Papers of Heinrich Simon

  • Reference
      GB 133 SIM
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      8 volumes, 1868 pieces.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

The 8 volumes of Heinrich Simon Papers provide information relating to Heinrich Simon's life for the years 1816 to 1840. The periods covered are Heinrich Simon's early school years and his attendance at grammar school, 1816-1824 (vol. 1); his studies at the universities of Berlin and Breslau, 1824-1827 (vol. 2); the time after the first law examination at the court in Brandenburg, 1827-1829 (vol. 3), and Glogau, 1829-1831 (vol. 4); as Referendar after the second law examination in Breslau, 1831-1834 (vol. 5); his first employments in Magdeburg, Greifswald and Frankfurt (Oder), 1834-1837 (vol. 6); and his employment in Breslau, 1837-1840 (vol. 7). The final volume differs from the previous ones in that it contains material relating to the years 1823-1834, including printed matter and Heinrich Simon's commonplace-book for the period from 1826 to 1833.

The collection of Heinrich Simon's Papers contains a considerable range of documents including numerous official and private letters, personal accounts, curricula vitae, notes, drafts, expenditure lists, book lists, name lists, school reports, assessments, timetables, certificates, lecture timetables, lecture attendance tickets, statutes of universities, libraries and societies which Heinrich Simon joined, further printed material (papers, booklets, leaflets, cuttings), writings and essays by Heinrich Simon, verdicts and reasons, lists of cases Heinrich Simon had to work on at the different courts, contracts, visiting cards, Heinrich Simon's passports, post-coach tickets, concert tickets, theatre programmes, maps, sketches, cartoons, drawings, poems, lyrics of songs and humorous letters and documents.

As well as being an essential source for the life of a leading figure in 19th-century German history, the Heinrich Simon Papers have great significance for studies of the Prussian legal and educational systems, and contain much incidental information on the culture, society and economy of Central Europe in the 1820s and `30s.

Administrative / Biographical History

August Heinrich Simon was born in Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland) on 29 October 1805, the third of seven children of Herrmann (1781-1851) and Minna Simon, née Lewald (died 1850). After his childhood and earliest school years in Breslau, he attended the grammar school in Brieg from 1819 to 1824, and afterwards continued his education at the universities of Berlin (1824-1826) and Breslau (1826-1827). During his time as a law student at the University of Berlin Heinrich Simon went on his first long journey by foot, which took him via the Harz Mountains to Göttingen and Kassel.

After passing the first law examination he was employed at the Königlich Preussisches Kammergericht (Royal Prussian Supreme Court) Brandenburg as Auskultator to prepare himself for the second examination. During the time in Brandenburg (1827-1829), Heinrich Simon was challenged to a pistol duel by one of his colleagues, whom he mortally injured, the opponent dying on the following day. The incident caused Heinrich Simon great distress and was followed by an investigation, leading to his temporary attachment to the fortress of Glogau. In response to his parents' application for reprieve, Heinrich Simon was pardoned in September 1830. Continuing his training, he worked at the Oberlandesgericht (Supreme District Court) Glogau until he took the second law examination in March 1831.

Now promoted to a Referendar, Heinrich Simon changed his employer again and worked at the Oberlandesgericht Breslau until his third and final examination in August 1834. During his time as Referendar in Breslau Simon began to participate in the editing and compilation of books and he wrote articles for papers. He also travelled and spent time in several health resorts. Having passed the third law examination in Berlin with great success, Heinrich Simon started his first real employments as Assessor, in Magdeburg (1834-1836), Greifswald (1836-1837) and Frankfurt (Oder) (1837). In 1835 Henry Simon, son of Heinrich Simon's brother Gustav Simon and his wife Antonie, née Stöckel, was baptised with Heinrich Simon as his godfather.

In 1837 Simon was release from the court in Frankfurt (Oder) to transfer to the Oberlandesgericht Breslau as deputy for his brother-in-law Heinrich Gräff, husband of Auguste née Simon. His vacation was extended several times as he had begun to collaborate with former colleagues and friends in extensive literary work on legal subjects. He continued to write critical articles for papers and went on further journeys, visiting Austria, Switzerland and France.

The material in the Heinrich Simon Papers ends in 1840, when Simon was on the verge of achieving national prominence as a leader of the Prussian radical movement. In 1841 he was appointed by the Prussian Minister of Education to draw up proposals for reform of the state education system, but his sweeping proposals were rejected, prompting him to resign. He led a campaign for the separation of the judicature from the state, publishing the influential Independence of Prussian Judges in 1845. His political views became increasingly radical, and in 1848 he was summoned to join the revolutionary Frankfurt Parliament. After its suppression in June 1849 Heinrich Simon was arraigned for treason at the Breslau criminal courts and he fled to Switzerland, taking with him the Parliament's seal. He continued to write on German affairs and was involved in copper mining, until his death by drowning at Murg on the Wallensee in 1860.

Heinrich Simon's nephew and godson, (Heinrich) Henry Simon (1835-1899), left Germany for Manchester in 1860 to begin an enormously successful career in manufacturing engineering. He revolutionised the floor-milling industry, with the introduction of roller mills to replace the age-old method of grinding wheat using mill-stones. He also pioneered the use of bye-product coke ovens to modernise the iron and steel industry. The two companies he founded, Simon-Carves Ltd (coke ovens) and Henry Simon Ltd (milling), remain in existence as the Simon Engineering Group. Like many 19th- century industrialists, Henry Simon also played a leading role in the civic life of Manchester. He gave financial support to Owens College (later the University of Manchester), endowing a new physics laboratory and the Henry Simon Professorship of German Literature.


The material is arranged in 8 folio volumes, most bearing titles referring to the contents of the individual volumes. Apart from the last volume, the arrangement of pieces in each volume is strictly chronological.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PP.

Custodial History

The Heinrich Simon Papers are presumed to have remained in the ownership of the Simon family until they were presented to the John Rylands University Library on 3 June 1975 by Roger Simon, Baron Simon of Wythenshawe, great great nephew of August Heinrich.


For further information on Heinrich and Henry Simon, see Brian Simon, In Search of a Grandfather: Henry Simon of Manchester (Leicester: Pendene Press, 1997) .