Herbert Asquith collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Asquith to both Ernest and Emily Shackleton regarding two of the Antarctic Expeditions led by Ernest (British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909 and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916).

Administrative / Biographical History

Herbert Henry Asquith was born in Morley in 1852. He was educated at the City of London School and Balliol College, Oxford, and became a barrister in 1876. In 1886, he was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for East Fife and in 1892, was appointed Home Secretary, becoming one of the leading figures of his party within three years. After the Liberal government lost power in 1895, Asquith resumed his legal career, returning to government in 1906 as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Between 1908 and 1916, Asquith served as Prime Minister and was responsible for a series of reforms including the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908 and the Parliament Act of 1911, limiting the powers of the House of Lords. After the outbreak of the First World War, Asquith formed a coalition government but resigned in December 1916 after his ability as a war leader was questioned by cabinet members and the media.

Losing his seat in East Fife in 1918, he served as Member of Parliament for Paisley between 1920 and 1924, remaining leader of the Liberal Party until 1926. In 1925, he accepted a peerage as Earl of Oxford and Asquith, and was created a Knight of the Garter shortly afterwards. He died in 1928 at Sutton Courtney, Berkshire.


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034 and Dictionary of National Biography, 1922-1930, Oxford University Press, London (1937) and BBC History and Spartacus

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible.