Fonds GB 0210 ELWYNES - Lord Elwyn-Jones Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Lord Elwyn-Jones Papers


  • 1920-2017 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.653 cubic metres (127 boxes, 1 folder).

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Frederick Elwyn Jones (1909-1989) was born in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire; in 1927 he went to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and in the following year to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, to read history. He was President of the Cambridge Union in 1931. He was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1935 and began to practice on the Welsh circuit in 1936. During his time in London he became involved in Labour politics and was introduced to many Fabians, including the Webbs, the Mitchisons and the Coles. In 1934 he visited Vienna, Austria, to assist the beleaguered Austrian Socialists and trade unionists who were being harassed. In 1936, as a representative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, he visited Germany, Greece, Romania and Hungary. His publications during the 1930s, Hitler's Drive to the East, The Battle for Peace and The Attack from Within were based upon these travels. In 1937 he married the artist and writer Pearl Binder. In the Second World War he was appointed Staff Captain in the Department of Legal Services and was involved in cases in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Whilst in the army he was adopted as the prospective Labour Party candidate for the Plaistow division of West Ham and was elected in the 1945 General Election. In August 1945 the Attorney General asked him to appear for the prosecution in the Nuremberg War Trials and he was delegated to prepare the prosecution case against Admiral Raeder. During the period of Conservative rule from 1951 to 1964 he built up his legal practice, being particularly interested in trades union and negligence cases. He also attended trials abroad on behalf of various organizations, such as the International Commission of Jurists. During the years 1950-1974 he represented West Ham South, London. Following the Labour victory in the 1964 General Election he was appointed Attorney General and, in this capacity, was involved with the discussions over Rhodesia. He prosecuted the Moors Murder case and opened inquiries into the Aberfan and Torrey Canyon disasters. He was also responsible for establishing the Law Commission under Sir Leslie Scarman. In 1974, following Labour's general election victory, Harold Wilson appointed him Lord Chancellor, a post he retained until 1979. He adopted the title Lord Elwyn-Jones of Llanelli and Newham. When Labour lost the 1979 General Election he became a Lord of Appeal. In 1983 his memoirs, entitled In My Time, were published. Lord Elwyn- Jones died on 4 December 1989, at the age of 80.
His brother, Dr Walter Idris Jones (1900-1977), was a distinguished scientist and sportsman. He captained the Welsh international rugby team in 1925. In 1933 he became the research manager of Powell Dyffryn Limited and was appointed director-general of research at the National Coal Board in 1946. In 1962 he became director-general of research and development (Coal Processing and Combustion) at the National Coal Board. He died unmarried in 1977.

Archival history

The correspondence had been filed in chronological and alphabetical order.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The main group was bequeathed by Lord Elwyn-Jones, 1990. Further donations were received in June 1998 (A1998/90) (4 items), July 201[5?] from Lou Taylor (3 items), Feb. 2017 from Josephine Gladstone, Hawarden, (three boxes) and Sept. 2018 from Josephine Gladstone (2 items) (99126238402419).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers of Lord Elwyn-Jones, 1921-1989, including correspondence, 1958-1989; material for speeches, 1953-1987; papers relating to the Nuremberg War Trials, 1944-1989; family and personal papers, 1921-1990; papers relating to foreign affairs and foreign visits, 1933-1938; legalc cases, [c. 1940]-1989; subject files, 1927-1989; memoirs, 1975-1984; printed and circular material, 1957-1989; Walter Idris Jones papers, 1930-1979; and office diaries, 1977-1979.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All records have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

The 1990 donation is arranged into eleven classes: general correspondence (the correspondence retains its original order); speeches, lectures and conferences; Nuremberg War Trials; foreign affairs; legal cases; constituency affairs; family and personal; subject files; organizations; memoirs; printed and circular material; and Dr Walter Idris Jones papers.
The June 1988, July 201[5?], Feb. 2017 and Sept. 2018 donations have been merged, and catalogued as A 292, B 30-32, C 34-35, D 46-48, G 20-27, J 3-4, K 17-22, L 59-73, M 2-4 and N 1-3. The three minor donations are incorporated as follows: The 1998 donation, a letter with lists of speeches etc., and three desk diaries, was initially listed as M 1-4. The letter is now (2019) renumbered B 31; the reference M 1 is unused. The 201[5?] donation: 'The Left News', 1938, is in K 17, Elwyn Jones's Labour Party pocket diary, 1958, is G 23, and the Mbiyu Koinange letter, 1958, is in A 292. The two items of the 2018 donation are in G 24.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Project identifier


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

March 2003, February 2019.


  • English



The following source was used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Lord Elwyn-Jones Papers.

Archivist's note

Fonds-level description compiled by Annette Strauch and Martin Locock for the ANW project; the 1998-2018 groups added by Stephen Benham.

Accession area