Gregory family papers, 1770-1956

Emory University

Robert W. Woodruff Library

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Gregory family.
Title: Gregory family papers, 1770-1956
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 624
Extent: 25 linear ft. (49 boxes), 1 oversized papers folder (OP), 7 bound volumes (BV), 2 oversized bound volumes (OBV), and 1 framed item (FR)
Abstract:Personal papers of the Gregory family of Ireland including correspondence, financial records, printed material and original literary works.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Purchase, 1981 with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Gregory family papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by W. Bradford Smith, 1989.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

The Gregory family of Ireland traced their lineage to John Gregory, Lord of Fresely and Asfordby in Leicestershire during the twelfth century. The family settled in Ireland early and were staunch supporters of the English. Thomas Gregory (1602-post 1666) and his cousin Giles were members of the Puritan squirearchy during the Commonwealth period and served with Cromwell in Ireland. Giles received an estate in Tipperary as compensation for his service to the Lord Protector. On his death, this estate passed to Thomas, who settled in Londonderry and there had two sons, George and Robert. During the siege of Londonderry by supporters of King James II in 1689, Robert and George led the Protestant forces in the defense of the city. Robert was left bankrupt after the crown refused to reimburse him for his expenses during the seige, but George and his many sons fared better. One of the younger sons, Henry (ca. 1700-post 1731) leased a large farm in Limerick. After quarrelling with his landlord, he moved to the town of Galway. Galway remained the seat of the Gregory family until the sale of the Coole Park estate in the 1930's.

The Gregory family papers begin with the papers of Henry Gregory's only son, Robert Gregory (1727-1810), an East India Company merchant, member of parliament, and founder of the family fortune. Robert Gregory had three sons. The eldest, Robert (1754-1814) followed in his father's footsteps and took up a position with the East India Company. Unfortunately, his passion for cock-fighting earned him his father's enmity and in 1784 he was disinherited. The second son, Richard, served in the army but was brought up on charges of cowardice when his troops deserted during the Valenciennes campaign in 1793. He withdrew from society and later suffered a stroke. The animosity between Richard's young wife -- a schoolgirl who he had married secretly and then kept in a separate house disguised as a sailor -- and the wife of Robert Gregory's third son, William, led to his complete alienation from the family.

William Gregory (1762-1840), the youngest and most successful son of the elder Robert, served as Civil-Undersecretary for Ireland from 1812-1830. He had two sons, Robert (1790-1847), and William (1792-1840). William became rector of Fiddown in county Kilkenny, and with his wife Anne had three sons and one daughter. Robert Gregory built up the estate on Coole Park and died there after caring for tenents suffering from an outbreak of plague.

Robert Gregory and his wife Elizabeth O'Hara had one son, William Henry Gregory, (1817-1892,) who served as M.P. for Galway and later was appointed Governor General of Ceylon and subsequently knighted. Sir W. H. Gregory was married twice, first to Elizabeth Temple Bowdoin who died in Ceylon in 1873. His second wife was Isabella Augusta Persse, better known as Lady Gregory (1852-1932). After her husband's death, Lady Gregory embarked on a literary career and became one of the central figures in the Irish literary renaissance. Their only son, William Robert Gregory (1881-1918) served with the Royal Flying Corp during World War I and was killed in action in Italy in 1918. William Robert married Lily Margaret Perry and by her had three children. Richard Graham Gregory (b. 1909) served in the British army during World War II, achieving the rank of Major. (Augusta) Anne Gregory (b. 1911) married Brigadier Robert William de Winton, who was later assassinated in Yugoslavia in 1947. The third daughter, Catherine Frances (b. 1913) married Robert Kenedy of Michaelstown, Ireland.

More detailed biographical sketches of the family members represented in the collection may be found at the beginning of each series.

Scope and Content Note

The Gregory family papers contain correspondence, manuscript and printed documents, financial records, printed material and original literary works dating from 1770 to 1956. The collection is divided into seven series. The series and subseries descriptions may be found at the beginning of each series within the collection. Series 1 contains the papers of Robert Gregory (1727-1810). These largely reflect his affiliation with the East India Company during the 1770's and 1780's. Series 2 contain the papers of William Gregory (1762-1840). These include official correspondence from 1799 to 1835 regarding his tenure as Civil-Undersecretary for Ireland.

Series 3 contains the papers of Robert Gregory (1790-1847) and Elizabeth O'Hara Gregory (1799-1875). These are mostly financial papers concerning both the Gregory and O'Hara families. Letters from W.H. Gregory to Elizabeth Gregory are contained in Series 4. Series 4 comprise the papers of Sir William Henry Gregory (1817-1892). These include correspondence from 1833-1892, drafts of his speeches in Parliament, financial and personal papers, and printed material.

Series 5 contain the papers of Lady Augusta Gregory. These include correspondence with family members, general correspondence, manuscript and typescripts of her writings, financial papers, and printed material from the 1880's to the 1930's. Series 6 contains the papers of William Robert Gregory (1881-1918) and Margaret Gregory. These include some correspondence and financial papers. Series 7 contains miscellaneous family materials.

Arrangement Note

Organized into seven series: (1) Robert Gregory papers, (2) William Gregory papers, (3) Robert Gregory and Elizabeth O'Hara Gregory papers, (4) W.H. Gregory papers, (5) Lady Augusta Gregory papers, (6) William Robert Gregory and Margaret Gregory papers, and (7) General family material.

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