LONGDEN, Sir Gilbert James Morley, 1902-1997, Knight, MP

Scope and Content

Papers of Sir Gilbert James Morley Longden. Comprised of general political correspondence and papers; constituency papers; subject files; political writings; collected published material; personal memorabilia, correspondence and papers; autobiographical material; papers about the collection; 1901-1996.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Gilbert Longden was born in Durham in 1902. He was the eldest son of Lieutenant Colonel James Morley Longden and Kathleen Morgan and was educated at Haileybury and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. From 1924 to 1930 he practised as a solicitor. In 1930 he accepted the post of Secretary of ICI (India) Ltd, where he remained until 1937. During this time he was also a Sergeant in the Calcutta Light Horse. He travelled extensively throughout Europe, Asia and both North and South America. In 1937 he spent nine months as a student at the University of Paris. In response to the Munich Crisis in 1938 he enrolled in the Army Officer's Emergency Reserve and was commissioned in the Durham Light Infantry in 1940. From 1940 to 1941 he was Adjutant in the Infantry Training Centre. Subsequently he served with the 2nd division in India and with the 36th division in Burma. He was awarded the MBE (military) in November 1945. Longden's political career began in 1938 when he was adopted as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Morpeth. The wartime electoral truce postponed his efforts until the 1945 General Election when he contested Morpeth for the Conservative Party. This proved unsuccessful but he was adopted as prospective Conservative candidate for Watford in 1947. Finally after a revision of constituency boundaries, he contested and won the seat for South-West Hertfordshire in the 1950 General Election and remained there as a Conservative MP until his retirement in 1974. Longden penned his political views in his 1947 publication 'A Conservative Philosophy'. He subsequently became one of the founder members of the One Nation group of Conservatives MPs. As such he contributed to many other publications such as 'One Nation', 'Change is our Ally' (1955), 'A Responsible Society' (1959), 'One Europe' (1969) and 'The Future of Europe'. He maintained an active interest in Europe and was UK representative to the Council of Europe, 1953-1954, and a member of the Conservative Group for Europe. He helped found the Great Britain-East Europe Centre. He was also UK delegate to the 12th and 13th sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, Chairman of the British Atlantic Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the British Council. But Longden's role in the political arena was varied. Having met Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in India to discuss the campaign for Indian independence on 26 May 1945, he retained a concern for Indian affairs. He later became an opponent of apartheid in South Africa and having reportedly made attempts to persuade the Government to take a stronger line on this issue, he was deposed as Chairman of the back-bench Foreign Affairs Committee in 1961. Education policy was a consistent area of attention and he was the longstanding Vice Chairman of the All-Party Select Committee on Education. In later years he emerged as a pro-Israeli and Chairman of the All-Party British Israel Committee. Longden was knighted in 1972. Although he retired in 1974 his interest in politics continued and his views were regularly published in the letters columns of the Daily Telegraph. He died in 1997.


Arranged by subject and then chronologically into the following sections. 1. Parliamentary correspondence [1936-1994] 2. Correspondence B-Y [1957-1971] 3. General election papers [1945-1992] 4. One Nation group papers [1950-1996] 5. British Atlantic Committee, NATO and Council of Europe [1954-1993] 6. Various groups, committees and conference papers [1958-1996] 7. Conservative Group for Europe [1973-1979] 8. Constituency papers [1950-1991] 9. Subject files [1945-1996] 10. Writings [1947-1995] 11. Speeches [1948-1978] 12. Press cuttings [c1930-1991] 13. Pamphlets and articles [c1940-1996] 14. House of Commons and House Lords Official Reports [1952-1975] 15. Personal memorabilia [1909-1996] 16. Personal correspondence [1923-1992] 17. Personal finance [1986-1988] 18. Autobiographical [1901-1993] 19. Papers concerning the collection [c1979-1994]

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Sir Gilbert Longden

Other Finding Aids

This collection has been box-listed. Printed handlist and online catalogue available.

Archivist's Note

Conditions Governing Use