Maquay Collection

Lord Caccia gave the British Institute the journals and correspondence of the Maquays in 1983. An Irish banking family, the Maquays transferred through marriage to Florence in the early part of the nineteenth-century. The journals of male and female members of three generations of the family cover most of the nineteenth century and reveal much about the Anglo-Florentine community, and travel around Europe in the period.


Maquay Family Collection

Reference code: MAQ
Date(s) of creation: 1792-1983
Name of creator: Maquay family members
Extent: 10 boxes of manuscript material 


Administrative information:

Acquisition number: A9

Source of acquisition

The collection was deposited in the British Institute Library by Lord Caccia in January 1983. Lord Caccia was the nephew of Julian Caccia who married Margery Maquay, daughter of William Maquay (see below). No previous history of the collection was given.


John Leland Maquay junior (1791-1868) was a founder of the Pakenham & Maquay bank of Florence. He was married to Elena Gigli (1806-1894?) and had four sons: George Disney Maquay (1835-1893) who followed his father into the bank; John Popham Maquay (1837-1894) who joined the Royal Engineers; Thomas Moore Maquay (1838-1881) who went into the Royal Navy; William Maquay (1845-1912) who also went into the bank after a period in the army. The collection also contains the journals of Elizabeth Maquay, née Disney (1761?-1845 and buried in the English Cemetery in Florence) who was the mother of John Leland Maquay junior. Of the same generation are the journals of John Leyland Maquay senior (1759?-1829), brother-in-law to Elizabeth who was married to George Maquay (1758-1820); John Leland Maquay senior was a banker and Governor of the Bank of Ireland from 1826 to 1828.

Scope and content (inc. arrangement)

The collection consists of private journals, public and private letters and documents relating to the family. There had been an attempt to arrange the collection chronologically before it was deposited with the Library but there were many errors in the arrangement. Not all the authors of the material had been identified. The journals and letters cover the private life, and sometimes public, of the different authors. John Leland Maquay senior's journals begin in 1799 and end with his death in 1829, with some years missing. The earlier journals concentrate on financial accounts and provide material on the costs and modes of travel, road conditions, the costs of daily living. Much of the time he is at home in Dublin but his 1814-1816 journals cover the journey he took with his wife in France and Italy, with extended stays in Nice, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Salerno and Venice. These provide useful material on sites visited by those on tour, and on the travelling community. Elizabeth Maquay's journals cover the period 1821 to 1845, with a few years missing. After her husband's death in Paris in 1820 and her son John's marriage in 1828, Elizabeth spent much of her time travelling and a considerable amount of time in Florence where she died in 1845. Her daughter Elizabeth provides a journal for 1815 during which year the family was in Italy; Elizabeth died in 1817 and is buried in the cemetery in Livorno.

John Leland Maquay junior's journals cover the period 1810 to 1862. The early years involve travel and work in Canada and the United States. From the 1820s onwards he settled in Florence, marrying Elena Gigli in 1828, and there he founded and ran the Pakenham and Maquay bank. The journals are devoted to domestic, family and business issues, some include accounts; the emphasis on each of these areas changes over the years. The journals give some insight into the English community in Florence and its relationship with the Italian community. There is little mention of national or international affairs. The journals indicate that he was a trusted man and an important member of the community. T.A. Trollope wrote in What I Remember (1888) that when presentations were made at Court, 'Mr Maquay, the banker, always did that office for Americans, the United States having no representative at the grand ducal court.' Maquay was heavily involved in the founding of the English Church and its Library. He returned to Ireland with his wife in 1858 and bought an estate, 'Ashfield,' where he died in 1868. There are also two letter-books devoted to business affairs surrounding the West Indian plantation estates of his cousin John Adair.

John Leland Maquay junior's wife Elena wrote journals from 1853 to 1894, these are devoted to domestic affairs and, in particular, to her sons. After settling in Ireland in 1858, she travelled frequently to Florence (where two of her sons were living) and died in Ireland probably in 1894. Of the four sons of John and Elena, the collection holds the journals, letter-books and memoir (titled "Private Doings") of John Popham Maquay (1837-1894) who was in the Royal Engineers and served in the Crimea and India. Thomas Moore Maquay (1838-1881) was in the Royal Navy, he also served in the Crimea and India, and later Commanded a vessel in the areas of China and Korea; the collection holds his letter-books and a log-book.

The remainder of the collection consists largely of letters and family documents. There are a total of 135 letters, the earliest being from 1821 and the latest 1903. The majority of these are private letters involving John Maquay junior, his wife Elena and her mother. There is a collection of letters relating to the bank and this includes a letter commissioning the sculptor Hiram Powers and two short notes from the novelist known as Ouida. In addition the collection includes legal documents relating to the family [Justice of the Peace commissions for both John Leland Maquay and his son John Popham Maquay], family history notes, and a bond from 1792 relating to the procuring of a captain's commission.



The collection is open for consultation.


The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


This depends upon the condition of the material.

Finding aids

When the collection was deposited with the Library, it was accompanied by a list provided by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. A catalogue of the collection now exists. There is also a supplementary catalogue providing extracts from the journals to illustrate the nature of the material.

Related material in the same repository

John Leland Maquay junior was both Secretary and Treasurer of the English Church in Florence in its early years and he is referred to in Catherine Danyell Tassinari's 'The History of the English Church in Florence' (Florence 1905), held in the Library as C/283.45 TAS. The daughters of William Maquay, the youngest of John and Elena's sons, are mentioned in the book of Minutes of the 'Asilo Femminile Evangelico Firenze', 1907-1927, held in the Archive as ASI1.

The Library holdings also incude books and journals once belonging to John Leland Maquay. When JLM left Florence in 1858, he gave part of his library to the Free Lending Library of Holy Trinity Church. Part of this library was acquired by the British Institute in 1960/61.