John Nott was born on 1 February 1932, son of Richard and Phyllis Nott of Bideford, Devon. He was educated at King's Mead, Seaford, then Bradfield College and finally Trinity College, University of Cambridge. In 1959 he married Miloska Sekol, of Maribor, Slovenia; they had two sons and one daughter.
Before going to university, Nott served as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Gurkha Rifles during the Malayan emergency, (1952-56). He then went up to Trinity College from 1957 to 1959 to read Law and Economics and was also President of the Cambridge Union in his final year. He was then called to the Bar in the Inner Temple in 1959 and in the following year became a General Manager at the Merchant Bankers S. G. Warburg and Company Limited, staying at Warburgs until 1966.
In 1966 Nott became MP for St Ives, Cornwall, a seat which he was to hold until his retirement in 1983. Six years later he was appointed Minister of State at the Treasury (1972-74), following this up with becoming Conservative front bench spokesman on first Treasury and Economic Affairs (1975-76) and then Trade (1976-79). Nott remained with Trade when the Conservatives returned to power, being appointed Secretary of State for Trade by Margaret Thatcher in 1979, then becoming Secretary of State for Defence in 1981, a position which he held until his resignation in 1983, following the Falklands War.
On leaving politics, Nott returned to the business world, becoming Chairman and Chief Executive of Lazard Brothers and Company Limited from 1985 to 1990 (and Director, 1983-90), then Chairman of Etam plc (1991-95). He was also Deputy Chairman of Royal Insurance PLC from 1986 to 1989 (Director, 1985-91) and Director of Record Treasury Management plc from 1991.
He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1979 and a KCB (Knight Commander, Order of the Bath) in 1983.
The papers chiefly relate to Sir John Nott's time in Margaret Thatcher's government, particularly his tenure as Secretary of State for Defence during the Falklands War. They include: papers relating to Nott's search for employment, 1975; papers collected for the production of Sir John's memoirs, including annotated drafts, original correspondence and dictation tapes; personal correspondence and other papers, 1982-1998; papers relating to his career with Lazards, mid 1980s onwards; material relating to the Falklands conflict, including examples of Nott's correspondence with his constituents, 1982; correspondence relating to Nott's announcement of his resignation as an MP, 1982-1983; speeches and articles, 1960s-1990s; photographs; cartoons; press cuttings, including copies of newspapers relating to the Falklands War.
The bulk of the papers were deposited at Churchill Archives Centre in September and October 2004 by Sir John Nott. Three further boxes were deposited by Sir John in September 2007 and October 2009.
The contents of the files have largely been left as they were when deposited. The files have been arranged to try to reflect the areas of Sir John's life covered by the contents.
The papers are on long term loan to Churchill Archives Centre from Sir John Nott.