Papers of Charles Richard M. O'Brien

Scope and Content

Copies of letters, in diary form, 1900-1902, including regimental experiences,South African War, January-June 1900, as President of the Military Tribunal inJohannesburg, June 1900-April 1901, the Johannesburg Civil Police, May 1901-May 1902; with illustrations, photographs and press cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Charles Richard Mackey O'Brien (1859-1935) was educated at Felsted and Sandhurst.In 1878 he joined the 30th Cambridgeshire Regt. as 2nd Lieut., rising to the rank of brevetLieut.-Colonel in 1902, serving in the South African War, 1899-1902 with theEast Lancashire Regiment and as President of the Military Tribunal,Johannesburg. He was Deputy Commissioner of the Transvaal Town Police, 1901-1908,Acting Commissioner of Police, 1903-1907 and during the strike on theWitwatersrand. He served as Colonial Secretary, Gambia, 1910-1912 and ActingGovernor, 1910-1912. He was Governor, Seychelles, 1912-1918, Governor andCommander-in-Chief, Barbados, 1918-1925, and Special Government Commissioner,Sierra Leone, 1926. From 1929-1930 he was a member of the Colonial FilmsCommittee. Awarded the KCMG in 1920, he was married twice, to Christina MaryHarrison, 1884-1899, with whom he had two sons and one daughter, and to SelinaBeatrice Elphinstone from 1902, with whom he had two daughters.

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

Listed as no. 747 in Manuscript Collectionsof Africana in Rhodes House Library Oxford, by Louis B. Frewer(Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1968).

Conditions Governing Use

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

Related Material

Correspondence with the Colonial Office relating to appointment as a SpecialCommissioner in Sierra Leone, to inquire into the affairs of the Freetown CityCouncil; with published report and issues of local newspapers, 1926-1927 (ref.MSS. Afr. s. 1977).


The Rand at war 1899-1902. the Witwatersrand and theAnglo-Boer war, by Diana Cammack (London, James Currey, 1990).

Additional Information

Original papers were retained by Lady O'Brien.