Archive Collection CPT - Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive


  • 1761 - 1965, bulk 1870-1960 (Creation)

Level of description

Archive Collection

Extent and medium

30 linear meters: 252 boxes 43 volumes personal papers

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Mary Katharine Bell was born in Kirkleatham on 12 October 1881, to Sir Thomas Hugh Bell, second baronet and iron master, and his second wife, Lady Florence Eveleen Eleanor Bell (née Olliffe), author and social investigator. She was the youngest of their three children, and was the stepsister of the traveller, writer and political figure Gertrude Bell, and the granddaughter of Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, first baronet, steel manufacturer and MP. Mary, known as Molly to close friends and family, studied briefly at Queen's College before she began a relationship with Liberal MP Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, third baronet (1870-1958). After their marriage in January 1904, Mary became a successful political hostess at their home in London, arranging dinners and parties for political friends and associates. Around this time, Mary became president of the Northumberland Women's Liberal Federation (WLF), and became a popular speaker around the country. She favoured women's suffrage, an issue which deeply divided the WLF, but disliked the militancy associated with the movement. Mary actively aided her husband in his work, translating German material on land reform, and campaigning in his favour at each election, including that of 1918 in which he was attacked for his opposition of the First World War.

After Charles inherited the Trevelyan ancestral home of Wallington Hall, Northumberland, in 1928, the pair devoted much of their lives to the estate and the village of Cambo, becoming invested in the welfare of their tenants and establishing a pension plan for local schoolchildren. Mary was active in many local, national and international groups including the Workers' Educational Association and the Federation of Women's Institutes, as well as founding local branches of the Girl Guides, the Women's Institute and the Band of Hope. She served on the national executive of the National Federation of Women's Institutes, played a leading role in the Folk Dance and Northumbrian Pipers societies, and played a key role in the establishment of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England in 1926, becoming a representative and founding committee member. In 1963, she was awarded with an OBE for her years of public service to politics and various good causes. Mary died at St Catherine's Nursing Home in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 8 October 1966, and her ashes were scattered on moorland near Winter's Gibbet on the Wallington estate.

