The Alport Papers

Scope and Content

The papers primarily relate to Lord Alport and his life in British politics. There are also papers relating directly to Lady Alport, (Rachel Bingham) and his father, Professor A.C. Alport. Personal and official correspondence includes letters to and from figures in the British political establishment and African politicians, including various heads of state. Primary correspondents include: Mr 'Rab' A. Butler, Mr. Harold Macmillan, Sir Roy Welensky, Lord Carrington, Dr David Owen, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, Dr H.K. Banda, Mr Francis Pym, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Mr. Edward Heath, Sir Rupert Speir. Of particular note are his papers concerning the 'One Nation' group (1951-56) and correspondence and papers as Special Representative to Rhodesia, June-July 1967.

The content can be summarised as follows:

  • Papers from his early life and education: Haileybury College, reports, misc. items and publications from Cambridge. Personal Correspondence, 1935-1938. Newspaper articles, (1939), by C.J.M. Alport. Family photographs. Political papers. Text of speeches and miscellanea (not listed). There are also papers relating to 'Artists' Rifles', 1939-1945, including photographs, notebooks, press cuttings, notes and correspondence.
  • Papers relating to Alport's family(1945-1950) and his marriage to Rachel Bingham comprise correspondence and photographs (family and personal). Lady Alport's papers include diaries of 2 visits/tours to Africa in the 1970s (Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi. South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Rhodesia).
  • Papers arising from Alport's career, 1948-1961, as a candidate and M.P. for Colchester comprise: political speeches (local and House of Commons), addresses and notes of speeches; political articles; correspondence, re: publication of various articles; Conservative Party publications, (1949-50); election publications and publicity papers; photographs; letters of congratulation on election and appointments to office; newspaper cuttings; misc. items including an opening address by Lord Woolton; press reports on Imperial policy. In addition, there is a ledger of meetings with constituents who came to Lord Alport's surgeries (not available for consultation). Papers relating more generally to Colchester and Essex (1965-1990) include: correspondence and press cuttings; council and civic society papers; papers relating to the Colchester Church Commission.
  • The bulk of the collection includes papers relating to Alport's ministerial and diplomatic offices: as Under-Secretary and later Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (1957-61); High Commissioner to Central Africa, 1961-1963; British High Commissioner, Federation of Rhodesia&Nyasaland, 1961-1963 and Special Representative to Rhodesia, June-July 1967. There are also papers relating more generally to Alport's political and diplomatic roles in Central and Southern Africa (1964-1990). African and Commonwealth related papers comprise: letters of congratulation on appointment to offices, extensive personal correspondence (telegrams and letters) -particularly with members of the British political establishment, official correspondence and correspondence with the public; staff lists; a set of minutes to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations; copies of dispatches to ministers; papers relating to specific events, such as the Ndola disaster; draft directives for office; Parliamentary papers and official publications (London and Salisbury); diaries; personal notes and papers on experiences and events in office, including mss. on his perspective of political developments and impressions of colleagues; various press items, including newspaper cuttings (from overseas and at home), transcripts of broadcasts, (BBC African Service) and press and radio responses to Alport; various photographs; articles and speeches on return from Rhodesia; misc. items.
  • House of Lords (1965-1995). Papers relating to Alport's membership of the House include: correspondence with peers, various papers and letters on Bills, notably, Reform, Compositions and Functions, Constitutional Referendum, Straw and Stubble Burning. Minutes of evidence taken before Committees, 1975-1979. Papers relating to House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics. Papers on procedures of the House of Lords; notes on speeches. Official reports. House of Lords publications.
  • Other political papers include: 'One Nation', notes and minutes, 1951-1956. Extensive Correspondence with members of the conservative party, including a series re: Conservative Action for Electoral Reform, 1975-1978. There are also the following items on miscellaneous topics. Diaries, memoirs and notes relating to personal events and visits (1937-1982). Papers and correspondence for a book on Sir Richard Bingham, 1528-1598. Papers relating to the Skinners Company and City University. Memorabilia of ceremonial occasions (programmes, newspaper cuttings), including material concerning the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, 30 January 1965.
  • Finally, the collection also contains papers relating to Professor A.C. Alport, personal and official Correspondence (including letters relating to his position as a Medical Officer in military service) and publications, 1914-1959; photographs. Includes essays on the history of Southern Africa, Egypt and the Middle East.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection comprises the political, personal and family papers of Lord Alport of Colchester, (b.1912-d.1998), MP, minister, diplomat and peer. Cuthbert Alport's career can be summarized in brief as follows: educated at Haileybury School and Cambridge; elected Conservative M.P. for the Colchester division of Essex, 1950-61; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Commonwealth Relations Office, 1957-1959; Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office, 1959-1961; British High Commissioner in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1961-63. In 1967 Alport was appointed British Government Representative to Rhodesia and in this position he played an important role in attempting to solve the crisis resulting from Ian Smith's proclamation of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in November 1965.

