacy in 1869. The correspondence includes medical reports of her condition and letters from concern family and friends, both before and after Edward Hermon's death. Perhaps most interesting, are letters written by Mrs. Hermon, to friends and even magistrates, such as Thomas James Arnold, ( 1804-1877), whose responses were in turn, addressed to Mr. Hermon.

The Edward Hermon papers consisting of 1.5 linear feet of material, provide a wealth of detail not only about British society in the second half of the nineteenth century in general and an important British family in particular, but it is also of great value to any historian of British architecture, game sports, and psychiatry.

Extent: 1.5 Linear feet
Date span: 1864-1897 (Bulk: 1872 to 1882)
Provenance: Gift of Elizabeth von Doemming
Processed by : Myriam Alvarez-Marshall


Box 1 Folder 1
Correspondence 1864-1871
Date span: 1864 - 1871
Description: A handwritten expenditure statement from EH to Thuttleworth & son for services rendered from Nov. to June 1864. Also, a handwritten list of dinnerware to be sent to Preston, dated 1968, and a 1871 letter from Mr.James to EH discussing the purchase of some goods.

Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence 1872
Date span: 3 Feb 1872 - 22 Nov 1872
Description: Estimate for the works for Wyfold Court by Babsbone & Hunt and two letters concerning EH's support for charity and public causes. Also, a letter and a newspaper clipping regarding the prize that EH sponsored every year for the best essay on accident prevention in coal mines.

Box 1 Folder 3
Correspondence 1873
Date span: 6 Mar 1873 - 13 Jul 1873
Description: Letter from John M. Davenport enquiring whether EH wants to act as a magistrate for the Commission of Peace. Also, a letter from a professor at Oxford, accounting for the high bills of a past school term. The letter is probably referring to EH's son, George Hermon.

Box 1 Folder 4
Correspondence 1874
Date span: Apr 1874 - Nov 1874
Description: Miscellaneous letters to EH regarding a variety of business, including the purchase of paintings. Most importantly, includes expenditure statements, estimates and directions regarding the construction of Wyfold Court. Specially interesting are two estimates on kitchen fittings for Wyfold Court, which include the original ground plans submitted by C. Seward, engineer.

Box 1 Folder 5
Correspondence 1875
Date span: 1 Feb 1875 - 24 Nov 1875
Description: Letters regarding EH's business transactions, donations and property management. Specially interesting are two letters from Somers Clarke, the architect of Wyfold Court, and the letters regarding fishing and shooting rights in Glensbero, Glen Roy. The latter include an ALS from Sir John William Ramsden.

Box 1 Folder 6
Correspondence 1876
Date span: 7 Feb 1876 - 30 Nov 1876
Description: Letters almost exclusively discussing the finishing details of Wyfold Court, including the garden. Specially important are the eleven letters from Somers Clarke's office, describing the necessary elements to complete the building.

Box 1 Folder 7
Correspondence 1877
Date span: 5 Feb 1877 - Aug 1877
Description: Letters mostly related to the finishing of Wyfold Court and the paying of the bills resulting from the construction. There are several summaries of different accounts, itemizing the services rendered and their monetary value. Also, Specially interesting is a letter from EH to James, discussing the possibility of a marriage settlement for his daughter.

Box 1 Folder 8
Correspondence 1878
Date span: 14 Mar 1878
Description: Letter to EH from Somers Clarke discussing the payment of a certain unidentified account. Also a list of prizes associated with construction work to be done in the "Albany Street Houses."

Box 1 Folder 9
Correspondence 1879
Date span: 6 Aug 1879 - 31 Dec 1879
Description: Letters, bills and receipts concerning EH's affairs and business transactions. Specially important are the letters written to EH by the representative of the Duke of Sutherland, Arnold Burrowes Kemball, regarding the lease, the shooting rights and improvements on the Balnacoil estate, Brora. Along the same lines, there are numerous letters from the Duke's estate manager, J. Peacock. Also a letter from Somers Clarke, and an estimate to build a peach house.

Box 1 Folder 10
Correspondence 1880
Date span: 14 Feb 1880 - 2 Oct 1880
Description: Letters and documents regarding EH's financial affairs. Of special interest is Somers Clarke's detailed reports on a fire that damaged parts of Wyfold Court, and the specification of works required to repair the damage. There is also much correspondence with regards to the terms for the leasing of the Balnacoil estate. Mr. Mcintyre, EH's keeper, writes several letters describing at length the details of the managing of the property. In addition, there are three more letters from Sir Arnold Burrowes Kemball, discussing the terms of the Balnacoil lease, plus some more letters on the same subject from Mr. Peacock.

Box 2 Folder 1
Correspondence February to July 1881
Date span: 18 Feb 1881 - 25 Jul 1881
Description: The letters before May, refer almost exclusively to the Balnacoil agreement, including expense statements for construction in the property. After the death of EH, much of the correspondence consist of letters to J. James from family members and family friends. They are mostly concerned with the distribution of Hermon's state and wealth.

Box 2 Folder 2
Correspondence From August to November 1881
Date span: 8 Jan 1881 - Dec 1881
Description: Letters and documents addressed to J. James, regarding the financial and family affairs of the deceased EH. Important is to notice the many letters from the family members, some of them regarding the future of Balnacoil, and an official account of EH's personal estate.

