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Collection of Jonathan Swift materials: Finding Aid
mssHM 1599, etc.  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Collection of Jonathan Swift materials
    Dates (inclusive): 1698-1881
    Bulk dates: 1720-1745
    Collection Number: mssHM 1599, etc.
    Additional Collection Numbers: mssHM 1599, mssHM 14326-14390, mssHM 22660; mssHM 24016-HM 24018; mssHM 27942-HM 27943; mssHM 31303; mssHM 51865
    Creator: Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745.
    Extent: 74 items in 1 box and 1 volume
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Rare Books Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains 74 pieces related to Anglo-Irish writer, satirist and cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), chiefly representing his later life in Ireland from the 1720s to the late 1730s. Documents include manuscripts in Swift's hand, or contemporary copies, as well as letters and verse to and from Swift and his friends, and documents endorsed by Swift or once in his possession.
    Language: English.
    Finding aid last updated on November 20, 2015.


    Items are available with curatorial approval. Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    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

    [Identification of item]. Collection of Jonathan Swift materials, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Most of the items described in this finding aid were purchased by Henry E. Huntington from William K. Bixby in 1918.
    Additional acquisitions include:
    • HM 1599, HM 14381-14390, HM 24016, and HM 24018, purchased by Henry E. Huntington from Charles Sessler, April and August 1925.
    • HM 22660, purchased by Henry E. Huntington from E. Dwight Church, March 31, 1916 (Lot 1130, Anderson Galleries, New York City).
    • HM 24016-24018, purchased by Henry E. Huntington from Charles Sessler in Augus 1925 (included in Maggs Bros. Catalogue No. 445, Lot No. 2909, 1923).
    • HM 27942, acquired from Barry Brown, July 1961.
    • HM 27943, purchased from Christie's, December 18, 1964 (Lot 85).
    • HM 31303, gift of Frank Kazich, July 1969.
    Specific provenance information is written on the item folder.

    Custodial History

    Many of these manuscripts were originally owned by Theophilus Swift (1746-1815), who inherited them upon the death of his father, Deane Swift (1707-1783) of Goodrich, Hereford, who was a cousin, editor, and biographer of Jonathan Swift. Some of these items had previously belonged to Martha Swift Harrison Whiteway (died 1768), Jonathan Swift's cousin, and Theophilus Swift's grandmother. Following Theophilus Swift's death in 1815, the manuscripts came into the possession of London merchant James Smith; they were later purchased by Frederick Locker (later Frederick Locker-Lampson) for his Rowfant Library in July 1877 from Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge. The Rowfant Library was purchased by New York collector Elihu Dwight Church in 1895, who moved the collection to the United States and in the early 1900s began selling portions of it. Around 1905-1908, William J. Bixby purchased most of the manuscripts originally held by Theophilus Swift, and then sold them to Henry E. Huntington in 1918, in a sale arranged by dealer George D. Smith.
    Mayhew, George P. Rage or Raillery: The Swift Manuscripts at the Huntington Library (Huntington Library, 1967) contains a detailed description of the provenance of the collection.

    Biographical Note

    Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an Anglo-Irish writer, satirist, and cleric known for his satirical works including Gulliver's Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729). Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 30, 1667. He received a BA from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1686, an MA from Hart Hall, Oxford, in 1692, and a Doctorate of Divinity from Trinity College in 1702. Swift was ordained as a priest in the Established Church of Ireland in 1695. In the early 1700s, Swift was frequently in London, England, and was an active political writer and Tory propagandist. Following the fall of the Tory government, Swift returned to Ireland and became Dean of St. Patrick's Church in Dublin, serving from 1713 until his death. Swift died on October 19, 1745.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains 74 pieces related to Anglo-Irish writer and cleric Jonathan Swift, chiefly representing his later life in Ireland from the 1720s to the late 1730s. Documents include manuscripts in Swift's hand, or contemporary copies, as well as letters to and from Swift and his friends, and documents endorsed by Swift or once in his possession.
    Twenty-seven of the manuscripts are in Swift's hand, with additional pieces endorsed, annotated by, or addressed to him. The holographs include unique versions of four of Swift's poems composed by him in Ireland between 1719 and 1734 (HM 14336, HM 14335, HM 14339, and HM 14338, fol. 12b), as well as two copies in contemporary hands of Swift's poems (HM 14340 and HM 14345).
    The correspondence includes 11 letters from Swift to London Alderman John Barber, dated 1732-1733. Additional correspondents, chiefly represented by one to three letters, include Swift's cousin Martha Swift Harrison Whiteway and John Boyle, 5th Earl of Orrery & of Cork. Notably, the collection includes Swift's 1723 "A Letter to a Young Lady on Her Marriage" (HM 1559), containing 18-pages of advice and commentary by Swift about women and marriage.
    Among the manuscripts, there are poems shared between Swift and his friends, with verse penned by Moore Booker, Irish member of Parliament George Rochfort, Patrick Delany, classical scholar Thomas Sheridan, Reverend William Dunkin, and John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery.
    In addition, there are a few other manuscripts relating to Deane Swift and some 19th century letters related to use of the Theophilus Swift Papers.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library

    • Broadsides by Jonathan Swift and others (143198-143259)
    • Aitken, George A. To the Editor of Literature about Swift's Journal to Stella. January 11, 1902 (mssHM 31458)
    • Coghill, Marmaduke. To Edward Southwell, 1728 (mssHM 28672 and mssHM 28678)
    • Pope, Alexander. To Samuel Gerrard. 1740 May 17 (mssHM 6930)
    • Swift, Jonathan. "On Wisdom's defeat, In a learned Debate," 1724. Contemporary manuscript copy written on the last flyleaf of a volume of printed pamphlets (352764-352786).
    • Swift, Jonathan. The works of J. S, D.D, D.S.P.D. in four volumes (81494).   Volume II contains contemporary manuscript copies of poems from two works: six passages omitted from On Poetry: A Rhapsody (1733) and of "A Letter to a Lady" (1735, i.e. Epistle to a Lady).
    • Polite Conversation. Dramatic dialogues. From Jonathan Swift, 1740. John Larpent Papers (mssLA 21)  


    The collection consists of 1 box of materials arranged in 2 series:
    • Manuscripts
    • Correspondence
    With one additional piece of correspondence housed separately as a bound volume: Swift, Jonathan. [A Letter to a Young Lady on Her Marriage]. 1722/3, February 11 (HM 1599). HM 1599 is listed at the end of this finding aid.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Authors, Irish -- 18th century -- Archives.
    Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745 -- Archives.


    Letters (correspondence) -- Ireland -- 18th century.
    Poems -- Ireland -- 18th century.
    Songs -- Ireland -- 18th century.


    Barber, John, 1675-1740, correspondent.
    Bixby, William K. (William Keeney), 1857-1931, former owner.
    Booker, Moore, 1686 or 1687-
    Delany, Patrick, 1685 or 1686-1768.
    Locker-Lampson, Frederick, 1821-1895, former owner.
    Orrery, John Boyle, Earl of, 1707-1762.
    Pope, Alexander, 1688-1744.
    Rochfort, George.
    Sheridan, Thomas, 1687-1738.
    Swift, Deane, 1707-1783.
    Swift, Theophilus, 1746-1815, former owner.
    Whiteway, Martha (Swift) Harrison, -1768.