Namier Political Manuscripts Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of various eighteenth- and nineteenth-century historical manuscripts and correspondence collected by Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier during his research. The first group consists of some correspondence between Sir Henry Bilson Legge and his political colleagues. The second group is a collection of several papers concerning French and Indian affairs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier (1888-1960), historian, was born on 27 June 1888 at Wola Okrzejska in Russian Poland. From 1906 he studied law at Lwòw and Lausanne Universities. In 1907 he arrived in London and enrolled at the London School of Economics. He joined the Fabian Society and in October 1908 he arrived at Balliol College, Oxford to study history. In 1910 he changed his name by deed poll from Niemirowski to Naymier, and in 1913 he further Anglicized it to Namier. He gained a first in modern history in 1911.

When war broke out Namier volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps but was rejected. He managed to join the Royal Fusiliers, but within five months was transferred to help the war effort more profitably as an expert adviser in the Foreign Office. He began a small book, Germany and Eastern Europe, published in 1915, and in 1917 he published two short pamphlets, The Case of Bohemia and The Czecho-Slovaks: an Oppressed Nationality. Namier held a temporary lectureship at Balliol from April 1920 to 1921. Namier then took up an offer of a job in Vienna and Prague, representing a Lancashire cotton firm, and through which he hoped to save enough to support his own historical research. After three years Namier returned to London, engaged a secretary, and resumed work on his book on the American War of Independence. His book The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George IIIwas published in January 1929 and was followed in 1930 by England in the Age of the American Revolution.

In 1931 Namier took up the post of chair of modern history at the University of Manchester. At the outbreak of war Namier was released by the university to act as a liaison officer between the Jewish Agency and the government, and he spent the rest of the war in London. After the end of hostilities, a stream of books of essays made his name known to a far wider public: Conflicts (1942), Facing East(1947), Diplomatic Prelude (1948), Europe in Decay (1950), In the Nazi Era (1952), and Avenues of History (1952). His Raleigh lecture, 1848: the revolution of the intellectuals (1944), was followed by the Waynflete lectures on the German problem (1946-7); the Creighton lecture, Basic factors in nineteenth-century European history (1952); the Romanes lecture, Monarchy and the party system (1952); the Royal Academy of Arts lecture, George III: a study in personality (1953); and the Enid Muir lecture at Newcastle, Country gentlemen in politics (1954).

Namier was elected an honorary fellow of Balliol in 1948 and was knighted in 1952. He retired from Manchester in 1953 and began editing the modern volumes of the History of Parliament, taking particular responsibility for the period 1754-90. He died at St Mary's Hospital, London, on 19 August 1960.

Source: John Cannon, 'Namier, Sir Lewis Bernstein (1888-1960)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/35183.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The collection was purchased by the John Rylands Library from Lewis Bernstein Namier on 4 November 1931.

Note

Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Klett, project archivists, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles on Lewis Bernstein Namier, Henry Bilson Legge, Sir Benjamin Keene and Sir John Mordaunt.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928-35 (English MSS 668-669).

Related Material

The Library also purchased from Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier in 1928 a volume recording the election expenses of Thomas Egerton in 1772 (ref.: Eng MS 470). In addition, the UML holds the twentieth-century working papers and correspondence of Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier (ref.: NAM). Namier's papers held elsewhere are recorded in the National Register of Archives at http://www.nra.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/pidocs.asp?P=P20882.