In his later life, Alport continued his political life as a peer in the House of Lords. His various roles included: Deputy Speaker, House of Lords, 1971-82, 1983-94; Adviser to the Home Secretary, 1974-82.

In addition to his parliamentary career, Alport was involved in local civic politics, High Steward of Colchester, 1967-.

The papers in the collection cover all aspects of Alport's life, and as such provide a useful insight into the politics of post-imperial Central and Southern Africa and into the post-war Conservative party, especially the 'One-Nation' group of Tory MPs which he helped to found.


Papers (and photographs) are ordered in numbered boxes and are arranged as follows:

  • Box 1: Early years (school, university, Bonar Law College), 1912-1939.
  • Box 2: Artists' Rifles, 1939-1945.
  • Boxes 3-5: Family and marriage, 1945-1950; Lady Alport's (Rachel Bingham) correspondence and personal papers (1944-1963).
  • Boxes 6-12: Candidate and M.P. for Colchester, 1948-1961; Assistant Postmaster General, 1956; Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, 1957-1959; Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations, 1959-1961.
  • Boxes 13-19: British High Commissioner, Federation of Rhodesia&Nyasaland, 1961-1963.
  • Boxes 20-22(a): Special Representative to Rhodesia, June-July 1967.
  • Boxes 23-27: Central&Southern Africa. Correspondence and visits, 1964-1990.
  • Boxes 28-36(b): House of Lords, 1965-1995.
  • Boxes 37-43: Correspondence, political and personal, 1946-1993. One Nation. Correspondence and minutes, 1951-1988 (Box 37).
  • Boxes 44-47: Notes and diaries, 1937-1982.
  • Boxes 48-51: Colchester and Essex, including University of Essex papers 1965-1990.
  • Boxes 52-54(a): The Skinners Company (52); City University (53); Ceremonial occasions (54).
  • Boxes 55-56: Professor A.C. Alport, Correspondence and publications, 1914-1959.
  • Boxes 57, 58: Miscellaneous items (for example, invitations and greetings cards); visits to Malta 1962/1965; local election publicity; Coalfield Communities Campaign, 1987-1989.

Access Information

By written application to either the Librarian or Deputy Librarian. A letter of introduction may be required.

Acquisition Information

Lord Alport


Sources for the information in this record include:

University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library, A Note on Special Collections, (University of Essex, 2000), p. 5.

Alport Papers, outline lists and catalogue of items, University of Essex: Albert Sloman Library.

Record created by Emma J. Barker, Qualidata, UK Data Archive, University of Essex.

Other Finding Aids

Detailed outline lists and a catalogue of items in the collection are available online via the web pages for the Special Collections in the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex. (Follow the underlined link for 'Alport Papers'). Please note that work on The Alport Papers continues and that, in the course of time, various lists in this catalogue will be revised, expanded and corrected.

Conditions Governing Use

By application to either the Librarian or Deputy Librarian, observing the normal conventions of confidentiality and acknowledgment.

Appraisal Information

In consultation with academic colleagues, the Librarian and Deputy Librarian evaluate collections by assessing their relevance to the teaching and research interests of the University.

Custodial History

The papers were presented to the Library by Lord Alport, shortly before his death, and have remained in Special Collections since this time.


All papers were acquired as a single donation. It is unlikely that the collection will be added to in the future.


The papers have been used as the basis fo a biography:

Garnett, Mark, Alport: A Study in Loyalty, (Teddington: Acumen, 1999).

Additional Information

This material is original.