Papers of George A. Grieve (b. 1888)

Scope and Content

The collection consists of: correspondence and papers (1910-1952) relating mainly to Grieve's arrival in Kenya, his appointment as head of the Alliance School, and his retirement and return to Scotland; pamphlets and memoranda relating to the mission, Kikuyu schools and the education of Africans (1919-1958); and a paper on Kikuyu speech sounds with two Kikuyu songs.

Administrative / Biographical History

George A. Grieve, Church of Scotland missionary and headmaster of the Alliance School, Kikuyu, Kenya, was born in Dundee on 30 April 1888. He was educated at Markinch, Fife, and from 1906-1909 he trained as a teacher at Moray House Edinburgh, while at the same time taking an Arts course at Edinburgh University. He took teaching posts at various primary schools in Scotland until 1914 when he joined the Highland Cyclist Battalion reaching the rank of Captain in 1917. From 1917-1919 he was attached to the 4th Gordon Highlanders in France as a quartermaster. On being demobilised, Grieve returned briefly to his teaching post in Cairndow, Argyll, then took a Diploma in Education at Edinburgh University which he completed in 1920. In September 1920 Grieve arrived at Kikuyu, Kenya, to take charge of teacher training at the Church of Scotland mission and, except for a short period from 1924-25 when he returned to Edinburgh to take a B.Ed. degree, remained in Kenya for the following twenty years. In March 1926 Grieve became the first headmaster of the Alliance High School in Kikuyu, a post he held until his retirement in 1940. The school was formed by an alliance of Protestant missions: Grieve remained formally attached to the Church of Scotland mission but was on secondment during his period as headmaster. On his return to Scotland in 1940, Grieve was ordained as a minister of the Church of Scotland and took a post at Ardeonaig Church, Perthshire. In 1945 he returned to Kenya for three years to help during a shortage of staff. Back in Scotland in 1948 he continued his church work at Ardeonaig and edited the Kikuyu News. He later moved to Cabrach Church, Banffshire. Grieve retired from the ministry and moved to Edinburgh after the death of his wife in 1961. He had two sons, the younger died in Kenya and the elder, A.T. Grieve, lost his life in air operations in the far East in 1941. Grieve was awarded the MBE in 1940 for his services to education in Kenya. He died in the late 1960s.


The material is arranged in three files (Gen. 766/3-5), the first contains most of the papers and correspondence in roughly chronological order, the second the printed items and memoranda, and the third the Kikuyu language items.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

The papers were presented to Edinburgh University in 1964 by the Reverend Grieve through Professor George Shepperson, Professor of Commonwealth and American History at the University of Edinburgh.


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) a biographical note written by the Reverend Grieve (Gen. 766/3). (2) Smith, J. Stephen. The History of the Alliance High School. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books, 1973.

Compiled by Caroline Brown, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division. Revised by Graeme D. Eddie.

Other Finding Aids

Alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives. The collection is mentioned in the Edinburgh University Library subject checklist (C3) Manuscripts on Africa.

Alternative Form Available

Edinburgh University Library Special Collections also has a microfilm of the collection (Mic. Dup. 88) and a copy was sent to the Kenyan High Commission in 1982.

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Related Material

The papers of John William Arthur (Gen. 762-765) and of Arthur Ruffell Barlow (Gen. 1785-1786) both at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives are concerned with the mission and schools at Kikuyu. Edinburgh University Library African Studies (CAS) collection includes pamphlets and printed materials relating to the church at Kikuyu. The National Library of Scotland has an extensive missionary collection including some Grieve correspondence. Dr Brian McIntosh in his doctoral thesis The Scottish Mission in Kenya 1891-1923 (Edinburgh University 1969) has a comprehensive list of sources for the history of the Kikuyu mission.

Geographical Names