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Papers on West Africa

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 125

Scope and Contents

Typescript and manuscript documents relating to West Africa, 127 pages. The papers were probably assembled by Gray for his proposed edition of Frances Moore's 'Travels into the inland parts of Africa' for the Hakluyt Society, which he was unable to complete due to illness. It is not known when they were compiled. There is an accompanying letter from A.T. Matson to D.H. Simpson, R.C.S. Librarian, 17 June 1975, and Simpson's reply of 18 June.

1. Biographical note regarding Francis Moore, 11 typescript pages.

2. Notes as to the career of Job ben Solomon, the African freed from slavery and referred to by Moore, after he returned to Africa, 18 typescript pages.

3. 'The Courlanders in the Gambia', extracts from documents, 22 typescript pages.

4. Correspondence relating to the Guinea Company, a draft in typescript and manuscript, 10 pages.

5. 'Appendix III: introductory note by the editor' (a note by Gray to Appendix III of Moore's book), 3 typescript pages.

6. Colonel Vermuyden's 'A brief summary of the voyage unto Gambia', from E. Warburton's 'Memoirs of Prince Rupert', 5 typescript pages.

7. A copy of a letter from Cornelius Hodges, James Island, 14 September 1690, and of miscellaneous letters, 1727-1733, 18 typescript pages.

8. A copy of 'Captain Robert Holmes his Journall', 1660, and of other related papers, 1660-1663, 25 typescript pages.

9. High Court of Admiralty documents, miscellaneous extracts, 9 typescript pages.

10. 'Explorations of Richard Graves MacDonell', extracts of despatches, 1849, 6 typescript pages.


  • Creation: 1970


Conditions Governing Access

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

Sir John Milner Gray (1889-1970) was educated at Dover College, Perse School and King's College, Cambridge. After training as a solicitor, he joined the Colonial Administrative Service in Uganda in 1920. He was transferred to Gambia in 1934, where he became Judge of the Supreme Court, and was Governor in 1935 and 1940. He became Chief Justice of Zanzibar in 1943, and was knighted the following year. After his retirement, in 1952, Gray remained in Zanzibar to carry out research in the Consular archives. He moved back to Cambridge in 1960, where he died in 1970.

During his time in Africa, Gray investigated the untouched parts of the continent, taking a particular interest in local languages, and publishing his findings in the 'Uganda journal' and 'Tanganyika notes and records'. He was the author of 'A history of the Gambia', 'The British in Mombasa, 1824-1826', 'Early Portuguese missionaries in East Africa', and a 'History of Zanzibar from the Middle Ages to 1856'.


.03 cubic metre(s) (1 envelope) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference

MSS 43

Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 86.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received as a bequest of Sir John Gray, 1970.

Related Materials

The R.C.S. Manuscripts Collection contains other papers relating to Sir John Gray, RCMS 126, 150/5/1/1, 150/8/1, 150/9/3 and 155. Cambridge University Library also holds papers of Gray concerning Africa, MS.Add.7739.

Related Materials

Jesus College, Cambridge, holds the papers of John Milner Gray's father, Arthur Gray, a former Master of the College.


This collection level description was created by RAS.


Gray, Sir, John Milner, 1889-1970, Knight and colonial administrator

Includes index.
2005-09-27 16:06:49+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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