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Papers of AW Allen Leeper (1887-1935)

Biographical note

Born 4 Jan 1887; son of Alexander Leeper LL.D., the Warden of Trinity College Melbourne; nephew of G.B. Allen (Balliol Hilary 1878). Educated: Church of England Grammar School, Trinity College Melbourne, Balliol 1908-1912. 1st Lit. Hum. and B.A. 1911. Tutors: J.A. Smith, A.L. Smith, H.M. Wood. Hockey XI, Tennis VI. Civil Service; Assistant in the British Museum (Egyptian and Assyrian) 1912; seconded to the Foreign Office 1915; member of the British Delegation at Paris 1918-1920; C.B.E. 1920; transferred to the Diplomatic service as a Second Secretary 1920; Assistant Private Secretary to Lord Curzon 1920-24; 1st Secretary 1924; special service with the Australian government in 1924; Chargé d'affaires in Vienna 1924-1928; Foreign Office 1928-, Counsellor 1933; C.M.G. 1935; Secretary to the Secretary of State (Sir John Simon). Published: Cuneiform Texts in the British Museum pt. XXXV, 1918. Married Janet Monteith, daughter of V.M. Hamilton 1921. 1 daughter Katharine. Died 24 Jan. 1935.


The collection came to Balliol in 1992 through the kind gift of Allen Leeper's daughter Mrs. Katharine Cobbett, and the good offices of Professor Adam Roberts, the Montague Burton Professor of International Relations. It had been suggested to Mrs. Cobbett that Balliol might be interested in the letters that Allen Leeper wrote to his family during his student days at Balliol, and she wrote to Professor Roberts. Professor Roberts contacted Dr. John Jones, the Dean and Archivist, and the collection subsequently came to the college. Having examined the collection and made an initial report, Dr. Jones passed it on to the Library.

It should be noted that Allen Leeper's later letters were donated to the La Trobe Library in Melbourne by his step-sister Valentine, and the bulk of his personal and professional papers were later donated to the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, Cambridge; their catalogue is online here. The Australian national register of archive and manuscript collections lists another collection including Leeper's letters at the State Library of Victoria; this may be the La Trobe donation mentioned above.

Contents and Arrangement

The collection consists in the main of letters and photocopies of letters written by Allen Leeper to his family during his time at Balliol from 1908 to 1912. Mrs. Cobbett also donated photographs and photocopies of various obituaries for members of the Leeper family to go with the letters. As she had arranged the letters chronologically within each year from 1908 to 1912, there was no need for any re-arranging of the material. Mrs. Cobbett also provided much genealogical information about the Leeper and Allen families.

Accession correspondence: 10 letters between Mrs. Katharine Cobbett, Professor Adam Roberts, Dr John Jones and Balliol Library about the depositing of the collection in Balliol Library.

With a photocopy of AWAL's entry in the Balliol College Register and a copy of Dr. Jones' initial report on the collection.


AWAL Alexander Wigram Allen Leeper.


I. Manuscript material.

A. 2 Undated AMS Essays.

1. "In the Country Parts of Greece." n.d., 9L.

2. "Touring in South-Eastern Europe." n.d., 11L.

II. Correspondence.

A. Correspondence 27th March-31st December 1908.

49 items: 41 ALS, 7 photocopies of ALS, 1 photocopy of fragment of AL.

28 of these letters are from AWAL to his brother Rex and describe his voyage from Australia to England. The others are to his family, usually his parents, and concern family matters and his first term at Balliol, and include accounts of lectures, sport, fellow students, debates at the Union, tutors (including J.G. Smith, H.W.C. Davies), the then Master James Leigh Strachan-Davidson, college rooms etc.

With a list of the letters and notes on the Leeper family and their various nicknames by Mrs. K. Cobbett, and 2 cuttings from The Fleur-de-Lys, the magazine of Trinity College, Melbourne.

B. Correspondence 7th January-29th December 1909.

53 items: 29 ALS, 19 photocopies of ALS, 5 photocopies of fragments of AL.

These letters are from AWAL to his parents, his brother Rex and his sister Kitty. They concern family affairs, his brother's academic progress and entry to New College, Balliol life, sport, academic work, vacation travels in England and abroad, visits to various relatives, current affairs etc.

