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Letter from Jan Smuts to Sir Drummond Shiels, 1947-01-14

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 113/63

Scope and Contents

A letter written from Groote Schuur thanking Shiels for his award of the O.M. and recalling 'anxieties I must sometimes have caused you'.


  • 1947-01-14


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Biographical / Historical

Jan Christian Smuts (1870-1950) was born on 24 May 1870 in the Cape Colony. He entered Victoria College, Stellenbosch, and graduated in science and literature in 1891. He joined Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1894, where he studied law, and was admitted to the Cape bar in 1895. In 1896 Smuts moved to the Transvaal, where he became State Attorney in 1898, and Colonial Secretary and Minister of Education, 1907-1910. He was Minister of Defence in the Union Government as a member of the South African Party under Louis Botha, 1910-1919. In 1916 he was commissioned as Lieutenant-General in the British Army to command the imperial forces in East Africa. Smuts represented the Union at the Imperial Conference and War Cabinet in 1917, and remained thereafter as a member of the British War Cabinet. He was one of the chief sponsors of the League of Nations. Smuts was Prime Minister of South Africa, 1919-1924, and suppressed the Rand rebellion in 1922. He was defeated in the election of 1924, and remained in opposition until entering a coalition as Deputy Prime Minister under J.B.M. Hertzog, 1933-1939. In 1934 their parties combined to form the United South African National Party. Smuts was Prime Minister, 1939-1948, and was made Field-Marshal in 1941. He was Chancellor of the Universities of Cape Town, 1936-1950, and of Cambridge, 1948-1950. He died on 11 September 1950 at his farm at Irene, near Pretoria. Sir Thomas Drummond Shiels (1881-1953), Labour politician, was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1929-1931.


1 page(s) (1 page) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference


Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 114.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Lady Shiels, 1955.


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 Jan Smuts in L.G. Wickham Legg and E.T. Williams, eds, 'Dictionary of national biography', 1941-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 797-804.


Smuts, Jan Christian, 1870-1950, statesman

Finding aid date

2004-01-22 15:40:18+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom

The UK Archival Thesaurus has been integrated with our catalogue, thanks to Kings College London and the AIM25 project for their support with this.