Jerningham Letters

Scope and Content

Letters and journals 1780-1833, originally collected by Charlotte, Lady Bedingfeld. The collection comprises extensive family correspondence spanning the years 1776 to 1824. Many of the letters are addressed to Charlotte from her mother, Lady Jerningham. Some letters are from Charlotte's brothers and sisters in law, and in particular Lady Frances Jerningham, wife of her brother, Sir George Jerningham. Other letters are from her own children, away at school and the subsequently as adults, and from other members of the families of Jerningham and Bedingfeld. The correspondence begins during Charlotte's childhood and continues throughout her schooldays and marriage until just before her mother's death in 1824. The collection also includes Charlotte's journals, which she kept spasmodically between 1809 and 1833. These cover the final illness and death of her father, Sir William Jerningham, a period of time she spent at Hammersmith convent, and her attendance at court on Queen Adelaide

Both families were Roman Catholic, and the collection is a rich source for the study of Catholic spirituality, education and marriage in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as being a valuable record for Norfolk history and women's history.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charlotte Georgiana Lady Bedingfeld ne Jerningham, 1770-1854. Only daughter of Sir William and Lady Jerningham of the now demolished Costessey Hall, Norfolk and wife of Sir Richard Bedingfeld of Oxburgh, Norfolk. She had three brothers: Sir George Jerningham, 8th Baron (1771-1851), William Charles (1772-1820) and Edward (1774-1822). She had eight children: Fanny (1796-1822); Matilda (1797-1881); Agnes (1798-1870); Henry (1800-1879); Charlotte (1802-1879); Charles (1803-1870); Edward (1805-1823); and Felix (1808-1884).

Reference: Finding aid to The Jerningham Letters; Aristocratic Women: the social, political and cultural history of rich and powerful women. A Listing and Guide to Part 2 of the Microfilm Collection ( Adam Matthew Publications, 1998 ).


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased in 1971 with assistance from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Other Finding Aids

Please see full catalogue for further details.

Alternative Form Available

The Jerningham Letters were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications in 1998. An edition of the journals about a third of the correspondence was published in two volumes: Egerton Castle The Jerningham Letters , 1780-1843 (1896).

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

The letters and journals passed into the hands of Lady Charlotte Bedingfield's daughter, Matilda Cary and then to Camilla Cary, the grand-daughter of Lady Bedingfield. By 1949, they were the property of Lord Dillon whose family was connected to the Jerninghams through the marriage of Sir William Jerningham to Frances Dillon, Lady Charlotte Bedingfield's parents in 1767. Lord Dillon sold the collection to an antiquarian bookseller.


Further deposits are not expected.

Geographical Names