Josephine Butler to her father [John Grey of Dilston]

Scope and Content

Photocopy of letter. Written from 124 High Street, Oxford. Comments on the sad news about William [her brother in law. See note] and how sad it would be if her sister had to return as a widow. Speaks of a visit with George and his sister to Greenwich [the offices of the Greenwich Estate. See note]. 'Bunty' [the baby] is 'getting very knowing'. They find 'housekeeping hard work, with small means and prices so high'

Administrative / Biographical History

[Middle of Dec 1853] Date: When this letter was written the family did not know for certain of William Morrison's death

In a letter of 1 Dec 1853 quoted in JB's 'Life of John Grey' John Grey writes: 'Yesterday's post brought me letters from Hong Kong with the sad information that when the mail left 11 Oct, a few hours, or at most days, must ... put an end to the life which has been so valuable to many ...'

Elizabeth (usually called 'Eliza' by the family) was the eldest of the Grey girls (b.1819). She had married a Dr William Morrison in 1836 when 17 and had gone out with him to Hong Kong where he worked. He died in the autumn of 1853. Eliza returned to England a widow with 4 young children and went to live in her father's home

The date of JB's letter must have been shortly after the date of her father receiving the mail from Hong Kong (Dec 1) as she writes as one still uncertain of Morrison's death

(see Memoir of John Grey by his daughter - 1874 containing letter of John Grey to Lord Grey 1 Dec 1853)


John Grey (Josephine's father) was in 1833 appointed Receiver of the Greenwich Hospital Estates in Northumberland (these estates were forfeited by Lord Derwentwater after the 1815 Jacobite rebellion and bestowed on Greenwich Hospital). He was also given land for a house on the estate and when it was complete in 1835 the family moved in. Josephine was then 7. The house was called Dilston (from the ruined castle of Dilston close by) and the name of John Grey of Dilston was known all over the North of England and on the Continent to those interested in scientific agriculture


is the baby born 15 Nov 1852, the first born of George and Josephine Butler and named George Grey

'The Emperor of Russia's battles are much more expensive and affect every class'

The Crimean War did not start for England till Mar 1854 when England and France declared war on Russia, but in Oct 1853 Turkey declared war on Russia following a dispute about the Holy Places and privileges for Orthodox Church pilgrims, and in Jun 1853 Russia occupied the Turkish vassal states of Moldavia and Wallachia

(The Columbian Ency)

The Tsar at this time was Nicholas I (1825-55)

Biog: Eliza married to William Morrison; Hatty Meuricoffre; John Grey of Dilston