McGregor Ross, William and Isabel Ross

Reference code(s): GB 0162 MSS. Afr. s. 2305
Held at: Bodleian Library - Special Collections
Domain: archival
Title: McGregor Ross, William and Isabel Ross
Date(s) of contents: c. 1890-1964
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 8 boxes


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: William McGregor Ross (1876-1940) travelled to British East Africa in 1900, where he worked for three years as an assistant engineer on the Uganda Railway, then as engineer in charge of laying on a water supply to Nairobi. In 1904 he was made Director of Public Works, East Africa Protectorate, a post he held until 1923 and during a Commission of Enquiry into the working of his department. From 1916 to 1922 he served as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the East Africa Protectorate. Retiring in 1922, Ross returned to England, where he maintained an interest in African affairs, publishing Kenya from within. a short political history (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927). He was also involved in Labour Party politics and was the British workers' delegate to the Forced Labour Committee at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, 1929. He was a member of the Mandates Committee of the League of Nations Union and gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on East Africa, 1930-1931. In 1915 he married Isabel Abraham (1885-1964), a history teacher at Wellington High School for Girls, who had been living with his sister, Nellie Ross, for several years. In Kenya she pursued her interest in women's movements and politics, co-ordinating the East African Women's League in 1917. She was instrumental in obtaining the vote for European women in elections to the Legislative Council in 1919. They had two sons, both born in Kenya. Charles Freer Andrews (1871-1940) was a missionary who became involved in Indian affairs, campaigning in support of Mohandas Gandhi and holding the post of Vice-President in Rabindranath Tagore's Institution in Santiniketan, Bengal. He was first acquainted with the Rosses while campaigning in Kenya in 1921 for the rights of its Indian settlers, and became a close friend, visiting them often in England.

Custodial history: The papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews appear to have been left with Mr and Mrs Ross by Andrews himself after a visit.

Immediate source of acquisition: The papers were deposited by Silvia Ross and High McGregor Ross in April 1998.


Scope and content/abstract: Diaries of William McGregor Ross, 1890-1939, with related papers; summary of significant events in the diaries, 1890-1939, compiled by Sylvia R. Ross; typescript autobiography, The Memoirs of William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross , by Isabel Ross, based partly on the diaries, 1958-1962; correspondence of William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross, [1902-1959]; miscellaneous papers relating to William McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross, [c1900-1964]; papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews, [1919-1940]; unsorted photographs taken by William McGregor Ross.

System of arrangement: See "Scope and Content".


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Bodleian reader's ticket required.

Conditions governing reproduction: No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the Library in the first instance.

Finding aids: A handlist is available in the library reading room.



Archivist's note: Edited for Mundus from a collection level description compiled by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2004


Personal names
Andrews | Charles Freer | 1871-1940 | Anglican missionary and political campaigner

Corporate names

East Africa
South Asia