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MS 321 Papers of Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood

Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood

Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood (1790-1845), the editor of the first Duke of Wellington's Dispatches, served under Wellington in the Peninsula. He went out to Spain and Portugal in 1810, was wounded at Sabugal, 3 April 1811, and distinguished himself leading the forlorn hopes at the storming of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. He was brigade major to the Household Cavalry from October 1812 to October 1813, when he resigned after Sir Stapleton Cotton, later Viscount Combermere, censured his conduct. The following month he was appointed a major of brigade to a brigade of infantry and joined General Lambert's brigade. He was aide de camp to Sir Henry Clinton after the Peace of Paris in 1814 until March 1815, again leaving his post after an altercation. He was appointed to the staff of the Prince of Orange, as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, but left to join his regiment, the Tenth Hussars in May, although he missed the battle of Waterloo on account of injury. He was promoted to a majority by brevet. He went on half pay in 1823 and moved to the Continent, where, in Paris, in March 1823, his friend, Sir Charles Stuart, the British ambassador, gave him despatches to take to Spain. Although he sought to return to full pay, in the hope of obtaining promotion, he was unsuccessful and accompanied Stuart to Lisbon and Brazil. In 1827 he was appointed to the post of Deputy Adjutant General in the West Indies, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He spent some of his time there studying Wellington's general orders from the Peninsula, a subject to which he returned in 1830 when he was appointed major of brigade to the South West District and was stationed at Portsmouth. It was here that he embarked on his edition of Wellington's General Orders, with the Duke's sanction, which came to publication in 1832. From this start, he was able to persuade the Duke to the publication of his Dispatches, a task that was to occupy him, in various editions, for the remainder of his life. He was made a Companion of the Bath in 1838; and in 1839 he became Lieutenant Governor of the Tower of London, deputy to Wellington as Constable. He died by his own hand in 1845, overcome by his editorial work.

Gurwood met his wife, Fanny (who was already married to Louis Mayer), in the south of France in 1813. She left her husband to stay with him and her daughter, Eugenie, possibly Gurwood's natural daughter, was born at either Lyons or Paris in June 1814; and they subsequently had a daughter, Adèle. Eugenie, married William Baliol Brett, first Viscount Esher, in 1850.

Relating to the collection

The correspondence was purchased by the University as lots 88 and 91 at Messrs Christie's sale of their papers in London on 20 November 2002, with the support of the J.H.Hansard Trust.

About collection

The collection is formed of seven guardbooks of correspondence and papers of Gurwood. These guardbooks contain:

MS 321/1 Gurwood’s correspondence, 1810-43, primarily about his military offices and about the compilation of the Dispatches, with correspondents including the Adjutant General’s Office, 1810-22; the Horse Guards, 1826-35; Lord Fitzroy Somerset, later first Baron Raglan, 1828-38; Lord Stuart de Rothesay, 1825-32; the fifth Earl Stanhope, 1833, 1839; Sir John Conroy, 1833-8; the fifth Duke of Richmond, 1834, 1839; the third Earl of Clarendon, 1835, 1838; S.Whittingham, 1835, with a copy of a memorandum he wrote in 1809 on the battle of Talavera; Lord Beresford, 1835-6; Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell, 1836; Lord Hill, 1838; Lord Douro, 1840-1; Miss Adèle Gurwood, 1840-1, with other letters to her from Captain Norcliffe and others, 1841 

MS 321/2 Gurwood’s correspondence, 1812-46, 1872: Peninsular War papers, 1812-14; copy of a letter from Lord Holland to Lord Kinnaird, on political and military conduct at Paris and the Duke of Wellington, 5 Dec 1815; statement of the distribution to Gurwood of Peninsular prize money, 1816; letters and memoranda by the Duke of Wellington about the battle of Waterloo, and the defence of Hougoumont, the formation of the government in 1827-8 and the command in chief of the army, Mar 1839, probably copied by Gurwood in the 1830s; memoranda gathered by Gurwood, some copied in his hand, relating to Assaye, Major General Sir W.Napier’s description of the assault at Ciudad Rodrigo in 1812, c.1845 [watermark]; operations around Toulouse in 1814, Waterloo, the papers of Mrs Fitzherbert and George IV, Aug 1832, and notes on the camp at Coblenz of the Prussian Eighth Army Corps under the command of Lieutenant General von Borstell, Sep 1836; character of Lord Lytton, mid to late nineteenth century; draft of a letter from Adèle Gurwood to Wellington about her father’s papers, 1845-6; papers about Colonel Gurwood’s estate, 1872; memorandum by Gurwood, Nov 1845, of his property, including the arrangements for printing the Dispatches in is various editions

MS 321/3 Correspondence principally about the Peninsular War, 1843-5 and n.d. c.1830-45 

MS 321/4 Letters to Gurwood and his wife largely from the fourth Marquis of Hertford, 1829-44, and n.d. c.1840-5 

MS 321/5 Secretarial copies of Gurwood’s letters from the Peninsula to his mother, 1810-12; Gurwood’s journal (a later copy, probably written in the 1830s), from 13 Oct 1812 to the late 1820s, noting events where Gurwood was associated with Wellington; letter from Gurwood to Sir Charles Stuart reporting on his journey to Seville, 1823; other memoirs and reports, 1827-9

MS 321/6 Letters to Adéle Gurwood from members of the Lytton family, 1846; 1872-9

MS 321/7 Correspondence and papers, 1811-1906: letters from the Peninsula and copies, 1811-12; notes on the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, probably 1820s; poem celebrating Gurwood’s service in the forlorn hope at Ciudad Rodrigo, post 1812; memorandum on Marshal Ney after the defeat of Napoleon, post 1839; letters to Gurwood relating to the preparation of the Dispatches for publication and Gurwood’s papers, 1830s to 1847; lithographed pro-forma letters from the first Duke of Wellington as Commander in Chief of the army, in the Duke’s hand, n.d. c.1842-5; letters to Mrs Gurwood and her daughter Adèle, 1847-1906, from Mrs Gurwood’s daughter Eugenie, later Viscountess Esher, from India, 1870s-1880, the Duc de Nemours, Lord Lytton, Emile de Giradin, Robert Browning (1882-9), and Field Marshal Lord Wolseley, 1898-1900.

Date range:


Former references:



7 volumes








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