[ Andrew Bonar Law, Prime Minister ] Collection of family papers, c. 1890-1930

Andrew Bonar Law, Prime Minister
Publication details: 
C. 1890-1930
SKU: 22189

A collection of material preserved by his Family relating to Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923), Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1922-1923, born in Canada of Scottish and Ulster Scots descent, for whom see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Includes family photographs, correspondence addressed to his daughter Lady Sykes, upwards of a thousand newspaper cuttings, mostly dating from between 1922 and 1924, and including a large number of obituaries and assessments; a substantial collection, providing a mass of information about a relatively unknown figure within the pantheon of British Prime Ministers, and the only one, apart from Boris Johnson, to be born outside the United Kingdom.In good overall condition, lightly aged, with only a few items worn or damaged.The following description is divided into thirteen parts.ONE: Sepia photograph of BL aged 22, cut into a crude circle roughly 6 cm in diameter. In poor condition, with closed tears. A newspaper cutting (at the start of the album in Item Three below) reproduces this actual photograph (identifiable from the tears), enlarged to 18.5 x 13 cm, with the following caption: 'This photograph of him at 22 is the only one in existence of Mr. Bonar Law as a young man. It had been thrown aside and damaged, but was recently found by his sister, Miss Law, who treasures it in a small silver frame.'TWO: Three photographs seemingly taken of BL during his youth. First, 15 x 10 cm, is a sepia image of a boy in a sailor suit, peering out from behind a wooden ivy-clad door. Laid down on a piece of card, on the reverse of which is a presentation inscription, in a shaky hand, from BL to his daughter Isabel Harrington Law: 'I. H. Law from [signature] A B Law who is now 108 was 10'. Second, 11 x 7 cm studio portrait of [the same?] boy in a sailor suit, laid down on card with printed name of studio, W. D. Brown & Co, Helensburgh. Third, 9 x 6 cm faded portrait of the same boy in late adolescence, laid down on card mount of the studio of the Shrewsbury photographer R. L. Bartlett.THREE: Upwards of a thousand cuttings relating to BL from London and provincial newspapers, most of them laid down on the 338 folio pages of a substantial thumb-indexed ledger, half-bound in brown buckram with brown marbled covers, dimensions 39 x 23 x 6 cm, with the period of the cuttings within it stated on the spine as 'October 1922 to October 1924'. A valuable work of reference, indicating BL's popularity as 'A Man of the People' (Daily Mirror, 8 November 1922). (See also the Observer obituary, 20 May 1923, titled: '"Bonar" | Public Sympathy and Affection. | The Human Touch. | A Character Sketch. | The New Crisis and After. | A Doubtful Interval. | Who Would Succeed?') Also a useful compendium of political iconography, with its many photographs, drawings, cartoons and caricatures of BL. The last 150pp of the volume carry cuttings from after BL's death, including obituaries, appreciations and assessments. The remainder of the cuttings, dating from between 1906 and 1932, are loose, some with printed leaf of a press agency employed to collect them, The General Press Cutting Association Ltd, London. A handful of the cuttings, including obituary notices, are from French newspapers. There is also a proof of a long letter from Richard Law to the Spectator, headed 'Proof to Richard Law, House of Commons, S.W.1 and five pulls to me. - D. H. V.'FOUR: ITEM: Twelve family photographs, ranging in size from 6 x 8 cm to 15 x 10.5 cm. The earliest dated photograph shows a tennis match, and is captioned 'Garden from the House. P. L. 1890?' and in pencil in a later hand: 'Pembroke Lodge ABL's home in London ("in the suburbs" - Curzon)'. Subjects include family groups indoors and out, BL in military uniform, nurses holding babies. One photograph of three women endorsed: 'This is jolly rotter but is an [altero pt] at La-La-Law | June 1911'. Three images from photographic studios: woman with baby (c.1910?) by Stuart, 120 Buchanan St, Glasgow; with late-Victorian portrait of a lady (BL's wife?) by Davidson, 'Late Operator to T. A. Moryson'; and late-Victorian portrait of two young men, endorsed 'Blatherwick | Hamilton', also by Stuart (but from his Helensburgh office).FIVE: Archibald Fleming (1883-1953), author and later Bishop of the Arctic, who officiated at the marriage of BL's daughter to Sir Frederick Sykes: ALS from Fleming to BL's daughter Lady Sykes. On letterhead of 12 Beaufort Gardens, SW3 [London]; 20 May 1923. 