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MS 917

Reference code

MS 917


Cazalet family papers



Administrative / Biographical history

The Cazalet family originated in France, and as Huguenots emigrated to England in the 18th century.

Edward Cazalet (1827-1883) was the youngest of the seven children of Peter Clement Cazalet (1785), and joined and expanded the family business in St Petersburg in the early 19th century. In 1860 he married Elizabeth Sutherland Marshall (d.1888), and in 1872 purchased the estate at Fairlawne in Kent. They also had a house in Cimiez in Nice called Villa Liserb, which was often visited by Queen Victoria. Their son, William Marshall Cazalet (1865-1932), married Maud Lucia Heron-Maxwell (known as Molly, d.1952), and they had four children.

The eldest, Edward (1894-1916), was at Eton, and served as an officer in the Welsh Guards, falling at Fricourt in 1916.

The next son, Victor Alexander (1896-1943), was at Eton from 1909-1915, and served in the Household battalion of the 1st Life Guards from 1915-1918. He was on the staff of the supreme war council at Versailles, and after taking a degree in history at Oxford, went on to become a Conservative MP for Chippenham, a seat he held until his death. He did not live up to his early promise as a politician, and became estranged from Winston Churchill through his support for the government’s policy of appeasement, and the white paper on India. From the mid-1930s he became passionately concerned in the cause of Zionism, and later also with the cause of the free Polish government, becoming British liaison officer to the free Poles in July 1942. He was travelling with General Sigorski when their plane crashed in Gibraltar in 1943, killing both men.

Thelma Cazalet-Keir (1899-1989), their third child, was taught at home by governesses, but later attended lectures at the London School of Economics. She served as a member of the London County Council for seven years (1924-1931), unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat of East Islington at a by-election in 1931, but took the seat in the general election of the following year. In parliament she specialised in issues on education, and became chairman of the Equal Pay Campaign Committee in 1947. She lost her seat in the 1945 general election, and devoted her time to other public duties, serving as a member of the Arts Council, the Contemporary Art Society, and the Fawcett Society. In 1967 she published a short volume of memoirs, From the wings, ‘notable especially for its description of Lloyd George’ (ODNB).

Peter Victor Ferdinand (1907-1973) was their last son, who attended Eton, and served in the Second World War, first in the Royal Artillery, and then in the Welsh Guards. He inherited the house at Fairlawne in 1932, and became a jockey and racehorse trainer, and of the 1100 winners trained by Cazalet at Fairlawne, 250 carried the colours of Queen Elizabeth, the queen mother. He married twice, first to Leonora (d. 1944), daughter of Leonard Rowley and step-daughter of P.G. Wodehouse, and second to Zara Sophie Kathleen Mary Mainwaring.


18th century - late 20th century

Extent & medium

79 files, 8 boxes, c. 80 bound volumes

Content description

A substantial collection of letters, diaries, memoires, scrap books, photograph and cuttings albums and other memorabilia relating to the Cazalet family and their circle. It includes documents relating to the life of a wealthy family and its estate in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; accounts of involvement in both World Wars; cultural ephemera from the period leading into the First World War; correspondence by and relating to some of the central figures of twentieth-century British politics; the private papers of two members of Parliament; and a variety of family memoirs and memorabilia.


Arranged by the family in boxes, hanging files in three file cabinets, and albums. Within these, the documents are generally arranged by person, and then by subject. This arrangement has been maintained. Catalogues by the Cazalet family, giving some additional description, are at MS 917 04. Divided into three classes:

MS 791 01: Loose documents
MS 791 02: Boxes
MS 791 03: Volumes

Associated material

MS 786: Autograph notes and manuscript drafts of "The Girl in Blue" by P. G. Wodehouse, gift of Edward Cazalet in 1991

Conditions of access and use area

Thelma Cazalet’s papers dating from 1960 until her death were closed until 1 January 2019.

Finding aids

Catalogues by the Cazalet family, giving some additional description, are at MS 917 04.

Existence and location of originals

Some originals of letters, particularly by Winston Churchill, have been retained by the Cazalet family.
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