Layard (Austen Henry) Archive

Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence of Sir Austen Henry and Lady Enid Layard and Charlotte Maria Guest between 1869 and 1884. One series mainly comprises the correspondence of Enid Layard with her sister Charlotte Maria Guest and a smaller number from Sir Austen Henry Layard to Charlotte Maria Guest. A second series comprises a file of letters from members of the Du Cane family, including letters written by Alicia Marie Du Cane while staying with the Layards in Constantinople. Much of the material relates to Layard and the custodianship of his collection. There is also some published material relating to Layard, photographs of the Layard family, and some associated family and biographical material including objects and artefacts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Austen Henry Layard was an archaeologist, politician, and diplomat. Beginning in 1845, Layard worked on excavations at Nimrud and Nineveh. His early experiences in the Middle East, and especially Constantinople, shaped his attitude towards the Ottoman Empire and subsequent diplomatic career: Layard's belief that Britain could encourage administrative reform in the Ottoman Empire through energetic diplomacy and capital investment and that Turkey should receive greater support from Britain as a bulwark against Russian influence in the region often brought him into conflict with prevailing government policy. His commitment to the cause of administrative reform in Turkey also led him to establish the Ottoman Bank, of which he remained Chairman until 1861. He briefly held the post as under-secretary of foreign affairs in early 1852.

During the Crimean War, Layard led an extra-parliamentary campaign targeted at family and party influence in government, and helped establish the Administrative Reform Association. In October 1869, Layard was appointed ambassador to Madrid. He and his wife Lady Enid Layard showed sympathy for Spanish Liberals during the Third Carlist War and participated in the escape Francisco Serrano from Madrid in 1873. In March 1877, Layard was appointed Ambassador to Constantinople and, throughout the Russo-Turkish War [1877-78] urged a more aggressively anti-Russian policy. Layard was awarded the GCB in 1878 but was recalled from Constantinople following the return to power of WE Gladstone amidst pessimism about the prospects for reform. Despite his hopes for another diplomatic post, an appointment was not forthcoming and the Layards retired to their home in Venice, Ca Capello. Sir Austen Henry Layard died in July, 1894.

Lady Enid Layard, christened Mary Enid Evelyn Guest, was born on 1st July 1843 at Dowlais House, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. She was the third daughter and eighth child of ten born to the industrialist Sir Josiah John Guest, owner of the Dowlais Ironworks, and his wife Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Bertie, only daughter of Albemarle, 9th Earl of Lindsey. In early 1869 when she was aged twenty-five, Enid's older cousin Henry Layard, then aged fifty-one, proposed to her, and they were married on 9th March of the same year. Despite the difference in age, the marriage proved to be a happy one. Lady Layard survived him and died in 1912.


The material is grouped into two main series, Layard Papers (LAY1) and Related Family Correspondence (LAY 2). Items are subsequently grouped in chronological order.

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers; appointment in advance and proof of identity required. Please see for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make published use of any material from Newcastle University's Special Collections must be sought in writing from us (email: and from the copyright owner if appropriate. The library will assist where possible with the identification of copyright owners, but the responsibility to obtain copyright clearance rests with the user.

Custodial History

The archive came to Special Collections from the Du Cane family. Julia Du Cane, who left the collection to Richard Du Cane on her death in 1963, was the niece of Sir Austen Henry Layard: Julia Du Cane's mother, Charlotte Maria Du Cane [nee Guest], was the recipient of much of the correspondence contained within the Layard Papers [LAY1], primarily from her sister Lady Enid Layard [nee Guest].