Collection of transcripts of French diplomatic dispatches relating to England and Hollandacquired by Charles James Fox (1749-1806), statesman, 1802

Scope and Content

The collection comprises two large volumes containing transcripts of manuscript diplomaticdispatches covering the period from 1685 to 1688.

The first volume contains dispatches and correspondence sent by Jean-Antonie de Mesmes(1640-1709), Comte d'Avaux. Most of these papers were sent from The Hague but a few were addressedfrom Versailles and Fountainbleu, France. The Count of Avaux was the French ambassador to Holland atthe time and the original dispatches were presumably sent to the government of Louis XIV. The volumehas a supplement containing extracts of resolutions and correspondence relating to Holland. Thesepapers contain details of momentous events in Dutch and English history.

The second volume contains dispatches sent by Paul De Barrillon d'Amoncourt (d 1691). Barrillonwas the French ambassador in England in the 1680s. Most of the dispatches were sent from London butsome were from Versailles and Fountainbleu, France and Salisbury, Wiltshire. At the back of thevolume are some extracts from contemporary correspondence.

The transcripts are in several different hands, with the same hand occurring in both volumes. Itcannot be said with certainty who compiled these papers. The most likely explanation is that theywere made or obtained by Charles James Fox during a visit to Paris in 1802. Although Fox had severalinterviews with Napoleon on diplomatic business, much of his time was spent in the French archiveswhere he conducted research for a book on the 1688 revolution in England. His posthumously publishedHistory of the Early Part of the Reign of James II has an appendix of transcripts ofBarrillon's correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles James Fox was born in 1749 and was educated at Hertford College, Oxford. He was the thirdson of Henry Fox (1705-1774), 1st Baron Holland. He became Whig MP for Midhurst in 1768, Kirkwalland Westminster in 1784, and was appointed as Lord of the Admiralty in 1770 and joint secretary ofstate under the Duke of Portland in 1783. Fox was renowned for his speeches in the House of Commons,often made in the face of accepted conservative opinion, including his support for Catholicemancipation, and the reform of the navy. Charles Fox died in 1806.

He worked on two books, 'The History of the Revolution of 1688' and History of the Early Partof the Reign of James the Second (William Miller, 1808).


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.


Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make published use of any material from this collection must be soughtin 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.

Custodial History

The collection was purchased by the library of The University of Nottingham in May 1949 from aprivate vendor. Bookplates inside the cover of the volumes in the collection reveal that they wereonce in the possession of Charles James Fox. Details of its ownership since being in the possessionof the Fox family is not known.

Related Material

  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: Papers ofHans William Bentinck, 1st Duke of Portland: letter from Courtin and Barrillon to Ludwig Wilhelm,Prince of Baden, c.1691. Reference: Pw A 42/3
  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: Papers ofWilliam Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland: letters from Charles James Fox to the Dukeof Portland, 1780-1785. Reference: Pw F 3965-3971
  • Other archive collections containing manuscripts relating to the Comte d'Avaux and CharlesJames Fox are recorded on the National Register ofArchives.


Charles James Fox, A History of the Early Part of Reign of James the Second(1808)