Papers of Sir John T. Brunner, Bart.

Scope and Content

The papers in this collection represent the personal, business and political life of Sir John T. Brunner, Bart. Each section has a brief biographical history to provide contextual information. The Personal Papers consist of family and genealogical papers, correspondence and personal diaries. Business Papers are largely correspondence regarding the business and are a single series in chronological order. Political Papers consist of secretarial papers, general and local elections, local politics, national politics, House of Lords and Monarchy and international politics. The final section in the collection is titled General Papers which consist of letter books, press cuttings, testimonials, MS notes and benefactions and memberships.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir John Tomlinson Brunner, Bart. was born in Everton in 1842, the son of Rev. John Brunner, a Unitarian schoolmaster of Swiss origin, and Margaret Catherine Curphey. John T. Brunner was educated in an environment of Liberal nonconformity; a feature of nineteenth century Liverpool. He left school at an early age and was employed from 1861 to 1872 by John Hutchinson and Co. alkali manufacturers of Widnes. In 1873 he founded in collaboration with Ludwig Mond, the firm Brunner, Mond and Co., at Northwich, Cheshire, a firm destined to become the largest alkali works in the world. The firm was later to merge with other undertakings, forming in 1926, the great Imperial Chemical Industries Complex.

John T. Brunner was a Liberal MP for Northwich from 1885 to 1886 and again from 1887-1909. During his political career he campaigned for free trade, better working conditions including the eight-hour working day and international issues regarding naval disarmament in the lead up to the First World War. In 1895 John Brunner was given a baronetcy and in 1906 made a member of the Privy Council. He stood down as Liberal MP during the General Election in 1910 due to health concerns.

His social reforms were matched by many acts of generosity to individuals and institutions. Brunner's public benefactions included the founding of the Public Library at Northwich, Guildhalls at Runcorn and Winsford, schools at Winnington, Barnton, and Northwich and the establishment of Chairs of Economic Science, Physical Chemistry and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. His continued interest in the University led him to become Pro-Chancellor in 1909.

Sir John T. Brunner, Bart. died on 1 July 1919. His baronetcy passed to his eldest son, John Fowler Leece Brunner who continued his father's career as a Liberal MP.


This collection has been arranged into the following sections:

  • Brunner/1: Personal Papers
  • Brunner/2: Business Papers
  • Brunner/3: Political Papers
  • Brunner/4: General Papers

Access Information

The collection is open to bona fide researchers.

Acquisition Information

The papers of Sir John Tomlinson Brunner were given as a gift to the University of Liverpool by Sir Felix Brunner, grandson of J.T. Brunner in 1973 .

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available in the reading room.

Custodial History

Prior to their deposit at the University of Liverpool, the papers were in the possession of Sir Felix Brunner.


There are no anticipated accruals.

Related Material

The National Library of Wales holds the T. E. Ellis Collection, which contains some correspondence from Brunner.

The British Library Manuscript Collections hold letters from Sir John Tomlinson Brunner to Lord Gladstone dating from 1895-1908.

Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies hold correspondence with Ludwig Mond dating from 1871-1898 in the archive of Imperial Chemical Industries PLC, Archives of Brunner, Mond and Company Ltd and its Subsidiaries.

Location of Originals

We hold photographic copies of letters held in the National Library of Wales, T.E. Ellis collection (No.131-137). Letters from Sir John T. Brunner to Thomas Edward Ellis 1886-1894 in the Secretarial Papers section of Political Papers at Brunner/3/1/4.


Koss, Stephen Edward, Sir John Brunner, Radical Plutocrat, 1842-1919, Cambridge University Press, 1970.

Geographical Names