Papers of Sir Lionel Henry Lamb

Scope and Content

Papers, 1873-1988 (mainly 1911-1983), of Sir Lionel Henry Lamb, comprising personal papers, 1911-1983 and undated, including miscellaneous letters, 1917-1958, certificates and decorations, 1925-1953, papers relating to internment in Shanghai, 1940-1942, papers relating to his service in China, 1947-1959, photographs, 1924-1949, including Peking and other scenes in China and Hong Kong, miscellaneous papers relating to his service in Switzerland, 1954-1956, and ephemera, 1911-1983, including press cuttings, tickets, invitations and menus; subject files, including news cuttings and other printed material, both Chinese and western, on anti-British propaganda in China, c1937, the Japanese administration and occupation of China, including Shanghai, 1937-1942, 1980-1982, China after the war and under the Communist regime, including anti-foreign propaganda, treatment of overseas nationals, Sino-Soviet relations, and Chinese foreign policy, 1946-1988; maps of China, 1873-1947.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lionel Henry (Harry) Lamb was born on 9 July 1900. He was the son of Sir Harry Harling Lamb (1857-1948), GBE, KCMG, a member of the British diplomatic service, and his wife Sabina (née Maissa). He was educated at Winchester College, and at Queen's College, Oxford, from 1918 to 1920. In December 1921 Lionel Lamb was appointed to HM Consular Service in China, a time of turbulence in China which saw the rise of the Communist Party and later the Nationalist Party (KMT). In 1935, while the National Government ruled, he was appointed as Consul (Grade II) and was stationed first in Shanghai until 1937 - the year of the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War - and then in Peking until 1940. Whilst in Peking, he was promoted to Consul (Grade I). He returned to Shanghai as Superintending Consul and Assistant Chinese Secretary in 1940. He was interned at Shanghai by the Japanese from December 1941 to August 1942. In 1943 he was transferred to St Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, for a short period, returning to the British Embassy in Chunking as Chinese Counsellor in 1945. From 1947 to 1949, coinciding with the last years of the civil war in China, he was HM Minister at Nanking. After the establishment of the Communist regime and the People's Republic of China, he was appointed to the post of Charg d'Affairs at Peking, which he held from 1951 to 1953. His last appointment before he retired from diplomatic service was as Ambassador to Switzerland from 1953 to 1958. During his career he received various honours: OBE 1944, KCMG 1953 (CMG 1948). In 1927 he married Jean Fawcett (née MacDonald). They had one son, Alistair. Sir Lionel Lamb died on 27 July 1992. Appointments: Vice-Consul in China, 1925; Vice-Consul in China, First Grade, 1934; Consul in China, Second Grade, 1935; Consul in China, 1938; Minister (Foreign Service Officer Grade V), 1947; Officer of the Fourth Grade of the Foreign Service, 1948; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Berne, 1953.


Files have been maintained as they were received and appear to have been filed and annotated by the author, but not arranged in any particular chronological order. The ephemera has been sorted, and letters and photographs grouped. The material is divided into: personal papers and ephemera; subject files; maps and plans.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

This collection was presented by Alistair Lamb in three deposits, from March 1995 to August 1996.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds papers of Sir Alwyne Ogden, including papers relating to Sir Lionel Lamb (Ref: PP MS 47, Box 12). The Public Record Office holds relevant Foreign Office (FO) letter series. The British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, holds Lamb's letters to F M Bailey, 1954-1963 (Ref: MSS Eur F 157).

Correspondence of Sir Harry Harling Lamb is held at Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives; Oxford University, Bodleian Library; Surrey History Centre.