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Cobham Collection

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Cobham

Scope and Contents

The majority of the photographs in the collection concern antiquities and historic buildings.


  • Creation: 1870 - 1900


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

The collection was the personal library of Claude Delaval Cobham, CMG, MA, BCL, MRAS (1842-1915), Commissioner of the District of Larnaca from 1879-1907. Sir Harry Luke, who served as Private Secretary to the High Commissioner of Cyprus, supplied the following account of Cobham for the December 1957 edition of Library Notes (Simpson 1957, p. 1).

'Cobham was a 'scholar and a gentleman' whose love for Cyprus and private means enabled him to regard his appointment to the new British Government set up in Cyprus in 1878 not as the first stage of a career but as a life-long vocation. Thus, fortunately for Cyprus, he was content to remain in Larnaca as Commissioner of the District for the 28 years from 1879 to his retirement in 1907 and to continue to live there after retirement until failing health ultimately compelled him reluctantly to return to England.

During his working life Cobham devoted the leisure from his official duties, and in his retirement his whole time, to the study of the history of Cyprus and of foreign languages, and to the gracious hospitality which he extended to his friends from many parts in his beautiful and interesting house. For he had brought, and for his many years in Cyprus inhabited, the early 18th-century Consulate of the English Levant Company in Old Larnaca with its contemporary painted official coats of arms adorning the walls of the great living-room and a spacious and lovely garden stretching beyond it, hidden behind high walls of sun-dried mud brick. In this historic abode, now alas in a lamentable state of dilapidation, he housed his unique collection of books on Cyprus, now in the Library of the Royal Empire Society'.


2 archive box(es) (2 boxes) : photograph; postcard

2 album(s)

2 volume(s)

2 file(s)

1 sheet(s) (1 sheet)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was presented to the Royal Colonial Institute in 1913.

Related Materials

The Cobham collection contains over 1000 books and pamphlets on or relating to Cyprus, primarily to its history and languages. About a third of the books are in Greek (Romaic), and others are in Greek (Hellenic), Latin, Turkish, Armenian and numerous modern European languages. It also has a considerable number of religious works dealing with the Greek and Latin churches and including the lives of Cypriot saints and Offices or Service books. It includes the first book printed in Cyprus in 1778. In addition, it contains over 30 maps and 18 etchings and a collection of poetry devoted to special occasions on the island.


Sir Harry Luke’s account of Cobham is contained in: Simpson, D. (ed.) (1957), 'The Cobham Cyprus Collection', The Royal Empire Society Library Notes with List of Accessions, New Series no. 12, p. 1-2.




Cobham, Claude Delaval, 1842-1915

Includes index.
2003-04-03 14:45:24+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