Introductory note: The National Register of Archives was formed in 1945 as a special branch of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, with the intention of creating an index to documentary sources in England and Wales, at a time when social change and economic conditions meant that these countries’ documentary history, uniquely mostly spared by the second world war, was under threat. It was envisaged that, in the process, documents of historical value would be found and preserved in each county and that private owners might be encouraged to give their holdings into public custodianship if no longer able to maintain them. Its first Registrar was Lt Col. George Edward Grenville Malet OBE, a member of a long-established Somerset family.
The inaugural meeting to launch the scheme in Somerset took place at 2.15 pm on Wednesday 16 October 1946 under the auspices of the Chairman and Council of the Somerset Archaeological Society, at the Council Chamber at Shire Hall. The chairman was Sir Arthur Hobhouse, Chairman of Somerset County Council, and the speaker was Lt Colonel George Edward Grenville Malet OBE, Registrar of the National Register of Archives. Coincidentally, the Registrar had joined the Somerset society in 1916, when he was a young man of 18 years of age.
The Somerset Scheme of the National Register of Archives was established by 1947 and, under the direction of A W Vivian Neal (Chairman of the County Records Committee) and I P Collis (County Archivist), quickly began survey work to establish the existence of archive collections within the county and to record them using the new standard national format provided by the Registrar for common use in all counties. The documents listed below reflect the early activities of the Somerset Scheme.. The documents listed below reflect the early activities of the Somerset Scheme.