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University of Chicago Library

Guide to the O'Gorman Mahon Papers 1824-1892

© 2006 University of Chicago Library

Acknowledgments

Descriptive Summary

Title:

O'Gorman Mahon. Papers

Dates:

1824-1892

Size:

6.5 linear feet (10 boxes)

Repository:

Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.

Abstract:

James Patrick Mahon, also known as "The O'Gorman Mahon" was an Irish politician and adventurer. The collection contains correspondence, materials from court cases, documents pertaining to business ventures, a letter book, a diary, a passport, election posters, and two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. Papers document Mahon's various political, military and business activities. Correspondents include Ann Choquet, John Adams-Acton, Arthur Richard Wellesley, William O'Shea, and Charles Parnell.

Information on Use

Access

The collection is open for research.

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Citation

When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: O'Gorman Mahon. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

James Patrick Mahon, also known as "The O'Gorman Mahon," entered Irish politics in 1821, while still a student at Trinity College, Dublin. becoming (upon the death of his father) a J.P. for his native county, Clare. Around the time of his graduation from Trinity in 1826, he joined then newly-formed Catholic Association, headed by Daniel O'Connell. Mahon was one of the first to urge O'Connell to stand for Parliament from County Clare in the election of 1828. O'Connell's election marked the first time since the Glorious Revolution that a Catholic was elected to Parliament and ultimately seated.

The success of this undertaking inspired Mahon to try his luck as a candidate. He was elected in 1830, along with Major W. N. MacNamara, but was charged with bribery and unseated. (He was subsequently cleared of the charge.) When he again became a candidate in 1831, it was without the important support of O'Connell. O'Connell backed MacNamara; a rift between Mahon and O'Connell resulted, which was never to be mended. Mahon did, however, win the seat.

In 1835, Mahon began an extensive sojourn abroad. He traveled in a number of European countries, Africa, the East, and South America, before returning to Ireland in 1846. From 1847 to 1852, he again represented Clare. When he stood for re-election in 1852, Lord Fitzgerald defeated him. He thereupon resumed his foreign travels, becoming for a time a lieutenant in the Czar's army. From Russia, he wandered across China, India, Arabia, Turkey, and Austria; in the latter two countries, he served in military capacities. He returned to England in 1858, but soon left for South America, where he became involved in one of the many plans to construct a canal across Central America.

Mahon also spent several months in Peru. During his time there, he took an active interest in investigating the mysterious disappearance of Captain Lionel Lambert, commander of the British ship Vixen, on which Mahon had traveled. Mahon compelled the Peruvian government to investigate, and it was found that Lambert had been murdered. Mahon reported the findings to Lord Palmerston, whose acquaintance Mahon had cultivated during his second term in Parliament.

Mahon served in a number of military capacities while in South America, most of them honorary appointments. Legend has it that he was even made an archbishop in Brazil. Upon learning of the outbreak of civil war in the United States, Mahon went to fight on the side of the North. In 1866, he returned to Europe and was granted a colonelcy in a regiment of chasseurs by Louis Napoleon. Although Mahon's escapades have taken on a legendary quality, it is nonetheless clear that his foreign travels constitute one of the most interesting--if, unfortunately, not always well documented periods of his life.

In 1867, he proceeded to Berlin, where he became acquainted with Bismarck and the crown prince. He petitioned Bismarck for a concession to establish a joint-stock bank in Berlin, to be called the Anglo-Prussian Bank. Negotiations had begun in the autumn of 1863, while Mahon was still in South America.

Mahon returned to Ireland in 1871, and two years later took part in the Home Rule Conference founded by Isaac Butt. Through his association with the Home Rule Party during this period, Mahon became friends with Mitchell Henry and his family. Henry was a wealthy manufacturer from Manchester, who settled in County Galway and represented this county in Parliament as an advocate of Home Rule.

During this same period Mahon formed a friendship with Arthur Richard Wellesley, the second Duke of Wellington. Wellington's father, ironically, had strongly disapproved of the young O'Gorman Mahon's actions fifty years earlier during the campaign for O'Connell's election. Both Wellington and Mahon were in their seventies by the time they became friends. Wellington, in the spirit of his father, strongly disapproved of Mahon's Home Rule stand. Despite this difference, their friendship grew.

