Gregory family papers
> W.H. (William Henry) Gregory papers

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Series 4
W.H. (William Henry) Gregory papers, 1833-1892
Boxes 21-39, OBV2, BV1-3, OP1, FR1

Biographical Note

Sir William Henry Gregory, the only child of Robert Gregory and Elizabeth O'Hara Gregory, was born 1817 July 12 at the Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, the residence of his grandfather, William Gregory. Gregory attended Harrow from 1830 to 1835, winning the prize for Latin lyrics in 1833 and the Peel Scholarship in 1835. He entered Christ College, Oxford in 1836 but withdrew in 1839 without receiving a degree.

After touring the continent with his parents, W.H. Gregory was elected to parliament (1842) as a conservative member for Dublin. Among his close associates were Sir Robert Peel, Lord Lincoln (later the Duke of Newcastle), and Lord George Bentick. Gregory lost his bid for reelection in 1847 and took up residence at the family estate at Coole Park in County Galway. He was appointed High Sheriff for the county in 1849. In 1850 he defended twenty boys who had been ejected from the Ordinance School for the Woolrich Military Academy because of their close association with three other boys who were dismissed for homosexual practices. In 1854 a second scandal engulfed Gregory when Edmund O'Flaherty forged Gregory's name on bills of exhange. The resultant trial cleared Gregory's name and furthered his political career.

Gregory traveled to Egypt in 1855 and wrote a two-volume work on his travels, Egypt in 1855 and 1856, and Tunis in 1857 and 1858, published privately in London in 1859. In 1857 he was reelected to parliament as a liberal-conservative candidate from Galway. In 1859 he traveled through North America, befriending several southern Congressmen, including James Murry Mason of Virginia and William Porcher Miles of South Carolina.

Throughout the American Civil War Gregory was an avid supporter of the Confederacy. He also argued that England should pursue strong anti-Turkish policy and supported the cession of the Ionian Islands and Crete to Greece. In domestic affairs Gregory was active in defending the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland and working for land reform. His interest in the arts led to a long association with the British Museum.

In 1872 Gregory was appointed Governor-General of Ceylon. He hosted the Prince of Wales in 1875, at which time he was presented with the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Gregory retired from office in 1877 and returned to England via Australia. He did not return to political office after 1877 and spent most of the following years travelling. From October 1881 to April 1882, he toured Egypt and reported on the revolution there. Gregory returned to Ceylon in 1884 and 1885.

W.H. Gregory was addicted to horse racing, which led to financial difficulties throughout his life. He remained fond of classical languages and literature and always took an interest in artistic affairs.

Gregory married twice. On 1872 January 11 he married Elizabeth Temple Bowdoin, [t. 1873 June 28] widow of James Temple Bowdoin and daughter of Sir William Clay. On 1880 March 4, Gregory married Isabelle Augusta Gregory. Their son, William Robert, was born 1881 May 20. W.H. Gregory died 1892 March 6 of respiratory failure in London. His autobiography was edited and published by Lady Gregory in 1894. Other works on W.H. Gregory consulted include: Brian Jenkins, Sir William Gregory of Coole. Gerald's Cross, 1986, and Lady Gregory's autobiography, 70 Years 1852-1922. Gerard's Cross, 1973. See also the article on W.H. Gregory in the Dictionary of National Biography (pp. 355-57).

Scope and Content Note

The papers of W.H. Gregory consist of papers dating from 1817 to 1900, divided by type into five subseries: incoming correspondence, outgoing correspondence, writings, financial and personal papers, and printed material. Within each subseries, papers are divided into groups defined by topic or time period, then arranged chronology.

W.H. Gregory is also represented in other series in the Gregory family papers, including Series 3 (Robert Gregory and Elizabeth O'Hara Gregory papers), Series 5 (Lady Gregory papers), and Series 6 (William Robert Gregory papers).

Arrangement Note

Organized into five subseries: (4.1) Incoming correspondence, 1841-1892; (4.2) Outgoing correspondence, 1833-1892; (4.3) Writings, 1833-1890; (4.4) Personal and financial papers, 1816-1880; and (4.5) Printed material, 1850-1900.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

W.H. Gregory's correspondence with Edmund Flaherty as well as other family material is in the National Library of Ireland (Dublin). American archival collections relating to W.H. Gregory include the papers of Charles Francis Adams (Massachusetts Historical Society), James Murray Mason (Library of Congress), William Porcher Miles (Southern Historical Collection, Chapel Hill, NC), and the Berg Collection (New York Public Library).

Description of Subseries