A major part of this collection consists of the correspondence of the Glynne and Gladstone families, amounting to more than 70,000 letters. These are arranged firstly by their recipient, and then by the name of the writer, in alphabetical order. These are followed by small numbers of letters (usually less than six) from individuals, correspondence arranged by subject, and letter books. The correspondence of Sir John Gladstone consists of over 14,000 letters, although he himself had destroyed nearly all his letters earlier than 1812.
For the career of William Ewart Gladstone two series of letters are of particular importance: the 1,099 written to his father, 1821-51 (GG/222-9), and the 1,534 to his wife, 1839-94 (GG/769-80). From Herbert, Viscount Gladstone (Home Secretary, 1905-10), there are 1,642 letters to his brother Henry, Baron Gladstone of Hawarden. The papers of members of the Glynne and Gladstone families are then described.
Among those of Sir John Gladstone are papers relating to elections, Liverpool affairs, and railways, and those of W.E. Gladstone include personal account books, and a considerable collection of press-cuttings. Personal papers are followed by papers relating to church building, geneaology, and the case of Wright v. Gladstone, which cannot be assigned to individuals. The section devoted to 'The Gladstone Papers' consists of drafts of Morley's Life of Gladstone and S.G. Checkland's The Gladstones: A Family Biography, with related correspondence and papers; a copy of Herbert Gladstone's edited transcript of the diary of W.E. Gladstone; copies of Gladstone's correspondence and papers, mostly prepared for Morley; papers of the Octagon Trust; and correspondence relating to access to the Gladstone papers, and their deposit in the British Museum and Lambeth Palace Library.
Items relating to the National Memorial to Mr Gladstone, St. Deiniol's Library, and the Catherine Gladstone Convalescent Home are followed by estate and household papers. These relate mainly to Hawarden Castle and the Hawarden estate, and to Liverpool and Seaforth. (There are no records of the Fasque estate other than photocopied and printed items).
The section on business papers includes the surviving early business records of Sir John Gladstone; as well as records of the two firms with which he was connected: Gladstone & Co. and Ogilvy, Gillanders and Co., and their Indian equivalents, Gladstone, Wyllie and Co. and Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co. (some of these records have been deposited by Ogilvy, Gillanders and Co., with which firm several members of the Gladstone family have been associated). The firm's records include the minute books of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Co., for which it acted as agents.
The records of the West Indian plantations include papers relating to slavery generally, and to compensation money paid to Sir John Gladstone. The Oak Farm Co., the Staffordshire collieries and ironworks which went bankrupt in 1847, causing W.E. Gladstone to devote much time to the finances of the company and of the Hawarden Estate, has left records including correspondence of Sir John and W.E. Gladstone.
The last section of the collection is devoted to the Newcastle Trust. W.E. Gladstone acted as executor of the 5th Duke of Newcastle (1811-64). These records include papers relating to his divorce, as well as some of his political correspondence and papers, particularly as Colonial Secretary, 1859-64 (the remainder of the political papers are in the library of the University of Nottingham). there is also extensive correspondence relating to Gladstone's work as executor.