fonds UL5 - Records of Major David Graham Pole

Identity area

Reference code



Records of Major David Graham Pole


  • 1915-1941 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.06 cubic metres

3 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

David Graham Pole was born on 11 December 1877, the son of John Pole, a ship’s captain, and his wife Rossina Graham. His parents were part of the Church of Scotland and Pole was educated at the Freechurch Manse at Auchencairn before becoming a student at the University of Edinburgh.

Before embarking on his political career he was a solicitor. He was part of the Society of Solicitors before the Supreme Courts of Scotland in 1901. In 1899, Pole joined the Edinburgh University Company of the Royal Scots as a private. Two years later he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. Pole also went on to become a reserve Captain in the Territorial Army. When the first World War broke out, Pole transferred to the regular army and became a Captain in the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was promoted to the rank of Major in 1915.

Pole was Vice-Chairman and Honorary Secretary of the British Commission on Indian and Burma Affairs 1918-39, becoming Chairman of the Commission in 1940. Pole was also Member of Parliament (MP) for South Derbyshire from 1929 to 1931, and regularly raised the issue of Indian Independence in the House of Commons.

Prior to his election success, Pole was an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate four times: in East Grinstead at the 1918 general election, at the Edinburgh North by-election in 1920, in Cardiff South at the 1922 general election, and in Cardiff Central, during the 1924 general election.

Pole was also Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for War in 1931. He was a personal friend of fellow MP, George Lansbury (MP 1922-40, and leader of the Labour Party 1932-1935). Pole and Lansbury corresponded from at least 1924 and the relationship between Pole and the Lansbury family continued after George Lansbury's death in 1940 as Pole continued a correspondence with Lansbury's children.

David Graham Pole died on 26 November 1952.

Archival history

This archive forms part of the University Library Manuscripts collection.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was donated to the University of York by Rhoda Vickers, personal secretary to David Pole, in 1973.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Private papers, notes and transcripts of Major Pole, comprising newspaper cuttings and reports relating to Pole's career as an MP, 1929-1931; correspondence concerning Indian and Burmese affairs, 1928-1934; articles by Pole, 1926-1931, privately published autobiography of Pole, 1950; copied and original correspondence, press cuttings, and notes relating to George Lansbury, MP, and his family, 1915-1940.


Further deposits are not expected.

System of arrangement

The papers were arranged by the University Library in the 1970s.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

The records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including the data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York, terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript catalogue, to file level, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms and at the National Register of Archives, London.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further papers relating to George Lansbury and David Pole can be found at the London School of Economics and the British Library (Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections).

A photographic portrait of David Graham Pole (bromide print) by Elliott & Fry, dated 4 April 1950, is held by the National Portrait Gallery in their Photographs Collection (ref. NPG x90967).

Related descriptions

Publication note

John Shepherd, 'George Lansbury, At the Heart of Old Labour' (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002) contains sections devoted to the relationship between Lansbury and Pole based on the evidence provided from the papers held at the Borthwick Institute.

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Archivist's note

Description compiled by Karamdeep Sahota in October 2007.

Accession area