Scrapbook on the Ashanti Expedition, 1895-1896

Scope and Content

Scrapbook containing sixty-eight newspaper cuttings on the British Army's Ashanti Expedition, led by Colonel Sir F.C. Scott, during the Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War (1895-1896). The scrapbook was compiled by, or for, brevet Lieutenant-Commander Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair, Commander, Royal Engineers, Ashanti Expeditionary Force.

Handwritten volume title: 'Ashanti 1895-96'. Enclosed press cuttings originate from the period between late 1895 and early 1896, and cover topics including the formation and composition of the British Army's Ashanti Expeditionary Force; the Expedition's travel to the Gold Coast colony; the advance on the Ashanti Empire; the unopposed occupation of the city of Kumasi; the detainment and forced exile of Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I, and other Ashanti leaders; and the return of the Ashanti Expeditionary Force. Cuttings are predominantly undated and are without attributed source title. Two short annotations in pencil, added at a later date, possibly by Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair's niece.

The following articles are included in the scrabook: 'Sailing for Ashanti' (A Cumbrian Lady); 'The Ashanti Expedition (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (Reuter's Special Service); untitled article on the background to the Expedition (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: The Plan of the Advance' (anon.); 'Ashantee: Departures From London (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Sketch Map of the Part of the Gold Coast Showing the Routes to Kumasi' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Departure of Troops (anon.); untitled article on the relation between Samory Touré [Samori Ture] of the Wassoulou Empire and Ashanti Empire (anon.); 'Ashanti Expedition: The Plan of the Advance' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Arrival of Sir Francis Scott' (Reuter's Telegram); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (Central News Special); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Reported Deposition of King Prempeh' (anon.); 'The Situation in Turkey' (Reuter's Telegram); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Battle Between the King and a Native Chief (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Preparations for the Advance; (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Arrival at Prasu' (Reuter's Special Service); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (Reuter's Special Service); 'The Ashanti Expedition'(Reuter's Special Service); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Allegations of Treachery (anon.)'; 'The Ashanti Expedition: Prempeh's Policy' (Reuter's Special Service); 'The Ashanti War: Christmas at the Front' (Central News correspondent); 'The Ashanti Expedition: King Prempeh's English Prisoners - Important Details' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Arrival of Transports' (Special Correspondent); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Fresh Opposition' (Special Correspondent); 'The Ashanti Expedition: The Governor and the Envoys' (Colonial Office announcement); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Progress of the March' (Our Special Correspondent); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Intended Annexations (Reuters' Special Service); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (Reuters Special Service); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Proposals for Peace' (Our Special Correspondent); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Treaty Signed by the Kings of Bekwae and Abodom' (Reuters Special Service); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Poisonous Water Sickness in Camp' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Peaceful Occupation of Kumasi' (anon.); 'Full Description of the Submission & Arrest of King Prempeh' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Return of the White Troops' (Our Special Correspondent); untitled article on entry into Kumasi (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: The Return March to the Coast' (Our Special Correspondent); untitled article on the return of the Ashanti Expeditionary Force (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (Reuter's Special Service); 'Occupation of Coomassie: End of the War' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (Reuter's Special Service); untitled article on arrest of Asantehene Agyeman Prempeh (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (anon.); 'The Ashanti Expedition: The Reported Occupation of Kumasi' (anon.); 'The Occupation of Coomassie: Submission of King Prempeh' (anon.); untitled article on the occupation of Kumasi (anon.); The Ashanti Expedition' (Our Special Correspondent); 'On the Way to Kumasi' (Our Special Correspondent); 'The Ashanti Expedition: Conclusion' (Our Special Correspondent); loose articles: 'In the Bush' (Our Special Correspondent, Dec 21, 1895); 'The Ashanti Expedition' (anon.); and 'The Supply: The Army Supplementary Estimates' (anon.).

Administrative / Biographical History

Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair was born on 23rd February 1855, son of the Rev. William Sinclair, Rector of Pulborough, and Sophia Mary Georgiana Sinclair (née Trip). He was educated at Malvern College and Repton School, before attending the Royal Military Academy, where he was a Pollock prize medallist in 1874.