In 1879, Mahon was elected to Parliament from Clare as a Home Ruler. By this time, Isaac Butt's leadership of the Home Rule Party had become ineffective. As a result, Charles Stewart Parnell superceded Butt in the leadership of the party, though Butt remained nominal head. Butt died in the autumn of 1879, and was temporarily succeeded by William Shaw. The following year, when Disraeli dissolved Parliament and called for new elections, Mahon was returned. At a party meeting before Parliament met, Mahon proposed the election of Parnell as head of the party. Parnell defeated Shaw.

After Parliament was dissolved, Mahon had proposed to Shaw that Captain William O'Shea succeed Lord Francis Conyngham as the other representative from Clare. O'Shea was elected along with Mahon and a deep friendship developed between the two men.

In 1885, Mahon failed to obtain renomination in Clare. Many in his constituency felt the need for a younger representative in Parliament. Mahon succeeded, however, in a bid for office in 1887 as representative of Carlow. During this time also Mahon found himself distracted by a personal matter-a lengthy and unpleasant court case contesting the will of his son, St. John, who had died in 1884.

Mahon's health began to fail as he approached his ninetieth year. When his attendance in Parliament became irregular, Parnell and Justin McCarthy (leader of the party in Parnell's absence) requested that Mahon try to attend more frequently, especially when the party was to vote on an important issue. Mahon died in London on June 15, 1891. Shortly before his death, he publicly repudiated Parnell, with whom he had broken over the issue of the O'Shea divorce. Mahon was buried in the O'Connell circle in Glasnevin Cemetery on June 21, 1891.

Scope Note

The O'Gorman Mahon Papers comprise some three thousand documents, the personal records of Charles James Patrick Mahon (ca1800-1891), a flamboyant figure in nineteenth-century Irish politics. He styled himself "The O'Gorman Mahon," using his mother's maiden name and his surname in this title reminiscent of the Irish chieftains. The first and largest part of the papers (boxes 1-7) consists largely of correspondence received by Mahon during the years from 1824 to 1891, but includes also several drafts of letters from Mahon. The correspondence is arranged chronologically. The second segment of the collection (boxes 7-9) contains materials from court cases in which Mahon was involved, documents pertaining to various business ventures, a letter-book, diary (1870-1874), passport, election posters (etc.), and two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, mainly about the Irish political issues in which Mahon was involved.

Some of Mahon's numerous correspondents include: Ellen Courtenay, Daniel O'Connell, Ferdinand de Lesseps, Lord Palmerston, Ann Choquet, John Adams-Acton, Henry Cardinal Manning, Captain William O'Shea, Lord Francis Conyngham, Charles Stewart Parnell, William Gladstone, John Redmond, James O'Kelly, T.P. O'Connor, and G.O. Trevelyan.

The collection also includes a series of letters and a prison diary from Melville White, who appealed to Mahon for help in securing his release while Mahon was visiting Peru. Another large body of documents in the collection pertains to a venture Mahon was involved in to establish the Anglo-Prussian Bank. Letters from Mahon's ward, Ann Choquet, makes up a significant portion of the collections as does correspondence from the sculptor John Adams-Acton and his wife Jeanie, a writer. Adams-Acton was supposedly commissioned by Mahon to execute a bust of Pope Leo XIII. When Mahon collection was first organized it contained one of the largest known bodies of letter of Captain William O'Shea.

