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Archive of Roger Mellor Makins, 1st Baron Sherfield, with papers of his father, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins, and other family papers


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The papers comprise: Papers of Henry Makins and his wife Keziah, 1706-1918; Papers of Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins and his wife Florence, 1871-1972; Papers of Geoffrey Makins, 1884-1915; Papers of Hugh Makins, 1887-1915; Papers of Roger Mellor Makins, 1st Baron Sherfield and his wife Alice, 1820-1996 (encompassing diaries 1914-95; family correspondence 1908-94; personal correspondence 1917-95; correspondence and papers relating to diplomatic and Civil Service appointments 1930-67, House of Lords 1961-94, business appointments 1961-94, academic appointments 1927-96, Anglo-American organisations 1959-94, miscellaneous organisations and interests 1924-96, personal and family affairs c.1915-1994; speeches, writings, menoirs and historical material 1924-96; memorabilia and printed papers 1820-1996; audiovisual material 1953-1980s); Papers of Geoffrey Ernest Makins, 1916-44.


  • Creation: 1706-1996


115.61 Linear metres (1051 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material in the archive is restricted. This is indicated in the catalogue.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Sherfield 455].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Sherfield 1-1051

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 11748


Correspondence and papers of Roger Mellor Makins, 1st Baron Sherfield (1904-96), with correspondence and papers of his father, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins MP (1869-1959), grandfather Henry Makins (1841-1914), and other family members, 1706-1996

Biographical / Historical

This substantial personal and family archive encompasses the papers of three generations of the Makins family, whose activities are well represented through diaries, correspondence and official papers, as well as an extensive photographic collection.

Henry Francis Makins (1841-1914) and his wife Keziah Elizabeth, née Hunt (1842-1918) are the earliest generation to be substantially represented in the papers. A Victorian gentleman descended from a Yorkshire banking family, Henry qualified as a barrister but appears not to have practised, deriving his income (according to oral tradition) from judicious investment. Keziah's diaries record their domestic life. 180 Queen's Gate, Kensington, was designed and built for Henry by Richard Norman Shaw 1883-5, and was to remain a family residence until 1960, shortly before it was demolished. Henry developed an interest in works of art and acquired an extensive collection: although (according to his grandson) not a consistently discerning collector, he purchased some extremely fine examples of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. These were augmented by later generations to create one of the foremost collections of these works in private hands.

Henry and Keziah's eldest son, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins (1869-1959), pursued an army career and later became a backbench Conservative MP. He served in the South African War 1899-1902, in India 1906-11, South Africa 1911-14, in France during World War 1 1914-18, and in Ireland 1918-19. Between 1931 and 1946 he was Colonel of his regiment, the Royal Dragoons. He married (Maria) Florence Mellor (1877-1972) in 1903. In 1918 Ernest sought to embark on a political career, standing unsuccessfully as a National Party candidate in the General Election. In the 1922 General Election he was returned as Conservative MP for Knutsford, retaining the seat until retirement in 1945. He commanded the Home Guard in the Palace of Westminster during World War 2. Ernest's meticulously-kept diaries form a detailed record of his career and domestic life.

The collection includes some papers of Ernest's two brothers, Geoffrey (1877-1915) and Hugh (1881-1915), both of whom also became army officers but lost their lives in France during World War 1. Geoffrey was among those besieged at Ladysmith during the South African War, and Ernest among the forces which relieved the town.

The bulk of the collection relates to Ernest's eldest son, Roger Mellor Makins, 1st Baron Sherfield (1904-96), who began his career in Diplomatic and Government Service at the Foreign Office in 1928. In 1934, at the end of the first of several tours in the United States, he married Alice Brooks Davis (1909-85), daughter of Dwight Filley Davis, US Secretary of War in the Coolidge administration, Governor of the Philippines, and founder of the Davis Cup tennis tournaments. During the Second World War Roger was posted to Algiers and Caserta as assistant to Harold Macmillan, then Resident Minister at Allied Headquarters, where Roger became closely involved in the setting up of a French Committee of National Liberation.

Towards the end of the war Roger returned to Washington as Minister in the Embassy. During this period and after his return to the United Kingdom in 1947 (as deputy Under-Secretary of State) he was a key figure in negotiations relating to atomic energy collaborations between the two countries. In 1953 he returned to the United States once again, this time as British Ambassador. During his three years' tenure he mediated in discussions relating to the Middle and Far East. Roger was recalled in 1956 (shortly before the outbreak of the Suez War) to take up the post of Joint Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, a most unusual move for a diplomat. In 1960 he became Chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, drawing on his earlier experience as a diplomat in this field.

On his retirement from Government Service in 1964, when he was granted a peerage, Roger pursued a varied business career and became involved in academic organisations and bodies concerned with Anglo-American relations. He also became increasingly active in the House of Lords, especially as chair of the Science and Technology Committee. He continued to cut a figure of astonishing energy at both work and leisure until almost the end of his life. His professional career and interests are well represented in his extensive papers.

Roger had two younger brothers: Guy Henry (1906-23), who died following a tragic shooting accident, and Geoffrey Ernest (1916-44). Geoffrey, like his father and uncles, became an army officer and served for much of World War 2 in the Middle East. He died from wounds received in France later in the war. There is a little material relating to Guy among his parents' papers, while Geofffrey's diaries and correspondence form a separate small series.


Material in each series is arranged chronologically unless otherwise stated.

Custodial History

The archive was housed at Lord Sherfield's home.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archive was allocated to the Bodleian Library in 2001 in lieu of tax.

Catalogue of the Sherfield Archive
Finding aid prepared by Michael J. Hughes
Language of description
Script of description
The catalogue was funded by a bequest from Lord Sherfield

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom