Albert Way, notebook of research on portraits of Mary Queen of Scots

Scope and Content

The notebooks held contain research compiled by Albert Way on portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, with some information on portraits of individuals closely associated with her - such as. James I and Lord Darnley. The notebooks contain notes; copies of text from publications; correspondence; drawings; prints and sketches of portraits, seals and some objects; and cuttings from newspapers. Some material is in French and Latin. Some of the drawings and notes appear to have been made by Sir George Scharf (1820-1895). The material stored within the folder was originally stored in the inside cover of the volume.

Administrative / Biographical History

Albert Way (1805-1874) was the son of Lewis Way (1772-1840), barrister, and Mary Drewe (1780-1848). He was privately educated at home in Stansted Park, Sussex; at seventeen he travelled through Europe to Syria with his father. He was an accurate draughtsman, a good classical scholar, and a talented linguist with knowledge of most European languages, Hebrew and Old English. He enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1824, gaining a BA in 1829 and a MA in 1834. Like his father he trained as a barrister and was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1833. However by 1837 his interests had turned to the study of medieval antiquities; he was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1839.

Way's father died in 1840 and he inherited sufficient wealth to be able to live off his private income. His first publication was based on a paper he had given to the Society of Antiquaries in 1841 'On an effigy of King Richard Coeur de Lion in the cathedral of Rouen' ('Archaeologia', 29, 1842). In 1842 he became director of the Society of Antiquaries, responsible for its publications and possessions. He instigated the publishing of proceedings of meetings in 1844 and donated many books to the society's library in his lifetime, with his wife giving his collection of early dictionaries after his death. He assisted Sir Samuel Meyrick in revising his 'A Critical Inquiry into Antient Armour' for the 1844 second enlarged edition. He was meticulous in recording archaeological finds and historical sources; he compiled a classified catalogue of the Society of Antiquaries' museum collections (published 1847) and was very interested in medieval seals.

In 1844 he married his cousin Emmeline Stanley (1809-1906), their only child Mary Alithea was born in 1850. He resigned the directorship of the Society of Antiquaries in 1846 as it was difficult to attend meetings after he had given up his London residence; by this point he had also become more involved in the (Royal) Archaeological Institute, of which he was honorary secretary from 1845 to 1868. He saw the role of the institute as one of promoting the preservation of historic monuments throughout England and providing a forum for the exchange of new ideas. He edited the 'Archaeological Journal' for many of the first twenty five years of its publication and contributed over seventy articles mostly on medieval costume, jewellery, seals and documents. He was a supporter of developing the collections of British museums and donated several items to the British Museum.

He suffered from poor health throughout his life and spent time in France and Italy on several occasions. His health deteriorated before he could complete his major catalogue of the Duke of Northumberland's antiquities at Alnwick Castle. He died at La Trouville, Cannes in March 1874.

This biographical description is largely based on Bernard Nurse, 'Way, Albert (1805–1874)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 23 June 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.

Personal Names