In addition to estate work she was a JP and was active with numerous local, national, and international organizations, such as the Workers' Educational Association and the Association of Country Women of the World. She founded branches of the Girl Guides and the Women's Institute in Cambo, and served on the national executive of the National Federation of Women's Institutes for many years. In keeping with her temperance principles she also founded in Cambo a Band of Hope, which local children were pledged to join at a young age. She also played a leading role in the Folk Dance and Northumbrian Pipers societies, and made music an important feature of her family's life. Singing songs, accompanied by Molly on the piano, was a regular part of their domestic routine, and she and Charles also delighted their children, among them George Lowthian Trevelyan, by regularly reading to them from a diverse selection of classic literature. Such activities took the place of attending church on Sundays, for while Molly was Unitarian, Charles was agnostic. In appearance her clothes, hairstyle, and pince-nez gave her a Victorian air, and one contemporary described her as attractive in a 'no nonsense' sort of way. Her decades of public service, to politics and various other good causes, were recognized with an OBE in 1963, shortly before her death at St Catherine's Nursing Home, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 8 October 1966. Her ashes were scattered on moorland near Winter's Gibbet on the Wallington estate.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Charles Philips Trevelyan (1870-1958) was the first son of George Otto Trevelyan and Caroline Lady Trevelyan of Wallington Hall, Northumberland. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College Cambridge, Charles' political career began with a role as Private Secretary to Lord Houghton at Dublin Castle. However he did not enjoy the work and returned to England in 1893. After his return to England, he ran an unsuccessful campaign as Liberal candidate for North Lambeth. While standing as Liberal candidate for Elland in North Yorkshire, Charles travelled through North America, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand with Beatrice and Sidney Webb. On his return to England in 1899 he won a by-election, becoming the representative of Elland. In 1908 he was also made Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education.
In 1904 Charles married Mary Katharine Trevelyan nee Bell (1881-1966) [Molly], daughter of Hugh and Florence Bell, and half-sister of the archaeologist and explorer Gertrude Bell. The pair had seven children together, six of whom survived to adulthood. The early years of their marriage were split between Cambo House on the Wallington Estate in Northumberland, and 14 Great College Street in Westminster.
When Britain declared war with Germany in 1914, Charles resigned his position in the government in protest – a move which attracted much criticism from his peers, the press and the public. Alongside others who disagreed with the conflict, Charles helped to establish the Union of Democratic Control (UDC) – a political group who publicly criticized the activities of the British government during World War I and advocated a peaceful resolution. As an active member, Charles promoted the UDC and its activities extensively, publishing articles and pamphlets, and giving talks around the country.
During his involvement with the UDC, Charles came into contact with many figures of the growing Labour Party. In 1918 Charles announced that his political sympathies were more aligned with Labour than the Liberals. Following Armistice with Germany that same year, Charles ran as a member of the Independent Labour Party for Elland. He lost his constituency of 18 years to a Conservative candidate, as part of the landslide Conservative coalition victory.
In 1921 Charles articulated his transition between parties in a short publication entitled From Liberalism to Labour. The following year he stood as Labour candidate for Newcastle Central and won. In the first Labour government of 1924, Charles was made President of the Board of Education, however his impact was limited by the short duration the government served. When Labour were re-elected to government in 1929, Charles was given the same role. However, he resigned after becoming frustrated with the government's reluctance to pass radical policy, in particular his bill to raise the school leaving age. Later that year Charles lost his seat at Newcastle to a Conservative candidate.
Following these disappointments Charles announced his retirement from politics. His parents' recent deaths had resulted in the family moving into Wallington Hall and taking on the management of the large estate. This gave Charles the opportunity to put into practice some of his socialist ideals, including the introduction of child benefit payments to tenant families and the establishment of pensions. In 1936 Charles announced he would bequeath the Wallington Estate to the National Trust. This became reality on his death in 1958.
Charles' wife Mary supported Charles' political career throughout her life, assisting with campaigning, hosting parties for political figures and in later years contributing to the running of the Wallington Estate. Early in their marriage she served as Chairman of the Northumberland Women's Liberal Foundation and she later became a Justice of the Peace. She also served on committees for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the National Trust, the National Federation of Women's Institute and the Association of Country Women of the World. She was awarded the OBE in 1963.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The bulk of this archive was deposited at Newcastle University on loan in 1967 by Charles and Mary's family, along with three further Trevelyan family archives - the Trevelyan (George Otto) Archive (GOT), the Trevelyan (Charles Edwards) Archive (CET) and the Trevelyan (Walter Calverley) Archive (WCT). Further items were added as smaller deposits in subsequent years, notably the family albums in 2014.
The Trevelyan family kindly gifted the archives to Newcastle University Special Collections in 2012.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This archive includes content accumulated and created by both Charles and Mary, and other family members. It reflects the family's personal activities from Charles' childhood in the 1870s to Mary's death in 1966, but also includes some content from Charles' professional life. It can support research into a broad variety of areas, including political history (particularly the Liberal and Labour parties, socialism and international relations), World War I (particularly dissent and the peace movement), childhood and education (from both a personal and political perspective), domesticity, class and landed estates.
This extensive personal archive is mostly comprised of correspondence. This includes: Correspondence to Charles in his role as MP Correspondence to and from Charles relating to the operation of the Union of Democratic Control Correspondence to and from Charles relating to his positions in government Correspondence relating to the management of the Wallington estate and the donation to the National Trust Correspondence between members of the Trevelyan and Bell families, much of which is domestic in tone Correspondence to and from Charles and Mary's children from their early childhood to adulthood Correspondence from visits abroad including North America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Russia and Germany The correspondents include family members such as Charles' brothers George Macaulay Trevelyan and Robert Calverley Trevelyan, Mary's sister and brother in law Elsa Richmond and Admiral Sir Herbert William Richmond. Other correspondents include Sir Winston Churchill, J Ramsay MacDonald, E D Morel, Arthur Ponsonby, Walter Runciman, Herbert Samuel, George Bernard Shaw and Jennie Lee.

Other documents include: Papers relating to Charles, Mary and their childrens' educations, including exam papers and school ephemera Personal Diaries, in particular a short run of Mary's personal diaries as a young woman Official political papers, including Cabinet Conclusions, draft bills[?] and copies of Hansard Pamphlets and leaflets written by and collected by Charles, many relating to socialism and the UDC Transcripts of speeches given by Charles and Mary in professional and personal capacities Personal notebooks with draft speeches and essays Family photograph albums and glass negatives, recording family events, daily life, and Charles' political career Press cuttings and scrapbooks relating to family events and Charles' career

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Some duplicates were removed from the collection during cataloguing in 2018. This included photocopies and typescript copies of content within the collection, photocopies of content from other collections held at Newcastle (in particular the Runciman (Walter) Archive), duplicates of press cuttings and election ephemera and leaflets already represented within the collection.
At the same time some late twentieth century publications which had been added to the collection were relocated from the archive into the Library's administrative files.


