Correspondence and papers of the Rhodes Family (Hildersham Hall collection)

Scope and Content

  • Family letters and papers, 1758-1975
  • Family letters and papers, with miscellaneous papers relating to theJameson Raid, 1870-1973
  • Wills and papers relating to family inheritances and descent, 1758-1975
  • Notebooks, diaries, family trees, photographs, etc., 1866-1906
  • Cecil John Rhodes's notebooks and commonplace book, with copies of letterswritten to family members, 1868-1902
  • Notebooks, diaries, etc. of other members of the Rhodes family, includingHerbert and Frank, 1866-1905
  • Family trees, family bible and album
  • Family photographs, etc., [c1880]-1975
  • Family trees, 1913
  • Plans of Dalham and the family vault, and miscellaneous items, mainlynewspaper cuttings, 1807, 1883-1912

Administrative / Biographical History

This information is taken from the various pedigrees and genealogical notes among these and other Rhodes papers held at the library.

The earliest traceable direct ancestor of Cecil Rhodes is James Rhodes (fl 1660) of Snape Green, Whitmore, Staffordshire, husband of Christian/Christiana. Given the connection, the next generation of the family appear in the Stockport area. James's eldest son, William was baptised in Disley, Cheshire in 1664 and his second son, Thomas, is listed as of Bramhall, Stockport.

Thomas's son William was baptised in Disley but came to London c1720, farming property in the Gray's Inn and Regent's Park areas, and leasing Brill Farm, St. Pancras. He died in 1787 and, in common with the four subsequent generations, was commemorated at St. Pancras Old Church. William's son, Thomas held freehold land in St. Pancras and various other London properties.

Thomas's son Samuel (1736-1794) of Hoxton, Hackney, Middlesex (a few miles north east of St. Pancras) became aware of building work encroaching on the surrounding farmland by the rapid outward growth of London. He therefore purchased land containing brick earth, most of which was sold at his death. His estate in Dalston (Hackney), however, was left jointly to his three surviving sons, Thomas (1762-1856), William (1774-1843) and Samuel (1766-1822).

Samuel sold his share in the property to his brothers in 1802, then amassed property as a brickmaster in Islington (Hackney). His descendants were later based in Surrey. Thomas and William continued their joint brick manufacturing business for a number of years. Thomas eventually acquired the Tottenham Wood estate. His descendants held land in Tottenham Wood and Muswell Hill, North London, and later settled in Northamptonshire. William was an inventor and in 1824 patented his own brick manufacturing improvements. In 1802 he leased the de Beauvoir estate in Hackney and gained a building lease for the estate in 1821. However, after a period of lengthy litigation, the estate passed back to Richard de Beauvoir in 1834. William's family lived as tenants of Leyton Grange, Essex, 1829-1843. They also possessed property at Cold Harbour, Shoreditch.

William's children were born or baptised in Hackney. His eldest son, Francis William (1807-1878) was perpetual curate of Brentwood, Essex, 1834-1843 and Vicar of Bishops Stortford, Essex, 1849-1876. Most of Francis William's children were born at Bishops Stortford.

Of Francis William's children, Herbert (1845-1879) was involved with his brother Cecil in prospecting for diamonds in Kimberley, Cape Colony early in his career, but was accidentally killed while pioneering in the Lake Nyasa area. Francis William (1850-1905) joined the 1st Royal Dragoons as 2nd Lieutenant in 1873, rising to the rank of Colonel in 1889. He fought in Egypt, 1884, the Sudan, 1884-1885, 1888, in the Ndebele War, 1896 and the South African War, 1899-1900. Ernest Frederick (1852-1901) joined the Royal Engineers as Lieutenant in 1872 and retired as Captain in 1884 (his wife, Helen Irving, leased Hildersham Hall, Cambridge in 1939). Cecil John (1853-1902) was father of the De Beers Consolidated Mining Company and the British South Africa Company, as well as a major architect of British policy in southern Africa, founder of a university at Salisbury, Rhodesia, and a benefactor to Oord University. Elmhurst (b 1858) entered the army in 1878 as an Ensign in the 49th Foot, rose to Captain of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and retired as Major in 1903. He fought in Egypt, 1882, the Sudan, 1885, 1885-1886, and in the South African War, 1899-1902. Arthur Montagu (1859-1935) fought in the 2nd Ndebele War. Bernard Maitland (1861-1935) entered the Royal Artillery in 1880 as Lieutenant and retired in 1897 as Captain. During the mid-19th century Cecil came into possession of Dalham Hall, Suffolk, as well as the Groote Schuur estate in Cape Colony. After his death, Dalham passed eventually to the eldest son of Cecil's brother Ernest Frederick.

Ernest Frederick had four children - Francis William (1898-1938), Cecil John (1904-1936), Georgia Margaret (1891-1978) and Violet (1893-1978). Georgia Margaret and Violet held Hildersham Hall jointly after their mother's death. Dalham Hall was sold during this generation.

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. 725 in Manuscript Collections of Africana in Rhodes House Library Oxford by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1968). A handlist is also available in the library reading room.

Alternative Form Available

The library holds these papers on microfilm (ref. Micr. 615)

Conditions Governing Use

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


A number of accruals have been made to the Rhodes collections held by the library, mostly from the Rhodes Trustees or through private purchases. These are listed in the library's correspondence files.

