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John Humphrey Plummer Foundation papers, 1887 - 2007

 Sub-Series — Container: Char.II.40
Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/Char.II.40

Scope and Contents

The records comprise minutes, accounts, correspondence, trustees' papers and administrative material, particularly relating to the governance of the John Humphrey Plummer Foundation in the 1980s and 1990s. There is also some earlier material relating to Plummer's properties and the establishment of the trust.


  • 1887 - 2007

Conditions Governing Access

The University Archives are generally freely available to the holder of a reader's ticket for the Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. Restrictions on access are imposed on certain categories of sensitive record: financial, governmental and personal, by order of the originating body or under data protection legislation. Access information, including opening hours and how to obtain a reader's ticket, appears as part of the Library's web site (

Biographical / Historical

In 1929, the University accepted a bequest under the will of John Humphrey Plummer (1850-1928) for the promotion of education in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physical Science or allied subjects with a view to providing professorships of an annual stipend of £1200. Plummer was an estate agent and property developer in Southport, Merseyside, particularly involved in the development of Lord Street and the Leyland Arcade, with no known connection to the University of Cambridge. To implement Plummer's bequest, his executors sought the guidance of the Chancery Court (of the County Palatine of Lancaster) in 1931 to approve a scheme for the operation of a trust. Under the scheme, four trustees were appointed, two typically from within the University, to oversee the administration of the John Humphrey Plummer Foundation. Plummer’s residuary estate consisted of freehold and leasehold properties, mostly in Southport. By 1969, all of Plummer’s properties had been sold with the proceeds invested. The number and subject of professorships was agreed between the University and the trustees. In the event of a vacancy, a professorship could continue or a completely new professorship could be established. John Humphrey Plummer Professorships have included Mathematical Physics, Applied Numerical Analysis, Colloidal Science, Theoretical Chemistry, Physics, Biophysics and Cell Biology, supporting the work of Sir Eric K. Rideal, Sir John E. Lennard-Jones, Sir Ralph Howard Fowler, Christopher Longuet-Higgins, Sir Brian Pippard, Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir Samuel Edwards among others. In 2007, under the aegis of the Charity Commission, the University assumed the role of sole trustee. The existing trustees retired and all reserves were transferred to the University.


3 linear metre(s) (3 metres)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were transferred to the University Archives by Dr David Livesey of Emmanuel College, a former trustee of the John Humphrey Plummer Foundation, in February 2017.

Related Materials

For related material among the University Archives see the following. Among the records of University endowments, see correspondence and minutes of Plummer Committee of the Council of Senate, 1929-30, and Foundation papers, 1995 (catalogued as UA Endow.II.55-6). Among the records of the General Board, see papers relating to Plummer Trustees, 1921-79 (catalogued as UA GB 501 Box 667A-74), papers relating to J.H. Plummer Professorships, 1938-58, and Plummer trustees' letters, 1962-3 (catalogued as UA GB 730 Box 879) and papers relating to Plummer Professorships, 1931-95 (catalogued as UA GB 730.138 Box 1436). Among the records of the University Registry subject files, see John Humphrey Plummer Professorship of Theoretical Chemistry (catalogued as UA R2859/ /1952 Box 293). Among the records of the Council of the School of Physical Sciences, see papers relating to the John Humphrey Plummer Professorship, 1967-87 (catalogued as UA CSPS 13/1-2, 5).


Initial sorting was completed in September 2017; the online catalogue was completed in August 2018.


John Humphrey Plummer Foundation

Finding aid date

2018-07-27 15:49:36+00:00


Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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