Box 2 Folder 3
Correspondence 1882
Date span: 11 Feb 1882 - Jul 1882
Description: Letters and documents addressed to J. James, regarding the Hermon family affairs after the death of EH. Specially interesting are the letters referring to George Hermon's alcoholism and the family's views on the matter.

Box 2 Folder 4
Correspondence 1888
Date span: 30 Nov 1886 - 1 May 1888
Description: Letters addressed to G. E. Hermon, with regards to his building on the land of a Cornwall Railway company.

Box 2 Folder 5
Correspondence 1897
Date span: 11 Aug 1897
Description: Document certifying a share transfer from Richard Hermon to several railway companies.

Box 2 Folder 6
Emily Hermon - Correspondence
Date span: 1869 - 1882
Description: Correspondence regarding Mrs. Hermon's mental health. Includes letters written by members of the Udny, the Ryan and the Hermon families, both to EH while he was alive, and to J. James after EH's death. Also, letters written by Mrs. Hermon in her delusions, addressed to friends and magistrates. Specially interesting are the letters written by Thomas James Arnold, barrister and police magistrate, regarding Mrs. Hermon's accusatory correspondence.

Box 2 Folder 7
Col. Ryan - Correspondence
Date span: 1874 - 1882
Description: Copies and original letters from Edward Ryan to a wide variety of individuals regarding issues ranging from business to personal. Also, letters to and from wife Adeline Ryan.

Box 2 Folder 8
Undated Correspondence
Date span:
Description: Undated letters, bills, and documents. Specially interesting is a document signed by M. Randee, regarding the rights of possession of certain lands identified as the Hook End farm. Also, a printed announcement of the selling of Wyfold Court, with a detailed description of the house, the grounds and neighborhood.

Box 3 Folder 1
Oversize Map - Glensbero
Date span: undated
Description: Ordinance map of the bounds of the Glensbero shooting, signed by John William Ramsden and EH, and used for as part of the lease agreement. Fragile.

Box 3 Folder 2
Windows at Wyfold Court
Date span: undated
Description: Colored drawings of the front and side views of a window.

Box 3 Folder 3
Peach House at Wyfold Court
Date span: undated
Description: Oversize sketch for a section of the peach house at Wyfold Court. Fragile.

Box 3 Folder 4
Hot Houses at Wyfold Court
Date span: 7 May 1874
Description: Oversize plan for the range of hot houses at Wyfold Court. Fragile.

Albany Street Houses 1: 8
Arnold, Thomas James 2: 6
Babstone & Hunt 1: 2
Barnacoil Estate 2: 2
- 2: 3
- 1: 9
- 1: 10
- 2: 1
Christie Manson & Woods 1: 5
- 2: 3
Clarke, George Somers - Letters 1: 7
- 1: 8
- 1: 4
- 1: 6
- 2: 3
- 1: 9
- 1: 5
- 1: 10
Commission of the Peace 1: 3
Commissioners in Lunacy 2: 6
Cornwall Railway 2: 4
Davenport, John M. 1: 3
Hart Son Peard & Co. 1: 7
Hermon & Son - Builders 1: 7
Hermon, Edward - Death, 1881 2: 1
Hermon, Emily 2: 6
Hermon, George
-Correspondence 2: 1
- 2: 4
-Education 1: 3
Hermon-Hodge, Fanny C. (see also Hodge, Fanny) - Correspondence 2: 2
- 2: 3
-Marriage Settlement 1: 7
Hermon, Mary May 2: 2
- 2: 3
Hermon, Richard 2: 5
- 2: 2
- 2: 1
Hodge, Fanny C. 2: 2
- 2: 3
Hodge, Robert 2: 1
- 2: 3
Holland, T - Builder 1: 6
James, J. (Solicitor) 1: 1
- 2: 4
- 2: 7
- 1: 6
James, J (cont) 2: 1
- 2: 2
- 2: 3
- 1: 5
- 1: 9

Kemball, Arnold Burrowes - Letters 2: 1
- 1: 10
- 1: 9
Mcintyre, M. 2: 8
- 1: 10
- 1: 9
Oxford 1: 3
Paintings - Henry Pritt 1: 4
Palmer, Gertrude 2: 2
Peacock, J. 1: 9
- 1: 10
Prize Essays - Coal Mines 1: 2
Railway Companies 2: 5
Ramsden, John William 3: 1
- 1: 5
Randle, M. 2: 8
Ryan , Adeline 2: 7
Ryan, Edward 2: 7
- 2: 6
Ryan, Edward (Sir) 2: 6
Seward, C. - Hot Water and Gas Engineer. 1: 4
Shooting Rights - Barnacoil 1: 9
- 1: 10
- 2: 1
- 2: 2
Shooting Rights - Glensbero 1: 5
Shooting Rights - Glensbero (map) 3: 1
Shooting Rights - Coiquafearn 1: 5
Swinbourme, Alfred 1: 3 Udny, George 2: 6
Wardell, Frank N. 1: 2
Wyfold Court
- Construction 1: 6
- 1: 2
- 1: 7
- 1: 4
- Entrance Lodge 1: 10
- Fire, 1880 1: 10
- Garden 1: 6
- Hot Houses (plan) 3: 4
- Peach House 1: 9
- Peach House (plan) 3: 3
- Windows (drawing) 3: 2

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