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Papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross (1)


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The papers include:

  1. diaries of William McGregor Ross, 1890-1939
  2. summary of significant events in the diaries, 1890-1939, compiled by Sylvia R. Ross
  3. typescript autobiography, The Memoirs of William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross, by Isabel Ross, based partly on the diaries, 1958-1962
  4. correspondence of William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross, [1902-1959]
  5. miscellaneous papers relating to William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross, [c1900-1964]
  6. unsorted photographs taken by William McGregor Ross
  7. papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews, [1919-1940], including a few letters from Mohandas Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore


  • Creation: [1890-1964]


8 boxes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 2305].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 2305

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 4021

Biographical / Historical

William McGregor Ross (1876-1940) travelled to British East Africa in 1900, where he worked for three years as an assistant engineer on the Uganda Railway, then as engineer in charge of laying on a water supply to Nairobi. In 1904 he was made Director of Public Works, East Africa Protectorate, a post he held until 1923 and during a Commission of Enquiry into the working of his department. From 1916 to 1922 he served as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the East Africa Protectorate. Retiring in 1922, Ross returned to England, where he maintained an interest in African affairs, publishing Kenya from within. a short political history (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927). He was also involved in Labour Party politics and was the British workers' delegate to the Forced Labour Committee at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, 1929. He was a member of the Mandates Committee of the League of Nations Union and gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on East Africa, 1930-1931. In 1915 he married Isabel Abraham (1885-1964), a history teacher at Wellington High School for Girls, who had been living with his sister, Nellie Ross, for several years. In Kenya she pursued her interest in women's movements and politics, co-ordinating the East African Women's League in 1917. She was instrumental in obtaining the vote for European women in elections to the Legislative Council in 1919. They had two sons, both born in Kenya.

Charles Freer Andrews (1871-1940) was a missionary who became involved in Indian affairs, campaigning in support of Mohandas Gandhi and holding the post of Vice-President in Rabindranath Tagore's Institution in Santiniketan, Bengal. He was first acquainted with the Rosses while campaigning in Kenya in 1921 for the rights of its Indian settlers, and became a close friend, visiting them often in England.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available in the library reading room.

Custodial History

The papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews appear to have been left with William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross by Andrews while visiting them in England.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were deposited at the library by Sylvia Ross and Hugh McGregor Ross in April 1998.

Related Materials

Letters written home during service in British East Africa/Kenya, with demi-official and personal correspondence relating to service in the Public Works Department, with associated photographs, etc., [1894-1952] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1876); reports and correspondence relating to the Public Works Department, 1905-1939, with miscellaneous papers, 1899-1935 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1178).

Papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross (1)
Paul Davidson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom