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National Library of Wales
Bowen, Roderic, Dr, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 RODBOW

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Dr Roderic Bowen Papers

Short Title: Bowen, Roderic, Dr, papers

Creation date(s): 1901-2002

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.028 cubic metres (3 boxes)

Name of creator(s): Dr Roderic Bowen


Administrative/Biographical history: Evan Roderic Bowen (1913-2001), a native of Cardigan, was educated at local schools, the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and St John's College, Cambridge. He was called to the bar by the Middle Temple in 1936 and commenced practising on the South Wales circuit in 1937. Following active service during the Second World War, Bowen was elected the Liberal MP for his native Cardiganshire in the general election of July 1945. During most of the 1950s he was one of a tiny group of only five or six Liberal MPs left at Westminster. He remained the MP for the county until his defeat in 1966. From the outset he was seen as a right-winger, strongly opposed to any flirtation with Socialism and the Labour Party. He was a witty, entertaining debater, generally popular at Westminster.
At the same time Bowen continued his highly lucrative legal work, building up an extensive legal business in south Wales. He took silk in 1952, was appointed Recorder of Carmarthen in 1950 and Recorder of Merthyr Tydfil in 1953. He failed to succeed Clement Davies as leader of the Liberal Party in the autumn of 1956 when Jo Grimond was chosen. Thereafter relations between the two senior Liberal Party politicians were at best frosty. Bowen became Recorder of Swansea in 1960 and Recorder of Cardiff in 1964. In October 1965, against the advice of his party hierarchy, he accepted the position of Deputy Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee at Westminster, a highly controversial decision which was hotly debated both at Westminster and in his constituency during the run-up to the 1966 general election when he was narrowly defeated by Elystan Morgan (Labour).
Thereafter Roderic Bowen's involvement in party politics was at best minimal. In 1966 he was sent to Aden by George Brown to investigate interrogation procedures in the British colony. He served as National Insurance Commissioner for Wales, 1967-1986, and as a notably conscientious president of St Davids University College, Lampeter, 1977-1992. During 1971-1972 he also chaired a governmental committee set up to examine road signs policy in Wales. He was in constant demand as an adept after-dinner speaker and was a staunch supporter of the national rights of Wales.


Scope and content/abstract: The fonds consists of a disappointingly small group of miscellaneous papers accumulated by Dr Roderic Bowen during the course of his political career and public life. They include printed matter, 1901-1993, press cuttings, 1906-1992, speech notes, [1950]-[2000], letters, 1955-2001, and pocket diaries, 1985-2000. There are also files of papers relating to the work of the Committee of Inquiry on Bilingual Road Signs in 1972, which he chaired, and to the unsuccessful attempt to secure a knighthood for Dr Bowen in 2000-2001.


Language/scripts of material: English, some Welsh

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into thirteen files arranged chronologically by and within each file.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply

Finding aids: A hard copy of this list is available at NLW.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All the papers presented to the Library have been retained.

Accruals: Additional papers are unlikely.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Miss Joan Cooper, a close friend of Roderic Bowen, Cardiff, July 2002.


Related material: A substantial number of photographs and pictures are in NLW, Special Collections (0200208918). The records of the Cardiganshire Liberal Association, which include extensive files of correspondence and papers deriving from the period, 1945-1966, when Roderic Bowen represented the constituency in parliament, are also held at NLW.


Note: File 13 contains papers dated after Roderic Bowen's death in 2001 since they relate to the preparation of a programme on him in the Secret Papers series during 2002.

Archivist's note: Compiled by J. Graham Jones.
The following source was used in the compilation of this description: Jones, J. Graham, 'Grimond's rival: Captain E. Roderic Bowen MP (1913-2001)', Journal of Liberal Democrat History, no. 34/35 (Spring-Summer 2002), 26-34.

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: August 2002

Election districts | Wales | Ceredigion

Personal names
Bowen , E. Roderic (Evan Roderic) , 1913-2001

Corporate names
Liberal Party (Great Britain)
Welsh Liberal Party


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