Perhaps the most noteworthy segment of the correspondence is the group of nine letters from Charles Stewart Parnell, dated from 1880 to 1888, including three written from Kilmainham Prison. In addition, there are three drafts of letters from Mahon to Parnell, including one of a reply to a telegram sent by Parnell. It was written after the O'Shea divorce proceedings had been completed and Parnell was attempting to reassert his authority in the party.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/select.html

Subject Headings

INVENTORY

Box 1   Folder 1

1824,1826

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Box 1   Folder 2

1827

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Box 1   Folder 3

1828

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Box 1   Folder 4

1829 March-August

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Box 1   Folder 5

1829 September-December

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Box 1   Folder 6

1830 January August

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Box 1   Folder 7

1830 July-August

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Box 1   Folder 8

1830 September

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Box 1   Folder 9

1830 October

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Box 1   Folder 10

1830 November-December

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Box 1   Folder 11

1830

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Box 1   Folder 12

1831 January

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Box 1   Folder 13

1831 February-March

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Box 1   Folder 14

1831 April

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Box 1   Folder 15

1831 May

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Box 1   Folder 16

1831 June-September

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Box 1   Folder 17

1831 October-December

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Box 1   Folder 18

1832

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Box 1   Folder 19

1833-1836

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Box 1   Folder 20

1850-1852

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Box 1   Folder 21

1853-1858

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Box 1   Folder 22

1859 January-June

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Box 1   Folder 23

1859 July-December

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Box 2   Folder 1

1860 February

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Box 2   Folder 2

1860 March

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Box 2   Folder 3

1860 April-May

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Box 2   Folder 4

1860 June-August

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Box 2   Folder 5

1860 September

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Box 2   Folder 6

1860 October-November

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Box 2   Folder 7

1860 December

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Box 2   Folder 8

1861 January-March

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Box 2   Folder 9

1861 April

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Box 2   Folder 10

1861 May-August

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Box 2   Folder 11

1863-1864

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Box 2   Folder 12

1865

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Box 2   Folder 13

1867-1868

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Box 2   Folder 14

1869 January-March

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Box 2   Folder 15

1869 April-June

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Box 2   Folder 16

1869 July-August

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Box 2   Folder 17

1869 September-December

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Box 2   Folder 18

1870 January-April

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Box 2   Folder 19

1870 May

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Box 2   Folder 20

1870 June

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Box 2   Folder 21

1870 July

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Box 2   Folder 22

1870 August-November

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Box 2   Folder 23

1870 December

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Box 2   Folder 24

1871 January-March

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Box 2   Folder 25

1871 April

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Box 2   Folder 26

1871 May-June

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Box 2   Folder 27

1871 July-August

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Box 2   Folder 28

1871 September-October

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Box 2   Folder 29

1871 November-December

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Box 3   Folder 1

1872 January-June

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Box 3   Folder 2

1872 July-August

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Box 3   Folder 3

1872 September-October

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Box 3   Folder 4

1872 November-December

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Box 3   Folder 5

1873 January

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Box 3   Folder 6

1873 February

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Box 3   Folder 7

1873 March-June

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Box 3   Folder 8

1873 July-August

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Box 3   Folder 9

1873 September-December

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Box 3   Folder 10

1874 January-June

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Box 3   Folder 11

1874 July-August

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Box 3   Folder 12

1874 September-October

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Box 3   Folder 13

1874 November-December

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Box 3   Folder 14

1875 January

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Box 3   Folder 15

1875 February

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Box 3   Folder 16

1875 March-May

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Box 3   Folder 17

1875 June-August

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Box 3   Folder 18

1875 September-October

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Box 3   Folder 19

1875 November-December

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Box 3   Folder 20

1875-1879 No precise dates

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Box 3   Folder 21

1876 January-February

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Box 3   Folder 22

1876 March-April

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Box 3   Folder 23

1876 May-October

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Box 3   Folder 24

1876 November-December

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Box 4   Folder 1

1877 January-April

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Box 4   Folder 2

1877 May-June

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Box 4   Folder 3

1877 July

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Box 4   Folder 4

1877 August

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Box 4   Folder 5

1877 September-October

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Box 4   Folder 6

1877 November-December

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Box 4   Folder 7

1878 January-March

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Box 4   Folder 8

