Josiah Clement Wedgwood papers

email: h.burton@keele.ac.uk      tel: +44 (0)1782 733237

Josiah Clement Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood (1872-1943) was the great great grandson of Josiah Wedgwood I and Liberal MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme from 1906 to 1919, then Labour MP for the same constituency from 1919 to 1942. His personal papers came to the university in 1983 from his grand-daughter, Dr Noel Joanna Pease. The material consists of around 1300 family letters dating from 1881 which include letters from the front during the Boer War and First World War. There are approximately 150 non-family letters dating from 1906 as well as several diaries, pamphlets and some press cuttings.

Of particular significance among the non-family papers is a carbon copy of a five page letter from Wedgwood to Winston Churchill begun on 24 April 1915 giving a graphic description of the landings at Gallipoli. A report dated September 1915 gives Wedgwood's impressions of the Western Front, his views on various generals and of conscription. In a powerful letter to Lloyd George dated 11 October 1916 Wedgwood deplores the heavy losses in France, four times those of the French army. In 1918 Wedgwood was sent to Siberia to encourage the Russians to continue fighting and not to trust the German offers. His instructions survive in the accumulation.

Further letters reflect Wedgwood's lifelong passionate advocacy of the taxation of land values and his support for Indian nationalism (discussed in a series of letters from Lajpat Rai). Notable correspondents include Churchill, Asquith, Balfour, Ramsay MacDonald, Neville Chamberlain, Anthony Eden, Henry Newbolt, Walter Runciman, Keir Hardie, Hillaire Belloc and HG Wells.

Papers concerning the History of Parliament Trust were returned to the trust before the papers came to Keele. The archive held at Keele is also devoid of constituency papers and material relating to Wedgwood's tenure of the duchy of Lancaster.

The material is partially listed, and there are no restrictions on access.