Lady Louisa Conolly’s letters

March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm (books, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Looking today for Lady Louisa Seymour (it’s a long story, but the National Portrait Gallery, London has photos of Maria Louisa Culme Seymour, née Smith with this unusual nomenclature for a baronet’s wife), I came across this FANTASTIC auction which occurred in December 2011:

You can read the full description at the auction house, Mealy’s, but here’s an abbreviated description:

Lady Louisa Connolly’s Transcript Letters Connolly (Lady Louisa) [Seymour (Lady Albert)] A very important collection of nine quarto volumes containing manuscript transcriptions of Lady Louisa’s letters 1759 – 1821, mostly to her brother and sisters (the celebrated Lennox family), with a few letters from other family members. The volumes strongly bound in half moroco on heavy marble boards, transcribed in the clear mid-19th Century hand of Lady Albert Seymour. As m/ss, w.a.f.
Lady Lousia was the wife of Thomas Connolly of Castletown House. She was a daughter of the third Duke of Richmond; her brother Charles Lennox, the fourth Duke, organised the celebrated Ball on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. One sister was married to Charles James Fox; another to Sir Charles Napier, historian of the Peninsular War, and another to the Duke of Leinster (hence Lord Edward Fitzgerald was her nephew).
* A most valuable and important historical collection, deserving of much further research. Some of the original Lennox letters have been sold at various times (including some at Mealy’s…) and other deposited in various libraries, but this is probably the most complete collection of their texts than exists anywhere else.
From the family of Lady Albert Seymour, who was great-niece of Louise Connolly, the daughter of Lady Sarah Napier.
Sold for €4200

oh! seeing these books I’m just salivating!

Some of Lady Louisa’s letters were published (edited by Brian Fitzgerald) as The Correspondence of Emily Duchess of Leinster, in three volumes back in the 1940s and 1950s. (Find the books at the National Library of Ireland.)

AMAZINGLY these books have been digitalized by the Irish Manuscripts Commission!!! Oh, fabulous (although I have the books):

vol 1 – Letters of Emily, Duchess of Leinster; James, 1st Duke of Leinster; Caroline Fox (Lady Holland)

vol. 2 – Letters of Lord Edward Fitzgerald; Lady Sarah Napier (née Lennox)

vol. 3 – Letters of Lady Louisa Conolly; William, Marquis of Kildare (2nd Duke of Leinster)

Click on the picture of Lady Louisa to get to the Irish Manuscripts Commission’s list of digitalized books.

Find portraits of the Conollys (note the spelling difference from Mealy’s!!) online at Castletown House.

* * *

Bonus Question: can you spot the incorrect information in the auction house’s description??

Oh, such mis-information makes me cringe! (Unfortunately, I have written such statements before…)


UPDATE: 3 January 2023 – I have replaced the broken link to Mealy’s website with the auction CATALOGUE at “Yumpu” for the Mealy’s “Rare Book Sale, December 13th & 14th, 2011”. The advertisement for the bound volumes of transcribed letters appears on page 93.

I also SAVED an image of the page; so, if all else fails, click here.

I do wonder, after a DOZEN years, What happened to these books? It would be nice to think of them in a public archive, but I don’t know that I ever traced them following the sale. Would love to know further information from you, dear readers.

I have also updated the Irish Manuscripts Commission links to the volumes of the three volumes of published letters. These files have become PDFs, which makes for much easier online reading (than the “flip-book” versions previously uploaded by the IMC). For those interested in out-of-print Irish history books, this link will pull up all IMC Digital Editions.



  1. Got a Little List « Georgian Gems, Regency Reads & Victorian Voices said,

    […] The Correspondence of Emily, Duchess of Leinster [3 vols] {these books now online; see the post at Two Teens in the Time of Austen} […]

  2. Women Writing Women’s Lives | Two Teens in the Time of Austen said,

    […] of female-related material. Rather brings to mind the wonderful cache of letters relating to Emily Duchess of Leinster. It’s amazing that the family would, at some point in the past, have given up such TREASURE […]

  3. lightgift said,

    Hi – thank you so much for posting the links to the books of Lady Leinster’s correspondence. I’m writing a book of my own about my family history, which includes a lot about Charles Napier, whose first wife was my 5x great aunt, the widow Elizabeth Kelly, nee Oakley. I hope you won’t mind my pointing out firstly that Sarah Napier’s second husband was Colonel George Napier. They were the parents of nine children, the first-born being Charles James Napier, later knight and general, known as ‘the Conqueror of Scinde’. Secondly Lady Louisa Connolly was not, as you say, the daughter of Lady Sarah Napier. They were sisters, both children of the 3rd Duke of Richmond, illegitimate great great grandson of King Charles II with his mistress Louise de Kerouaille. I expect you have read Stella Tilyard’s book Aristocrats which gives a very readable and yet detailed account of the four Lennox sisters’ lives.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, I’ll have to re-read my own post – and make the corrections you suggest. It’s been a LONG time, but, yes, I first got to know of the family thru Tilyard’s book (I wasn’t a big fan of the TV series they made later). It would have been from the bibliography that I learned about the existence of these volumes. SUCH a pity the fourth volume never saw the light of day. I now have all three, but they are sometimes hard to find (for a decent price).

      Fitzgerald also published a biography of Emily Duchess of Leinster (a littler easier to find on the used book market, though I’ve never read it).

      It is amazing how much historical material got published in the 1930s/1940s. If only we could get back to that level of producing “histories”, letters, diaries.

      Good luck with your family history! k

  4. Janeite Kelly said,

    Hi again – it dawned on me last night, as it’s been a while since the purchase of my books (each volume bought individually), I would have copied the information from the auction site. And, looking today, that IS where the main paragraph comes from.

    But the person you mention is under Provenance, where I also see “Louise” rather than “Louisa.” (Are they two different people?) Pity the link isn’t working any longer (though Mealy’s _may_ have kept it, but moved it; I’ll have to take a look).

    Sometimes, auction sites give information that one wonders, “How did they find that?!” and in those cases I’ve sometimes contacted them. Other times, I merely shake my head at the incorrect information! So thanks for “correcting”. k

    PS – I did find a link at Mealy’s to this 2011 auction and have resaved the link, for those interested in reading the FULL description. NB: the estimate was 2500-3500 Euro! (Sold for 4200).

    • LucyAnn Curling said,

      Hello Janeite – apologies for the time gap since your last message! I’m not very good a following up posts on blogs. To reply to your question about Louise/Louisa, Lady Sarah had both a sister and a daughter (her first child) called Louisa. I’ve never seen either of them mentioned as ‘Louise’. By the way, I imagine you know that Charles James Napier’s first wife was the widow Elizabeth Kelly, nee Oakley. Are you connected to the Kelly family of Kelly House in the village of Kelly in Devon?

      • Janeite Kelly said,

        I am not connected with any “Kelly” family or place name; it’s my first name – popular in the United States in the mid-20th century.

        I have a feeling “Louise” was a typo. Like the spelling “Connolly”. k

  5. LucyAnn Curling said,

    Ahh! I see – sorry for misunderstanding. By the way, you have Lady Louisa Connolly as daughter of Lady Sarah Lennox Napier. They were in fact sisters. You can check this in Stella Tilyard’s ‘The Aristocrats’, or, if you can access a copy of ‘The Sword Dance, Lady Sarah Lennox and the Napiers’ by Priscilla Napier. There’s a fold out family tree at the back of this 2nd item. The book is no longer in print, but I got 2nd-hand copies of the 4-volume set at various times online.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Lucy Ann — the “description” is all from the auction house; spelling, suppositions, etc. Including the provenance identification, which was confusing for a couple of reasons, including “Louise Connolly,” which I presume a typo. I simply made NO corrections – as there were so many that could have been made!

      If the family tree says more about LADY ALBERT SEYMOUR, I would love to know! (Of course, I could simply “google” her…; I will, one of these days.)

      Thank you for mentioning further books!
      Tilyard’s biography of the sisters, in fact, was one of my earliest purchases in English history, biography. I loved the book! Without it, I dare say, I’d never have sought out the Letters volume, The Correspondence of Emily Duchess of Leinster — which were TOUGH finds – though it sounds like we both know to keep on searching for hard-to-find secondhand books…

      It’s been a long time since I’ve looked into the family at all, but I really must seek out “The Sword Dance,” which I do not think I have heard of before. Wow, that there is enough material for four volumes!


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