Correspondence relating to Sir Roy Welensky (1907-1991)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-687
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 folder containing: circa 25 letters; circa 5 invitation and menu cards; miscellaneous cuttings. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      E92.76; E93.121

Scope and Content

The correspondence is composed of: letters to and from E. R. Wright, 1952-1976, along with some miscellaneous material; and, typescript letter to A. Wallace, 29 March 1961. In addition, among miscellaneous invitations and menu cards there is a copy of the Rhodesian unilateral declaration of independence 11 November 1965. There are also two war newspaper reports: one from the Rhodesia Herald dated Salisbury, 1 September 1939, relating to German troops having invaded Poland; and, a free special news-sheet of the Rhodesia Herlad dated Salisbury, 14 August 1945.

Administrative / Biographical History

Roy (Roland) Welensky was born in Harare (then Salisbury), Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), in 1907. His father was an emigrant from Poland, first to the United States, then to South Africa and finally a pioneer trekker to Rhodesia. Welensky was educated in Harare and left school at the age of fourteen finding a variety of employment across Africa. In 1924, he turned to the railway for work - and to prize-fighting - in Kabwe (Broken Hill), Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia). In Broken Hill he entered the trade union movement as a member of the Railway Workers' Union. Around this time too he became heavy-weight boxing champion of the Rhodesias, 1926-1928. He rose rapidly as a labour leader and in 1933, at the age of 26, he was elected chairman of the Broken Hill branch of the RWU and a National Councillor holding both positions until his retirement from the railways 20 years later. By the early-1930s, Welensky was an engine driver on the main line. His political career began in 1938 with his election to the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council. Between 1941-1946 he was Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia, and in 1941 he formed the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party. Welensky participated in the Commission set up under Sir John Forster to investigate the riots in the Zambian Copperbelt in 1940. He was also a member of the Strauss Railway Arbitration Tribunal in 1943, and the Grant Railway Arbitration Tribunal in 1946. He was made Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in 1946. Welensky was a member of delegations to London to discuss mineral royalties, 1949, and the constitution in 1950 and 1951. He continued to serve unopposed on the Legislative Council until the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formed in 1953. Welensky was a strong supporter of - and was instrumental in the creation of - this Central African Federation. He was elected to the first Assembly of the Federation in 1953 and became the right hand man of its architect, Sir Godfrey Huggins, later Lord Markham. Welensky was knighted in that year and on Sir Godfrey's retirement in 1956 he succeeded him as Prime Minister. He was made Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) in 1959. He continued to head the Federation until it was dismantled in 1963. His Southern Rhodesian Federal Party was defeated by the Rhodesian Front of Ian Smith in 1964. After Smith's unilateral declaration of independence in 1965, Welensky left politics. Latterly he lived in Blandford Forum, Dorset, England. The Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky KCMG died in 1991.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Wright letters, purchased October 1992, Quaritch, Bloomsbury, Accession no. E92.76. Wallace letter, purchased December 1993, S. Dupre, Accession no. E93.121.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled largely using the following material: (1) Who's who 1987. London: A. and C. Black, 1987.

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

Material relating to the Federation and its resources, and described within the Archives Hub service, are the Edinburgh University Library (Special Collections Division) Papers relating to Kenneth David Kaunda the Colin Cameron Collection of Nyasaland / Malawi Government Documents, the Collection of Kenneth Mackenzie, and the Correspondence relating to Copper Mining in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), 1960-1962.

Check the Index to Manuscripts, Special Collections Divison, for other material, indexed by subject.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes several locations of Welensky related material: correspondence and papers, National Archives of Zimbabwe, Ref. WE7; correspondence and papers, 1940s-1990, Oxford University, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House, Ref. MSS Welensky, NRA 39191 Welensky, and letters to R. T. Hungerford, 1953-1965, and correspondence with Sir Albert Robinson, 1953-1963, Ref. MSS.Afr.s.2164 NRA 40207 Robinson; correspondence with Lord and Lady Avon, 1961-1978, Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department, Ref. AP 23/66 NRA 28779 Eden; correspondence with P. V. Emrys-Evans, 1953-1967, British Library, manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 58251, and letters to Col. O'Donovan, 1962-1979, Ref. Deposit 9437; correspondence with Sir Ian Wilson, circa 1963-1964, York University, Borthwick Institute of Historical Research; and, correspondence (69 items) with Desmond Donnelly, 1969-1974, National Library of Wales, Ref. Desmond Donnelly Papers/A1041 NRA 41723 Donnelly.

Geographical Names