Henry Maxwell Lyte

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1933 portrait of Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte by the artist Samuel Melton Fisher (1860–1939), now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (or Maxwell-Lyte[1]) (29 May 1848 – 28 October 1940) was an English historian and archivist. He served as Deputy Keeper of the Public Records from 1886 to 1926, and was the author of numerous books including a history of Eton College.[2]

Background[edit]

Maxwell Lyte was born on 29 May 1848 in London, to John Walker and Emily Jeanette Maxwell-Lyte. He was the grandson of Henry Francis Lyte.[3] He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, taking an Honours in Law and History, and becoming an M.A. He married Frances Fownes Somerville on 3 January 1871 in Wells, Somerset.[4] Their children were Agnes (22 October 1871), Edith (30 October 1872), Margaret (27 March 1874), John (15 June 1875), Walter (4 March 1877) and Arthur (10 April 1881).[5] Arthur went on, after schooling at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford to be assistant secretary of the Board of Education in 1936.[6]

Early career[edit]

Maxwell Lyte published his first book History of Eton College in 1875. In 1880 and 1881 he wrote a series of papers on Dunster and its Lords for the Archaeological Journal, which were later reprinted as a book. In 1886 he published History of the University of Oxford from the earliest times to the year 1530. For several years Maxwell Lyte was an inspector of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.[4]

In 1886 he was appointed Deputy Keeper of the Public Record Office (PRO) in succession to William Hardy. As a newcomer, he was initially resented by the staff of the office, but quickly managed to assert his authority. He reformed the clerks' pay structure, began plans for a permanent museum, organised a project to celebrate 800 years since production of the Domesday Book and in 1889 introduced a lift in the building and electric light. Despite public opposition, he demolished the Rolls Chapel to make room for an extension along Chancery Lane, incorporating the chancel arch, stained glass and monuments in the museum.[7]

In 1890 Maxwell Lyte went to Rome and drew up the rules for formation of a Calendar of Papal Registers, starting with those of Pope Innocent III. Reviewers later criticised the omission of these rules from the Calendar, which reduced its value to researchers.[8]

The PRO had been publishing the Rolls Series, critically edited versions of selected texts in the Record Office. Although many were of great value, there were failures and a sense of amateurishness in some of the publications.[9] Maxwell Lyte was influential in the decision to transfer editors and funding from work on the series to the more valuable work of publishing public records.[10] In 1892 he introduced the Lists and Indexes series.[7] By terminating the Rolls Series in 1894 and concentrating on making guides and calendars to the records, which professional historians could now access directly, Maxwell Lyte transformed the Record Office into a center of scholarship.[9] He was instrumental in passage of an act in 1898 that allowed for destruction of records of little apparent value back to 1660.[11]

Later career[edit]

In 1908, Maxwell Lyte arranged for a new Guide to the contents of the PRO. In 1910 he became engaged in a struggle to prevent records on Wales being transferred to the Principality, refusing to co-operate with a commission set up for this purpose.[7] In 1914, as Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, he opposed reduction of controls over access to the public records. Although personally in favour of giving the public access to documents up to 1860, for later records he recommended that each case be subject to an inquiry about the purpose and extent of the research. His concern was that the researcher might publish distorted and damaging work based on a biased selection, and could even be in the pay of foreign powers.[12] During the planning of the National War Museum in 1917, as keeper of the Public Record Office he decided against giving custody of War Records to the museum.[13] In 1924 he was appointed chairman of a committee established by the British Academy to prepare a dictionary of Medieval Latin based on British sources dating between 1066 and 1600 AD.[14]

