HALLAM, Henry (1777–1859), historian. ALS [to John Charles Herries] re Stamp Office. 1827

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HALLAM, Henry (1777–1859), historian. Autograph letter signed [to John Charles Herries] , 4 closely written sides of a 4to bifolium, Wimpole Street, London,  13 June 1827, regarding his letter of 9th September 1826 being laid before the House of Commons to clear his name following his removal from the Stamp Office in that year, “It is very satisfactory to myself, that, of late, this exculpation of my own conduct, as well as of the Stamp department in general should meet the eye of the public ……… the 13th & 14th reports of the commissioners are, in the far greater part, founded in prejudice & incorrect apprehension, & even when resting upon some basis of truth, very greatly exaggerated through the same causes; that the examinations of witnesses have been conducted partially, with a pre-determination (at least in appearance) to listen only to what might be unfavourable to the office ……… the board of stamps were put on their trial, in their absence, & with no knowledge or suspicion of the accusations; & that they were never permitted to exculpate themselves as a proof of which it may be mentioned, that I never examined but once, & that in the outset, before any of the criminating & disparaging evidence had been publicly given.  It may be thought unusual to speak in such language, though much less strong than what I should use in private, of those who have filled so considerable a station; but I also have some name in the world, &, now that all official deference is at an end, I know not why I should wholly suppress the sentiments which I must naturally feel ……… I call the pretext of my dismissal slight, because the signature of the blank warrants, though an irregularity, was owing to peculiar circumstances not depending on those concerned in it, &, far more, because by no possibility could the revenue have been injured thereby to the value of a shilling.  I have talked with many on this subject, & have found none who look on it in a heinous light. But I must add that I never felt for a moment the least disposition to complain of Lord Liverpool, who, from reading the 13th & 14th reports could not avoid regarding the late board of stamps in the most unfavourable point of view”. Docketed on the 4th side in the hand of John Charles Herries “13 June 1827 Mr Hallam. Subject of his removal from the Stamp Office & his letter on that subject”. Paper with multi-folds.


Henry Hallam began his career in the law, practicing as a barrister on the Oxford circuit, but in 1806 accepted, through the patronage of his whig friends, a sinecure as a commissioner in the Stamp Office which he occupied until 1826. Affairs regarding the management and efficiency of the stamp office became a matter of considerable concern in the mid 1820s, and an inquiry was set up by parliament to investigate the matter. In the 13th Report of the Commissioners of 1825 Hallam’s difficulties begin to surface: “[Mr Addington] does not think it likely that the business of the board can be conducted without embarrassment while Mr Sedgwick and Mr Hallam remain together at it; that it is the misfortune in this case, as it is in others, that neither party will make an effort at self command, which if made, might remove that difficulty which the board is under……… Mr Hallam states his opinion that “the present mode of conducting business is not at all correct, that it is done in a very dilatory manner, and that these delays cannot be attributed to a pressure of business …….. there is at present a considerable disagreement between Mr Sedgwick and himself which he conceives must obstruct the business and that in consequence of this disagreement letters do not always receive an answer and treasury letters are necessarily delayed”. By the middle of 1826 Hallam’s position became untenable and he was removed from his post as a Commissioner of stamps.

The present lengthy letter is evidently written to add weight and context to Hallam’s letter of 9th September 1826 submitted at the time of his dismissal which he says was “written in great haste, at your suggestion that no delay could be admitted by the board of Treasury”.  His opportunity to clear his name in public is through the good offices of John Charles Herries (1778 -1855), Secretary to the Treasury, who intended to lay the issues before the House of Commons.

Hallam is best remembered for his considerable contributions to history in many classic published works, and he contributed widely in other spheres of Victorian intellectual and cultural life. His eldest son Arthur Henry Hallam (1811-1833) was a close friend of the poet Alfred Tennyson, who he met at Cambridge in 1828. Tennyson commemorated Arthur’s premature death in his famous poem In Memoriam A.H.H.

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