Fonds WATK - Papers of Frederic William Watkyn-Thomas and Diana Watkyn-Thomas

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Papers of Frederic William Watkyn-Thomas and Diana Watkyn-Thomas


  • 1913-63 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

5 boxes; paper

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Frederic Watkyn-Thomas was born on 10 April 1887, son of William Watkyn-Thomas of Papcastle, Cumberland (c 1853-1925), civil engineer, and his wife Katharine Mary, née Waite (c 1858-1927). He was educated at Tonbridge School and was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge in 1906, where he was an exhibitioner and Bean W. Levy student, obtaining his Bachelor of Medicine in 1914. He completed his clinical studies at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London and was awarded the Brackenbury and Holden scholarships. Qualifying as a Doctor of Medicine in 1914, he entered the Royal Army Medical Corps immediately, serving until 1920 when he was demobilised with the rank of Major.
He was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of England in 1921, and appointed to the consultant staff of the Central London Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital (which later became the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital). In 1933 he joined the staff of the Royal Ear Hospital, part of University College Hospital. For many years he was a civilian consultant to the Royal Navy and became a member of the Royal Navy Personnel Research Committee and the Flying Research Committee. As well as serving as President of the Section of Otology of the Royal Society of Medicine, he was on the council of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists, Abstracts Editor for the Journal of Laryngology and a regular contributor to the Medical Annual until 1954. In 1953 he edited a textbook on Diseases of the Throat, Nose and Ear and wrote the entire section on the ear himself.

He married Ada Margaret Catherine Macgregor Clayton (1889-1985), daughter of Walter Norton Clayton and Annie Macpherson Macgregor and known as Diana to her family and friends, in January 1928.

Archival history

The collection of 64 diaries and 18 commonplace books written by Frederic and Diana Watkyn-Thomas was part of a bequest of £500 to the Trinity Families Fund, made on the condition that “the College takes possession of [Watkyn-Thomas’s] diaries, retains them sealed for 50 years, and then deals with it as it thinks fit.” A heavy metal box containing the documents was sent from London on 4 November 1963 by Rashleigh & Co. Solicitors and was received by Dr. J.R.G. Bradfield a few days later. The box was opened in November 2014, and the contents catalogued in 2015.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Bequeathed to Trinity College.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Diaries kept by Frederic Watkyn-Thomas (36 items, 1926-1963); diaries kept by Diana Watkyn-Thomas (27 items, 1929-1952), including her "Diaries of the War" series (12 volumes, 1939-1943) with another war diary not so titled from 1944. Both series include holiday diaries jointly written by husband and wife, describing their regular fishing trips to Scandinavia and Iceland and long summer stays there.

Frederic revised all the diaries in the last ten years of his life, adding dates and specifications such as '?Our last visit to Kolåsen' (B25); he also used a printed diary for 1956 to create a summary of the main events of his life from 1906 onwards, recording events on each day in previous years such as theatre performances, letters received, reunion dinners in College and holidays. He also revised the commonplace books in which he collected newspaper cuttings, wrote book revisions, reported conversations, and noted his observations on specific subjects throughout his life; in these revisions he added dates, subjects, and re-arranged the contents.

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      Publication note

      Catalogue prepared by Giovanna de Simone, 2015, with biographical introduction and item level list of all items.

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          Archivist's note

          Collection level description created by Rebecca Hughes in July 2019, based on the catalogue prepared by Giovanna de Simone, 2015.

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