2pp, 4to. Learning of BL's failing health, Fleming had been 'longing every hour to come to you & tell you of all I feel for and with you all: but it seemed that it might be selfish & an intrusion, so I have stayed away'. He reports that there has been 'a prayer for [BL] in Church this morning', and asks her to tell BL 'of my loving thought': 'He little knows with what a depth of feeling the prayers & devotions of a whole Empire encircles him just now'. SIX: Photograph of BL at home, cradling his crying infant grandson. 15 x 10 cm, mounted on grey card.SEVEN: Sir Archibald Craig (1855-1927), Chairman of the Glasgow Unionist Association: four letters - two in autograph and two typed - from Craig to BL's daughter Lady Sykes. The fourth letter is endorsed with a note stating that Craig was BL's 'Chairman I think in [BL's parliamentary constituency] Glasgow central '. All four letters 1p, 4to. The first, 11 May 1920, an ALS to 'Miss Law', explaining that 'the Central Unionist Assn. are moved to curiosity to know, - at least approximately, - the date of your marriage. Never mind asking why'. The other three letters all from 1923 and addressed to 'Lady Sykes'. The second, 12 January 1923, a TLS enclosing a 'print of the "Flash" photo taken in the Ante-room of St. Andrews Halls on 22nd ult., immediately after your Father's arrival', which 'may give you a moments interest'. The third, 21 May 1923, an ALS, sending his 'heartfelt sympathy in the illness of your dear Father, which has resulted in his resignation of Office […] it fills us here, - who have been so long and so intimately associated with him, and whose pride it was to work for him, - with grief and sorrow'. The fourth, 15 June 1923, a TLS, stating that he would have liked to have seen her and her husband Sir Frederick Sykes, when he was in London, but that he 'could not think of troubling you with a call amid the anxieties which your dear Father's illness gives you'. He also states that he and 'Mr Stewart' were delighted with their 'visit to 24 Onslow Gardens', and that they 'thought Mr Bonar Law going on well. His voice was perfectly good for a bedside conversation, indeed one would not have remarked anything about the voice. We gave him a little of the "clash of the countryside" just for the sake of variety.'EIGHT: Four press photographs of BL, each captioned and stamped on the reverse. The largest (25 x 20 cm), in sepia, dated 1914, 'Unionist leader in the house of Commons'; the other three all 21 x 16 cm: first, 'New and exclusive photo of The Prime Minister', 1920; second, 'The New Premier at Home', [1920]; third, 'The Prime Minister outside Historic No 10 Downing Street', 1922.NINE: Telegram of congratulations (on her forthcoming marriage) from Helensburgh to BL's daughter 'Miss Isabel Law 11 Downing St. London', May 1920.TEN: Two items relating to marriage of BL's daughter to Sir Frederick Sykes. First, the printed marriage service from St Columbia's, the Church of Scotland church in London, 3 June 1920. Second, undated duplicated typed notice on letterhead of 11 Downing Street, stating that the wedding will 'take place quietly', performed by 'Rev. Archibald Fleming, D.D.', and that 'There will be no invitations.' ELEVEN: Manuscript extract from prayer (by Archibald Fleming?) for BL in his final illness, on letterhead of St Columbia's, 20 May 1923. Describing BL as 'one of our own number, called to be the Chief Counsellor of the King, who is presently afflicted with illness'.TWELVE: ALS to BL ('My dear Bonar') from a relative ('Your affectionate [?] | S M Law'). 11 Ashlin Gardens | Friday morning'. Congratulating him on his 'happiness' in becoming engaged to 'the young Girl of your choice', and thanking him for 'the kind things you say resecting the girls and me and for all your [?], unselfish interest'.THIRTEEN: Copies of two Fleet Street newspapers reporting BL's death, both with front-pages covered with photographs of him. Both dating from 31 October 1923. One is the Daily Mirror ('Peaceful Death of Mr. Bonar Law'), the other the Daily Sketch ('Death of Mr. Bonar Law: "He died for Duty"'). The latter carries, above the masthead, 'The King's Tribute to Bonar Law': '"A wise counsellor, a steadfast friend"'.