Papers (correspondence, diaries, account books, culinary and medical recipes, etc.), 1702-1858, of the Rev. Robert Wharton (1751-1808), his children and other relatives, including extensive correspondence with his friend, Rev. Thomas Brand (1750-1814), much of it describing their continental travels.
The papers of the Rev. Robert Wharton form the bulk of the collection. Son of a Durham woollen-draper and mayor, he belonged to a cadet branch of the Wharton family of Old Park near Whitworth, Co. Durham. The earliest of his letters in the collection are written from Eton to his mother, 1762-1768. He went on to Pembroke College, Cambridge, and then travelled abroad for 18 months in 1775-1776, visiting France and Italy and returning via Venice, Innsbruck and the German cities, before entering the church. He became successively rector of Thornton Steward in Bedale, rector of Sigglesthorne in Holderness, prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, archdeacon of Stowe, and chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral.
From the time he left university until his death he corresponded regularly with his Cambridge friend, Rev. Thomas Brand, and much of both sides of their correspondence (ca. 570 letters) is preserved in the collection. From 1778-1795 Brand travelled extensively on the continent as tutor and companion to a number of young gentlemen. Among his pupils were Sir James Hall, later President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Sir James Graham of Netherby, Lord Bruce, and, earlier, the future novelist, Cornelia Knight. While in Italy in 1793-1794 he also acted as proof-reader to the Parma printer, Gianbattista Bodoni. In 1795, he returned to England, a career in the church, and marriage to Wharton's cousin.
Brand had scientific interests in astronomy, botany and chemistry, and he shared with Wharton a love of music which is reflected in numerous references in the correspondence to operas, concerts and contemporary music-making in England and abroad. The letters of both Wharton and Brand provide a vivid account of their experiences abroad, and a rich source of information on the cultural and intellectual life of the times, with comments on Cambridge acquaintances, ecclesiastical politics, public affairs, the French Revolution and the wars which followed, as well as more domestic news.
Among the other material in the collection are letters, 1706-1712, of Robert Wharton's great-uncle George (1688-1735), written while he was studying medicine at Cambridge and London, which contain detailed accounts from his tutor and costs of taking his degree as well as information about his studies; a letter of Richard Bentley (1708-1782), Robert Wharton's great-grandfather, concerning his edition of Horace; material concerning the Middleton family of Offerton, Co. Durham; and correspondence and papers of Robert Wharton's children, mainly letters to his son William Lloyd Wharton of Dryburn Lodge, Durham. These include family and local news, comment on contemporary events, a description of election preparations at Morpeth 1828, material concerning the adoption of Lord Adolphus Vane as Conservative candidate for Durham 1852-1853, reactions to the Crimean War, and a journal kept by Mrs. Mary Wharton 1841-1858.