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Archive of Hardwicke Holderness


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The archive consists of the papers and correspondence of Hardwicke Holderness, lawyer and liberal politican in Southern Rhodesia and concerns the political situation between 1945-1958. It includes the establishment and work of the United Rhodesia Party; the Rhodesia National Affairs Association; the Interracial Association of Southern Rhodesia and the Select Committee on the Industrial Unions Bill of 1954. It also contains papers regarding the writing and reviews of Holderness' book Lost Chance: Southern Rhodesia, 1945-58 and some files formerly belonging to Charles Patrick Jameson Lewis regarding The Constitutional Council.


  • Creation: 1929-2009


6.62 Linear metres (40 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 5474/1]

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. 5474/1-24

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 5474, 6772, 6572


Personal papers of Hardwicke Holderness, lawyer and liberal politican, regarding Southern Rhodesian politics between 1945 and 1958.

Biographical / Historical

Hardwicke Holderness was born in 1915 in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He studied law at Rhodes University in South Africa and won a Rhodes Scholarship at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, where he spent two years. While at Oxford Holderness joined the University Air Squadron and trained as a pilot. At the outbreak of war he joined the RAF and served with great distinction as a pilot in both training and coastal command, being awarded the DSO, DFC and Airforce Cross, and becoming a wing commander. After the war he joined his father's firm of solicitors in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, and remained as senior partner until his retirement in 1975.

In 1954 Holderness was elected as an MP in the Southern Rhodesian parliament under Garfield Todd. Like Todd, Holderness felt strongly that Southern Rhodesia should not follow the South African policy of apartheid. Holderness served as an MP until 1958 when Todd was forced out of government, though Holderness continued to work for constitutional reform during the increasingly turbulent years that followed.

Holderness met his wife Elspeth in Scotland during the war but she was unable to secure a passage to join him in Southern Rhodesia until 1947; soon after her arrival they were married. They had two children and returned to England in 1975.

Holderness died in 2007.


The order of the material has been maintained as it was received when Holderness donated the papers in 1991.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the papers were donated by Hardwicke Holderness in January 1991 with additional material donated by his daughters in 2010 and 2012.

Catalogue of the Archive of Hardwicke Holderness
Finding aid prepared by Emma Atkinson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom