Papers of William E. Stober

Scope and Content

  • Legislative papers, mainly photocopies, relating to the New Hebrides (including the Anglo-French condominium government), 1870-[1980]
  • Records relating to the Joint Court of the New Hebrides, and to settlement and land, 1883-1980; records relating to the British Land Trust Board, 1903-1905, 1963-1994
  • Records relating to Stober's land assignment, 1911-1982
  • Minutes, mainly photocopied extracts, of the New Hebrides Advisory Council, 1958-1974
  • Photocopies and transcripts of correspondence and papers relating to the administration of the Southern District, including quarterly reports, 1907-1966
  • Miscellaneous papers relating to Stober and the New Hebrides/Vanuatu, 1908-1995
  • Unpublished printed material, 1957-1992; French Residency monthly reports and letters from Stober, 1966-1981

Administrative / Biographical History

William E. Stober (1940-1997) joined the Foreign Office Research Department in 1963 and after postings in Tanzania and Uganda and a further spell in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, eventually became an administrative officer in the British National Service in the New Hebrides, 1972-1976. He then returned to Great Britain and worked as an administrator in the University of Birmingham until his retirement in 1990, though he returned to the New Hebrides (now, after independence, Vanuatu), 1980-1981 to undertake an assignment and report on the establishment of a land tenure system. He continued to take an interest in Vanuatu until his death.

Conflicting French and British interests in the New Hebrides at the end of the 19th century led to the formation in 1887 of a Joint Naval Commission to administer the islands. This was replaced by a condominium government in 1906, where local rule was excercised by Anglo-French high commissioners acting through resident commissioners stationeat Vila on Eacutefat. Many legislative papers in the collection relate to the condominium government, which continued until the islands' independence in 1977.

Conditions Governing Access

Bodleian reader's ticket required. There is a 30 year closure on access to official papers (see handlist).


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

Much of the material was accumulated by Stober while he was working in the New Hebrides, either as copies of his own official files and papers retained for his own use, or as copies of earlier material made to assist in his work. With certain sections and files, additional papers were obtained from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Public Record Office in the UK, when Stober was working on the history of land tenure in the islands.

The earlier donation was rescued from a bonfire in the residency grounds during independence and deposited in the Institute of Pacific Studies.