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Letters from David Livingstone to Sir Frederick Grey, 1858 - 1938

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 113/61

Scope and Contents

Six manuscript letters written to Sir Frederick Grey, 21 September 1858 - 28 October 1859 (32 pages), regarding Livingstone's second major expedition. There are accompanying typescript notes on the letters and correspondence between Evans Lewin, R.C.S. Librarian, and others, 1927-1938, regarding the supply of copies.


  • Creation: 1858 - 1938


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

David Livingstone (1813-1873) was born on 19 March 1813 at Blantyre, Lanarkshire. He educated himself while working at a cotton factory near Glasgow, and from 1832 attended a medical class at Anderson College and lectures at Glasgow University. He entered the service of the London Missionary Society, and studied medicine and science in London. In 1840 Livingstone travelled to the Cape of Good Hope as a missionary. He explored the interior of Africa, 1841-1843, and discovered Lake Ngami in 1849, and the Zambesi in 1851. After journeying throughout the continent, 1852-1856, Livingstone was made Consul at Quilimane in 1858. That year he led an expedition to explore Eastern and Central Africa, and in 1859 he discovered Lake Shirwa and Lake Nyasa. He embarked on an expedition to investigate the Nile basin in 1865, and discovered Lake Bangweolo in 1868. He became ill while exploring cannibal territory, and in 1871 was rescued by H.M. Stanley at Ujiji. He made further explorations to discover the source of the Nile, but fell ill and died at a village in the country of Ilala in 1873. Admiral Sir Frederick Grey (1805-1878) was the third son of the 2nd Earl Grey.


1 folder(s) (1 folder) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference

MSS 5c99

Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 116.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by the 4th Earl Grey, 1916.

Existence and Location of Copies

Available on microfilm: Reel 7.

Copies of the letters were supplied to the Archives of Rhodesia and the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, c. 1937-1938.


The collection is described in Evans Lewin, 'Livingstone's letters', in 'United empire', vol. VII (1916), pp. 415-416.

The letters have been microfilmed, and are listed in a publication by Adam Matthew Publications Ltd: 'Africa through Western eyes, parts 1 & 2: Original manuscripts from the Royal Commonwealth Society Library at Cambridge University Library - a listing and guide to the microfilm collection' (2000).


This collection level description was created by RAS using information from Donald Simpson's R.C.S. catalogue. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on David Livingstone in Sidney Lee, ed., 'Dictionary of national biography', vol. XI (London, 1909), pp. 1263-1275.


Livingstone, David, 1813-1873, African missionary and explorer

Finding aid date

2004-01-22 14:13:59+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom