Papers of John William Moir (d. 1940)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-240
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 box, 1 volume, and 18 folders correspondence.
  • Location
      MS 2500; Gen. 1870; Gen. 717/11-13

Scope and Content

Contained in the collection at MS 2500/1 is John and Fred Moir's journal, 1866, but with entries for a few days only. In MS 2500/2, letters c.1880-93. In MS 2500/3 family album of letters, photographs and news cuttings. In MS 2500/4 African Lakes Co., Report to Directors 1890. In MS 2500/5 bible presented to John W. Moir 1859. In MS 2500/6 catalogue of the Moir Library, Scottish Beekeepers Association. In MS 2500/7 Portrait of a book-collector, typescript, carbon, 1941, the presidential address to the Edinburgh and East of Scotland branch of the Scottish Libraries Association. At Gen. 717/11-13 family correspondence, sorted into files, 1883-1900. In Gen. 1870, a journal of John W. Moir, Castle Street, Edinburgh, covering the period 1877-1878, Marseilles to Migwadze.

Administrative / Biographical History

John William Moir studied at Edinburgh University and in Switzerland and Germany. In the late-1870s, he went with his brother Fred L. M. Moir to East Africa - to the then Zanzibar coast, now Tanzania - to begin a road towards the north end of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi). Earlier difficulties that had been met with the Portuguese in the area had diminished by 1878 and so they were able to start the African Lakes Co. Ltd., of which they were joint managers. Their company steamers plied Lake Nyasa and the Zambezi and Shire Rivers trading with the people and with Arab merchants and slavers, and supplied the missionaries in the region. Disruption came to the area when some of the larger slaving interests tried to drive the colonists away. This was stemmed by recruited forces from Natal in southern Africa and after the Admiralty invested heavily on the Zanzibar coast, ending the slave trade through its presence on the Lake. In addition to his career in East Africa, Moir was a bee-keeper and he built up a large and renowned collection of books on bee-keeping including American works on the subject. John William Moir died on 13 March 1940.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Deposited in 1982? by Professor G. Shepperson, Edinburgh University. Accession nos. E90.18-19, and E92.21-25.


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who was who 1929-1940. A companion to Who's who .... Vol.3. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1941.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.