The Matacong Island (West Africa) Papers

Scope and Content

First set. Incoming papers, 1844-1901 relating to Matacong from various departments of the British Government to Norris and Sons, Solicitors of Liverpool, Taylor, Laughland and Company, Glasgow, and to other companies; letters on behalf of the Marquess of Salisbury; correspondence with officials in Sierra Leone; other correspondence.

Second set. Copies and originals of outgoing letters and documents, 1825-1983, apparently from the files of Norris and Company, Solicitors of Liverpool, or Taylor, Laughland and Company, Glasgow. Including letters and a memorial to the authorities in Sierra Leone, 1891; copies of Foreign Office letters, 1892-1894; papers relating to the lease of Matacong Island, 1891; property document relating to the various cessions of Matacong Island,1825-1894; other papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Messrs Norris & Sons, solicitors of Liverpool, acted for Messrs J. Bowden & Co, general brokers of Liverpool. They acted in connection with a dispute over the title to Matacong Island. The island was ceded to Britain in 1826 and in 1891, Bowden & Co were proprietors of the island. They had leased it to Messrs Taylor Laughland & Co of Glasgow, African merchants, and in 1891, their agent on the island was Henry Moreton Smith. The French Government, which was extending its colonial interests in West Africa, claimed Matacong Island as French territory and Smith was forcibly removed from the island. These papers relate to the dispute and to the title to the island.

Reference: GB 150 MI

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

The first set of papers was purchased in 1969; the second in 1991. The deposits were from separate sources.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further information

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further acquisitions are not expected.