System of arrangement

This arrangement of this archive is an attempt to logically group together files which correspond to original bundles and gatherings created by the family prior to deposit. The original gatherings used inconsistent groupings including author, recipient, date and subject matter. This inconsistency has resulted in some related content appearing in different series (for example, depending on how Mary grouped the items, letters from her sister Elsa may appear in CPT/2/6 - Letters to Mary from Herbert Richmond and Elsa Richmond nee Bell, or CPT/2/3 - Letters to Mary from various correspondents, or CPT/2/4 - Letters to Mary grouped by subject or author).
This archive brings together as a whole four previously separate sections - CPT (originally listed in 1973) CPT Ex (originally listed in 1986), the family photograph albums (CPT/PA) and previously uncatalogued content which had been referred to as the 'Trevelyan Family Letters' (TFL). Where files or items had former references, these have been included to ensure content accessed and referenced in the past remains accessible.
The archive series are as follows: CPT/1 - Charles Philips Trevelyan's correspondence and papers CPT/2 - Mary Katharine Trevelyan nee Bell [Molly]'s correspondence and papers CPT/3 - Letters between Charles Philips and Mary Katharine Trevelyan nee Bell [Molly] CPT/4 - Correspondence and papers relating to Charles Philips and Mary Katharine Trevelyan's children CPT/5 - Trevelyan and Philips family correspondence and papers CPT/6 - Bell and Richmond family correspondence and papers CPT/PA - Family photograph albums CPT/NEG - Glass plate negatives of the Trevelyans and Wallington

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open with some restrictions (researcher interview may be required)

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright within this collection which would have resided with the Trevelyan family was kindly gifted to Newcastle University along with the physical material in 2012. Other copyrights subsist within the collection and copying and reuse should only be undertaken with consent of the copyright holder.

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Latin

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Some of the content is in poor condition, especially the earlier family albums. In some instances this may result in the content being closed to general access. Where this is the case it is indicated within the catalogue.

Finding aids

Portions of this collection were catalogued in the 1960s and 70s. Reference numbers from these finding aids have been included in this catalogue as former references.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

This archive includes some materials which are copied from content held privately or at other archives. Where this is the case it has been indicated in the catalogue.

Existence and location of copies

A selection of digitised content from this archive is available on CollectionsCaptured

Related units of description

Related material at Newcastle University Special Collections includes: Bell (Gertrude) Archive (GB) Moorman (Mary) Archive (MM) Plowden (Lady Bridget) Archive (BP) Runciman (Walter) Archive (WR) Trevelyan (Charles Edwards) Archive (CET) Trevelyan (George Otto) Archive (GOT) Trevelyan (Walter Calverley) Archive (WCT) Related material elsewhere includes: The Bell of Rounton Grange Archive (ZFK), North Yorkshire County Record Office Material held at Wallington Hall (National Trust) Wallington National Trust Collection, Wallington Hall Wallington Estate Records (ZWN) Northumberland Archives, Woodhorn Museum Richmond, Sir Herbert William, Admiral, 1871-1946 (RIC), Royal Museums Greenwich Records of the Union of Democratic Control (U DDC), Hull History Centre

Related descriptions

Publication note

Morris, A. J. A. (1977) C. P. Trevelyan 1870-1958 Portrait of a Radical . Blackstaff Press Limited, Belfast Morris, A. J. A. (2008) Trevelyan, Sir Charles Philips, third Baronet in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Available at Sutherland, Duncan (2004) Trevelyan [née Bell], Mary Katharine [Molly], Lady Trevelyan in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Available at Trevelyan, Charles Philips (1921) From liberalism to labour . G. Allen & Unwin, London Trevelyan, Laura (2006) A very British family: the Trevelyans and their world . I. B. Taurus, London/New York Trevelyan, Mary Katharine (1963) The number of my days . Privately published, Cambo Northumberland

Notes area


Preferred citation: CPT, Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive, Newcastle University Library.


Further cataloguing is ongoing to list this archive to item level. Updates will be made to this catalogue as item level listings become available.

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