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Celebrating Hampshire's Historians

Patterson, Alfred Temple


Alfred Temple Patterson

A native of Northumberland, Patterson obtained a first-class honours degree in history from University of Durham in 1924, having studied for this at Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Initially a schoolmaster and later on the staff of Portsmouth Municipal College, during the war years and the immediate post-War period he was head of History at University College Leicester. Here his ‘appetite for local studies’ was whetted and his Radical Leicester: A History of Leicester 1780-1850, published in 1954, ‘was a seminal work which helped to lay the foundations of the University’s pre-eminence in urban history’ (The Times, 27/10/83). He took up a post in the History Department of Southampton University in 1949, where he pursued two main lines of research - regional studies and naval history. He also wrote the centenary volume of the history of the University of Southampton. Appointed a Reader in Regional History in 1960 and Professor in 1967, he retired in 1968. When he died in 1983 he was characterised as the ‘biographer of a city’ (Southern Evening Echo 24/10/1983), while Edwin Course wrote that ‘his death … [was] a [great] loss to Hampshire’ (HFC Newsletter, Vol 1. 1984).


  • The Times, (27/10/1983)

  • Southern Evening Echo (24/10/1983)

  • HFC Newsletter, Vol 1. 1984


Contribution to county’s history

He made a threefold contribution. The first was his three volume definitive history of Southampton published in the Southampton Records Series; a second was his inaugural Professorial Lecture entitled ‘Local History and Southampton’; and a third the key role he played in launching the Portsmouth Papers series.  

Relevant published works

  • Patterson, A T.(1962) The University of Southampton: a centenary history of the evolution and development of the University of Southampton 1862-1962 Southampton

  • Patterson, A T.(1965) A selection from the Southampton Corporation journals, 1815-35, and Borough Council minutes, 1835-47, Southampton Records Series, 10, Southampton

  • Patterson, A T.(1966) A history of Southampton, 1700-1914. Vol. I: An oligarchy in decline, 1700-1835, Southampton Records Series, 11, Southampton

  • Patterson, A T.(1971. A history of Southampton, 1700-1914. Vol. II: The beginnings of modern Southampton, 1836-67, Southampton Records Series, 14, Southampton

  • Patterson, A T.(1975)  A history of Southampton, 1700-1914. Vol. III: Setbacks and recoveries, 1868-1914, Southampton Records Series, 18, Southampton

  • Patterson, A T.(1976)  Portsmouth: A History, Bradford-on-Avon

  • Patterson, A T.(1976)  Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, London

Critical Comments

His approach to writing history was described as disciplined and restrained and he sought ‘to enable the facts to tell their own story, not … impos[ing] an extraneous interpretation upon them.’ (The Times, 27/10/1983). His history of Southampton was praised as being ‘popularly written but scholarly’ (Southern Evening Echo, 2/07/1970)

Other Comments

‘Colourful and warm hearted’ were words used to describe his personality. His wife was ‘a well-known student of French literature’ (The Times, 27/10/1983)


Roger Ottewill, 17 October 2021

Key Words

Southampton, history of Southampton, University of Southampton, local history

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