1816: 56 George 3 c.99: An Act to vest the Elgin Collection of ancient Marbles and Sculpture in the Trustees of the British Museum for the Use of the Public.
[1st July 1816.]
[26 G. 2. c. 22.]
WHEREAS by an Act of Parliament made and passed in the Twenty sixth Year of the Reign of His late Majesty King George the Second, intituled An Act for the Purchase of the Museum or Collection of Sir Hans Sloane, and of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts; and for providing one general Repository for the better Reception and more convenient Use of the said Collection, and of the Cottonian Library, and of the Additions thereto, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Great Britain, the Lord Treasurer of Great Britain, or the First Commissioner of the Treasury, the Lord President of the Council, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain, or the First Commissioner of the Admiralty, the Lord Steward of His Majesty’s Household, the Lord Chamberlain of His Majesty’s Household, the Bishop of London, each of the Principal Secretaries of State being a Peer or Lord of Parliament, the Speaker of the House of Commons, each of the Principal Secretaries of State not being a Peer or Lord of Parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, the Master of the Rolls, the Chief Justice of His Majesty’s Court of Common Pleas at Westminster, His Majesty’s Attorney and Solicitor General, the President of the Royal Society, and the President of the College of Physicians severally for the time being, and certain other Persons named or described in the said Act, or to be appointed under the Powers therein contained, were appointed Trustees, and incorporated by the Name of “The Trustees of the British Museum,” for putting the said Act into Execution, with such Powers and under such Directions as are therein expressed; and particularly it was thereby enacted, that within the Cities of London or Westminster, or the Suburbs thereof, one general Repository should be erected and provided for the Reception of the Collections and Libraries therein mentioned, and of such other Collections and Libraries as with the like Approbation should be admitted into the same which several Collections, Additions and Libraries so received into the said general Repository should remain and be preserved therein for Public Use to all Posterity: And Whereas under the Provisions of an Act of the Twenty eighth Year of His late Majesty King George the Second,
[28 G. 2. Private act 3.]
intituled An Act for vesting Montagu House in Trustees, and their Heirs, freed and discharged from all Estates, Uses and Agreements, to which it at present stands limited and appointed, upon Trust to convey the same to the Trustees of the British Museum, for a general Repository, and upon such other Trusts as therein are mentioned, the Capital Messuage or Mansion House heretofore called Montagu House, situate in Great Russel Street in the Parish of Saint George Bloomsbury, in the County of Middlesex, and the Outhouses, Buildings and Gardens belonging to the same, were duly conveyed and assured unto and to the Use of the Trustees of the said Museum, by Indentures of Lease and Release, bearing Date respectively the Fourth and Fifth Days of April, in the Year One thousand seven hundred and fifty five, and made between the Right Honourable George Dunk Earl of Halifax and William Folkes Esquire (Trustees under the said last mentioned Act for carrying the Trusts thereof into Execution) of the one Part, aid the Trustees of the said Museum of the other Part; and since that time the said Capital Messuage or Mansion House, and its Appurtenances, has been generally called or known by the Appellation of The British Museum: And Whereas the Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Elgin hath with great Knowledge, Judgment and Care, and at a great Expence, made a most valuable Collection of ancient Marbles and Sculpture, and is willing that the same should be possessed by the Public: And Whereas the said Earl hath agreed to sell the same for the Sum of Thirty five thousand Pounds, on Condition that the whole of the said Collection should be kept together in the British Museum, and open to inspection, and called by the Name of The Elgin Marbles and that the said Earl and every Person who should attain the Rank of Earl of Elgin should be added to the Trustees of the British Museum: May it therefore please Your Majesty that it maybe enacted; and be it enacted by The King’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same,
[Treasury to issue 35,000l. to the Trustees of the British Museum, to be applied in the Purchase of the Elgin Collection of Marbles.]
That the Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain, or the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury, or any Three or more of them, shall and he or they is and are hereby authorized and empowered, out of any of the Aids or Supplies granted in this Session of Parliament for the Service of Great Britain for the Year One thousand eight hundred and sixteen, immediately after the passing of this Act, to issue and advance the Sum of Thirty five thousand Pounds to the Trustees of the British Museum, or any Person to be appointed by the said Trustees to receive the same, which Money shall be paid without any Fee or other Deduction whatever, and shall be applied in the Purchase of the said Collection; and that the Trustees of the British Museum shall, on or before the First Day of September One thousand eight hundred and sixteen, require the Delivery of the said Collection; and if the same shall be then delivered to them, and they shall be satisfied that the several Statues and other Articles forming the said Collection are then conformable to the Catalogue thereof delivered in to a Committee of the House of Commons, they the said Trustees shall, on the Delivery of the same into their Custody, pay the said Sum of Thirty five thousand Pounds to the said Thomas Earl of Elgin, his Executors, Administrators and Assigns.
[On Payment of Purchase Money Collection vested in Trustees,]
II. And be it further enacted, That on Payment of the said Sum of Thirty five thousand Pounds, the said Collection shall be vested in the Trustees for the time being of the said British Museum, and their Successors, in perpetuity, for the Purposes of the said Act of the Twenty sixth Year of the Reign of His late Majesty King George the Second.
[to be kept in British Museum.]
III. And be it hereby further enacted, That the said Collection shall be preserved and kept together in the said British Museum whole and entire, and distinguished by the Name or Appellation of ”The Elgin Collection.”
[Earl of Elgin to be added to Trustees.]
IV. And be it enacted, That the find Thomas Earl of Elgin during his Life, and after his Decease each and every Person who shall successively attain to the Rank and Dignity of Earl of Elgin, shall and may as and when they shall respectively be of full Age, be added to and associated with the Trustees for the time being of the British Museum, and shall and may act in the Execution of the Trust now reposed or hereafter to be reposed in the said Trustees, as fully and effectually as the other Trustees of the said Museum are or shall be authorized and empowered to act in the same.
Further reading: Wikipedia; Report of the Select Committee on Elgin’s Collection (1816).