Papers of Thomas Fox-Pitt

Scope and Content

The collection comprises chiefly Thomas Fox-Pitt's correspondence relating to events or major issues in the history of the Central African Federation and the political campaign against it. Files often include pamphlets, press cuttings, maps and newsletters, with some bearing on the correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Stanley Lane Fox-Pitt was born on 27 November 1897. From the age of 12 he attended the Royal Navy College, Osborne, and two years later the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. When war was declared in 1914 he was mobilised for active service. He retired from the navy after the war and joined the Colonial Administrative Service in Northern Rhodesia in 1927. He was stationed at Balovale, then part of Barotseland, as a cadet in 1928 and appointed District Officer in 1930. In the same year he married Marjory Florence Hope Barton.

From 1923 to 1939 he served on the Copperbelt first as a District Officer at Ndola and then at Mpika. He was particularly concerned at the conditions of the mineworkers and represented their complaints to the Colonial Government. During the Second World War, Fox-Pitt served in the Royal Navy with a convoy escort in the North Atlantic. Afterwards he returned to the Copperbelt, this time to Kitwe. He spent two evenings a week teaching English in an African night school. In the face of great opposition from the Colonial Government he encouraged the emergent trade unions and helped them to forge links with the European miners' trade unions. As a result he was transferred from the Copperbelt to become acting Provincial Commissioner in Barotseland in 1948, and a year later to Fort Jameson in the Eastern Province. Again he became involved in a dispute over African labour, concerning the sale of flu-cured tobacco. In 1951 he was put on the retired list. He remained in Northern Rhodesia, living on a smallholding in Kitwe and working with African organisations in opposition to the growing possibility of a Central African Federation.

One of the most fervent opponents of federation was a Lithuanian, Simon Ber Zukas, who had returned to Northern Rhodesia at the beginning of 1951 but was deported the following year for 'conducting himself so as to be a danger to peace and good order in the territory'. He and Fox-Pitt worked very closely together for the same cause after Fox-Pitt's return to England in December 1952. Fox-Pitt's term as Secretary of 'Racial Unity' (1952-1953) spanned the advent and birth of the Central African Federation which received the Queen's Assent on 1 August 1953. In 1953 he became Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, co-operating closely with other anti-federation movements such as the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the nationalist Congress parties in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland [Malawi]. It was decided after the return of Harold Macmillan's Conservative Government in November 1959, which supported federation, that the work of the campaign would have to go underground. From 1960, Fox-Pitt's energies were channelled largely into the London Committee of Kenneth Kaunda's United National Independence Party. As a consequence he found himself embroiled in a libel case with Sir Roy Welensky. The magazine produced by the Committee had, in Fox-Pitt's absence, made an unsubstantiated claim that Welensky was involved in the death of the Secretary General of the United Nations. U.N.I.P. was fined li.1000.

The Central African Federation was dissolved on 31 December 1963. Fox-Pitt attended the Zambia Independence celebrations in 1964 at which he received the Order of the Freedom of Zambia. For the next two years he served in the Local Government Department of the Independent Zambian Government and on a commission concerning civil service salaries. In 1966 he retired to England. He died in 1989.


Fox-Pitt had arranged much of the material before deposit, and this arrangement has been preserved as far as possible. The categories include: general correspondence; papers relating to Racial Unity; papers relating to the Anti-Slavery Society; papers relating to the Central African Federation; papers relating to the Movement for Colonial Freedom; subject files; material relating to the Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland African National Congresses. This arrangement is broadly chronological.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1963 and 1970

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Related Material

SOAS Library also holds the papers of the Movement for Colonial Freedom [Ref: MCF]. These papers include Central Council and Executive Committee papers, Area Council papers, country committee papers, finance papers, correspondence, subject files, and printed publications.