Interviews with Malcolm John MacDonald

Scope and Content

Tapes and transcripts of interviews conducted by Dame Margery Perham, SirKenneth Bradley, Ivan Lloyd Phillips and Curtis Nordman, 1970-1974, relatingto service as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and for the Colonies,1935-1940, and later in Kenya and Malaya.

Administrative / Biographical History

Malcolm John MacDonald (1901-1981), politician, diplomat and writer, became a member of the London County Council, 1927-1930, and Labour MP for Bassetlaw,Nottinghamshire, 1929-1935 and for Ross and Cromarty, 1936-1945. In 1931, asone of a small group of National Labour Party MPs, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Dominions Office. Between 1935 and 1940, hewas a cabinet minister, holding one or both of the offices of Secretary ofState for Dominion Affairs and Secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1940he was appointed Minister of Health, and in 1941 Britain's High Commissionerto Canada. In 1946 he took the post of Governor-General of the MalayanUnion and Singapore; later that year, British Borneo was added to his remit.He was appointed U.K. Commissioner General for South East Asia from 1948, thenHigh Commissioner in India, 1955-1960. He was called out of semi-retirement toserve as co-chairman and leader of the British delegation at the internationalconference on Laos in Geneva, 1961-1962. In 1963, he was given the post ofBritain's last Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Kenya. He remained asGovernor-General, 1963-1964, and returned after the country's independenceas High Commissioner, 1964-1965. From 1967 to 1969, he was employed as aspecial representative of the British government in Africa.

After his formalretirement, he became president of the Royal Commonmwealth Society from 1971,the Great Britain-China Centre from 1972, the Federation of CommonwealthChambers of Commerce from 1971, of V.S.O. from 1975, of the Carribean YouthDevelopment Trust from 1977, and of the Britain-Burma Society from 1980. Awarded the Order of Merit in 1969, he was Rhodes trustee, 1948-1957,Chancellor of the University of Malaya, 1949-1961, visitor for the UniversityCollege of Kenya, [1963-1964], and a senior research fellow at the University ofSussex, [1971-1973]. In December 1946 he married Audrey Marjorie Rowley (a Canadian war widow with two childrenfrom her first marriage),with whom he had a daughter.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 594 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Related Material

Typed copies of Colonial Office circulars on the treatment accorded to consular officers and diplomatic missions in colonial dependencies, 1939, and a revised procedure on the reporting of colonial legislation, 1939 (ref. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 289). The papers of Malcolm John MacDonald are held in the archives of Durham University. An extensive collection of photographs by and relating to MacDonald is held at the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society, housed at Cambridge University Library.