Robert Lemon, letter and notes

Scope and Content

The papers of Robert Lemon consist of three separate documents (one of which spans 4 pages) of notes on a portrait of Milton owned by Lemon, detailing its authenticity and also the need to establish a National Gallery of Portraits. One of these documents is dated 16 March 1853. The notes are thought to have been written by Lemon in preparation for a talk he gave on the Milton portrait when he exhibited it to the Society of Antiquaries.

Also includes draft of a letter by Lemon to the editor of The Athenaeum magazine dated 4 December 1855 concerning the establishment of a National Gallery of Portraits. This letter references the talk Lemon gave to the Society of Antiquaries in March 1853.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Lemon (1799-1867) was born in Newington, London the son of Robert Lemon (1778-1835), archivist, and his wife Sarah (1772-1826). He was employed under his father in the state paper office where he compiled the indexes to 'Valor ecclesiasticus temp. Hen. VIII'. In 1835, he became senior clerk, he suggested that calendars of state papers should be compiled and published and he interpreted the cipher which had previously made large masses of those papers unintelligible. He edited the first two volumes of the 'Domestic Series, 1547-90', which were published in 1856 and 1865.

In 1826 he discovered an original portrait of Milton. He was elected to the Society of Antiquaries in March 1836, he rearranged the society's library and compiled catalogues of its valuable collections of broadsides and proclamations.

He married Lucy Elizabeth (1799/1800-1861) and they had several children. He died at his home in Brompton, London on 3 January 1867.

This biographical description is largely based on Gordon Goodwin, 'Lemon, Robert (1799–1867)', rev. G. H. Martin, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, April 2016 [, accessed 11 Oct 2017].

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.