The Altham Archive - Catalogue of Collections

This section provides a catalogue of the collections in The Altham Archive. The items have been organized into five categories; these are described below.

Each entry follows a fairly standard format: a main heading followed by a description that can include inscriptions, editorial comments/publication details, and provenance. These elements are separated by a device (§). All items are located in the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University, as indicated at the end of the entry by the cue title “ABL/Altham” in square brackets.


CC. Manuscripts and Documents

This category of represents records created by numerous generations of Altham family members and their friends. Included is a pocket diary for 1805, by Elizabeth Surtees, in which she records social events in Northumberland, including Kenton Lodge (country home of the John Graham-Clarkes). The entry for 14 May reads: “Mary Clarke was married to Mr. Barrett. Went south immediately after.” Elizabeth Surtees married, in 1808, Col. John Cook of the 28th Light Dragoons. Their second son, William Surtees Cook (afterwards Altham), and his descendants, are the principal contributors of the Altham archive. Upon John Cook’s early death, in 1829, his wife was appointed Housekeeper of 11 Downing Street, Whitehall, at the recommendation of a relation, Elizabeth “Bessie” Surtees, wife of John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon.   


DD. Books and Printed Matter

The Altham archive is particularly strong in its holdings of periodicals and newspapers. Several volumes of the works of the Brownings are included as well as books owned by family members.


EE. Paintings, Prints and Drawings

Various family members with artistic skills are represented. Notably is an album of 30 watercolors by Mary Altham Altham (née Cook).


FF. Photographs

The Altham family Carte-de Visite album contains 125 images. An additional 175 loose photographs are in the archive.


GG. Relics and Other Objects

This section several pieces of furniture from the estate of Elizabeth Moulton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s grandmother. Included are two of the three Regency sofa tables Mrs. Moulton purchased for writing tables when her three granddaughters visited her when she lived on Baker Street in London. There is a leaf from one of Bryon’s Italian residences, inscribed by Robert Browning: “Pisa. Garden of the Palace Lanfranchi, October 15 ’46 RB & EBB. Of special interest is a silver thimble bearing a bas-relief of the Moulton-Barrett’s Hope End mansion, a gift from Edward Moulton-Barrett to his wife, Mary.