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Letters from Uganda 1896-1905

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 167

Scope and Contents

Letters sent between 1896 and 1905 to Frederick Bank's widowed mother and two sisters, and a folder of related correspondence. His letters provide a unique record of the life of a junior in a commercial firm in Africa at this time. He witnessed or comments upon the Kamasia/Nandi expedition of the Kabaka in 1897; the Sudanese Mutiny of 1897-1899; Macdonald’s and Martyn’s expeditions, 1897-1899; and the Nandi Rising, 1900. After working with a coastal merchant, Banks moved into coffee planting and then set off on a prospecting trip to the Congo. He later became a noted big game hunter. Three copies of A.T. Matson's published work 'Report on the letters of Frederick Grant Banks' are included with the collection, as are five photographs with the classmark Y3011ZZ.


  • Creation: 1896 - 1905


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

Frederick Grant (‘Deaf’) Banks was born in London in 1875, but in the mid 1880s the family moved to New Zealand, where he attended Christ’s College, Canterbury, and the Lincoln Agricultural College. After his father’s death, he left for Africa, landing in Mombasa in March 1896. He was successively trader, government official (in agricultural and forestry work), planter, elephant hunter, game ranger and again a planter, in Kenya and, for the most of his career, Uganda. In 1951 he retired to London where he died three years later.


.003 cubic metre(s) (1 folder containing 73 letters and 1 file of notes.) : paper

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

fair to good condition. Some letters are fragile and should be handled carefully.

Former / Other Reference


Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 103.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented to the Colonial Society in 1968 by Captain C.R.S. Pitman, under whom Banks worked in the Uganda Game Department, and the late H.B. Thomas.

Existence and Location of Copies

Available on microfilm: Reel 7.


An account of Bank's career appears in: Matson, A.T. (1973), 'Letters of a pioneer Uganda Trader and Planter', The Royal Commonwealth Society, Library Notes, no. 189.

Further information on Bank's letters can be found in: Matson, A.T. (1975), ‘Report on the letters of Frederick Grant Banks (1875-1954) in Uganda, 1896-1905’, London: Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. (copies kept with the collection and also in the Manuscripts Reading Room, Cambridge University Library).

The letters have been microfilmed, and the list is published 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 WS using information from 'Africa through western eyes.'


Banks, Frederick Grant, 1875-1954, trader and planter

Includes index.
2007-01-17 11:31:47+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom