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Diary of William Hallett Harding describing a journey from Bulawayo into Barotseland

 Single Item
MS. 5433
Held in our offsite storage facility

  • Request
  1. Diary of William Harding from 31 August 1899 to 28 March 1901 describing travelling from Bulawayo to Barotseland as part of the British South Africa police and undertaking survey and mapping work there. Visits to Lewanika, king of Barotseland, are described and how blackwater fever began to affect the B.S.A. party in March 1901. The diary includes some manuscript maps. At the end of the diary various accounts are listed including petty cash, personal accounts for William Harding, Major [Colin] Harding, Captain Lawley, Mr Goring and King Lewanika, and a list of fines.
  2. Four letters (two incomplete) from William Harding to his brother Colin, 1899-1901, a letter to Colin Harding from Edward Sanders dated 18 May 1900, a list of commodities with costs and a map titled 'Enclosures to Concessions Barotse No. 77 of the 11/12/97' showing 'Supposed new points occupied by Portuguese', 'Territory claimed by Co. of Mossamedes', 'Gold discoveries', 'Rubber Grounds' and 'my routes 1883/1895 by waggons'.


  • Creation: 1897-1901


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 5433].

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


MS. 5433

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 5433


Diary of William Hallett Harding describing a journey from Bulawayo into Barotseland.

Biographical / Historical

Colin Harding (1863-1939) and William Hallet Harding (1866-1901) were brothers who served in the British South Africa Company Police. In September 1899 Colin was appointed acting administrator for Barotseland and officer commanding the police in that territory and undertook to survey and map the land, reporting back to the Foreign Office. William Harding describes this work in his diary until his death from blackwater fever in 1901.

Colin Harding became District Commissioner of the Northern Territories, Gold Coast, in 1909, served in France during World War I and was Provincial Commissioner of Gold Coast Colony from 1918 to 1922. In 1905 he published an account of the journey through Barotseland and in 1937 wrote a history of the British South Africa Police.

Custodial History

The diary remained with Colin Harding's family until the death of his nephew, A.W.H. Forrester, in circa 1989. It was then rescued from destruction by his neighbours, the parents of Alasdair Hawkyard.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Bodleian Library by Alasdair Hawkyard in 1994.


  • In remotest Barotseland: being an account of a journey of over 8,000 miles through the wildest and remotest parts of Lewanika's empire, Colin Harding (London, 1905)
  • Frontier Patrols. A History of the British South Africa Police and other Rhodesian Forces, Colonel Colin Harding (London, 1937)
  • ‘Barotseland-related cover’ by Justin Corfield in The Journal of the Rhodesian Study Circle, Vol. 71, No. 2, June 2021/No. 285, page 105.
Catalogue of the Diary of William Hallett Harding describing a Journey from Bulawayo into Barotseland
Finding aid prepared by Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom