British Passport 1859 with very unusual customized wallet

This British passport is extraordinary because of its wallet, actually its rather a case. I have seen many British passports with different leather wallets, which also have sometimes a secret or hidden pocket. Even sometimes with a small pen. All these wallets are custom made to protect the thin paper of the passport and to make it more durable. On the other side, if someone presents his passport in a fancy decorative leather wallet, it might give the border control officer some more attention and respect towards the passport holder. Such wallets where made by passport agents which also took care of visas you needed for your journey. Wallets and services were not inexpensive, so this was nothing for the ordinary traveler.

However, this passport case is pretty unusual.

  • British Passport 1859 with very unusual customized wallet

The passport was issued under James Howard Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury.

In 1841 he had only just been elected to the House of Commons for Wilton as a Conservative when his father died, and he succeeded to the peerage. Malmesbury served as Foreign Secretary under the Earl of Derby in 1852 and again from 1858 to 1859 and was also Lord Privy Seal under Derby and Benjamin Disraeli between 1866 and 1868 and under Disraeli between 1874 and 1876. In 1852 he was admitted to the Privy Council. He was regarded as an influential Tory of the old school in the House of Lords at a time when Lord Derby and Disraeli were, in their different ways, molding the Conservatism of the period.

In his two brief terms as foreign secretary, Malmesbury pursued a cautious, Conservative policy. His friendship with the exiled Louis Napoleon helped lead to quick British acquiescence in the Prince-President’s decision to restore the Empire in 1852 but did not prevent Malmesbury from pursuing a policy relatively sympathetic to Austria during the crisis leading up to the Italian War of 1859. Malmesbury was particularly horrified by the behavior of Cavour, and at the fact that a small country like Piedmont was able so easily to threaten the European peace.

His long life and the publication of his Memoirs of an Ex-Minister in 1884 contributed to his reputation. The Memoirs, charmingly written, full of anecdote, and containing much exciting material for the history of the time, remain his chief title to remembrance. Lord Malmesbury also edited his grandfather’s Diaries and Correspondence(1844), and in 1870 published The First Lord Malmesbury and His Friends.

Lord Malmesbury died childless in May 1889, aged 82, and was succeeded in the earldom by his nephew, Edward Harris.

British Passport 1859 with very unusual customized wallet


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