1878 April-May

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Box 4   Folder 9

1878 June

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Box 4   Folder 10

1878 July-September

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Box 4   Folder 11

1878 October-December

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Box 4   Folder 12

1879 January-April

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Box 4   Folder 13

1879 May-June

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Box 4   Folder 14

1879 July

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Box 4   Folder 15

1879 August

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Box 4   Folder 16

1879 September

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Box 4   Folder 17

1879 October

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Box 4   Folder 18

1879 November

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Box 4   Folder 19

1879 December

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Box 4   Folder 20

1880 January

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Box 4   Folder 21

1880 February

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Box 4   Folder 22

1880 March

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Box 4   Folder 23

1880 April-May

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Box 4   Folder 24

1880 June-August

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Box 4   Folder 25

1880 September-October

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Box 4   Folder 26

1880 November-December

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Box 5   Folder 1

1881 January-March

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Box 5   Folder 2

1881 April-May

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Box 5   Folder 3

1881 June

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Box 5   Folder 4

1881 July

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Box 5   Folder 5

1881 August

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Box 5   Folder 6

1881 September-October

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Box 5   Folder 7

1881 November-December

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Box 5   Folder 8

1881 January

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Box 5   Folder 9

1882 February-March

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Box 5   Folder 10

1882 April-May

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Box 5   Folder 11

1882 June-July

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Box 5   Folder 12

1882 August-September

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Box 5   Folder 13

1882 October-December

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Box 5   Folder 14

1883 January-March

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Box 5   Folder 15

1883 April-May

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Box 5   Folder 16

1883 June-August

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Box 5   Folder 17

1883 September

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Box 5   Folder 18

1883 October

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Box 5   Folder 19

1883 November-December

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Box 5   Folder 20

1884 January-February

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Box 5   Folder 21

1884 March-April

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Box 5   Folder 22

1884 May-June

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Box 5   Folder 23

1884 July-September

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Box 5   Folder 24

1884 October-December

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Box 6   Folder 1

1885 January-February

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Box 6   Folder 2

1885 March-September

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Box 6   Folder 3

1885 October

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Box 6   Folder 4

1885 November-December

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Box 6   Folder 5

1886 January-April

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Box 6   Folder 6

1886 May-June

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Box 6   Folder 7

1886 July

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Box 6   Folder 8

1886 August-November

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Box 6   Folder 9

1886 December

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Box 6   Folder 10

1887 January-February

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Box 6   Folder 11

1887 March-April

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Box 6   Folder 12

1887 May-August

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Box 6   Folder 13

1887 September

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Box 6   Folder 14

1887 October-December

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Box 6   Folder 15

1887 January-April

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Box 6   Folder 16

1887 May-July

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Box 6   Folder 17

1887 August-December

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Box 6   Folder 18

1889 January-April

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Box 6   Folder 19

1889 May-December

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Box 6   Folder 20

1890 January-June

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Box 6   Folder 21

1890 July-October

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Box 6   Folder 22

1890 November-December

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Box 7   Folder 1

1891 January-May

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Box 7   Folder 2

Mahon vs. Chapman, affidavits

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Box 7   Folder 3

Mahon vs. Chapman, affidavits

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Box 7   Folder 4

Mahon vs. Chapman, depositions

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Box 7   Folder 5

Mahon vs. Chapman, request for opinion from Attorney-General

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Box 7   Folder 6

Mahon vs. Chapman, evidence for Chapman

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Box 7   Folder 7

Mahon vs. Chapman, evidence for Chapman

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Box 7   Folder 8

Hilliard Bankruptcy case, appeal to House of Lords

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Box 7   Folder 9

Hilliard Bankruptcy case, petition and proceedings

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Box 7   Folder 10

Hilliard Bankruptcy case, petition and proceedings

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Box 7   Folder 11

Anglo-Prussian Bank, charter

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Box 8   Folder 1

Undated letters, A-H

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Box 8   Folder 2

Undated letters, I-Z

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Box 8   Folder 3

Miscellaneous-accounts, documents, etc

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Box 8   Folder 4

Speeches, resolution poems, memoranda, quotations, etc

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Box 8   Folder 5

Newspaper clippings

Box 9   Folder 1

Diary, 1870-1874; Bankbook, 1879

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Box 9   Folder 2

Letter books, 1871-1878

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Box 9   Folder 3

Passport, 1852-1887

Box 9   Folder 4

Financial memoranda

Box 10

Campaign posters, 1870s

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