Phillipps Manuscripts Collection on Anglo-Ottoman Trade

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MSS 519-520
  • Dates of Creation
      Late 18th Century
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 subfonds

Scope and Content

The collection comprises two manuscripts containing reports, extracts and statistics on the trade between Ottoman Turkey and Great Britain during the second half of the eighteenth century.

Administrative / Biographical History

Frederick North (1766-1827), 5th Earl of Guilford, colonial governor and philhellene, was born on 7 February 1766, the youngest of the three surviving sons of Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford (1732-1792). He was educated at Eton (1775-82) and Christ Church, Oxford. In September 1792 North succeeded to his father's parliamentary seat, the pocket borough of Banbury, which he held until 1794 when he was appointed to the controllership of customs in the port of London.

In 1795 he went to Corsica as secretary to Sir Gilbert Elliot, the viceroy during the British occupation of the island. Between 1798 and 1805 he was the first British governor of Ceylon. In 1814 he was elected president of the Philomousos Society of Athens, founded to encourage the spread of education among the Greeks. North outlived his elder brothers, succeeding to the earldom of Guilford on 11 January 1817, and a seat at Wroxton Abbey, Oxfordshire. He worked towards the foundation of an institution of higher education on the Greek islands, The Ionian University, or Ionian Academy.

He was created GCMG in 1819 by the Prince Regent, and in 1820 he was made director of education in the Ionian Islands and set about bringing to fruition his scheme for an Hellenic university. In November 1823 the legislative assembly appointed Guilford chancellor of the university, which was constituted with four faculties (theology, law, medicine, and philosophy) on 17 May 1824. After three academic sessions Guilford's poor health forced him to return to England, where he died at the house of his sister Anne, the Countess Dowager of Sheffield, in London, on 14 October 1827.

Source: M.C. Curthoys, 'North, Frederick, fifth earl of Guilford (1766-1827)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from the Leicester bookseller Bernard Halliday on 12 February 1930.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Klett, project archivists, with reference to:

  • A.N.L. Munby, The formation of the Phillipps library up to the year 1840, Phillipps studies no. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954), p. 56.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Frederick North.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928-35 (English MSS 519-520).

Custodial History

Both manuscripts, as indicated by their bookplates, once belonged to the library of Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford (1766-1827). At his death in 1827 the remnant of his extensive library was broken up by auction which resulted in the purchase of these manuscripts, along with many others, by the great bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872); Phillipps numbers 4928 (Eng MS 519) and 4929 (Eng MS 520). After the death of Phillipps in 1872 his library was intermittantly dispersed by auction throughout the rest of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.