Arthur Augustus William Harry Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede (1871-1946) joined the diplomatic service in 1894, but resigned in 1902 after pressing unsuccessfully for reforms to the service. From 1903 he worked in Liberal Party headquarters and stood unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate for Taunton in the General Election of 1906. He was principal private secretary to the prime minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1906-8) and on Campbell-Bannerman's death in 1908 was elected his successor as member of Parliament for Stirling Burghs, a seat he held until 1918. He was an outspoken pacifist during the First World War and took an active part in the Union of Democratic Control, factors which led to his defeat in the General Election of 1918. He was Labour MP for the Brightside division of Sheffield from 1922 to 1930, when he was created a baron. He was under-secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1924; Parliamentary under-secretary for the Dominions, June-December 1929; Parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Transport, 1929-31; Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1931; Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, 1931-35. He resigned from the leadership of the Labour Party in the House of Lords, in 1935 in protest at the party's foreign policy, and resigned from the party altogether on the formation of the Coalition Government in 1940. He took part in the Peace Pledge Union and other pacifist activities prior to, and during, the Second World War. He published numbers of books and articles and was an occasinal broadcaster on the BBC. Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.
The collection consists principally of political correspondence, but there are also some family letters. Special interest attaches to the correspondence with Ponsonby's brother, Frederic Edward Grey Ponsonby, 1st Baron Sysonby, who was assistant private secretary to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V.
Ponsonby's papers were given to the Bodleian Library in 1971 by his son, the 2nd Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede.Access Conditions
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A full catalogue is available in the Library.
Diplomatic and consular service, British
Pacifists | Great Britain | 20th century
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1939-1945
Ponsonby | Arthur Augustus William Harry | 1871-1946 | 1st Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede | politician
Ponsonby | Frederick Edward Grey | 1867-1935 | 1st Baron Sysonby
Great Britain | Politics and government | 20th century