Skip to main content

Archive of Archibald Clark Kerr, Baron Inverchapel

 Collection

  • How to
    request
The archive comprises material relating to Archibald Clark Kerr's career as a diplomat from 1906 to 1948/49, as well as his personal papers and correspondence from 1885 to 1950, and family papers and correspondence, mainly from the 1850s to the 1920s.

Dates

  • 1850-1993

Extent

21.75 Linear metres (146 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

English, with use of German, French, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Chinese, Greek

Conditions Governing Access

Material of a sensitive personal nature is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 12101/1].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 12101/1-141; MSS. 12101 Photogr. 1-5

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12101

Overview

Archive of Archibald Clark Kerr, Baron Inverchapel (1882-1951), British diplomat, with some family papers.

Biographical / Historical

Archibald John Kerr Clark was born 17 March 1882 near Sydney, Australia, the son of John Kerr Clark (1838-1910), a sheep station owner originally from Lanarkshire, Scotland, and his wife Kate Louisa (1846-1926), daughter of Sir John Robertson, prime minister of New South Wales. In 1889, the family moved to England, though John Kerr Clark later returned to Australia.

Kerr Clark was educated at Bath College, and in France, Germany, Italy and Spain where he travelled and studied languages. In March 1906 he passed the entrance examination for the diplomatic service and started working at the Foreign Office in London. After adopting Kerr as an additional surname in 1911, he became known as Archibald (or Archie, to his friends and colleagues) Clark Kerr.

During his long career as a diplomat, he was posted to countries around the world as follows:
  1. November 1906 - posted to Berlin as Attaché, promoted Third Secretary in October 1908
  2. April 1910 - posted to Buenos Aires
  3. March 1911 - posted to Washington, serving as British secretary of the British and American claims arbitration tribunal
  4. June 1913 - posted to Rome, promoted Second Secretary in February 1914
  5. December 1914 - posted to Tehran, serving as secretary in charge of commercial matters
  6. November 1916 - returned to Foreign Office
  7. (June to November - 1918 served in the Scots Guards)
  8. September 1919 - promoted First Secretary and posted to Tangier
  9. February 1922 - posted to Cairo, serving as deputy to High Commissioner Lord Allenby, promoted acting Counsellor in November 1923
  10. December 1925 - posted to Guatemala, serving as Minister of the United Kingdom to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador
  11. February 1928 - posted to Santiago de Chile, serving as Minister of the United Kingdom to Chile
  12. April 1931 - posted to Stockholm, serving as Minister to the United Kingdom to Sweden
  13. March 1935 - posted to Baghdad as Ambassador to Iraq
  14. February 1938 - posted Peking as Ambassador to China
  15. February 1942 - posted to Moscow as Ambassador to the Soviet Union
  16. May 1946 - posted to Washington as Ambassador to the United States of America
In March 1948, Clark Kerr retired from the diplomatic service, but was almost immediately appointed to the new committee on European unity, for which he worked until 1949. He died at Greenock 5 July 1951, and was buried at Inverchapel.

In his personal life, Clark Kerr was very close to his mother, and close to his siblings, especially his sister Muriel. He married in 1929, whilst serving in Santiago de Chile, the young Chilean Maria Teresa (‘Tita’) Diaz Salas (1908?-1987). The relationship was complicated, and Tita left her husband during the difficult years of his embassy to China. The couple divorced in 1945, but remarried in 1947, when Clark Kerr had moved on the more salubrious post in Washington. The couple had no children. Clark Kerr enjoyed close friendships with some of his colleagues, among them Harold Nicolson and Gerald Villiers. In the years before the First World War, he was a confidant of the German Kaiser’s sister, Sophie Duchess of Sparta (later Queen Consort of Constantine I of Greece), and a disappointed suitor of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later Queen Consort of George VI and Queen Mother) before her marriage.

Honours and memberships: In 1935, Clark Kerr was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, and in 1942, he was promoted Knight Grand Cross. He was sworn of the Privy Council in January 1944, and was elevated to the peerage in April 1946 as Baron Inverchapel of Loch Eck.

For ease of description, the name Archibald Clark Kerr is used throughout this catalogue.

cf. 'Kerr, Archibald John Kerr Clark, Baron Inverchapel (1881-1951)', in: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The general and professional correspondence and papers, along with selected personal correspondence and papers, were deposited with the Bodleian Library by Sir William Lewthwaite and his wife Lois, nee Kerr Clark (Archibald Clark Kerr’s niece), between 1978 and 1982, and listed as Dep. Inverchapel 1-94. The bulk of the personal correspondence and papers, and the family correspondence and papers, were deposited by the Lewthwaites’ daughter Kate Hall in 2001 as Inverchapel Adds. 1-49, and made a gift to the Bodleian Library in 2003.

Related Materials

  1. The working papers of Donald Gillies, Clark Kerr's biographer, are at the Bodleian Library, MSS. Eng. c. 6721-6728.
  2. Letters by Clark Kerr to Lord Bryce, 1914-19, and to Lady Bryce, 1922, are at the Bodleian Library, MS. Bryce 50, fols. 141-57; MS. Bryce 205, fol. 99; MS. Bryce 472, fol. 158.
  3. Correspondence between Clark Kerr and Stephen Spender, 1943-1944, is at the Bodleian Library, MS. Spender 43.
Title
Catalogue of the Archive of Archibald Clark Kerr, Baron Inverchapel
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Svenja Kunze
Date
2018
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Contact:
Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom