Papers of Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane of Cloan (1856-1928)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-354
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      circa 20 letters, 1 illustration.
  • Location
      Dc.4.94/2/82; Dc.4.101-103 Haldane; Gen. 145/2/33; Gen. 863/8/29; Gen. 1801/5/17; Gen. 1981/136-137; Gen. 2040/84-88

Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence including: letter to D. G. Ritchie; letter to Walter S. D. Mclaren, 1905; letters to General Baden-Powell, 1907, and to a Mr. Marchant, 1916; letter to Professor W. P. M. Kennedy about the powers of the governors of Canada, 1923; letters and press photo, 1890 to 1923; letter stating that he cannot 'feel equal to a speculation' on what things will be like in 200 years time; several short notes and acceptances; and, an acknowledgement to an invitation, and miscellaneous letters.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Burdon Haldane, Viscount Haldane, statesman, lawyer and philosopher, was born on 30 July 1856. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and then studied at Edinburgh University and Göttingen University. From Edinburgh he was awarded the degree of MA with First Class Honours in Philosophy. Haldane was called to the English Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1879. He was appointed QC in 1890. He dealt with many Canadian and Indian cases and other appeals submitted to the Privy Council. Between 1885 and 1911, he was the Liberal MP for East Lothian, and from 1905 until 1912 he was Secretary of State for War. In his army reforms of 1906-1907, Haldane provided for an expeditionary force - the Regular Army supplemented by the old Militia - and a new organisation intended for home defence, the Territorial Force. He also created the Imperial General Staff in 1909. Haldane was created 1st Viscount of Cloan in 1911, and he was Lord Chancellor from 1912 to 1915. While in office he managed to secure an increase in the number of Lords of Appeal. In 1912, at a time of mounting tension, he was sent by the Cabinet on an unsuccessful mission to Germany. Haldane was also interested in higher education and administration and directed a lot of his effort into establishing provincial universities. He was Rector of Edinburgh University from 1905 to 1908, and was Chancellor of Bristol and St. Andrews Universities. He published with Professor Seth Essays in philosophical criticism, and translated Schopenhauer's three volume work World as will and idea with Mr. Kemp. Other publications included Education and empire (1902), The philosophy of humanism (1922), and Human experience: a study of its structure (1926). Richard Burdon Haldane, Viscount Haldane, died on 19 August 1928.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Letters 1890-1923 and photo, acquired 1970, Accession no. E70.3.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) The dictionary of national biography. The concise dictionary. Part 2. 1901-1970. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982. (2) Who was who 1916-1928. 3rd edition. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1962.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a reference to Haldane related material in the Sarolea Collection (check the Indexes for more details): letter of Haldane to Sarolea, 1924, in Sar.Coll. 82/2. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes the following collections in the national institutions of Scotland: correspondence and papers, 1866-1928, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 5901-6109 NRA 11618 Haldane, and letters (11) to John Buchan, Ref. Acc 6975 NRA 29245 Buchan, and letters to Mrs C. W. Earle, 1893-1920, Ref. MS 20260, and letters (15) to A. C. Fraser, 1880-1909, Ref. Dep 208 NRA 27273 Fraser, and correspondence with Lord Rosebery, 1885-1921, Ref. MSS 10029-30 NRA 22490 Primrose, and miscellaneous correspondence, 1886-1924, Ref. MSS 9811-10170, 10587 Passim; and, correspondence with G. W. Balfour, 1902-1914, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD433 NRA 10026 Balfour.