William Tyssen-Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney

William Amhurst Tyssen-Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney, DL, JP (25 April 1835 – 16 January 1909) was a British Conservative Member of Parliament and collector of books and works of art.

William Tyssen-Amherst
William Tyssen-Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney.jpg
Member of Parliament
for West Norfolk
In office
27 April 1880 – 18 December 1885
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded bySir Thomas Leigh Hare
Personal details
Born25 April 1835
Died16 January 1909

Background and educationEdit

Born William Amhurst Daniel-Tyssen, he was the eldest son of William George Daniel-Tyssen, High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1843, who was the son of William George Daniel, of Foley House, near Maidstone, Kent, High Sheriff of Kent in 1825, and his wife Amelia Amherst, the daughter of Captain John Amherst and Mary Tyssen, heiress of Foulden Hall, Norfolk. Amherst's mother was Mary, daughter of Andrew Fountaine, of Narford Hall, Norfolk. In 1852, he and his father assumed by Royal licence the surname of Tyssen-Amhurst. However, in 1877 he again changed it, to Tyssen-Amherst, also by Royal licence. Tyssen-Amherst was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

Political careerEdit

In 1880, he was elected to Parliament for West Norfolk, a seat he held until 1885, and then represented South West Norfolk until 1892. The latter year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Amherst of Hackney, in the County of London, with remainder, in default of male issue, to his eldest daughter Mary and her issue male. Apart from his parliamentary career Tyssen-Amherst also served as High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1866 and as Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex and was a Justice of the Peace for Norfolk, Middlesex and Westminster.


Tyssen-Amherst is chiefly remembered as a collector of books, manuscripts, antique furniture and other works of art.[1] He became famous for his Egyptian collection. In his country home, Didlington Hall, he built a museum for his rapidly growing Egyptian collection. In 1906, he was forced to sell a large portion of his collection after discovering that his estate and certain trust funds had been entirely dissipated at the hands of an untrustworthy solicitor, Charles Cheston, under whose management they had been placed. He lived only six weeks following the first Sotheby's auction from this collection.[2]

His name is noted at the Carter gallery display of Swaffham Museum in Norfolk, suggesting that Tyssen-Amherst's collection of ancient papyri and Egyptian figures was seen by a young Howard Carter. The Museum records reveal that in 1882 he exhibited six "life size Egyptian figures" at Swaffham assembly rooms. A copy of the catalogue describes the figures he exhibited which included a figure of a Bedouin chief. He also exhibited a Thutmose III brick circa 1330bc, excavated from the banks of the Nile.[3][4] Amherst's collection included the lower section of a 20th Dynasty tomb robbery papyri otherwise described as the Leopold II and Amherst Papyrus, which is in the possession of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.[5]

His rare book collection included the "only genuine perfect copy known" of Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, King Charles I's personal copy of the Cambridge Bible, and a Gutenberg Bible (No. 45).[6]


Lord Amherst of Hackney married Margaret Susan Mitford, only child of Admiral Robert Mitford, in 1856. Susan Mitford was a lineal descendant of politician Robert Mitford and Philadelphia Wharton, first cousin (once removed) of poet and journalist John Mitford, third cousin (three times removed) of both English Attorney General Lord Redesdale and William Mitford, a sixth cousin (twice removed) to the "Mitford Sisters", and a distant cousin of author Mary Russell Mitford. They had seven daughters:

All of the girls were named after their mother, Margaret.[7]

Lord Amherst died in London, in January 1909, aged 73, and was succeeded in the barony according to the special remainder by his eldest daughter Mary.

He was the great-grandfather of American heir William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, operator of the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt (1900). The Amherst Papyri, being an account of the Greek Papyri in the collection of Lord Amherst of Hackney at Didlington Hall, Norfolk. I. London. pp. 41–43.
  2. ^ "Lord Amherst Dead". The New York Times. 18 January 1909. p. 9. ProQuest 101861717.
  3. ^ Swaffham Fine Art Exhibition Official Catalogue, J Jenvey Pricehon.sec 1882
  4. ^ "Full text of The Amherst papyri : being an account of the Egyptian papyri in the collection of the Right Hon. Lord Amherst of Hackney, F.S.A. at Didlington Hall, Norfolk". archive.org.
  5. ^ "Researchers' Guides to the Collections – Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts". 5 May 2014.
  6. ^ Davis, Margaret Leslie (2019). The Lost Gutenberg. New York: TarcherPerigee. pp. 37–60. ISBN 9781592408672.
  7. ^ Brian Patrick Duggan (2009). Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West. McFarland. p. 12. ISBN 9780786484621.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Bentinck and
William Bagge
Member of Parliament for West Norfolk
With: with George Bentinck, to 1884
Clare Sewell Read, from 1884
constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Leigh Hare
Honorary titles
Preceded by
High Sheriff of Norfolk
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Amherst of Hackney
Succeeded by
Mary Cecil