Correspondence of Priscilla McLaren (née Bright, 1815-1906) social reformer, and Sir Henry Norman (1858-1939) journalist, politician and public servant, 1829-1946

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises:

Correspondence of Priscilla McLaren (née Bright), 1829-1885 (N Mc 1-3);

Correspondence of Sir Henry Norman, c.1875-1885 (N Mc 4);

Printed items including a published biography and diaries of John Bright (N Mc 5);

Album of photographs depicting the installation of John Campbell Boot, 2nd Baron Trent as the 1st Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, 1949. Lord Trent's page on the occasion, and shown in some of the photographs was Jeremy Norman (N Mc 6).

Priscilla McLaren's wide political, social and family contacts are evident in her correspondence which reveals her views on many of the contemporary issues of public debate, including the Corn Laws, the Home Rule Bill, and the policies of Gladstone and Palmerston. The series documents contacts between suffragist supporters, and demonstrates the significance of family connections among the social reformers of the mid to late nineteenth century.

Sir Henry Norman's correspondence is primarily with his parents during his student years. These letters are particularly interesting for their extensive personal commentary on American life and society. Norman was able to give detailed accounts of the 1876 presidential elections, of visits to the House of Representatives and a meeting at the White House with President Rutherford B. Hayes. Also preserved here is a letter of introduction by the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, together with Norman's first-hand account of the centennial celebrations of American independence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Priscilla McLaren (née Bright) was born to a Quaker family in Rochdale. She was sister of temperance campaigner Margaret Lucas (née Bright, 1818-1890), radical reformer John Bright (1811-1889), and Liberal MP Jacob Bright (1821-1899) who fought actively for women's suffrage in the House of Commons. Priscilla was a leading figure herself in the early suffragist movement, and was founder of the Scottish division of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. Her involvement in opposing the Married Women's Property Act and the Contagious Diseases Act was significant, and brought her into contact with key figures in the suffragist movement. Elizabeth Fry, Millicent Fawcett, Josephine Butler, John Stuart Mill, Lydia Ernestine Becker and Harriet Beecher Stow are all represented in her correspondence.

Priscilla married Duncan McLaren in 1848 and they lived together in Newington House, Edinburgh from 1852 until Duncan McLaren's death in 1896. Duncan McLaren was born in Scotland in 1800 and apart from two years of schooling, was self taught. After school, he was apprenticed to a merchant in Dunbar. In 1824 he set up his own business as a draper in Edinburgh. He became a member of the City Council in 1833 and became City Treasurer in 1837. He was elected Lord Provost in 1851. McLaren was a Liberal and supported the anti-corn law campaign of John Bright, the opening of the Meadows in Edinburgh to the Public, and the establishment of 'the Industrial Museum'. McLaren was also a governor of the Heriot Free School trust, and became a Member of Parliament (MP) at the age of 65.

Sir Henry Norman (1858-1939) was the husband of Priscilla McLaren's granddaughter, Florence. Born in Leicester of Unitarian parents, Norman studied theology and philosophy at Leipzig and Harvard before beginning a career in journalism. In 1895 he became assistant editor of the Daily Chronicle, and served in the House of Commons between 1910 and 1923 as a Liberal MP for Wolverhampton and Blackburn. He is best known for his pioneering work in radio telegraphy, which was to play a vital part in both world wars.

Arrangement

The McLaren correspondence has been bound in three volumes in chronological order. Items in other series are loose and have been arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all readers but advance notice is essential.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

Typescript catalogue, 123 pp.

Online:

Catalogue available through website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk).

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The McLaren and Henry Norman papers descended to Willoughby Norman (1909-1997), son of Sir Henry Norman. Willoughby Norman married Barbara Boot, daughter of the 2nd Baron Trent, who in 1949 became Chancellor of The University of Nottingham. The papers were transferred to the university's Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections in several separate accruals between 1973 and 1994.

Related Material

Other manuscript items relating to the people who appear in this collection are recorded on The National Archives Discovery catalogue

Bibliography

Copies of these items are in the collection:William Robertson, 'The life and times of the Right Honourable John Bright' (William Robertson, Rochdale, 1877)R.A.J. Walling, ed., 'The diaries of John Bright' (Cassell, London, 1930)