Maxwell Lyte was made a C.B. in January 1889 and a K.C.B. in 1897.[4] He retired from the PRO in 1926, and was succeeded by A.E. Stamp.[7] He died on 28 October 1940 in Dinder House, Dinder, Somersetshire.[15]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1875). A History of Eton College. 1440–1875. Macmillan. ISBN 1-143-50130-6. 
  • Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte, London. St. Paul's Cathedral (1883). Report on the manuscripts of the dean and chapter of St. Paul's. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1886). A History of the University of Oxford: From the Earliest Times to the Year 1530 (1886). Macmillan. ISBN 1-164-80950-4. 
  • Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte, Great Britain. Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (1889). The manuscripts of his grace the Duke of Rutland, K.G. preserved at Belvoir castle, Volume 2. Printed for H.M.S.O. by Eyre & Spottiswoode. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1896). Great Public Schools; Eton—Harrow-Charterhouse-Cheltenham-Rugby-Clifton-Westminster-Marlborough-Haileybury-Winchester. E. Arnold. ISBN 1-151-17735-0. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1899). (Bedford to Devon). Public Record Office. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell-Lyte (1899). Inquisitions and assessments relating to feudal aids, (based on certain manuscript books of precedents in the Exchequer ... to illustrate the succession of holders of land in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries) Leicestershire. Stationery Office. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1905). Catalogue of Manuscripts and Other Objects in the Museum of the Public Record Office. His Majesty's Stationery Office. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell-Lyte (1909). A history of Dunster and of the families of Mohun & Luttrell. St. Catherine Press. ISBN 1458815129. 
  • Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte, J. G. Black, R. H. V. Brodie, Great Britain. Court of Chancery (1914). Henry VII Volumes 53–54 of Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office. H.M.S.O. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1915). A Descriptive catalogue of ancient deeds in the Public Record Office: Series, Volume 6. H. M. Stationery Office. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1915). Calendar of fine rolls: preserved in the Public Record Office... His Majesty's Stationery Office. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1916). Calendar of inquisitions miscellaneous (chancery): preserved in the Public Record Office... [Preface by H. C. Maxwell Lyte.] His Majesty's Stationery Office. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell-Lyte (1917). Documents and extracts illustrating the history of the Honour of Dunster. Somerset Record Society. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1918). Documents and extracts illustrating the history of the Honour of Dunster. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1920). Journal of the commissioners for trade and plantations... His Majesty's Stationery Office. 
  • Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte, Public Record Office (1920). The Book of Fees: commonly called Testa de Nevill. H.M.S.O. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1920). Two Registers Formerly Belongings to the Family of Beauchamp of Hatch. Butler & Tanner. ISBN 1-177-25653-3. 
  • Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte, R. H. V. Brodie, Great Britain. Court of Chancery (1924). Edward VI. Volumes 55–61 of Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office. H.M.S.O. 
  • Sir Henry C. Maxwell Lyte (1926). Historical Notes on the Use of the Great Seal of England. London: H.M.S.O. 
  • Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1931). Historical notes on some Somerset manors formerly connected with the honour of Dunster. Somerset Record Society. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1931). Historical notes on some Somerset manors. Somerset, Butler & Tanner. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell-Lyte (1937). The registers of Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1466–1491, and Richard Fox, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1492–1494. Somerset Record Society. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell-Lyte (1939). The registers of Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1496–1503, and Hadrian de Castello, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1503–1518. Somerset Record Society. 
  • Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1940). The register of Thomas Wolsey, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1518–1523, John Clerke, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1523–1541, William Knyght, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1541–1547 and Gilbert Bourne, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1554–1559. Butler & Tanner. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hyamson 1951, pp. 408.
  2. ^ Johnson 1940, pp. 1.
  3. ^ Bigsby 1869, pp. 178.
  4. ^ a b c Parr 1899, pp. 685.
  5. ^ Chris Gosnell. "Lyte Family". Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Savage 1996, pp. 199.
  7. ^ a b c d Shepherd 2009, pp. 68.
  8. ^ Hoskin, Brooke & Dobson 2005, pp. 197.
  9. ^ a b Gillespie 1997, pp. 55.
  10. ^ Blaas 1978, pp. 51.
  11. ^ Shepherd 2009, pp. 25.
  12. ^ Wilson 1996, pp. 198.
  13. ^ Kavanagh 1994, pp. 136.
  14. ^ Vinogradoff 1924.
  15. ^ "Genealogy of John "Mad Jack" Fuller". Retrieved 2 January 2011. 

Source bibliography[edit]