Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)RAS
TitleJournals and notebooks of Robert Aglionby Slaney
Extent15 vols
Datec 1815-c 1854
DescriptionThis collection comprises the journals and notebooks of Robert Aglionby Slaney, politician and social reformer.

Three journals covering 1815-1817 and 1825-1826, describe Slaney's daily activities, with occasional comments on current affairs in Shropshire, and his attendance at meetings to assist the poor and unemployed. These also contain more extensive entries describing his travels abroad. Two further journals are exclusively travel journals, which record details of Slaney's travels in Holland, of his visit to Ireland in 1838 with W. E. Wynne, who later married his daughter Mary, and of a trip to the English Lakes in 1850.

The ten notebooks contain Slaney's thoughts on some of the political issues he was involved with, specifically the state of the poor laws in the late 1820s, and the condition of the working classes in England. Several volumes include his suggestions for the improvement of the lives of poorer people. One volume contains drafts of a paper on 'limited liability of partners' read by Slaney before the Society of Arts in 1854. Other notebooks contain work by Slaney on volumes of philosophy he had read, as well as notes on Malthus and Adam Smith. There is also evidence of an interest in theology, and a volume of blank verse composed by Slaney.
ArrangementArranged into two series
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryRobert Aglionby Slaney (1792-1862) was born at Hatton Grange, near Shifnal, in Shropshire, and was the eldest son of Robert Slaney. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge (1810), and was later a barrister at Lincoln's Inn (1817), and practised the law until 1826, when he became MP for Shrewsbury. He served as a member of parliament between 1826-1836, 1837-1841, and 1847-1862, affiliated to the Whig party. He devoted his attention to social, economic and rural reform, and spoke on the abuses of the poor law, the condition of unemployed labourers, and on problems of the education and health of the poor in urban areas. He was chairman of committees on education (1838) and the health of town poor (1840). He was also commissioner on health of towns (1843-1846) and high sheriff of Shropshire (1854). Slaney was interested in the improvement of the condition of the working classes. He was a member of the General Committee of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, founded in 1826, which aimed to disseminate useful information to all sections of the community, especially those without the benefits of a formal education.
He married his cousin Elizabeth, only child of W. Hawkins Maccleston, MD, in 1812, and they had three children, Elizabeth Frances, Mary, and Frances Catherine. He died from the effects of an accident at the International Exhibition.

His publications included 'An Essay on the Employment of the Poor' (1819, 2nd edition, 1822); 'Essay on the Beneficial Direction of Rural Expenditure' (1823); 'An Outline of the Smaller British Birds' (1832); 'A Plea for the Working Classes' (1847); and two small volumes of verse entitled 'A few Verses from Shropshire' (1846) and 'A few more verses from Shropshire' (1855).

Sources: Concise Dictionary of National Biography; AIM25 web site: University College London's Catalogue of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; Slaney Family Manuscripts, (GB 0150 SL vol VII, pages 77 and 126)
Custodial HistoryThese volumes were assigned library book numbers 406171 to 406185. The book labels inside each volume bear a 'Slaney MS' number, but these volumes do not appear to have been catalogued.
AcquisitionThis collection was purchased in 1956. It was purchased from a bookseller, but the provenance of the collection is unknown.
Related MaterialBirmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department holds two related collections: the Eyton Letters (GB 0150 EYT) and the Slaney Family Manuscripts (GB 0150 SL) The Eyton Letters include letters to Slaney. The Slaney Family Manuscripts contain, among other items, pamphlets relating to the parliamentary elections at Shrewsbury, 1721-1840; manuscript and printed items relating to the cholera epidemic of 1832, including a letter from Slaney to the Central Board of Health in Whitehall, and the reply; a biographical newspaper article; and a copy of the Slaney family tree.
Associated MaterialsOther material of Robert Aglionby Slaney is held in Shropshire Records and Research Centre: diaries, essays, accounts, travel journals and election papers, 1818-1849 (GB 0166 Morris-Eyton collection) and a foreign travel journal, 1861-1862. The British L