[Sir Henry Halford, physician extraordinary to four monarchs, including George III in his madness. ] Autograph Letter Signed ('Henry Halford') to Sir Henry Ellis, Principal Librarian at the British Museum, asking for help in writing royal biographies

Sir Henry Halford (1766-1844), physician extraordinary to George III, George IV, William IV and the young Victoria [Sir Henry Ellis (1777-1869), Principal Librarian at the British Museum]
Publication details: 
Pall Mall [London]. 7 November [no year].
SKU: 21473

4pp, 4to. Bifolium. In good condition, lightly aged, with thin strip of tissue from mount adhering to one edge. Folded three times. An interesting letter, in which Halford asks Ellis for assistance in the writing of royal biographies for the Royal College of Physicians (of which he was President from 1820 to 1844), while explaining that it would not be 'proper' to go 'lower' than George II. Halford begins the letter by offering Ellis 'a most friendly, I would say affectionate, reception in the country', should he be tempted 'to come down in to Leicestershire […] It would indeed gratify me to walk and talk with you in these extensive gardens – where both of us were for a time free from those cares which preclude almost all social intercourse in London'. He had planned to call on Ellis in London, but returned to Wistow the previous night, having been called way from London by 'an express from Ld Carnarvon to go into Berkshire'. Turning to the reason for the letter, he states that he is 'thinking of a paper for the College on the deaths of some illustrious Persons of modern day, and nobody can give me so much effectual interesting aid as yourself – It might be a sequel of that on the deaths of some Illustrious Persons of Antiquity – and considering that the first established the College of Phys[ician]s and that our first President [Thomas Linacre] was His Physician, I would begin with the disease of K. Henry 8th.' He is aware that Ellis possesses 'some invaluable knowledge of the Kings predilection for Physic', and asks for 'any thing which you think would give a value'. He gives the little information he possesses, stating that he has 'seen His Skeleton, which was that of a very tall man', and has 'sat in His Arm Chair now in the Corridor of Windsor Castle, which implies that He was as bulky as He was tall'. He asks for assistance on other matters, including Wolsey ('for you know the very medicines which Henry prescribed and sent the Cardinal for his complaint'); and also about 'his sour Daughter Mary's Malady', as well as 'King William 3rd's Asthma - moreover of the rupture which killed Queen Caroline – Consort of George 2nd – The King's disease will have been described by Dr Frank Nicholls'. With his own treatment of King George III clearly in mind he adds: 'Lower than this it would not be necessary or proper to go, and the motive for forbearing to say anything of George 3rd's Illness, or more than I have already said of that of George 4th would give rise to a conclusion of the paper which might contain some expressions of good feeling and loyalty'. In order to take advantage of the franking system, he asks for the letter to be directed to him 'under cover' to his son the Member of Parliament Henry Halford (1797-1868, later second baronet). He ends by asking Ellis to present his regards to 'Mr Forshall', i.e. Josiah Forshall of the British Museum. Postscript: 'Charles 2nd & Queen Ann would afford good materials.' There does not appear to be any indication that Halford proceeded with his scheme.