The collection holds three large archives of British political papers and a number of smaller collections and single manuscripts covering the period from the late Middle Ages to the early twentieth century. Some of these materials are copies of official documents and others are private papers, and there are a number of interesting eighteenth-century collectanea containing material from earlier periods.
The papers of Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge of Lahore (1785-1856) include correspondence, documents, memoranda and reports (1803-1856) documenting his activities as clerk of ordnance, Secretary of War, Irish Secretary, Governor-General of India and Commander-in-Chief in succession to the Duke of Wellington. There is information on the defence of the colonies including Canada and on the Carlist wars in Spain. There is a small collection of the papers of the Duke of Wellington that complements the Hardinge papers. For the nineteenth century there are also a number of ships' logs, travel journals including that of James Dennison recording the mission of Lord Amherst to China in 1816-1817), campaign journals and diaries including that of Captain Johnstone recording events in Ceylon in 1803 and 1804. There is also some material relating to the Napoleonic wars and serves to complement the Napoleon Collection.
Twentieth-century material includes two important political archives. The papers of Noel Edward Buxton, 1st Baron Noel-Buxton (1869-1948), a Liberal and later Labour politician, include correspondence, documents, memoranda and notes on various topics such as the Balkans, slavery, colonialism and international peace (c. 1900-1947).
For a description see Robert Vogel, "Noel Buxton: The 'Trouble-Maker' and His Papers" Fontanus vol III (1990), 131-150.
The papers of the Conservative politician Carlyon Wilfroy Bellairs (1871-1955) reflect his interest in naval and defence matters, and his involvement in the Beresford-Fisher controversy about the reform of the Royal Navy in the years before the 1st World War. Bellairs was associated with the New Party of Sir Oswald Mosley in the 1930s. Other modern material includes a series of letters (1900-1921) written by Henry Mayers Hyndman (1842-1921) to Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson on international socialist politics.