Graphical version

Queen Mary, University of London

SKEEL, Professor Caroline (1872-1951)


Reference code(s): GB 0370 CS

Held at: Queen Mary, University of London

Title: SKEEL, Professor Caroline (1872-1951)

Date(s): 1785-1964

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 15 boxes, 2 outsize items

Name of creator(s): Skeel | Caroline | 1872-1951 | historian


Administrative/Biographical history:

SKEEL , CAROLINE ANNE JAMES ( 1872 - 1951 ) was born on the 9 Feb. 1872 in She was the sixth of the seven children of William James Skeel (1822 - 1899) and Anne James (1831 - 1895). Her father, the son of Henry Skeel (d. 1847 ), a farmer, was born at Castle Hill in the parish of Haycastle, Pembrokeshire, and became a successful London merchant with offices in Finsbury Chambers in the city and a director of the South Australian Land Mortgage and Agency Co. Ltd . Her mother was a first cousin of her husband; the daughter of Thomas and Martha James of Clarbeston, Pembrokeshire.

Educated at Notting Hill High School (1887-90), she attended Girton College, Cambridge (1891-95). She was a St. Dunstan's Exhibitioner and took a double first in classics in 1894 and then took a first in the historical tripos, in 1895. Skeel joined Westfield in 1896 as a visiting lecturer in classics, and in 1901 enrolled as a postgraduate student at the London School of receiving the London DLitt in 1903. The onset in 1907 of severe and lasting depression removed Skeel temporarily from the academic scene, to which she eventually returned on her reappointment to Westfield in 1911.She was promoted in 1919 to a university readership and in 1925; she was advanced to a professorship, the first to be held at Westfield. But within a year symptoms of depression reappeared and in 1929 she took early retirement.

She lived quietly in Hendon until her death, following a stroke on 25 February 1951. She had inherited the large fortunes left by her father and brother, the total of which amounted at her death to some 270,000 (gross). She bequeathed the bulk of it to Westfield, already the beneficiary of gifts made anonymously during her lifetime. After her death it was revealed that she had anonymously given away in her lifetime about 30,000 to poor families and charities.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection contains the papers of Caroline Skeel,1850-1964, comprising of papers relating to her time at Westfield College; including working papers 1850-c.1926; photographs 1905-mid 20th Century; letters 1908-1950; donations 1930-1943; presentations from the College 1925-1929; and papers relating to her Professorship 1925. Also comprises of personal papers; including papers relating to her school 1880-1925; Girton College 1890-1927; London School of Economics 1904-1914; Certificates and Testimonies c.1913; the time that she lived in Hendon c.1935; her family 1925-1943; her legacy 1933-1954; biographical papers 1949-1954; financial papers 1899-1916; involvement with societies 1928-1930; letters 1904-1949; and personal items and memorabilia 1878- c.1890. The collection also contains family papers 1785-1928; including those of the Skeel family 1820-1923; Smith family 1809-1889; and James family 1794-1869; mainly comprising of educational papers, working papers, and legal documents such as wills, as well as papers relating to family properties 1785-1928; some family photographs c.1876; and items of unknown context, 18th Century - late 19th Century.


Language/scripts of material: English; some Latin.

System of arrangement:

This collection has been arranged by provenance and divided into two sub-fonds; Caroline Skeel, and Family Papers.

Conditions governing access:

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: For more information about the Archives see the website:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist. Applications for copies for research or publication should be made to the Archivist: Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 7873, email:

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A detailed catalogue is available in the Archives Reading Room, or downloadable from the Archives website,

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Bequeathed to Westfield College.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Westfield College Collection, held at Queen Mary, University of London.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Catalogued by Sarah Palmer, January 2010.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: June 2010

Women teachers | Teachers | Educational personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Womens education | Educational systems

Personal names
Skeel | Caroline | 1872-1951 | historian

Corporate names
Westfield College x University of London | Westfield College