Saving the Manning to Kirkman Letters

By Lawrence Gregory
Published in History & New and Noteworthy
March 06, 2024
2 min read
Saving the Manning to Kirkman Letters

As part of my role with the Catholic Archives Society, I routinely monitor the internet for Catholic archival material being offered for sale and work with relevant repositories to ensure its safe acquisition.

In 2023 a bound collection of 19 original manuscript letters from Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892) to the Rev. Thomas Penyngton Kirkman (1806-1895), came up for sale on Abebooks.

Kirkman was a Lancashire Anglican priest, Rector of Croft, near Warrington, and a noted philosopher and mathematician, and is even listed as one of the ten foremost mathematicians of the nineteenth century.

These letters have always been held privately and thus have never been seen in public before. In them Manning discusses his views on philosophy and evolution, his views on Herbert Spencer, and even sketches of his ideas for a solution to Pascal’s Theorem.

Unfortunately, the archives of the Archdiocese of Westminster was not in a position to acquire the volume, but understanding its great importance to academia of this era, I brought the volume to the attention of NINS, and then to the Pitts Theology Library, who already hold an extensive archive of Manning’s papers and letters.

Some of the new Manning letters in the Digital Collections.
Some of Manning's newly-shared letters in the NINS Digital Collections, with summary descriptions. (Links to the NINS Digital Collections)

The Pitts Theology Library is part of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA and a unit of Candler School of Theology. Its origins can be traced back to 1914. The library was extensively renovated in 1976 and renamed in honor of Margaret A. Pitts and her father W. I. H. Pitts of Waverly Hall, GA. In 2014 the library moved to a new 60,000 square-foot building.

With the assistance of Dr. Bo Adams, Library Director, and Dr Brandon Wason, Head of Special Collections, the Manning volume has been acquired, and its contents digitized, cataloged and bought online through the NINS Digital Collections.

The cataloging of the Manning archives from the Westminster Diocesan archives is about 75% done, and while Kirkman’s letters to Manning have not yet been located, they may still come to light as we complete the final quarter of the Westminster project.

Previous Article
The Ordinary “work of the day” and Perfection: Personal Reflections on Lent Inspired by Newman
Lawrence Gregory

Lawrence Gregory

Lawrence Gregory is the NINS senior archivist and UK agent, and a historian of nineteenth-century English Catholicism, who also enjoys cats and steam trains.


Newman Today
New and Noteworthy
© 2024, All Rights Reserved.
National Institute for Newman Studies