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Richard Frederick Rainsford collection

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y304AA

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises four small photograph albums and assorted loose photographs. The albums are labelled. The photographs have been grouped together loosely or in envelopes, labelled and arranged by year by R.F. Rainsford's daughter, Mrs Downend, prior to donating the material:

1868-1919. Portraits of RFR and family.
1910-11. Collection taken during Police work in 1911-13.
1918. Kismayu during the Aulihan expedition 1917-1919.
1920. Kisumu jail; Nairobi Police Unit.
1924-1925. RFR on horseback; Nairobi Police; RFR on Parade for arrival of Duke of York; Armistice Day; Empire Day.
1925. RFR in command of a Police Co. in the Mohamed Zubeir Expedition; Gobwen; The hand-over at Kismayu to Italy; Settler’s home; Nakuru showground; Kenton College – the only boarding school in Kenya.
1926. Visit of Governor Sir E Gregg H.E. to Nakuru.
1928. Visit of HRH Prince of Wales (Edward) to Eldoret.
1929-30. Tinderet cattle drive; Vasin Fisku District Police; HQ Eldoret
1931. Water Police; Archer’s post, Tour of Inspection; Lodwa; Marsabit.
1932 and 1933. Mostly Mombasa; Police.
1934. Soldier’s Settlers Farm house built; Newspaper cuttings.
1940-44. G.H.Q. staff and newspaper cuttings.

A two page typescript biography written by Mrs Downend accompanies the collection. As far as possible, the donor's descriptions have been maintained.


  • Creation: 1840 - 1947


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

From information supplied by the donor, Joan Downend, daughter of R.F. Rainsford: Richard Frederick Rainsford was born on 7 Jan. 1888. He ran away from home early in 1904 on a cargo ship bound for South Africa. Once there he was persuaded to join the Natal Police on 1 July 1904, where he served until 30 June 1907, having taken part in the Zulu Rebellion of 1906 and received the Zulu Rebellion Medal and clasp. For a short while he joined the British South African Police in Rhodesia (8.8.07-30.6.08). He then tried gold prospecting, but wasn’t very successful.

During the 1914-18 war R.F.R. commanded a company of the Police Service Battalion and No. 1 Column of the Turkana Punitive Expedition 1915. He was awarded the African General Service Medal and clasp and was ‘mentioned in despatches,’ then promoted to Captain. During the Great War, between 1916-17 he commanded ‘B’ Company of the 5th King’s African Rifles, was Adjutant to the 5th K.A.R. and Staff Officer commanding the troops in Jubaland. During the Aulihan Expedition 1917-19 he was again ‘mentioned in despatches’ and later commanded the military force to disarm Mohamed Zubeir in Jubaland.

In 1925 he commanded the Police Company during another Zubeir Expedition.

In 1934 he retired from the Police Force having risen to the rank of Assistant Commissioner.

During the 1914-1918 War he had bought what was known as ‘a soldier settler’s farm’ on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Until 1934 he had put a manager in to run the coffee farm but on retirement he built a house and took over the running of the place.

In 1940 R.F.R. was asked to take up the job of Provost Marshall of the forces in the East African campaign, so he and his family moved back to Nairobi. Part of the job given to him was the arranging of the Prisoners of War from Somalia and Abyssinia (i.e. Ethiopia) – eventually he had to find accommodation for 93,000 prisoners. Early in 1944 he retired owing to ill health, and died on his farm ‘Kiptogot’ in 1947.


1 archive box(es)

1 album(s)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Fair to poor condition, some yellowing and fading.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by R.F. Rainsford's daughter, Mrs Downend in November 1999.


This collection level description was entered by WS, using information gratefully received from Mrs Downend.


Rainsford, Richard Frederick, 1888-1947, Provost Marshal

2007-02-13 14:17:29+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom