The papers consist of correspondence, namely: letter to J. P. B. Robertson, 12 February 1889 at Gen. 756, no.19; letters to Sir Charles John Pearson (1843-1910), 1891-1895, at Gen. 756, nos.20-29; letters to Sir W. Muir, 1891, at Dk.2.14, p.17; letter to G. Wyndham, February 1915, at Dc.4.101-103 (Wyndham); letter to Sir A. Geikie, July 1915, at Gen. 1425/9; notes, 1892, at Gen. 756, no.30.
Papers of Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), 1st Earl of Balfour, and Viscount Traprain of Whittingehame
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-292
- Dates of Creation1889-1927
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical Description15 letters, 1 photograph.
- LocationGen. 756, nos.19-30; Dk.2.14, p.17; Dc.4.101-103 (Wyndham); Gen. 1425/9
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Arthur James Balfour was born at Whittinghame, East Lothian, on 25 July 1848. He was the nephew of Robert Cecil (1830-1903), 3rd Marquis of Salisbury. Balfour was educated at Eton and then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained the degree of M.A. In 1874, he became the MP (Conservative) for Hertford starting a fifty-five year long political career which took him to the highest political office in the country. He served in Lord Salisbury's first ministry as President of the Local Government Board, 1885-1886, and then in the second Salisbury ministry, 1886-1892, he was Secretary for Scotland and Chief Secretary for Ireland. A formidable debater, Balfour became Leader of the House of Commons and First Lord of the Treasury, 1891-1892, becoming his uncle's second in command. Between 1892 and 1895 he was Leader of the Opposition during Gladstone's last Liberal ministry, then he served again in Salisbury's third ministry. In July 1902, on Salisbury's retirement, Balfour became Prime Minister and served until his resignation in December 1905. During his career, Balfour was a fierce opponent of Irish Home Rule, and in the contemporary Victorian 'struggle' between science and religion, he stood for religion. He was however responsible for encouraging the sale of land to tenant farmers in Ireland, and the completion of negotiations for the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale. He remained as Leader of the Conservative Party until November 1911 and also served in the wartime coalitions of Asquith and David Lloyd George. His most significant action during the First World War years was to declare in a letter to Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937), 2nd Baron Rothschild, that Britain pledged itself to aiding Zionist efforts to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. In the port-war years, Balfour served twice in the Commons as Lord President of the Council, 1919-1922, and 1925-1929. In 1922 he was created an earl. His publications include Defence of philosophic doubt (1879), The foundations of belief, being the notes introductory to the study of theology (1895), Economic notes on insular free trade (1903), Theism and thought (1923), and, edited by his niece, Blanche E. C. Dugdale Chapters of autobiography (1930). Balfour served as Chancellor of Edinburgh University. Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, and Viscount Traprain of Whittingehame, died in Woking, Surrey, on 19 March 1930.
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Letters to Sir Charles John Pearson received from Mrs. Margaret Pearson, Newbridge, Midlothian, 1964, Accession no. E64.39. Letter to Geikie received from Professor Craig, August 1968, Accession No. E68.24.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) The new encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1991. (2) Who was who 1929-1940. A companion to Who's who.... London: Adam and Charles Black, 1941. (3) Rice, D. Talbot (compiler). The university portraits. pp. 5-6. Edinburgh: University Press, 1957.
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.