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Interviews with Malcolm John MacDonald


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Tapes and transcripts of interviews conducted by Dame Margery Perham, Sir Kenneth Bradley, Ivan Lloyd Phillips and Curtis Nordman, 1970-1974, relating to service as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and for the Colonies, 1935-1940, and later in Kenya and Malaya.


  • Creation: 1970-1974


8 Files

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Brit. Emp. 533].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Brit. Emp. 533

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 3041

Biographical / Historical

Malcolm John MacDonald (1901-1981), politician, diplomat and writer, became a member of the London County Council, 1927-1930, and Labour MP for Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, 1929-1935 and for Ross and Cromarty, 1936-1945. In 1931, as one of a small group of National Labour Party MPs, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Dominions Office. Between 1935 and 1940, he was a cabinet minister, holding one or both of the offices of Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and Secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1940 he was appointed Minister of Health, and in 1941 Britain's High Commissioner to Canada. In 1946 he took the post of Governor-General of the Malayan Union and Singapore; later that year, British Borneo was added to his remit. He was appointed U.K. Commissioner General for South East Asia from 1948, then High Commissioner in India, 1955-1960. He was called out of semi-retirement to serve as co-chairman and leader of the British delegation at the international conference on Laos in Geneva, 1961-1962. In 1963, he was given the post of Britain's last Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Kenya. He remained as Governor-General, 1963-1964, and returned after the country's independence as High Commissioner, 1964-1965. From 1967 to 1969, he was employed as a special representative of the British government in Africa.

After his formal retirement, he became president of the Royal Commonmwealth Society from 1971, the Great Britain-China Centre from 1972, the Federation of Commonwealth Chambers of Commerce from 1971, of V.S.O. from 1975, of the Carribean Youth Development Trust from 1977, and of the Britain-Burma Society from 1980. Awarded the Order of Merit in 1969, he was Rhodes trustee, 1948-1957, Chancellor of the University of Malaya, 1949-1961, visitor for the University College of Kenya, [1963-1964], and a senior research fellow at the University of Sussex, [1971-1973]. In December 1946 he married Audrey Marjorie Rowley (a Canadian war widow with two children from her first marriage), with whom he had a daughter.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 594 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

Related Materials

Typed copies of Colonial Office circulars on the treatment accorded to consular officers and diplomatic missions in colonial dependencies, 1939, and a revised procedure on the reporting of colonial legislation, 1939 (ref. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 289). The papers of Malcolm John MacDonald are held in the archives of Durham University. An extensive collection of photographs by and relating to MacDonald is held at the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society, housed at Cambridge University Library.

Interviews with Malcolm John MacDonald
Paul Davidson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom