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Papers of Sir Cecil Clementi


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Microfilm copies of papers, reports, diary letters, etc. relating to service in Hong Kong, 1899-1912.


  • 1899-1912


32 items

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. Micr. Ind. Ocn. 5].
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Full range of shelfmarks:

Micr. Ind. Ocn. 5

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16015

Biographical / Historical

Sir Cecil Clementi (1875-1947), colonial administrator and traveller, began his career as a cadet in the Hong Kong Civil Service in 1899, passing examinations in both Cantonese and Pekingese. He translated and edited Cantonese Love-songs (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1904), partly to assist students with the Chinese language. In 1902 he was posted for special service under the Government of India, and for famine relief work in China's Kwang-si province in 1903. He also served as a land officer and police magistrate in the then newly leased territories in mainland China, 1903-1906. Later he travelled from Andijan in Central Asia to Kowloon, publishing Observations taken during a Journey from Kashgar to Kowloon, 1907-1908 (Hong Kong, Naronha & Co., 1911). His maps were subsequently incorporated in the Survey of India's map of Tibet and adjacent countries, and he received the Cuthbert Peek award of the Royal Geographical Society in 1912.

In 1913 he was appointed Colonial Secretary of British Guiana, where he administered the government in 1916-1917, 1919 and 1921. He and his wife also discovered a route from the Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro river to the summit of Mount Roraima on the borders of Brazil and Venezuela. While in British Guiana, he concerned himself with the colony's health, drainage, immigration and development, publishing a report on conditions in 1919, as well as The Chinese in British Guiana (Georgetown, British Guiana, "The Argosy" Co., 1915) and A Constitutional History of British Guiana (London, Macmillan & Co., 1937).

In 1922 he became Colonial Secretary in Ceylon, administering the government in 1922-1923 and 1925. In 1925 he became Governor of Hong Kong, where his primary tasks were to restore confidence inside the colony, check piracy and restore friendly relations with Canton. He was made Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, where he established a school of Chinese classical literature and philosophy. In 1930 he was made Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Malay States, his policy being to achieve federation for all nine Malay states. He also inspired the raising of the first battalion of the Malay Regiment and through his knowledge of Chinese affairs was able to check the influence of the Kuomintang and Moscow's plan for 'colonial revolution' in Malaya. He finally retired in 1934 on the grounds of ill health. He was awarded the GCMG in 1931, was a knight of grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and was Master of the Mercers' Company, 1940-1941, having served on its court from 1935. In 1912 he married Marie Penelope Rose Eyres, with whom he had one son and three daughters.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 671 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Box files of Sir Cecil Clementi's papers were initially deposited with the library by his daughter, Mrs. A.I.Ovenell, in 1987. The papers were then microfilmed, as part of a reciprocal project with the Public Record Office of Hong Kong.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm copies are available at the Public Record Office of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University Library.

Related Materials

Correspondence, reports, speeches, etc. relating to Hong Kong, 1913-1937; speeches, correspondence, reports, memoranda, printed papers, etc. relating to Malaya, Singapore and Borneo, 1882-1947; notes, printed papers, etc. relating to his published books, [1898-1936]; photographs and miscellaneous items, 1873-1961 (ref. MSS. Ind. Ocn. s. 352). Papers of C.H.F. Blake concerning his service as Secretary of the Perak State War Executive Committee during the Malayan emergency, [1948-1960] (ref. MSS. Ind. Ocn. s. 276).
Papers of Sir Cecil Clementi
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Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom