William Congreve papers

Finding aid prepared by Gina C Giang.
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© July 2018
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: William Congreve papers
Inclusive Dates: 1803-1869
Collection Number: mssCongreve
Collector: Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828
Extent: 116 items in 2 boxes
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Manuscripts Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Abstract: This is the most significant archive extant of manuscript materials by and about the prolific English inventor and technologist William Congreve and his family.
Language of Material: The records are in English and French.

Administrative Information

Access

Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

Publication Rights

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

William Congreve papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Jeremy M. Norman, December 2013.
Forms part of: Jeremy Norman Collection on the History of Aerodynamics, Aviation and Aerospace.

Biography

Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet KCH FRS (1772-1828) was an English inventor and rocket artillery pioneer distinguished for his development and deployment of Congreve rockets, and a Tory Member of Parliament (MP). He was son of Lt. General Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet (1742-1814), the Comptroller of the Royal Laboratories at the Royal Arsenal.

Scope and Content

The archive extends over six decades, from 1803 to 1869. Included in the archive are letters and manuscripts covering William Congreve's career in rocketry. The most notable of these is his diary of the 1807 Copenhagen bombardment, which represents the first truly successful large-scale use of the Congreve war rocket in combat. Other noteworthy manuscripts include a signed draft and a fair copy of a "Report to the Commissioners of the Navy" dated October 1813, in which Congreve summarized his war rocketry activities from 1805 to 1813; a letter dated November 1813 relating to "the expense, or rather the economy of the Rocket System"; bills for materials used in rocket construction; an undated letter to a Captain Elliot discussing the subject of a "rocket cavalry"; letters discussing a plan of "applying Rockets for throwing ropes ashore from shipwrecked vessels"; and letters in which Congreve writes of his achievements and his attitude towards his work. The archive also contains manuscripts and letters relating to some of Congreve's other inventions: naval guns, bombships, and Congreve's design for a paddlewheel boat, which is detailed in a long letter illustrated with Congreve's sketches. Also included are a long series of love letters that Congreve wrote to his wife, Isabella, and another series of long, detailed letters written to Congreve during the last few months of his life by his secretary, R. Drake, discussing, among other things, Congreve's political career as a Member of Parliament, his precarious financial position, the publication of his Treatise on the General Principles, Powers, and Facility of Application of the Congreve Rocket System (1827), and negotiations with the British East India Company for exclusive rights to the Congreve war rocket for use in India. Included in the remainder of the archive is a letter from Congreve's father, William Congreve Sr., to Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), president of the Royal Society, discussing the elder Congreve's responsibilities at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. Another series of letters, some written by Congreve, concern a will of which Congreve's aunt, Miss Mary Congreve, was the executrix. There are numerous letters written by Isabella Congreve after Congreve's death in 1828, mostly on financial matters-- Congreve's affairs were left somewhat embarrassed upon his death, and the archive includes several records of bills and promissory notes, both paid and owing. Lastly, there are several letters presumably written by Congreve's descendants, the last dated Feb. 1, 1869.
A PDF of the Calendar of Manuscripts in the Congreve Archive is available on Jeremy Norman's History of Science web site. 

Indexing Terms

Personal Names

Banks, Joseph, 1743-1820
Congreve, Isabella Charlotte
Congreve, William, Sir, 1742-1814
Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828
Croker, John Wilson, 1780-1857

Subjects

Artillery
Carronades
Gunpowder
Military history
Rocketry

Geographic Areas

Great Britain -- History -- 19th century

Genre

Financial records
Legal documents
Letters (correspondence)
Manuscripts


CONTAINER LIST

Box 1

Correspondence

Folder 1

[Augustus, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich, Prince of Prussia, 1779-1843] A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1814, July 29)

In French
Folder 2

Bergenhous, Colonel -----, A.L.S. to "Madame Augusta," (1868, Dec. 30)

Folder 3

Binna, A. de A.L.S. to Chevalier de Ribeiro, (1837, May 17)

Folder 4

Congreve, Isabella Charlotte A.L. to [King of Great Britain George IV, 1762-1830] or [King of Great Britain William IV, 1765-1837], [after 1828]

Folder 5

[Congreve, Isabella Charlotte] A.L.S. to "Gentlemen," (1836, June 2)

Folder 6

[Congreve, Isabella Charlotte] A.L. to "Gentlemen," [undated]

Incomplete
Folder 7

[Congreve, Isabella Charlotte] A.L. to "My Lord," [undated]

Draft?
Folder 8

[Congreve, Isabella Charlotte] A.L. to "Sir," [undated]

Draft?
Folder 9

Congreve, William, Sir, 1742-1814 A.L.S. to Joseph Banks, 1743-1820, (1803, Feb. 8)

Charlton (London, England)
Folder 10

Congreve, William, Sir, 1742-1814 A.L.S. to "The Prospective Officers of the Royal Powder Magazine…," (1809, Feb. 17)

Folder 11

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to J. Barrow, [1818]

Folder 12

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (1826, Feb. 3)

Incomplete
Folder 13

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (----, Apr. 10)

Folder 14

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (----, Oct. 31)

Folder 15

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (----, Dec. 24)

Folder 16

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons
Folder 17

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 18

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 19

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 20

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 21

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 22

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 23

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 24

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 25

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 26

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 27

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 28

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 29

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, [undated]

Folder 30

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to [Isabella Charlotte Congreve], [undated]

Incomplete
Folder 31

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to [Isabella Charlotte Congreve], [undated]

Incomplete
Folder 32

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L. to [Isabella Charlotte Congreve], [undated]

Incomplete
Folder 33

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [Mary] Congreve, (1810, May 18)

Folder 34

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [Mary] Congreve, [1810]

Folder 35

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [Mary] Congreve, (1816, May 30)

Folder 36

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [John Wilson Croker, 1780-1857], (1810, Oct. 17)

Folder 37

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [John Wilson Croker, 1780-1857], (1817, Feb. 18)

Folder 38

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [John Wilson Croker, 1780-1857], (1818, Mar. 17)

Folder 39

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [John Wilson Croker, 1780-1857], (1824, Aug. 26)

Folder 40

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to [John Wilson Croker, 1780-1857], [undated]

Folder 41

[Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828] A.L. to ----- Attwood, (1826, Apr. 10)

Incomplete
Folder 42

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Elliot -----, [undated]

Folder 43

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to Vivian -----, [undated]

Folder 44

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "Dear Sir," [1810]

Folder 45

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "My Dear Sir," (1813, May 6)

Folder 46

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "My Dear Sir," (1813, Oct. 21)

Folder 47

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "My Dear Sir," (1813, Nov. 26)

Folder 48

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "My Dear Sir," [1813]

Folder 49

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "My Lord," [1814]

Included: Copy of letter to the Earl of Liverpool
Folder 50

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.L.S. to "My Dear Sir," (1816, Jan. 24)

Folder 51

Cullendin, Sydney A.L.S. to ----- [Branbin?], (1863, May 19)

Folder 52

Drake, R. A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (1828, July 23)

Folder 53

Drake, R. A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1827, Jan. 29)

London (England)
Folder 54

Drake, R. A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, [1827], (Aug. 6)

Incomplete
Folder 55

Drake, R. A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1828, Jan. 4)

London (England)
Folder 56

Drake, R. A.L.S. to [Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828], (1828, May 6)

London (England)
Folder 57

Drake, R. A.L.S. to [Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828], (1828, May 9)

London (England)
Included: Copy of letters from J. Dart and R.F. Wade; and "Extract from Articles of Agreement"
Folder 58

[du Demain, -----] A.L.S. to [Chere Madame?], [undated]

In French and English
Folder 59

Dyneley, Coverdale & Lee A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (1832, Mar. 7)

Folder 60

Ferry, C.G. A.L.S. to "Demoiselle Marie," (1855, Sep. 12)

In French
Box 2

Correspondence, documents, ephemera, manuscripts, and financial records

Folder 1

Hammersley, ----- A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (1836, Apr. 14)

Folder 2

Hayes, -----? A.L.S. to [Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828], (1814, July 8)

Halifax (England)
Folder 3

Holland, John Wentworth A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1818, Dec. 28)

Folder 4

[Hure, E.?] A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (1829, Dec. 4)

In French
Folder 5

Knighton, W. A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, [undated]

Folder 6

[Richards, E.C.?] A.L.S. to G.C. Hawkins, (1835, May 1)

Lisbon (Portugal)
Folder 7

Sarum, J. A.L.S. to Mary Congreve, (1810, May 16)

Folder 8

Sharpin, Eliza A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, (1831, May 10)

Folder 9

Squires, R.F. A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1826, Apr. 24)

Folder 10

Vivian, John A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1808, Aug. 18)

Folder 11

[Ware, Charles H.?] A.L.S. to [Sir William Congreve, 1742-1814], (1810, May 14)

Folder 12

Watson, Fred B. A.L.S. to Isabella Charlotte Congreve, ([after 1828], Nov. 8)

Folder 13

[---cker, B.?] A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1807, May 14)

Folder 14

-----, John A.L.S. to Mimi -----, (1856, Oct. 14)

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Folder 15

-----, John A.L.S. to Mimi -----, (1857, May 14)

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Folder 16

-----, Robert A.L.S. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1817, Oct. 5)

Exeter (England)
Folder 17

----- ----- A.L. to [Sir William Congreve, 1742-1814], [undated]

Folder 18

----- ----- A.L. to Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828, (1825, Oct. 23)

Folder 19

----- ----- A.L. to [Mme. West?], [undated]

In French
Folder 20

----- ----- A.L. to [My Lord?], [undated]

Incomplete
Folder 21

----- ----- A.L. to "Sir," [undated]

Folder 22

----- ----- A.L. to ----- -----, [undated]

Re: Trial of Queen Charlotte
Folder 23

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 A.M.S. [Diary], (1807, Aug-Oct.)

