Guide to the Papers of Sir Henry and Lady Penelope Gullett


MS 3078

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Sir Henry and Penelope Gullet
Papers of Sir Henry and Lady Penelope Gullett
Date Range
1887 - 1961
Collection Number
MS 3078
0.21 metres (5 ms boxes + 3 archives boxes + 10 folders)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

MS 3078 contains letters written by Sir Henry to his wife Penelope from Europe during the First World War, and Paris during the Peace Conference. There is a small amount of family correspondence including letters from Gullett's children, in particular from Jo and Sue Gullett. Other letters and telegrams congratulate Gullett on his knighthood in 1933, and his appointment to the ministry in 1939. Correspondents include parliamentarians, diplomats and acquaintances in the Armed Forces, and in particular Joseph A. Lyons, Sir Robert Menzies, John Latham, Sir Henry Chauvel, Professor A.E.V. Richardson, Sir Cyril Brudenell White, Lord Gowrie, Sir Archdale Parkhill and Charles Hawker.Some notes from Gullett's early school days, ca. 1889, texts of parliamentary speeches and ministerial statements, newspaper cuttings, personal documents such as passports, letters to Lady Gullett, including one from Sir F. Gavan Duffy, and a large series on the Imperial Economic Conference in Ottawa are also contained in the collection (10 boxes).

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Sir Henry and Penelope Gullet, National Library of Australia, [class/series/file/item number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The main part of the collection was lent for copying by H.B.S. (Jo) Gullett of Lambrigg, Tharwa, A.C.T. in March 1972. It comprised correspondence and papers relating to his maternal grandmother, Lady Headley, and his father, mother and himself. In July 1974 Mrs P. Hackforth-Jones of Paddington, Sydney (Mr Gullett's sister) added to the collection photocopies of letters written by W.M. Hughes to his father and mother. A final consignment of papers relating to the Imperial Economic Conference (series 7) was purchased by the Library from a book dealer in June 1987.

Further papers were received in 2013.

MS 3077 consists of correspondence, legal documents, press cuttings and extracts from the published writings of Barbara Baynton (later Lady Headley). The main documents are the papers of her judicial separation from Baron Headley and a last will and testament.

MS 3079 consists of the papers and correspondence of H.B.S. Gullett.

Other Finding Aids

There is a name index to correspondence, at present available in card form.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Somer Gullett, 1878-1940

Henry SomerGullett was born on 26 March 1878 in Harston, Victoria, the son of Charles William Gullett, a farmer, and his wife Rose Mary. He was educated at various Victorian state schools. His father died when he was 12 and he left school to help his mother on the land after which he spent some time on the land.

In 1900 he joined the staff of the Sydney Morning Herald and in 1908 he went to London as correspondent for two other Sydney papers, the Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He also combined freelance journalism with a special study of migration to Australia, published under the title The opportunity in Australia in 1913.

In 1915 Gullett was appointed Australian official war correspondent with the British and French armies on the Western Front. The following year he enlisted in the Australian Field Artillery, receiving his commission in 1917. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the War Records Section in Palestine and in 1918 appointed official A.I.F. correspondent in that area. He jointly edited Australia in Palestine (1919) and wrote UnguardedAustralia: a plea for immigration (1919) and The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914-1918, (1923), volume 7 of the Official historyof Australia in the War.

After the War Gullett briefly held the position of Director of the Australian War Museum and in 1920 he was appointed Director of the Australian Immigration Bureau. He resigned in 1922 over disagreements with W.M. Hughes and returned to journalism with the Melbourne Herald.

In 1925 Gullett won the Victorian seat of Henty in the House of Representatives as a Nationalist (later United Australia Party) candidate. He held the seat until his death.

The party and ministerial positions he held were:

Deputy Leader of Opposition, 1929-1930

Minister of Trade and Customs, 1928-1929, 1932-1933

Minister without Portfolio, 1934-1937

Minister for External Affairs and Minister for Information, 1939-1940

Gullett represented Australia at the Ottawa Conference in 1932 and shortly after his return he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (January 1933). From 1937 to 1940 he was Vice-President of the Executive Council.

