Victorian era love letters posted online for Valentine’s Day | UK news

A series of Victorian love letters written by the parents of a former prime minister are being published online for Valentine’s Day.

The letters were written in 1843 by James Maitland Balfour, then MP for Haddington in East Lothian, and his bride-to-be, Lady Blanche Cecil, the daughter of the Marquess of Salisbury.

Their eldest son, Arthur Balfour, would go on to serve as Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905.

The letters were among several documents purchased for the national archives last year by the National Records Scotland (NRS).

Archivist Veronica Schreuder said: “History already documents the union of these two hugely influential families, but these private letters show us the tender young couple in love, eager to get along with each other’s families. We put excerpts at Internet today, so people can read them for themselves.”

One letter was dated July 15, 1843 – a month before the couple’s wedding.

The letters were written in 1843 by James Maitland Balfour and Lady Blanche Cecil, whose eldest son Arthur would become Prime Minister.  Photo: National Records of Scotland
One of the love letters. Photo: National Records of Scotland

Mr. Balfour proposed and she accepted, prompting a flurry of excited letters among family members. There are congratulations from his parents, his brother-in-law and even her nine-year-old brother.

Mr. Balfour wrote: “My dear Lady Blanche, I cannot leave town without any chance of seeing you again for many months without doing what should either make me the happiest or the most miserable man.

“Oh Lady Blanche, I love you very dearly, and oh how happy I would be if I could only hope that this love was returned.”

Mr Balfour also said of his family’s enthusiasm: “I am sure it will give you joy to see how happy they are at the thought of having you as a sister, and how anxious they are to know and like you.”

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Ms Schreuder said: “In a way their story is sad as James Balfour died just 13 years later aged 36 from tuberculosis. [tuberculosis] but it was also a successful marriage.

“They had eight children: three daughters and five sons, all of whom would go on to live influential lives. Their eldest son, Arthur, followed in his uncle’s footsteps to become Prime Minister in 1902.”

Arthur Balfour on his way to the House of Commons in 1912

The couple tied the knot at Lady Blanche’s family home, Hatfield House, in Hertfordshire, aged 23 and 18.

The Duke of Wellington, then leader of the House of Lords, was among the guests and gave them the use of a property on his estate for their honeymoon.

Undated photograph of a pamphlet issued by the National Records of Scotland of the Balfour family home in Whittinghame, East Lothian.  A selection of love letters from former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour's parents is being published online for Valentine's Day by the NRS.  Letters from 1843 between James Maitland Balfour, MP for Haddington, his wife Lady Blanche Cecil and their relatives are among the papers bought by the NRS for the National Archives last year.
The Balfour family home in Whittingehame, East Lothian. Photo: National Records of Scotland

The couple continued to have a family home in Whittingehame, East Lothian, and an estate in Strathconon in the Highlands.

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