Hidden Histories #7: John Stuart Mill’s passport

May 10, 2018 · 3 min read

A short “Hidden Histories” this week, which is just an opportunity to show off a funky passport and some great portraits.

I had accidentally stumbled on the passport a while ago, when I saw a collection of books in the archives in a weird place, with “Mill-Taylor” on the back:

Picking out some at random, I selected that small loooking “book” to the right of the green one, and stumbled across John Stuart Mill’s passport:

John Stuart Mill, famous author of “On Liberty”, was a philosopher, economist, member of the Liberal Party, and the first MP to call for women’s suffrage.

Opening up the passport, it’s full of pull out pages like this:

(I wonder why Helen Taylor is mentioned as accompanying John Stuart Mill — would Helen not have been able to have her own passport? Let me know if you know!)

“…Request and require in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow John Stuart Mill (…) travelling on the Continent, accompanied by Helen Taylor to pass freely without (?) or hindrance, and to afford him every assistant and protection of which he may stand in need”

Mentioned here is Helen Taylor, who was John Stuart Mill’s stepdaughter.

Helen Taylor pictured in the middle (I think)

The two lived and worked together after the death of her mother, Harriet Taylor Mill. Harriet Taylor Mill (née Hardy) was also a philosopher and women’s rights advocate. She heavily influenced John Stuart Mill, with the two working as a pair on a number of works, including the famous “On Liberty”. She also authored the famous essay “The Enfranchisement of Women”. I got quite puzzled about the family situation due to the proliferation of Mills and Taylors in the archives, but the catalogue sums it up if it’s of interest.

Beneath the passport was a box containing a fantastic collection of pocket family portraits that make a very satisfying click when you close them:

I think the person on the bottom right is Harriet Taylor Mill, and middle top is John Stuart Mill, but I’m not completely sure.

There are also stamps inside the passport of their travels:

Apart from the passport and the pictures, the bulk of the archives contains personal correspondence, diaries and notes from various members of the family, with a lot of correspondence from Helen Taylor. It looks like a really interesting archive, and it’s open for anyone that would like to come in and look at it


Written by


Politics Curator at the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Sharing "hidden histories" from the archives.

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