Fonds GB 0210 GORROB - Lord Goronwy-Roberts Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Lord Goronwy-Roberts Papers


  • 1900-1997 (accumulated 1930-1997) (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.076 cubic metres (84 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Goronwy Owen Roberts (1913-1981) was the Labour MP for Caernarfonshire from 1945 until 1974 and was much involved in Welsh cultural life. Subsequently he was elevated to the peerage and served in the Foreign Office under George Brown.

A native of Bethesda and the son of E. E. and Amelia Roberts, Goronwy Roberts (1913-1981) enjoyed a brilliant academic career at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, where he was one of the founder members of the patriotic Gwerin movement in 1935. In 1938 he was elected a Fellow of the University of Wales. In 1942 he married Marian Ann Evans of Robertstown, Aberdare and there were a son Dafydd and daughter Ann. He served in the Army Reserve during World War Two. At the same time he was the Youth Education Officer to the Caernarfonshire Education Authority from 1941 until 1944.

Standing on a notably nationalistic platform, he captured Caernarfonshire in 1945, defeating long serving Liberal MP Major Goronwy Owen, MP for the county ever since 1923. A fervent patriotic Welshman throughout his life, he consistently advocated devolutionary solutions during the post-war Attlee administrations. He was also a notably conscientious constituency MP and generally popular with members of all parties at Westminster.

Goronwy Roberts was one of the most prominent leaders of the Parliament for Wales campaign of the early 1950s and was indeed personally responsible for presenting the petition bearing more than 250,000 signatures to parliament in May 1956. He was the chairman of the House of Commons panel of chairmen in 1963-1964. When the embryonic Welsh Office was established in 1964, he was appointed one of the first ministers of state, and worked in close harmony with James Griffiths and Harold Finch until 1966. Although he displayed an unfailing loyalty to his native land, he showed no sympathy for Welsh nationalism. It was his thankless fate to serve at a period of rift within the Labour Party and in the fortunes of Wales.

Subsequently Goronwy Roberts also served at the Department of Education and Science, 1966-1967, the Foreign and Colonial Office, 1967-1969, and the Board of Trade, 1969-1970. He was an innate negotiator, enormously efficient, placing great emphasis on reason and compromise. In 1968 Goronwy Roberts was made a Privy Councillor and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 1972 he was chosen a Freeman of the Royal Borough of Caernarfon.

Following his defeat at Caernarfonshire in February 1974, Goronwy Roberts was immediately awarded a peerage by Sir Harold Wilson (he became Baron Goronwy-Roberts of Caernarvon and of Ogwen in the county of Caernarvon) and served with some distinction at the Foreign Office under George Brown during the Wilson and Callaghan governments and travelled very extensively abroad. He was also Deputy Leader of the House of Lords from 1975 until 1979. In the latter year he was acutely unnerved by the outcome of the March referendum on Welsh devolution.

A highly sensitive, scholarly man, throughout his life Goronwy Roberts published and broadcast extensively on current affairs and on political and literary matters, and he was an avid walker and lover of music. He was a member of the Court of Governors of the University of Wales, the National Museum of Wales and the Fabian Society. Having battled against increasing ill-health for a number of years, he died prematurely aged 67 in July 1981.

Archival history

The papers were acquired and retained by Goronwy Roberts during the course of his life, while a few items came into the possession of Lady Marian Goronwy-Roberts after her husband's death in July 1981. The papers had been examined and weeded by Lady Marian and members of her family. The archive was temporarily deposited at the Library of the University of Wales, Bangor, for the use of a research student (under the supervision of Professor Duncan Tanner) immediately prior to their transfer to NLW.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Lady Marian Goronwy-Roberts, Pwllheli, per Professor Duncan Tanner, School of History and Welsh History, University of Wales, Bangor, in February 2003.; 0200302280

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers comprise correspondence files, 1918-1982, among them general and political letters to Goronwy Roberts and constituency correspondence; subject files, 1913-1981, including papers concerning foreign affairs (some deriving from Goronwy Roberts's trips abroad), domestic politics, Welsh politics and matters relating to Wales, and files of material concerning Caernarfonshire; various personalia, 1918-1982; and miscellaneous papers, 1900-1997, including printed items and press cuttings.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All the papers donated to NLW have been retained..


Additional papers are not expected.

System of arrangement

The papers arrived at NLW arranged in broad subject groups which have been retained as the basis of the present catalogue: political correspondence files; political subject files; personal papers; and accumulated papers (mainly printed and press cuttings).

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

Copyright in letters and papers written by Goronwy Roberts belongs to Lady Marian Goronwy-Roberts, Pwllheli, November 2003. Otherwise, usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Welsh

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of this list is available at NLW.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

A group of photographs and snapshots is in NLW, Special Collections (0200311486).

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds. Some of the papers post-dating Lord Goronwy-Roberts's death in 1981, included in this archive, were retained and preserved by his widow and children.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

September 2003.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by J. Graham Jones.

Archivist's note

Archivist's note

The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Who was who, 1897-1996, on CD-ROM; Western Mail, 24 July 1981; Liverpool Daily Post, 24 July 1981, Daily Telegraph, 24 July 1981; The Times, 24 July 1981; Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald, 31 July 1981.

Accession area