Sinclair was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in February 1874 and was appointed to Cyprus. His engineering works in Larnaka, Cyprus in 1879 led to the discovery of the archaeological remains from the harbour quarter of the ancient city of Kition, of which some artefacts were subsequently acquired by the British Museum. He served as Private Secretary to the High Commissioner of Cyprus (1881-1886) and played a role overseeing the foundation of the Cyprus Museum in 1882, and followed Herbert Kitchener (later 1st Earl Kitchener), a fellow Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, as the museum's honorary curator.

Sinclair passed the Staff College with honours in 1890 and served, between 1892 and 1895, as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for the British Army in the North-Eastern District. Sinclair was assigned to the Ashanti Expeditionary Force during the Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War (1895-1896). He served as Commander, Royal Engineers, brevetted as Lieutenant-Colonel, in the British expeditionary force, under Colonel Sir Francis C. Scott, which marched to the city of Kumasi [in modern Ghana] in 1896 and deposed the ruler of the Ashanti Empire, Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I. Sinclair was mentioned in dispatches for his role in the campaign. The expedition had been launched following an alledged breach of the terms of the Treaty of Fomena by the Ashanti Empire which had been signed following the Thirst Anglo-Ashanit War (1873-1874) and the refusal of Asantehene Prempeh I to agree to British Protectorate status for the Ashanti Empire.

Following the Ashanti campaign, Sinclair was appointed in 1899 as Assistant Military Secretary and aide-de-camp to Sir George Luck, Commander-in-Chief, Bengal Command, later serving as Assistant Adjutant General in India (1899-1901). He was assigned to South Africa in 1900, overseeing transport, and participated in the Battle of Zilikats Nek, near the Magaliesberg, during the Second Anglo-Boer War, for which he was mentioned in dispatches. In 1903, Colonel Sinclair was appointed Assistant Quarter-Master General for the Western District, and later held the same role for the Southern Command. He served as Chief Engineer at the Scottish Command from 1908 to 1912, when he retired. He was awarded the Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1910. Sinclair re-joined the Royal Engineers following the outbreak of the First World War, serving as Commandant of Railway Troops, Longmoor between 1914 and 1919. For his work during the War, he was awarded the honours of the Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (1917) and Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (1919).

Sinclair married Rosalie Sybil Jackson, daughter of Sir John Jackson MP, on 4 July 1905. The couple had four children: John Montgomerie Sinclair (1906-1954); Rosalie Helen Sinclair (1908-1986); Hugh Macdonald Sinclair (1910-1990); and Catherine Julia Sinclair (1913-1961).

Colonel Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair died on 10 July 1924. Following his death his wife Rosalie Sybil Sinclair took the decision to edit and publish an autobiographical account of Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair's life (which he had written solely for his own children) as H. M. Sinclair, 'Camp and Society', London: Chapman and Hill, 1926.


Newspaper cuttings arranged in the scrapbook in general chronological order.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library by John Spencer-Silver, grand-nephew of Colonel Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair, on 15th September 2014.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Hardbound light blue volume, with red, gold and blue flower motif cover. Volume dimensions - H 30.48 x L 24.50 cm.

Conditions Governing Use

Private study only. For publication or broadcast please refer to Archivist.

Related Material

Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair, 'Camp and Society', London: Chapman and Hill, 1926 [SOAS Library Classmark: ER 2293 / 507777]; a published autobiographical account of Sinclair's life, which was edited and published following his death by his wife Rosalie Sybil Sinclair; Sinclair had intended that the autobiography be circulated solely amongst his own children. Chapter XVIII includes an account of the Ashanti Expedition of 1895-1896 (pp. 203-219).

The British Museum archives hold a report and accompanying map by Hugh Montomerie Sinclair of the partial demolition of Bamboula hill at Larnaka, Cyprus in 1879, which he supervised as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, during which various archaeological remains were discovered - a selection of which are now held in the collections of the British Museum.

The papers of Dr Hugh Macdonald Sinclair, a leading pioneer in the field of nutrition and son of Colonel Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair, are held at the Museum of English Rural Life, Special Collections, University of Reading [ref. D HS]. These papers include correspondence with family members, including his father Hugh Montgomerie Sinclair [ref. D HS 1/1].

Geographical Names