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Correspondence of John Methuen and Sir William Simpson

Call Number: MS E82


Letters bound in 2 volumes: political, personal, diplomatic (including copies of reports, orders, newsletters, etc.) Also loose letters, documents, notes, etc.


  • Creation: 1626-1823 (bulk 1703-1707)


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

The Methuen family requests notification before publication. Contact staff at or (785) 864-4334 for assistance.

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Methuen and Simpson

Methuen, John, 1650?-1706, British ambassador to Portugal. Simpson, William, Sir, active 1693-1723, of the Inner Temple (London) and Baron Cursitor of the Court of Exchequer. Methuen, Paul, Sir, 1672-1757, diplomat, JM's son.


2 Volumes (2 volumes + 17 folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This is essentially a collection of original letters between John Methuen and Sir William Simpson written between 1693 and 1706: Methuen was in Lisbon (and Dublin), and Simpson was in London at the Exchequer. They were close friends, and political persons, and their letters range freely over home politics, foreign diplomacy, gossip, and personal matters. Simpson met Godolphin often, and passed what he had to say on to Methuen: it is possible that Simpson was a channel deliberately used by Godolphin. Methuen is a well-known figure (see DNB); from this and other material in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, it is apparent that Simpson was a member of political and radical circles.

Methuen died in 1706, and his post at Lisbon was taken over by his son Paul Methuen. The collection ends with letters exchanged between Paul and Simpson, 1706-1708. There are approximately 120 letters between Methuen and Simpson, and 30 between Paul and Simpson.

This "Methuen-Simpson" part of the collection also contains some other material relating to Methuen, who sometimes enclosed copies of orders, reports or newsletters, letters he sent to or received from others. These seem to be usually in a clerk's hand; sometimes he used his son as clerk.

In addition to the Methuen-Simpson material, the collection contains a few stray items apparently related to Simpson, mostly letters received from family and friends. It also contains a letter directed to A. Smith (its owner in the 1760s), and notes made by Benjamin Heywood Bright, its owner in 1823.

Place mentioned in the collection: England: London (1626; 1697, 1703-1708; 1823ca) England: provinces (1708, 1716, 1720, 1745) Ireland: Dublin (1698, 1701) Italy: Savoy (1706) Mediterranean and Iberian peninsula (1704-1706) Netherlands: Amsterdam (1704) Portugal: Lisbon (1693, 1702-1708) US: South Carolina (1710).

Names mentioned in collection: "Methuen, John", apparently at Amsterdam on August 18, 1704 (?) Bennett, Jos:, Colonel Bourne, H, bookseller, active 1823 Bright, Benjamin Heywood, died 1843 Buckingham (1st duke, 1648-1721), as Privy Councillor? [copy] Godolphin, Sidney, 1645-1712, as Lord High Treasurer [copy] Hedges, Sir Charles, died 1714, as Secretary of State [copy] Hodges, Thomas, active 1716 Livingston, Mary, active 1710, of South Carolina Lowe, Humphrey, active 1716, of Bromsgrove (Worcs) Monham, John, active 1626 Parsonson, T.& H, active 1745, of Wadworth (Yorks?) Peterborough (3rd earl, 1658-1735), as commander of the expedition to Spain [copy] Plumpton, Richard, active 1706 Rooke, Sir George [copy] Rooke, Sir George, 1650-1709, as commander of the fleet. Simpson, S, active 1708 Smith, A, active 1745, of Kings Bench Walk (the Temple) Toland, John, 1670-1722. [19th-cent. copy] Tucker, Mr, active 1706 Vincent, Fr:, active 1626, for the Exchequer? Warre, Richard, as Under Secretary of State, and unidentified Whitmore, William, active 1697, as groom of the Privy Chamber. Woodcock, Fr:, active 1720.


The Methuen-Simpson material is in two volumes: MS E82 (letters from Methuen to Simpson) and MS C163 (letters from Simpson to Methuen). Each is arranged roughly chronologically. A later hand, possibly planning publication, has added Roman numerals in red at the head of each item: these numbers form a roughly chronological list of both groups intercalated.

The loose material (basically the additional Simpson-Smith-Bright items) have been classed as MS P567 (20 items in 17 folders).

Physical Location

MS C163

Physical Location

MS E82

Physical Location

MS P567

Other Finding Aids

For a detailed collection list by item, please see

Custodial History

A. Smith of the Temple, died ca 1763; his widow; her executor John Seago, printseller, died 1810; his widow died 1821; her daughter (wife of bookseller Manson) died 1823; Mrs Manson's son; B.H. Bright bought in 1823; Bright died 1843, Sotheby sale June 18, 1844:143; Phillipps 12,249 & 12,250; Sotheby sale June 26, 1967:687.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase via Hannas as KU's agent, Sotheby's, 1967.

Guide to the Methuen Simpson Collection
Correspondence of John Methuen and Sir William Simpson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Correspondence of John Methuen and Sir William Simpson, MS E82, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States