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Goldsmid Letters

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0103 MS MOCATTA 22
Held at: University College London
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Full title: Goldsmid Letters
Date(s): 1805-1856
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 2 volumes
Name of creator(s): Goldsmid | Sir | Isaac Lyon | 1778-1859 | 1st Baronet | Jewish financier and philanthropist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born in London, 1778; entered his uncles' firm, Mocatta & Goldsmid, bullion brokers to the Bank of England and to the East India Company; a member of the Stock Exchange, where until 1828 only twelve Jewish brokers were admitted; as a financier, rose to eminence and ultimately amassed a large fortune; his most extensive financial operations were connected with Portugal, Brazil, and Turkey; devoted much effort to Jewish emancipation and in working for unsectarian education and social reforms; closely allied with Utilitarian and radical opinion; prominent in the foundation of University College London, then called the University of London, and with John Smith and Benjamin Shaw acquired the desired site in Gower Street, 1825; member of its first Council, 1826; assisted in the establishment of the University College or North London Hospital, 1834; served as its treasurer, 1839-1857; with Elizabeth Fry and Peter Bedford worked for the reform of the penal code and the improvement of prisons; associated with Robert Owen and was interested in Owen's New Lanark; instrumental in the introduction of the Jewish Disabilities Bill by (Sir) Robert Grant, 1830; the bill was thrown out in the House of Commons on its second reading, but was passed by large majorities on its reintroduction in the reformed parliament, 1833; for many subsequent years the bill was rejected in the House of Lords, but Goldsmid's early exertions stimulated the interest of many prominent liberal members of both houses and a few conservatives; Goldsmid's public services and labours for the Disabilities Bill brought him into contact with liberal statesmen, including Henry Richard Vassall Fox, 3rd Baron Holland, who expressed a wish that Goldsmid be given a baronetcy; created a baronet by the outgoing ministry of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, the first baronetcy to be conferred on a Jew, 1841; for his services in settling a monetary dispute between Portugal and Brazil, created by the Portuguese government Baron da Palmeira, 1846; died, 1859. See also Memoir of Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid (Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co, London, 1879, revised edition, 1882), including information on the subject's father, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letterbooks of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, 1805-1856 and undated but dating largely from the period 1828-1835, mainly comprising letters to Goldsmid concerning his interests and activities in Jewish emancipation, social and educational reform, including the foundation of the University of London. The writers (c350 in total) include Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, 1830, 1833; Peter Bedford, 1832; Henry Peter Brougham, Baron Brougham and Vaux, 1828-1839 and undated; Sir Francis Burdett, Baronet, 1830, 1833; Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, 1835 and undated; Michael Faraday, 1831; Henry Richard Vassall Fox, 3rd Baron Holland, 1828-1840 and undated; Elizabeth Fry, 1829, 1833 and undated; Sir Robert Grant, 1830-1834 and undated; Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, 1832-1834; William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, 1835; Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay, undated; Thomas Robert Malthus, 1827; Harriet Martineau, 1834 and undated; Daniel O'Connell, 1829; Robert Owen, 1830 and undated; David Ricardo, 1823; Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, 1834-1841; Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, 1828, 1833; and many other public figures including politicians, aristocrats, members of the royal family, reformers, churchmen, and prominent Jewish figures. There are a few letters from Goldsmid, 1828-1856 and undated, and other documents, including one concerning places of worship in Old and New Lanark, 1823; London University share certificate, 1826; and a copy petition to (Sir) Robert Grant on behalf of the Jewish Disabilities Bill, 1833.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Mainly English, but some Hebrew.

System of arrangement:

The papers are bound in two volumes, the first relating largely to negotiations concerning the Jewish Relief Bills, 1828-1834, and the second including the foundation of London University and various other financial, charitable and agricultural matters. There is apparently no systematic order within the two volumes, and letters from some correspondents are split between the volumes.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Finding aids:

Alphabetical card index by name, giving volume and folio reference numbers of letters, available in reading room at University College London Special Collections.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Formerly held with other Jewish collections in the Mocatta Library of University College London.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred from the Mocatta Library (subsequently the Jewish Studies Library) of University College London.

Allied Materials

Related material:

University College London Special Collections holds letters, 1826-1829, 1831, 1836-1838, 1846-1850, from Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid relating to University College London and University College Hospital business (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE).

Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, holds miscellaneous business papers of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (Ref: U642). Southampton University Library holds a photograph, 1966, of a portrait of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (Ref: MS 116/55).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; H Hale Bellot, University College London 1826-1926 (University of London Press, London, 1929), pp 17, 28-30, 34; Negley Harte and John North, The World of University College London 1828-1990 (University College London, London, revised edition, 1991), pp 12, 21; National Register of Archives; Archives Hub. Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

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:
Apr 2001

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