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Papers of Sir Robert Thorne Coryndon (2)


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Papers as Governor of Uganda and Governor of Kenya. Also biographical material and correspondence. The years with the British South Africa Company are mainly represented by unofficial correspondence and Coryndon's own articles for magazines. No papers relating to his service under Rhodes survive in this collection.

A small part of the collection is formed by correspondence and papers (1926-1931) of Sir Edward Grigg (Coryndon's successor in Kenya), along with papers (1913-1930) of Major Eric Dutton (Coryndon's private secretary from 1920-1925). There is also a small amount of Lady Coryndon's correspondence (1910-1936).

The collection is the work of several people. With a view to a writing a biography of her husband, Lady Coryndon amassed much of the material, assisted by Major Eric Dutton. The collection was deposited with the Oxford Colonial Records Project via Charles Granston Richards of the East Africa Literature Bureau, and for this reason there is also Church Missionary Society correspondence with particular reference to the Kikuyu and the Land Question dating from 1903 to 1947; there are also articles about various aspects of Kenya, its history and the Mau Mau emergency, which were collected by Mr. Richards.


  • Creation: 1903-1947


18 boxes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 633].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 633

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 1368

Biographical / Historical

Sir Robert Thorne Coryndon, CMG (1911), KCMG (1919), was born in South Africa on the 2 April 1870. He was educated in South Africa at St. Andrew's College, Grahamstown, and in England at Cheltenham College.

It was intended that Coryndon should follow his father's profession of the law, and with that object he returned to South Africa in 1889, at the age of 19, in order to serve his articles with his uncle's firm, Caldecott and Bell of Kimberley. However, in the same year Coryndon left office-work and joined the Bechuanaland Border Police under the British South Africa Company. In the following year became a member of the Pioneer Force occupying Mashonaland. He served in campaigns in Matabeleland in 1893 and 1896 and formed part of the band of young South Africans known as Rhodes' "Lambs" or "Apostles".

In 1896 Coryndon became private secretary to Cecil Rhodes; he acted in that capacity during the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Jameson Raid (1896). However, although he always supported Rhodes' ideals he did not care for the position and in the following summer Rhodes sent him to represent the British South Africa Company in Barotseland. Shortly afterwards Coryndon took over the administration of North Western Rhodesia, in collaboration with the Barotse chief, Lewanika, and remained there until 1907. Coryndon was then transferred to Swaziland where, as Resident Commissioner, he was chairman of the Southern Rhodesian Native Reserves Commission of 1914-1915.

In 1916 Coryndon was appointed Resident Commissioner in Basutoland and a year later was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Uganda; he assumed the government in 1918. He was appointed to his final post in 1922 as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Kenya and High Commissioner of Zanzibar. Sir Coryndon died in Nairobi on the 10 February 1925.

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room and a handlist is also available for this collection.

Listed as nos. 64 and 298 in Manuscript Collections (excluding Africana) in Rhodes House Library, Oxford, Supplement, compiled by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1971).

Custodial History

Deposited with the Oxford Colonial Records Project via Charles Granston Richards of the East Africa Literature Bureau.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was transferred to the library from the Oxford Colonial Records Project in c.1965.


  • Listed in Private Papers of British Colonial Governors, 1782-1900, by The Historical Manuscripts Commission (1986).
Papers of Sir Robert Thorne Coryndon (2)
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom