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Archive of Horace Waller


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The following description of these papers appeared in the Bodleian Library Record in April 1940 (pages 145-146):

'This collection of letters and private papers belonged to the Rev. Horace Waller (1832-1896) and has been presented to Bodley by his daughters, Lady Hunt and Miss Grace Waller. Mr. Waller, who began life as a stockbroker, served as a layman on the first expedition of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa under Bishop Mackenzie from 1861 to 1863, was ordained on his return to England, and was Rector of Twywell, Northamptonshire, from 1874 to 1895. He numbered among his friends almost all the notable East African explorers and administrators of his day; the chief interest to this collection centres in his correspondence with Livingstone and Gordon.

With Livingstone Waller's relations were particularly close. They first met in 1861, when Waller was with the U.M.C.A. party and Livingstone on the Zambesi Expedition. They continued to correspond frequently from then until 1872, shortly before Livingstone's death. The collection contains eighty-five letters from Livingstone to Waller, of which twenty-three date from 1862-1863 (during the Zambesi Expedition), fifty from 1863-1865, when Livingstone was in England writing the Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries, and twelve from 1865-1872.

It was to Waller that the editing of Livingstone's Last Journals was entrusted, and among his papers is a set of the proofs of this work, endorsed by him: "These should be carefully preserved as there are passages in them from Dr. Livingstone's notes and MSS. which were cut out before the book was published, at the suggestion of Mr. John Murray. He was pleased, by the bye, to designate it the most difficult piece of compilation he had ever known". The passages deleted relate mainly to the misconduct of the boys from the Nassick school at Bombay whom Livingstone took with him on this expedition. Together with these proofs, Waller kept the originals of the sketches he made for the book.

Perhaps the most interesting section of the Waller Papers is that relating to Gordon, from whom 127 letters have been preserved. They date from the years 1874-1884; the topics discussed in them are various - the suppression of the slave trade in the Sudan, the characters and conduct of members of Gordon's staff, the behaviour of missionaries, Gordon's own views on historical and theological questions. They throw a good deal of new light on his plans for East and Central Africa and on his relations with King Leopold of the Belgians, whose service he was on the point of entering when he was entrusted with his mission to Khartoum in 1884.

There are in addition a number of miscellaneous letters from various correspondents, such as Sir John Kirk, Gordon's sister, and missionaries of the U.M.C.A.; and, finally, a set of twenty-nine little books of notes and sketches kept by Waller himself between the years 1861 and 8167. They give an interesting picture of life in the first U.M.C.A. settlement, the personalities of its members, and the difficulties with which they had to contend.'


  • Creation: 1849-1893


1.0 Linear metre (10 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 16/1].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 16/1-16

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 4756


Archive of Horace Waller, (1833-1896) missionary and slavery abolitionist

Biographical / Historical

Horace Waller (1833-1896) was a missionary and abolitionist.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Lady Hunt and Miss Grace Waller, Rev. Waller's daughters.

Catalogue of the archive of Horace Waller, 1849-1893
1940, EAD version 2013
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom