Mandell Creighton: Correspondence with Lord Acton and Academic Papers

Scope and Content

MS.Add.6871: Correspondence of Lord Acton with Mandell Creighton, 1882-1898, 118 folios. Almost all of the letters are from Lord Acton to Creighton: (fos 1-113) letters; (fo. 114) notes by Lord Acton.

MS.Add.6872: Mandell Creighton, two papers, 19th century, 20 folios: (fo. i) letter from C. Creighton to A. F. Scholfield, 2 February 1937; (fo. 1) M. Creighton, 'Historical Ethics'; (fo.17) M. Creighton, 'Introduction', the first draft of the 'Introductory Note' to the Cambridge modern history.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mandell Creighton (1843-1901) was educated at Durham grammar school and Merton College, Oxford, where he became a fellow in 1866 and a tutor in 1867. He was ordained in 1870, and accepted the college living of Emberton in 1875. He became the rural dean of Alnwick in 1879. In 1884 he became first Dixie professor of ecclesiastical history at Cambridge and a fellow of Emmanuel College. He was the first editor of the English historical review between 1886 and 1891. Creighton was made canon of Worcester in 1885, canon of Windsor in 1890, bishop of Peterborough in 1891, and bishop of London in 1897. He was the first president of the Church Historical Society, 1894-1901, and Hulsean lecturer (1893-1894) and Rede lecturer (1895) at Cambridge, as well as Romanes lecturer at Oxford, 1896. He published works on the papacy, Queen Elizabeth, and Cardinal Wolsey, as well as sermons and lectures, and contributed to the Dictionary of national biography.

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton (1834-1902), was born in Naples on 10 January 1834, the son of Sir Ferdinand Richard Acton, 7th Baronet. He studied at the University of Munich under the church historian Ignaz von Dllinger. In 1859 he became Liberal MP for the Irish constituency of Carlow, and in 1869 was offered a peerage. During this time Acton acquired The Rambler and developed it as a liberal Catholic journal dedicated to discussing social, political and theological matters. He was engaged for many years in carrying out historical research on the continent. In 1895 he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. He gave lectures on the French Revolution and Modern History, and was chiefly responsible for organising the Cambridge modern history. Acton died at Tegernsee on 19 June 1902.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by the Revd C. Creighton, 1936-1937.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Mandel Creighton in the Concise dictionary of national biography, Part II, 1901-1970 (Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 157.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library also holds Lord Acton's working notes, MSS.Add.4757-5021 and 5381-5710; a set of letters to him on the subject of the Cambridge modern history, MS.Add.6443; correspondence and miscellaneous papers, MSS.Add.8119-8123; and his own vast collection of printed books.

Shropshire Record Office holds the 'Acton of Aldenham papers', some 1,180 items dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, S. R. O. ref. 1093, together with other groups of papers relating to the Acton family.


Some of the letters in MS.Add.6871 are printed in whole or in part in Life&letters of Mandell Creighton (2 vols., 1904). For further information about MS.Add.6871 see F. Engel de Jansi, 'The correspondence between Lord Acton and Bishop Creighton', Cambridge historical journal 6, no. 3 (1940), pp. 307-321. The paper 'Historical Ethics' in MS.Add.6872 is printed in the Quarterly review, Vol. 203, no. 404, pp. 33-46.