Papers and Correspondence of the Marlay family, 1559, 1778-1910

Scope and Content

The collection consists largely of correspondence between Dawson, Tisdall, Bury and Marlay family members and from a wide array of prominent contempories, from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Particularly significant is the role of Lady Charleville, and correspondence between her and other women in the family circle make the collection particularly rich for domestic and social history. The family's literary and intellectual tastes are also evident. Subjects range from management of family estates to contemporary events, social, political and cultural. Occasional correspondents include Shelley, writing as a schoolboy at Eton, Maria Edgeworth and Amelia Opie.

Within the series concerning Charles Brinsley Marlay survive a number of bundles concerning the Belvedre Estate in West Meath. References can be found throughout the papers to the Charleville's own seat at Tullamore, King's County.

A number of journals covering various European tours are present, together with sketch books and commonplace books. In Charles Marlay's papers can be found printed ephemera, including theatre programmes, posters and newspaper cuttings from the late eighteenth century.

The earliest manuscript present is a copy of William Bercher's 1559 work, 'A Dyssputacion of the Nobylytye off Wymen'. Papers with it record the editorial process which led to its publication by the Roxburghe Club in 1905.

Administrative / Biographical History

The collection takes its name from the Irish family through which the papers descended, but other Irish families are also represented. The descent begins with Catherine Maria Dawson (d 1851), whose first husband was a Louth landowner, James Tisdall, by whom she had two children, James T.T. Tisdall and Catherine A.L. Tisdall. Her husband died in 1797 and in the following year she married Charles William Bury, (d 1835), Lord Tullamore, later Viscount and subsequently Earl of Charleville. Their son succeeded to the Earldom on the death of his father. Lord Charleville was one of the post-1800 representative peers for Ireland and the Charlevilles divided their time between their country estates, centred on Charleville Castle, Tullamore, and a London residence.

Catherine's first son, James Tisdall, was educated at Eton College, and Christ Church, Oxford. He remained a bachelor and died in December 1850, a few months before his mother.

Catherine A.L. Tisdall (d 1870), married Lieutenant Colonel George Marlay in 1828. Marlay died two years later leaving Catherine with two young sons, James and Charles, and a daughter, Catherine, born after his death. She did not remarry.

Catherine Marlay's younger son drowned at the age of thirteen. Her daughter, Catherine Louisa, married Lord John Manners in 1851, but died after childbirth in 1854. Manners, who became 7th Duke of Rutland in 1888, remained closely connected with the Marlay family. He and his young son, Henry, (later 8th Duke of Rutland) lived with his mother in law for a considerable time following his wife's death. Manners married Janetta Hughan in 1862.

The elder son of Lt.-Col. George and Catherine Marlay, Charles Brinsley Marlay, was educated at Eton College, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He remained a bachelor and lived into his eighties, dividing his time between his Irish estates (Belvedere in West Meath, inherited from Lord Lanesborough through his father), his London residence and travelling on the Continent.


The papers retain something of the original arrangement by Lady Charleville into separate sections concerning different correspondents. Bundles are given in approximate chronological order within these divisions, although many letters are undated. Catalogue descriptions are in general at bundle level.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.

REPROGRAPHIC: Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Other Finding Aids

NOTE: Copyright on all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

  • In the Reading Room, University of Nottingham Library: Typescript Catalogue, 43 pp
  • At the National Register of Archives, London: Typescript Catalogue, 43 pp

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email ). The Department will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but the responsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the reader.

LANGUAGE: English, French and Italian.

Custodial History

Between 1898 and 1905, Charles Brinsley Marlay was closely acquainted with Richard Warwick Bond (GB 159 Bd). At Marlay's request, Bond edited William Bercher's 1559 Nobility of Women for the Roxburghe Club. As a result of this relationship, Marlay bequeathed his collection of family manuscripts to Bond. Following Bond's death in 1943, the Marlay papers came to the University Library as part of his own bequest.

Related Material

  • Papers of Richard Warwick Bond, Professor of English, University College Nottingham (GB 159 Bd)


Bond, R. Warwick, The Marlay Letters, 1778-1820, 1937 Bond, R. Warwick, Addenda, Glossary and Index to William Bercher's Nobility of Women, 1905, privately printed for presentation to the Roxburghe Club.

Family Names