Related Material

Papers refer to Cecil John Rhodes unless otherwise stated

  • Out-letters and telegrams, 1893-1903 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 227)
  • In-letters, telegrams and related papers, 1875-1908 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 228)
  • Suppementary papers, 1864-1961
  • Miscellaneous papers, 1890-1969 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 8)
  • Chequebooks, 1891-1902 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 10)
  • Obituary album, 1902 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 11)
  • Rhodes Fruit Farms, photograph album (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 12)
  • Reminiscences of Rhodes, 1923-1963 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 69)
  • Letters to his family, 1868-1893 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 115 and 115*)
  • Background material for Basil Williams' book Cecil Rhodes (London, 1929), 1914-1921 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 134)
  • Papers relating to Rhodes in the Livingstone Museum, Zambia (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 641)
  • Wills and related papers, with some additional material including holograph letters, 1871-1901 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 1)
  • Miscellaneous papers, including holograph letters, 1869-1955 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 5)
  • Photocopies of correspondence with 4th Earl Grey, 1889-1900 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 6)
  • Rhodes family certificates, 1658-1951 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 8)
  • Material received in response to press appeals, 1955 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 10-11)
  • Miscellaneous papers, mainly holograph letters, 1868-1902 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 14)
  • Map of Africa in four sheets, the personal copy of Rhodes, bearing in his autograph projected railways and means of communication, 1896 (ref. MSS. Afr. r. 4)
  • Letter from Reginald Fenton concerning a promised seat on the board of De Beers, 1889; typescript biographical and historical material, 1902, 1911 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 138)
  • Letter from 4th Earl Grey to Lady Grey concerning the Jameson raid, 1896 (photocopy) (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 424)
  • Letter concerning Rhodes and the Jameson raid, 1937 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 19)
  • Photocopies of Rhodesiana from the New Consolidated Gold Fields's archives, including letters from Rhodes, 1893-1899, cheques drawn by Rhodes, 1897-1901, and letters from his brothers and sisters, and from Kipling to Michell, 1898-1925 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 140)
  • Correspondence of Rhodes and others, 1889-1909 (on microfilm) (ref. Micr. Afr. 413)
  • Papers of Carlie E. Wienand, including account of Rhodes's funeral, [1902] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1314 (3, 4)
  • Correspondence of Sir Graham John Bower, including from Rhodes, [1898-1902] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1279)
  • Typescript of Yrs., C.J. Rhodes: the letters of an imperialist, edited by Thomas William Baxter, 1974 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1804)
  • Letters to various recipients, 1892-1901 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1826)
  • Manuscript of Concerning C.J. Rhodes and his kinfolk of olden time and some familiar places by Hilda Thornhill, with related photographs, [?1930s] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1767)
  • Copies of telegrams and letters during the peace negotiations in the Matopos, 1896 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1707)
  • Photographs of the Groote Schuur estate and the Rhodes memorial there, [c1902-1910] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1909)
  • Photographs of the Groote Schuur estate, including some of the fire of 1896, [c1900] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1910)
  • Photographs of Rhodes's funeral, with related material, [1902] (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 45)
  • Letter to the 'Duke of M', suggesting a meeting with Rhodes on the subject of colonial representation, 1881 (ref. MSS. Afr. r. 224)
  • Narrative of various historical incidents connected with Rhodes, with the African transcontinental telegraph, and the Central African highway from Zambezi to Egypt, 1907 (ref. Micr. Afr. 156 (2))
  • Telegrams and letters received by Rhodes, 1876-1901 (ref. Micr. Afr. 156 (3))
  • Letter and telegram from Rhodes to J.X. Merriman, 1884-1885 (ref. Micr. Afr. 154)
  • Account by W.D. Flynn, the De Beers farm manager, of his association with Rhodes and of the Siege of Mafeking, with photographs of Rhodes memorabilia, etc., [1951] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2301)
  • Set of stamps issued by the British South Africa Company, 1894 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2306)
  • Rhodes family photographs, 1895-1910 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2201)
  • Illustration of gathering at the Rhodes memorial, 1933 (ref. MSS. Afr. r. 241)
  • Album of newspaper cuttings and printed material concerning Rhodes, 1896-1902 (ref. MSS. s. 1934)
  • Postcard containing cartoon of Rhodes and General Cronje, 1900 (ref. MSS. Afr. r. 256)
  • Letter to Colonel Frank Rhodes enclosing original copy of verses by Kipling entitled C.J.R., 1902 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1772)
  • Photocopy calendar of historical manuscripts at the Central African Archives, Cecil John Rhodes section, 1957 (ref. MSS. Afr. r. 10)
  • Typescript articles on Rhodes and Milner, c1902-1905 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2005)
  • Letters and telegrams of Francis William Rhodes concerning the affairs of the British South Africa Company, etc., 1895 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 25)

Other related material includes

  • Papers of John X. Merriman, 'Onze Jan' Hofmeyr, and Sir James Rose Innes are held at the National Library of South Africa
  • Records of Dalston Estate, [1789-1957] are held at the Archives, London Borough of Hackney

Geographical Names