Ugandan envoys to England

Scope and Content

Three cabinet portraits, approximately 105 x 150 mm, with letterpress captions on the mounts beneath the prints. King Mutesa I of Buganda requested the Church Missionary Society to take the three envoys seen here on a mission to Queen Victoria, with what expected result is not entirely clear. The three men left with missionaries Wilson and Felkin on May 17th 1879. On arrival in England, they were granted an audience with Queen Victoria and were duly impressed with the size and grandeur of London. They returned by way of Zanzibar and arrived in Uganda in February 1881; little is known of their life after this: this fading into obscurity was probably due to Mutesa's desire not to be reminded of the comparative smallness of his empire. Sawaddu's account of the journey is transcribed by his sister J. W. Harrison in her book: ' A.M. Mackay, Pioneer missionary of the Church Missionary Society to Uganda', 1892.
'The Arabs tell you lies, my master, when they say that they have a great country at 'Pwani' (the coast). The coast all belongs to the English, and the Arabs are their slaves! Oh, my master, we have not got a country at all! The estate of one chief in England is as large as all Uganda and Bunyoro and Busoga together...'
At this point in the recital Mutesa restricted the audience and finally sent Sawaddu away with presents and wives:
'... so that already he has returned, like the dog to his vomit, to the life of debauchery in which every big man lives here. This is, of course, part of Mutesa's acute policy, as much as saying to the man 'Yes, you have seen wonderful things in England ... but you did not get a lot of wives in England as you get here. You will enjoy yourself better here than in England.'
On the English side also, there was a certain amount of disappointment in the mission: the visit
'excited great interest (although) it turned out afterwards that they were not chiefs as was supposed, but persons of no consequence in Uganda ...' (Eugene Stock (1892), 'History of The Church Missionary Society'. Vol. III, pp. 106-7.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph John Elliott (1835-1903) and Clarence Edmund Fry were commercial photographers based in London, England. From 1863 to 1886 their studio was at 55 Baker Street, Portman Square. In 1887 they expanded to include 56 Baker Street. From 1886 to 1888 the company's printing was carried out at Park Road, Barnet. The firm employed a number of operators, including Francis Henry Hart, Alfred James Philpott, Herbert Lambert and William Flowers. In the 1940s the company's studio was bombed and the majority of the early negatives were destroyed. In 1965 Elliott and Fry was amalgamated with Bassano and Vandyck

Access Information

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 mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).

Note

Includes index.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Alternative Form Available

This collection is available on microfiche: Africa, fiche number 69. A second set of these portraits can be found at Y3045O/1-3.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Fair condition.

Additional Information

This collection level description was entered by WS using information from the original typescript catalogue.

Elliott and Fry