The Hambleden Manuscripts consist primarily of the papers of the second W.H. Smith (1825-1891). As well as developing the business, Smith also pursued a successful political career: he served as an MP and quickly rose to be First Lord of the Admiralty - because of his lack of naval experience, he may have been the model for the character Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore. In the mid-1880s, he was twice Secretary of State for War, and later First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons, among other posts. He was also a philanthropist and important in the development of compulsory schooling.

Smith refused all honours, but his widow was created Viscountess Hambleden in recognition of his service and so their descendants are hereditary peers.

The archive contains some business papers, but is primarily family correspondence and political papers, plus some papers relating to estates (including the family home at Greenlands, now part of the University's Henley Business School. Some papers of his son are also included in the archive.

More information

  • A full description is available from our online database
  • A handlist is available at the Special Collections Service or to download as a pdf here 7.66 KB
  • Archive reference: HAM
publishing history correspondence, business records Y Hambledon

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