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National Library of Wales

Vivian Papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 VIVIAN

Held at:

Title: Vivian Papers

Short title: Vivian family, papers

Dates of creation: 1601-1959

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: 0.609 cubic metres(19 boxes, 10 volumes, 2 rolls)

Name of creator(s): Vivian family of Swansea


Administrative and biographical history: John Vivian of Truro had an interest in the Cornish copper industry. His second son, John Henry, extended the family copper interests from Cornwall to the Swansea area of Glamorganshire, where he opened a copper smelting works near local coal sources. John Vivian's eldest son, Richard Hussey, had a distinguished army career and was eventually elevated to the peerage as 1st Baron Vivian of Truro, but the youngest son, Thomas, died at the early age of 21. John Henry Vivian expanded his business interests in Swansea, and extended them further afield to Liverpool, Birmingham and London from 1810 until his death in 1855. During the last fifteen years of his life he was assisted in his work by his eldest son Henry Hussey Vivian. Like his father, Henry Hussey Vivian became an MP and divided his time between the family copper business and the House of Commons. He was raised to the peerage in 1893, taking his seat in the House of Lords as 1st Baron Swansea. He died in 1894. He married three times. His first wife, Jesse Dalrymple Goddard, whom he married in 1847, died in 1848 shortly after the birth of their son Ernest. He later married Caroline E. Cholmeley in 1853 but she died in 1868 after being an invalid for many years. He lastly married Averil Beaumont in 1870.
H. H. Vivian was succeeded by his eldest son, Ernest, of whom there is little or no mention in this archive. He died in 1922 leaving no direct heir and was succeeded by his step-brother Odo Vivian. The latter inherited a declining family business which he had run since his father's death in 1894. Ernest Vivian had shown little or no interest in the company's affairs.


Scope and content: Records of the Vivian family and the copper business of Vivian and Son (or H.H. Vivian and Co.), comprising correspondence, 1807-1934 (excluding H. H. Vivian); papers and diaries, 1608-1934 (excluding H. H. Vivian); correspondence, papers and volumes of H. H. Vivian, 1st Lord Swansea, 1763-1895; family wills, settlements and other documents, 1810-1934; industrial records, 1720-1934; estate papers, 1853-1909; pedigrees and personalia, 1601-1930s; household and private accounts, 1847-1921; artefacts, miscellaneous papers and pictures, 1752-1959; maps and catalogues, 1767-1914; and printed matter, 1790-1910.
The archive is a major source for the 19th century history of Swansea.


Language/script: English unless otherwise specified.

System of arrangement: Arranged into two groups, the first of which is entitled personal papers; the second group is entitled family, estate and industrial records.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply

Finding aids: Hard copies of the catalogue are available at NLW and HMC. An online catalogue can be accessed from

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records deposited at NLW have been retained

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Sir John Hussey Hamilton Vivian, 4th Baron Swansea, Caer Beris, Builth Wells, in September 1966.


Related units of description: Further papers relating to the barons Swansea are Hampshire Record Office, 28M78; some papers are also held at the University of Wales Swansea, Archives, Library and Information Services.


Note: Some items predate the lifetime of the Vivian family members who are represented in this archive.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Mair James.
The following source was used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Schedule of Vivian Papers.

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.

Date(s) of description: May 2002



Copper industry and trade | England | Cornwall

Copper industry and trade | Wales | Swansea

Estate administration | Wales | Glamorgan

Hafod Works | Records and correspondence

Industrial revolution | Wales | Swansea

Swansea (Wales) | History | 19th century

Urbanization | Wales | Swansea

Vivian family, | Barons Swansea | Archives

Vivian, H. Hussey | (Henry Hussey), | 1st Baron Swansea, | 1821-1894 | Archives

Vivian, John Henry, | 1785-1855 | Archives

Personal names

Vivian family, Barons Swansea

Vivian, H. Hussey (Henry Hussey), 1821-1894, Lord Swansea

Vivian, John Henry, 1785-1855

Corporate names

Hafod Works

Vivian and Sons (Firm)