The Henry Cust Scandal

Scope and Content

This series comprises Millicent Garrett Fawcett's letters and papers from the Henry Cust campaign and include letters from her supporters such as K Lyttelton, suffrage colleagues such as Frances Balfour as well as prominent leaders in the Conservative party such as Arthur James Balfour. It includes letters from Henry and Nina Cust and the wider Cust family. The papers date from the period between 1894-1895 when Millicent Garrett Fawcett led a high profile sexual-morality campaign against Henry John Cockayne Cust (1861-1917) (MP and journalist). Fawcett did not know Cust personally, but they moved in the same Conservative and Unionist political circles. Cust was the MP for the Stanford division of Lincolnshire and in the summer of 1893 he seduced Emmeline Mary Elizabeth Welby Gregory (Nina) (1867-1955) the daughter of Sir William Earle Welby-Gregory. Cust was already known to have had several affairs, but in this instance he left Miss Welby and got engaged to another woman, despite Miss Welby being pregnant. Balfour pressured Cust to marry Miss Welby and their wedding took place on 11 Oct 1893.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett objected to Cust standing as the candidate for North Manchester, and began her campaign for him to resign from public life. She continued this campaign over several years in the face of opposition from friends in the suffrage movement, several of whom were concerned at the lengths Fawcett went to. In 1895 Cust resigned as a politician and became a journalist.

Note: the original Fawcett Library catalogue indicates 'background in Balfour correspondence', possibly referring to the Balfour correspondence in the Autograph Letter Collection.