With a list of the letters by Mrs. K. Cobbett.

C. Correspondence 5th January-30th December 1910.

48 items: 18 ALS, 28 photocopies of ALS, 2 photocopies of fragments of AL.

These letters are from AWAL to his parents, and concern current affairs (including the death of the King), vacations in Italy, Balliol life etc.

With a list of the letters by Mrs. K. Cobbett.

D. Correspondence 6th January-27th December 1911.

32 items: 8 ALS, 19 photocopies of ALS, 5 photocopies of fragments of AL.

These letters are from AWAL to his parents, and concern travel in England, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany etc, his Greats, the start of his Modern History course, current affairs (including the Coronation of George V) etc.

With a list of the letters by Mrs. K. Cobbett.

E. Correspondence 5th January-26th December 1912.

24 items: 2 ALS, 22 photocopies of ALS.

These letters are from AWAL to his parents, and concern his application for a post at the British Museum, his sister's illness, travel in Italy, Switzerland etc, current affairs (including the Home Rule question, the sinking of the "Titanic," the Balkans crisis), etc.

With a list of the letters by Mrs. K. Cobbett.

III. Family and genealogical material.

A. Genealogical Notes.

8 AMS leaves of genealogical information, family trees etc relating to the Leeper and Allen families, by Mrs. K. Cobbett.

B. Photocopies of Obituaries etc.

1. Photocopies of obituaries for Canon Alexander Leeper, grandfather of AWAL. From The Daily Express, 11 and 14 Dec. 1893. 1L.

2. Photocopy of obituary of Sir George Wigram Allen, grandfather of AWAL. From The Daily Telegraph, 24 July 1885.

3. Photocopy of the entry for Alexander Leeper (AWAL's father) in The Dictionary of Australian Biography. 2L.

4. Photocopies of Alexander Leeper's obituary (n.d.) and a cutting about his funeral from The Argus, 8 Aug. 1934. 1L.

5. Photocopy of AWAL's entry in Liber Melburniensis, 1965. 1L.

6. Photocopy of AWAL's obituary from The Times, 26 Jan. 1935, and a cutting announcing his death, n.d. 1L.

C. Photographs of the Leeper family.

1. The Leeper children - AWAL, his brother Rex and sisters Kitty and Katharine, Sydney, 1893 or 1894.

2. AWAL aged 11 with his brother Rex, dressed for a play at Trinity College, Melbourne, 1898.

3. AWAL aged 20 with his father Alexander, his brother Rex, his step-mother Mary, his step-brother Geoffrey and step-sisters Molly and Valentine. Melbourne, 1907.

4. Portrait photograph of AWAL in 1920.

[Dbase code: AWL01]

IV. Other material.

Copy of Perspective of a Century: A Volume for the Centenary of Trinity College Melbourne by James Grant (Trinity College, 1972). Title page signed by the author.

This volume was presented by Mrs. K. Cobbett to go with the collection. The book includes references to AWAL's father, who was Warden of Trinity College, and AWAL and his brother attended the college.






Tim Procter, Modern Manuscripts Assistant, January 1993.


A. Medals

AWAL's CMG AND CBE medals. Unfortunately they have suffered fire damaged and no longer have
ribbons. Letters from friends concerning the CMG can be found at the Churchill Archives Centre.

B. Correspondence

1. ALS from AWAL to Madre written from Balliol. It is dated 17 March but there is no record of which year.

2. 3 items concerning AWAL's College life at Trinity College, Melbourne. ALS to Mrs Leeper (AWAL's mother) from Arthur Sherwin June 26 1935, discussing AWAL's College life at Trinity College, Melbourne.
TS memoir of AWAL written by the Warden of Trinity College, Dr. Sawton. Envelope noting that AWAL was baptised in Trinity College Chapel on Wednesday, February 16 1887.

The items in section VI. ADDITIONAL MATERIAL were kindly sent to the College in June and July 1994 by Mrs Katherine Cobbett with the request that they should be added to her father's collection.


2 letters from Mrs Katherine Cobbett to Dr. John Jones concerning the material to be added to the original collection of AWAL material already held by Balliol College Library.

- John Jones September 1985

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