Papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross, [1890-1964]

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

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

Administrative / Biographical History

William McGregor Ross (1876-1940) travelled to British East Africa in 1900, where he worked for threeyears as an assistant engineer on the Uganda Railway, then as engineer in chargeof laying on a water supply to Nairobi. In 1904 he was made Director of PublicWorks, East Africa Protectorate, a post he held until 1923 and during aCommission of Enquiry into the working of his department. From 1916 to 1922he served as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the East AfricaProtectorate. Retiring in 1922, Ross returned to England, where he maintained aninterest in African affairs, publishing Kenya fromwithin. a short political history (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927). He was also involved in Labour Party politics and was theBritish workers' delegate to the Forced Labour Committee at the InternationalLabour Conference in Geneva, 1929. He was a member of the Mandates Committeeof the League of Nations Union and gave evidence to the Joint Select Committeeon East Africa, 1930-1931. In 1915 he married Isabel Abraham (1885-1964), ahistory teacher at Wellington High School for Girls, who had been living withhis sister, Nellie Ross, for several years. In Kenya she pursued her interestin women's movements and politics, co-ordinating the East African Women's Leaguein 1917. She was instrumental in obtaining the vote for European women inelections to the Legislative Council in 1919. They had two sons, both born inKenya.

Charles Freer Andrews (1871-1940) was a missionary who became involvedin Indian affairs, campaigning in support of Mohandas Gandhi and holding thepost of Vice-President in Rabindranath Tagore's Institution in Santiniketan,Bengal. He was first acquainted with the Rosses while campaigning in Kenya in 1921for the rights of its Indian settlers, and became a close friend, visiting themoften in England.

Conditions Governing Access

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available in the library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Custodial History

The papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews appear to have been left withWilliam McGregor Ross and Isabel Ross by Andrews while visiting them in England.

Related Material

Letters written home during service in British East Africa/Kenya, withdemi-official and personal correspondence relating to service in the PublicWorks Department, with associated photographs, etc., [1894-1952] (ref. MSS.Afr. s. 1876); reports and correspondence relating to the Public Works Department, 1905-1939,with miscellaneous papers, 1899-1935 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1178).