This collection consists of letters to Thomas Campbell Eyton relating to his work as a natural scientist and ornithologist, most notably from Charles Robert Darwin, Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf Guenther, head of the Zoology Department at the British Museum and family friend, William Jardine, John Gould, T. H. Huxley, Sir William Henry Flower and the Reverend William Houghton.
The collection also includes correspondence, 1825-1864, of Robert Aglionby Slaney MP for Shrewsbury, and Eyton's father in law, mostly concerned with social and political issues, correspondents including Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Sir George Grey, Lord Palmerston, Joseph Toynbee, Henry Hobhouse, Lady Janet Kaye Shuttleworth and Lord Egerton of Ellesmere. Slaney devoted a large part of his life to improving the conditions of the working classes. Lord John Russell writes about a Commission being set up for this purpose, and in another letter advocates local Boards of Health being instituted everywhere with power of at least moving and advising the town councils, particularly in the matter of overcrowding in dwelling houses. Sir Robert Peel writes to Slaney in 1840 about the miseries of the poor and the possibilities and difficulties of legislation to ameliorate them. Joseph Toynbee discusses the Committee of the Working Class Association for Improving the Public Health and in one letter describes in some detail his suggestion for the better ventilation of houses. Lady Kaye Shuttleworth in a letter of 19 March, 1861, expresses her great interest in Slaney's account of public gardens and Town Libraries in Germany, while Lord Egerton is concerned with "recreative shelters for the people in parks"
There is also other family correspondence including letters to Eyton's daughters, Elizabeth Charlotte and to Rose Mary, from Albert Guenther and his son Robert T. Guenther, to Elizabeth Frances Eyton, née Slaney from her sister Frances Catherine Kenyon-Slaney, in India 1835-1849 containing interesting remarks on conditions among the English community there and from her father Robert Aglionby Slaney, 1861-1862.
There are also a number of miscellaneous letters, 1725-1892 mostly unrelated to the Eyton correspondence. Their authors include Herbert Spencer, Charlotte Mary Yonge, Charles Lee Lewes, David O'Connell, Augustus J.C.Hare and W.E. Norris. Other miscellaneous papers include printed and manuscript items also apparently unrelated to the Eyton or Slaney family correspondence.
For further information, see article in the University Gazette, 1955/56