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Diaries with correspondence, cuttings etc, 1920-01 - 1930-12

Reference Code: GBR/0014/BULL 5

Scope and Contents

From the Fonds:

BULL 1 - 10 is made up of diaries kept faithfully by William (or Paul, as he was known to his family and close friends) Bull from 1878, when he was thirteen years old until some three weeks before his death in January 1931. The earlier diaries were illustrated and all the diaries are interleaved with letters, press cuttings, menus, theatre programmes and photographs relating to the events they describe. Twice yearly, in June and December, Bull compiled a 'Retrospect' of the past six months in which he reflected upon the development of his career in politics and in the law, on his own and his family’s characters and on matters that had occurred during that period. BULL 11 - 15 focus on William Bull's attempts to formulate his own family history. This includes volumes of research carried out at record offices, churches and around the country. This part of the collection was created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but many of the papers date back further than this, including deeds, wills, contracts and official church documents kept by Bull. Bull explored his family lineage on all sides to create a picture of his family back to the thirteenth century. This research means that this collection contains information from around the world, including New Zealand, Spain, Portugal and the United States of America. Within these papers, there is also information relating to Bull's time in Parliament and Hammersmith and Fulham. Bull traced the money his ancestors spent, who and where they visited, their jobs, pastimes and their distant relatives. His work is a wonderful display of family genealogy, he was able to collect items from their lives and a vast amount of information about them.

Bull’s interests were wide and varied and all are explored in the pages of his diaries. He was deeply immersed in every aspect of the life of the Borough of Hammersmith which he served as a Councillor on the London County Council and then as a Member of Parliament for thirty-seven years. Although never holding high parliamentary office himself, as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Walter Long when the latter was Chief Secretary for Ireland and then First Lord of the Admiralty, Bull was close to the sources of power and his diaries provide shrewd comment on major issues of the day, especially Irish affairs, and a fascinating source of political gossip.

While serving on the London County Council, Bull became Chairman of the Bridges Committee and saw the building of the Blackwall Tunnel to its completion. Characteristically, he also urged the case for the building of a Channel Tunnel. A perhaps less obvious cause supported by Bull was the movement to extend voting rights for women and the diaries contain interesting letters from a number of leading suffragettes thanking Bull for his help. As a young man, Bull volunteered to teach in the Bethnal Green Ragged School and throughout his life he was involved with philanthropic enterprises. His correspondence shows this same generosity in his personal relations.

The diaries have considerable interest for the light they throw upon public events but their unique charm lies in the vivid and detailed picture they present of social life within the family and local community from the last quarter of the nineteenth century until the First World War. In his 'Retrospect' of December 1917 Bull wrote, ‘‘I am getting oppressed with the size of this diary. Who will bother to read through it when I am gone? - & yet I cannot leave it off ...'.

Additional sections of the collection include Bull's pocket diaries kept throughout most of his business life and an early diary from his legal office, plus the diaries of Lady Bull from 1927 until well after her husband's death. The collection also contains private letters to Bull with flimsy copies of his replies. These cover the whole range of his affairs from local activities to parliamentary business though the preponderating interest is his legal practice and there are also very many letters soliciting his aid in finding jobs from which it is clear that he was generous with his time and efforts in this respect. There are also some early family letters mainly relating to business. The third component of the collection consists of notes, drafts, cuttings and anecdotes relating to Bull's long career in the House of Commons and to the working and history of Parliament, presumably collected by him with a view to writing his Parliamentary reminiscences.


  • Creation: 1920-01 - 1930-12


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.


26 file(s)

Language of Materials


Finding aid date

2005-10-04 11:55:40.920000+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087