Letters of William Empson (1791-1852)

Scope and Content

The material is composed of: letter from Moray Place in which Empson refers to a letter to Haileybury only just being received and referring to 'the sudden calamity' which has brought him to Edinburgh; a letter addressed from Torquay; and, a letter referring to Marianne's sister, Louisa.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Empson, born in 1791, was educated at Winchester and then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. He began to contribute to the Edinburgh review in 1832 and from then until 1849 he wrote more than 60 articles on law, politics, and literary topics. In 1843 he wrote an article on Bentham which was contradicted by J. S. Mill in 1844. Empson was Professor of General Polity Upon the Laws of England at the East India College, Haileybury, Hertfordshire (this was the administrative training college of the East India Company which closed in 1858) from 1824 to 1852. He succeeded to the editorship of the Edinburgh review in 1847. William Empson died at Haileybury on 10 December 1852.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Gen. 2040/20-21 material among miscellaneous letters of Scottish interest, purchased Ed. Hall, October 1975, Accession no. E75.53.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephe, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 6. Drant-Finan. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show another reference to Empson related material (check the Indexes for more details): mention in a letter of C. W. Le Bas to H. Walter, 11 May 1843, at Dc.4.102. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes several locations of Empson related material.