Scope and Contents
- 1883 - 1994
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
Initially McKenna followed a legal career, being called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1887, and practising as a lawyer until his election to Parliament. He had unsuccessfully contested Clapham for the Liberal Party in 1892, then succeeded in becoming MP for North Monmouthshire in 1895, a seat which he was to hold for the rest of his political career, until 1918.
After ten years on the backbenches, where he took a particular interest in tariffs and Welsh affairs, McKenna became Financial Secretary to the Treasury in December 1905. His next post was as President of Board of Education, from January 1907, before becoming First Lord of the Admiralty in April 1908. At the Admiralty, McKenna worked closely with Sir John Fisher, the 1st Sea Lord, supporting him in his difficulties with Admiral Lord Charles Beresford and expanding the naval construction programme, but he was moved to the Home Office in October 1911, following a series of disputes with his fellow ministers. He then became Chancellor of the Exchequer in May 1915, presiding over two successful budgets, but resigned when David Lloyd George became Prime Minister in December 1916. McKenna lost his seat at the next General Election of 1918. He was offered the Chancellorship again in 1922 when the Conservatives regained power, but refused to take up the position, doubting whether the party would win the next Election, and although he accepted a similar offer in 1923, he was then unable to find a safe seat.
McKenna had become a director of Midland Bank Limited in 1917 and following the end of his political career, became chairman of the bank, from 1919 until the end of his life. He died in London on 6 September 1943 and was buried at Mells, Somerset, and this was followed two months later by the death of Pamela McKenna. His publications include "Post-War Banking Policy" (1928).
52 archive box(es)
Language of Materials
The most important part of McKenna's political career was confined to the nine years between April 1908, when he became First Lord of the Admiralty, and December 1916 when he resigned the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. These papers are only complete for the four years when he was First Lord, while including some papers from his time at the Board of Education, Home Office and Treasury. Many of the papers listed here seem to have been preserved at the request of Mrs. McKenna and, at the time of the initial deposit in 1966, it seemed unlikely that any other papers had survived.
The first deposit of McKenna’s papers was arranged in three main groups: Personal (MCKN 1) Public (MCKN 2 - 5) General (MCKN 6 - 7) Because the private correspondence of Admiral Lord Fisher with Mr. and Mrs. McKenna covers the entire period and a wide range of subjects, it was placed in the general group instead of the Admiralty papers. Otherwise the arrangement was chronological.
The second deposit of McKenna’s papers was very much larger than the first. These papers had been retained for many years by the historian Dr Martin Farr while he was working on a biography of McKenna, and it was difficult to see much original order remaining, particularly among the correspondence, much of which had to be reordered along chronological lines, with the exception of files of letters from particular individuals, such as Herbert Asquith. Some papers could be added to existing series, while new series were required for the correspondence, election material, photographs and Pamela McKenna’s journals, as MCKN 8-12. At the same time as these new papers were catalogued, the first deposit of the McKenna Papers was also given a more detailed listing.
Additions to existing series were made as follows: MCKN 1, Personal papers: files 1/4 - 1/27. MCKN 2, Education Board: file 2/2. MCKN 3, Admiralty: files 3/28 - 3/36. MCKN 4, Home Office: files 4/6 - 4/7. MCKN 5, Exchequer: files 5/11 - 5/14. MCKN 7, Later career: files 7/5 - 7/18.
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- 2005-09-28 10:53:15.013000+00:00
- Language of description
- Script of description