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Smyly Sierra Leone Collection, 1895-1911

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y30446L

Scope and Contents

A collection of 56 photographs in an album, 16 loose photographs and 11 postcards. The Sierra Leone photographs cover the years from the early 1890s to 1911, including scenes, buildings, and events, as well as some more personal items. Not all are captioned and some of the pencil captions are almost illegible. The assistance of Dr Christopher Fyfe in some identifications, and in background material on Smyly, Hindle, and other aspects of the catalogue, is gratefully acknowledged. The captions have been used as titles and may include language which is offensive, inaccurate or inappropriate. They have been retained to reflect the context of the collection's creation. Captions supplied by the cataloguer are enclosed in square brackets. Smyly's period in Sierra Leone overlapped with that of James Carmichael Smith, Postmaster-General from 1900 to 1911.


  • Creation: 1895 - 1911


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

Philip Crampton Smyly was born on 28 March 1866, the son of Dr (later Sir) Philip Crampton Smyly (1838-1904) and Selina Maria (Nina), 6th daughter of the 3rd Baron Plunket. Smyly senior was a distinguished surgeon whose many posts included the Presidency of the Royal College of Surgeons, 1878-79. He was Surgeon to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII in Ireland, and also to the Viceroys of Ireland 1869-1892. Like his father, Philip went to Trinity College, Dublin. He was called to the bar in 1888. In 1895 he was appointed Crown Advocate in Sierra Leone: the following year he became Attorney-General when legal posts were reorganised. Following the death of Bruce Hindle he became Acting Chief Justice, and Governor Cardew recommended that he should be appointed to the post, but the Colonial Office did not consider him experienced enough. In 1901 he became Chief Justice, a post he held for ten years, receiving a knighthood in 1905. From 1911 until his retirement in 1929 he was Chief Justice of the Gold Coast. He died on 29 May 1953. By his marriage to Aileen Grace Smyly (d. 1935) he had two sons and one daughter.


83 item(s) (83 images)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Many of the early photographs are in poor condition and some of the album captions have become almost illegible through fading and dirt.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given by Miss Grace Smyly, daughter of Sir Philip Crampton Smyly, in July 1988, through her cousin Lady Trend.

Related Materials

A further collection relating to the Gold Coast (i.e. Ghana) is at Y30448L. James Carmichael Smith's collection of postcards and photographs of Sierra Leone can be found at Y30446A-E. There are a few duplications and, where appropriate, cross-references to this collection have been made.


This collection level description was entered by SG, NE and MJC using information from the original typescript catalogue.


Smyly, Sir Philip Crampton, 1866-1953, Knight and colonial administrator

Includes index.
2004-08-20 10:02:00+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