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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/0976
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Full title: JAMES FAMILY
Date(s): 1705-1854
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.91 linear metres (319 documents).
Name of creator(s): James | George Payne Rainsford | 1799-1860 | novelist


Administrative/Biographical history:

George Payne Rainsford James, 1799-1860, belonged to a well-known medical family; his grandfather was the inventor of Dr James's Pills and Powders, and his father and elder uncle were both doctors. James was a prolific writer, turning out nearly a hundred novels, besides works of a more serious historical nature.

James inherited an entailed estate at Hampton Wick and Teddington when it was disclosed that his father's elder brother, Robert Harcourt James, had never married the lady always recognised as his wife and whose children were therefore not lawful heirs to the property. The estate was heavily mortgaged, and despite the success of his novels James appears to have been in serious financial difficulties.

His affairs cannot have been helped by the number of law-suits he engaged in with his various publishers. In 1850 his difficulties made him decide to emigrate to Canada, but his friends managed instead to obtain for him the post of British consul in Norfolk, Virginia. He was not happy there, and in 1853 his friends petitioned the Foreign Secretary for another post considered to be more deserving of his personal qualities and abilities (ACC/0976/222). In 1856 he was made consul-general in Venice, and he died there four years later.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the novelist George Payne Rainsford James and his family, a total of about 350 items, with documents relating to other families, either short series or isolated items. There are several wills and settlements among the papers (ACC/0976/136-155). The manuscript of chapters 14-22 of the novel Ehrenstein is preserved among these archives (ACC/0976/163). There is a series of title deeds to an entailed estate at Hampton Wick and Teddington inherited by James; papers relating to law-suits with various publishers (ACC/0976/156-171); and a petition to the Foreign Secretary (ACC/0976/222).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

This collection falls into two distinct groups. ACC/0976-1 to 4 relate to the James family. ACC/0976-5 relate to other families.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Gifted to the Archive in September 1967.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Records prepared May to September 2011.

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