Incomplete
Folder 24

----- -----. Legal document, (1808, Dec. 25)

For [Mary] Congreve with instructions for probating a will
Folder 25

Dowdeswell, John. "Case," (1810, May 14)

Re: Legal opinion proving of a will
Folder 26

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828. "Report of Colonial Congreve’s Statement relative to the Rocket [Service]…," (1813, Oct. 7)

Folder 27

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828. Statement, (1813)

Re: "Colonel Congreve’s statement relative to the Rocket service, from its commencement from 1805-1813"
Folder 28

Sunday Monitor. Clippings (information artifacts). "The Pagoda, Or Chinese Bridge. St. James Park…," (1814, Aug.)

Folder 29

Robertson, Alexander. Bill, (1821, July)

Re: Bill for services "Extra Hyde Part coronation account at the Serpentine river - Robertson Carpenter"
Folder 30

Chevalier de Bury; Chevalier Albert. Legal document, (1822, Mar. 21)

In French
Folder 31

Chevalier de Bury; Chevalier Albert. Legal document, (1822, Mar. 21)

In French
Folder 32

Chevalier de Bury; Chevalier Albert. Legal document, (1822, Mar. 21)

In French
Folder 33

Chevalier de Bury; Chevalier Albert. Legal document, (1822, Mar. 22)

In French
Folder 34

[Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828]. [Oath], (1822, Oct. 27)

Warwick (England)
Folder 35

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828. Bill "to Hinrich & Stafford," (1824, Jan. 7)

Folder 36

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828 and Spooner & Co. [Bill], (1824)

Note: Memorandum written in the lower right-hand corner of the document dated 1825, Aug. 6
Folder 37

Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828. [Bill] to John Hall, (1826)

Re: "Rockets accts."
Folder 38

Thwartes & Read. Bill, (1826)

Re: Itemized bill for supplies
Folder 39

Longman & Co. Memorandum, (1827, May 19)

Re: The publication of the Rocket Volume
Folder 40

Venn, John. Promissory note, (1828, Mar. 31)

On verso: A.MS. non-payment of promissory note
Folder 41

Dyneley, Coverdale & Lee. Statement, (1832, Aug.)

Re: "Ex parte Sir William Congreve deceased. Statement of debts and probable assets"
Folder 42

Russell, James. "Query and Opinion," (1834, Feb. 5)

Re: Creditors’ lawsuits against Congreve estate
Copy
Folder 43

[Prescription?] for [Isabella Charlotte Congreve], (1836, July 6)

In Latin
Folder 44

The Daily News. Court Circular, No. 1, (1854, Oct. 30)

Brussels (Belgium)
Folder 45

Carew, George and Whiting, Charles Fenton. Agreement, (1858, Feb. 22)

Re: Sale and purchase of 9 Maida Hill West
Folder 46

[Fitzpatrick Heighams, Annie Alexandria?]. Will, (1868, July 8)

Last will and testament
Folder 47

[Lonnoy?, -----]. Bill to Mme. West, (1869, Feb. 1)

In French
Folder 48

Empty envelope, (1869, Jan. 8-9)

Addressed to Madame West
Folder 49

Grammar School, Maidstone. Bill to [Sir William Congreve, 1772-1828], (----, Dec. 20)

Printed document with handwritten calculations
Folder 50

[Congreve, William, Sir, 1772-1828]. Balance sheet, [undated]

Debts and assets
Folder 51

Congreve, William, Sir, 1742-1814. Untitled manuscript beginning, "The family of Congreve is of Saxon origin…," [undated]

Folder 52

----- -----. Memorandum, [undated]

Re: "Memorandum of the prime cost of three thousand Rockets old pattern with the price of each of the new pattern"
Folder 53

----- -----. Memorandum, [undated]

"Private memo" related to the royal family
Folder 54

----- -----. Menu, [undated]

Folder 55

Congreve, William, Sir, 1742-1814. Sketch and plans of coffin and memorial, [undated]

3 fragments
Folder 56

----- -----. [Sketch of an armor suit and shield], [undated]