On 13 August 1940 Gullett and two other Cabinet ministers were killed in an air crash near Canberra. He was survived by Lady Gullett, whom he had married in 1912, and their children Henry Baynton SomerGullett and Susan Gullett (later Mrs P. Hackforth-Jones).

Reference, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 9, pp.137-39

Penelope Elizabeth Gullett, 1890-1960

Penelope Elizabeth Gullett was born on 4 June 1890 at Coonamble, New South Wales, the daughter of Henry Frater and his wife Barbara (who later become known as the writer Barbara Baynton).

She married Henry Somer (later Sir Henry) Gullett. They had two children: Henry Baynton Somer (Jo) and Susan (later Mrs P. Hackforth-Jones).

After the death of her husband in 1940, Lady Gullett increasingly devoted herself to working for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She died in 1960.

Reference, Obituary, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 1960.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 3078. Original Consignment/s

Series 1. Sir Henry Gullett, papers relating to primary school, 1887-1890

The papers comprise school exercises in geography, arithmetic, spelling and grammar, written and corrected at Richmond State School, Victoria. (1 file)

Richmond state school, general papers, 1887-1890 (Item 1-109) - Box 1 (MS 3078)

Series 2. Sir Henry Gullett,correspondence and papers relating to WorldWar I and the ParisPeace Conference, 1914-1919, 1937

The bulk of this series consists of rough notes, jottings and plans made in France, Palestine and Egypt (undated, some in shorthand). Other items include press passes, leave passes, embarkation permits, his commission as a Lieutenant (1917), a press cutting about Gullett's lectures on his war experiences (Sydney Morning Herald, undated), correspondence on his appointment to the Press Secretariat of the League of Nations (1919), and a map of Gaza (1937).(2 files)

World War I (1914-19); the Paris Peace Conference (1937) - Notes and general papers (Item 1-146) - Box 1 (MS 3078)

Series 3. Sir Henry Gullett:correspondence and papers relating to political career, 1926-1940

Letters and telegrams in this series are divided into three parts, within which they are arranged chronologically with undated letters placed last. As original letters and replies are stapled together, correspondence is arranged by the date of the original letter.

Correspondence including letters from J. A Lyons, J. Scullin, Sir Harry Chauvel; and letters from S. M Bruce, W. M Hughes, James Ramsay MacDonald, Sir John Latham, R.G. Menzies and David Rivett. They deal with various aspects of Gullett's political life and range from 1926 to 1940 (Item 1-108) - Box 1 (MS 3078)
Congratulatory letters to Gullett on receiving his 1933 knighthood and sympathy on his retirement from Cabinet due to ill health, December 1932 - April 1933 (Item 109-492) - Box 2 (MS 3078)
Congratulatory letters on his appointment as Minister of External Affairs in 1939 (Item 493-613) - Box 2 (MS 3078)
Papers (1922-1940) including notes, broadcasts, ministerial and press statements, articles for the press, an authorisation to wear the 1937 Coronation medal and Gullett's funeral service in 1940 (Item 614-835) - Box 2 (MS 3078)

Series 4. Sir Henry Gullett,correspondence and papers relating to family and finance, 1912-1940

Letters and telegrams in this series are arranged chronologically, with undated letters placed last. Most of this series comprises letters from Gullett's son Jo, extending from his schooldays to his first year in the Australian infantry during World War II, c. 1927-1940. There are also thirteen letters from his daughter, Susan, miscellaneous letters from Sydney Ure Smith (1912) and others, a telegram from S.M. Bruce about Oxford University entrance examinations (1933) and business letters and papers (1926-1938).(10 files)

Letters and telegrams (Item 1-351) - Box 2, 3 (MS 3078)

Series 5. Lady Penelope Gullett: family letters, 1917-1948

The letters in this series are divided into three parts, each arranged chronologically with undated letters placed last. The letters from Henry Gullett deal with the Palestine campaign and events of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919; and with visits to Tokyo, London, Melbourne and Canberra.

