Letters from John Marriott to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The volume contains ten letters from John Marriott to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, 1805-1809; some include poems by Marriott.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Marriott (1780-1825) was a poet and Church of England clergyman. He was ordained a priest in the Church of England on 22 December 1805, after studying at Christ Church, Oxford. Marriott went to Dalkeith, Scotland, in 1804 to become tutor to George Henry, Lord Scott, brother of the 5th Duke of Buccleuch. Marriott was fired by the enthusiasm in Scott's circle for ballads, and contributed three poems to the fourth volume of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

Source: W.P. Courtney, 'Marriott, John (1780-1825)', rev. Bonnie Shannon McMullen, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -' http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/18093.

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781-1851) was an antiquary and collector. He was educated for the Church, but he seems never to have pursued this line with enthusiasm, instead concentrating on his antiquarian interests. As a child he had listened to ballads and songs in Dumfriesshire and when Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border appeared in 1802, Sharpe immediately sent him copies of The Twa Corbies and The Douglas Tragedy. He published works of poetry in 1807, 1823 and 1837. However, he felt himself secure only on antiquarian subjects, and this is where his literary reputation rests. He edited James Kirkton's Secret and True History of the Church of Scotland in 1817, with elaborate notes. His introduction to Robert Law's Memorials (1818), written at Scott's suggestion and with the use of his library, remains to this day a standard history of witchcraft in Scotland. His historical interests led him into a number of byways. Witchcraft, female criminality, and historical gossip were supported by an exceptional knowledge of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources. He was also a noted collector. While still at Oxford he was given Lely's portrait of the Duchess of Portsmouth. At his death he owned a very considerable number of portraits, including Margaret Tudor by Holbein, Hogarth's Sarah Malcolm, Kneller's Duchess of Marlborough, and twelve previously in Kellie Castle. His collection was dispersed at his death, either in two sales which lasted in total nearly a fortnight, or to various beneficiaries under his will.

Source: Patrick Cadell, 'Sharpe, Charles Kirkpatrick (1781-1851)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/25225.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Acquired by the John Rylands Library as part of Mrs Rylands's bequest.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist, and Elizabeth Gow with reference to:

Custodial History

In 1888 these letters, along with a large quantity of Sharpe's correspondence, were in the possession of Rev. W.K.R. Bedford, of Sutton Coldfield, nephew and executor of C.K. Sharpe.

Related Material

Devon Record Office holds correspondence between John Marriott and Sir Thomas Dyke Acland (ref.: GB 027 1148M). Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter, holds poems by Marriott.

National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections, holds the bulk of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe's antiquarian and literary correspondence and papers (ref.: GB 233 MSS 209-11, 843, 2510-11, 3346, 9808), as well as letters to Robert Chambers and Sir Walter Scott (ref.: GB 233 Dep 341 and GB 233 MSS 3874-3919). For material in other repositories see the National Register of Archives.


These letters and poems are published, interspersed in chronological order with other letters in Sharpe's correspondence, in Alexander Allardyce (ed.), Letters from and to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe... with a memoir by the Rev. W.K.R. Bedford (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1888).