Sir Patrick Duncan Papers (Microfilm)

Scope and Content

Sir Patrick Duncan's correspondence with his son, Patrick Duncan, December 1928 - June 1943. Administrative and political papers, and correspondence with Lady Selborne (with whom he corresponded throughout his career).

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Patrick Duncan was born in Aberdeenshire in 1870. He later joined the Department of Inland Revenue where he worked under Alfred (later Lord) Milner. In 1900, Milner needed skilful administrators to help him implement his reconstruction programme in the Transvaal; one of his first recruits was Duncan who, in 1903, became Transvaal Colonial Secretary. With the regaining of Afrikaner political ascendancy, Duncan lost his job and went back to Britain to qualify for the bar, returning to Johannesburg to practice. In 1910 he stood successfully as a Unionist candidate in Fordsburg. As opposition leader of the Transvaal Unionists he led a social reform pressure group and worked on a Miners' Silicosis Bill and a Minimum Wages Bill for women workers. In 1921, Jan Smuts, the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, was forced to seek Unionist support, and Duncan joined his cabinet, as Minister of the Interior. He was at the centre of the controversy in 1924 over the use of the Immigration Act to prevent Jewish refugees from entering the country. By 1929 Duncan was the leading member after Smuts of the South Africa Party, then in opposition. In 1933, during the political crisis that developed over Hertzog's decision to keep South Africa on the Gold Standard, Duncan played a crucial role in arguing in favour of the coalition proposals, which led to the creation of the United Party. He was made Minister of Mines, a post he held until his appointment as Governor-General in 1936. His last major political decision was to refuse Hertzog's request for a dissolution and election over the issue of whether South Africa should declare war on Germany. Sir Patrick died of cancer in 1943, during his second term of office

Reference: A Guide to the Southern African Archives in the University of York (1979).

Access Information

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including the Data Protection Act 1998.

Acquisition Information

The microfilms were made between 1974 and 1977 and obtained from the University of Cape Town in 1977/8.

Other Finding Aids

A collection level description, in paper format, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms and at the National Register of Archives, London.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Karamdeep Sahota on 3 October 2007.

Conditions Governing Use

The consent of the Librarian of Special Collections, University of Cape Town must be obtained before quotation from this material.

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York, terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

Papers of Patrick Duncan (1918-1967) GB 0193 DU

Location of Originals

The originals of the administrative and political papers are held at the Jagger Library, University of Cape Town. The originals of the correspondence with Patrick Duncan are held at the University of York (DU/2.1.1.-DU/2.1.202.);

Geographical Names