Letters from Henry Gullett, 1917-1940 (Item 1-643) - Box 3 (MS 3078)
Letters from Jo Gullett, 1927-1948 (Item 644-1065) - Box 4 (MS 3078)
Letters from Susan Gullett (mostly undated) (Item 1066-1125) - Box 4 (MS 3078)

Series 6. Lady Penelope Gullett: other correspondence and papers, 1917-1961

The letters and telegrams in this series are divided into three parts, each arranged chronologically with undated letters placed last. Papers, 1917-1955 include a passport, 1955; an authorization for wearing the 1953 coronation medal and a passenger ticket from Sydney to London, 1917.

Letters from W.M. Hughes, c. 1920-1947 (Item 1-27) - Box 5 (MS 3078)
Letters and telegrams, 1914-1944, including congratulations on the award of the Military Cross to Jo Gullett in 1943 (Item 28-102) - Box 5 (MS 3078)
Business letters and papers, 1929-1961, including a letter about, and copy of, Lady Headley's will, 1929 (Item 103-157) - Box 5 (MS 3078)

Series 7. Sir Henry Gullett: Imperial Economic Conference (Ottawa, 1932), 1931-1933

As Minister for Trade and Customs, Gullett was an Australian delegate to the 1932 Conference. The papers comprise meeting papers, correspondence, briefing materials on trade and tariffs, papers relating to agreements reached with the British and Canadian governments, speeches on trade issues, press cuttings relating to the Conference and invitations, menus, souvenirs, tourist publications and other memorabilia.

The papers were purchased by the Library from a book dealer in 1987.

Opening speeches (File 1) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Notices of meetings (File 2) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Minutes of meetings (File 3) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Committee no. 1 - Promotion of Trade (A) Empire content (B) Co-ordination Committee of Officials (File 4) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Committee no. 2 - Customs Administration. Sub-committee A (File 5) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Customs Administration - agenda and committee papers (File 6) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Committee no. 3 - Commercial Relations with Foreign Countries (File 7) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Committee no. 4 - Monetary and Financial Questions. Sub-committee A (File 8) - Box 6 (MS 3078)
Committee no. 5 - Methods of Economic Co-operation (File 9-10) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Papers on trade and tariffs (File 11) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Statistics (File 12) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Miscellaneous, reports, telegrams, letters, press releases (File 13) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Correspondence, 1932 (File 14) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Printed material relating to trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia, the United Kingdom and Australia Trade Agreement Act 1932, customs tariff resolutions and a speech by Gullett on the Ottawa agreement (File 15) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Papers relating to the Canadian-Australian Trade Agreement and correspondence and other papers on exports and production of beef, butter and other commodities (File 16) - Box 7 (MS 3078)
Cutting of policy speech by Joseph Lyons on trade and tariffs (and typed extracts), 1931; cuttings and speeches by Gullett on the Ottawa Conference and the tobacco industry; parliamentary speeches by Gullett on the introduction of the tariff schedule and correspondence on Empire Shopping Week, 1932 (File 17) - Box 8 (MS 3078)
Hansard extracts (File 18) - Box 8 (MS 3078)
Gullett's appointment diary for 1932; draft report of the 1932 Imperial Economic Conference; Twenty-fifth report: the definition of Empire goods; and correspondence commending the service of officers who attended the Conference, 1932 (File 19) - Box 8 (MS 3078)
Australian press cuttings - Ottawa conference no. 1 (cutting book), 1932 (File 20) - Box 8 (MS 3078)
Cutting book, 1932 containing cuttings from Australian newspapers and copies of several letters (File 21) - Box 8 (MS 3078)
Canadian newspapers, 1932 (File 22) - Box 9 (MS 3078)
Invitations, programs and other papers from Ottawa belonging to Gullett's private secretary, Mrs F.M. Grant (File 23) - Box 9 (MS 3078)
Photographs and souvenirs of Mrs Grant (File 24) - Box 9 (MS 3078)
Photographs of Gullett (File 25) - Box 9 (MS 3078)
Menus, business cards and other memorabilia (File 26) - Box 9 (MS 3078)
Maps, Conference publications, Canadian tourist publications and the ship's newspaper Aorangi news (File 27) - Box 10 (MS 3078)