Catalogue of the papers of Sir Robert Perceval Armitage, 1913-1990

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Emily Chen
2015

Shelfmarks: MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 599

Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts
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Table of Contents

Introduction
A   Gold Coast 1948-1984
    A.1   Working papers 1949-1984
    A.2   General papers 1948-1967
B   Cyprus 1953-1969
    B.1   Working papers 1948-1969
    B.2   General papers 1953-1955
C   Nyasaland 1954-1985
    C.1   Working papers 1954-1981
    C.2   General papers 1956-1962
D   Retirement 1955-1989
    D.1   Working papers 1961-1978
    D.2   General papers 1955-1989
E   Beit Trust 1963-1986
    E.1   Working papers 1965-1984
    E.2   General papers 1963-1986
F   Personal papers 1913-1990
    F.1   Correspondence 1913-1990
    F.2   Miscellaneous 3 Jan 1956-7 Aug 1964
G   Ephemera and photographs 1936-1987


Papers of Sir Robert Perceval Armitage

1913-1990

Abstract:
Papers, 1913-1990, of Sir Robert Armitage, KCMG, MBE (1906-1990), Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Cyprus, and Governor of Nyasaland.

Extent: 2.2 Linear metres, 16 physical shelfmarks
Language(s) of Material: English

Biographical/Historical

Biographical/Historial note written with reference to Oxford DNB.

Early Life

Armitage, Sir Robert Perceval (1906–1990), colonial governor, was born on 21 December 1906 at Nungumbaukum, Madras, India. He was educated in India until 1917 and then at Highfield School, Liphook, Hampshire. In 1920 he entered Winchester College. In 1925 he went to New College, Oxford to read history. After the tropical African services course there (1928–1929) he joined the colonial administrative service in Kenya. In 1930 he married Gwladys Lyona Meyler (1905–1998) in Nairobi.

Kenya

In 1939 he was posted to the Nairobi secretariat, successively filling the posts of assistant secretary, clerk of the legislative and executive councils, secretary to the member for agriculture, and finally, in 1947, administrative secretary. He was appointed MBE in 1944.

Gold Coast (Ghana)

In 1948 he was transferred to the Gold Coast (later to become the independent nation of Ghana in 1957) as financial secretary and became minister of finance in the years leading up to self-government. As a member of Kwame Nkrumah's cabinet, he oversaw a threefold expansion of government revenue and expenditure, and a doubling of imports and exports during his five years' service in the country. He was appointed CMG in 1951.

Cyprus

He was appointed governor of Cyprus and promoted KCMG in 1954, amid escalating Greek demands for sovereignity (enosis), increased friction between Greeks and Turks, and Britain's transfer of its Middle East military headquarters from Suez to Cyprus. Pro-enosis demonstrations increased while Colonel Grivas mounted a terrorist campaign killing many Turkish Cypriots and bomb attempts were made on Armitage's life. Harold Macmillan, foreign secretary, invited both Greece and Turkey to discuss Middle East affairs. Though inconclusive, discussions were followed by rioting and terrorism. In response, Britain decided that a military governor should take charge, and in September 1955 Armitage was replaced and appointed governor of Nyasaland.

Nyasaland (Malawi)

In 1953 Britain established the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (also known as the Central African Federation), comprised of the colony of Southern Rhodesia and the territories of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Black Africans of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland opposed the federation, fearing the influence of Southern Rhodesian racial policies (apartheid).

Armitage was appointed governor of Nyasaland and took office in April 1956. The majority of his time in Nyasaland was spent dealing with the repercussions of this imposition and trying to fulfil the British government's instruction to win over the Africans to federation.

Little constitutional progress was made and the Nyasaland African Congress, led by Hastings Banda, stepped up agitation. On 3 March 1959 a state of emergency was declared with Banda and 1300 of his followers detained. The Devlin Commission was appointed to inquire into the emergency, finding the declaration justified but that some illegal behaviour had accompanied detentions. The Monckton Commission was then appointed in 1960 to help determine the future of the Central African Federation.

Banda was released in April 1960 over Armitage's objections. The state of emergency was lifted in June and in August a new constitution was agreed giving Congress a large majority in the legislature and a dominating presence in the executive council.

Retirement from service

After his retirement in 1961, he lived at Marnhull in Dorset, and later at Amesbury Abbey in Wiltshire. He gave many talks and devoted much of his time to charitable organisations such as St John Ambulance and the Beit Trust. As a board member of the Beit Trust he toured Malawi and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) on many occasions. He died of cardiac failure at Amesbury Abbey Nursing Home on 7 June 1990, and was cremated at Salisbury.

Scope and Content

The Armitage archives comprise papers concerning his activities:

A. as an administrator in the Gold Coast, 1948-1954 (with some after office until 1984); B. as a colonial governor of Cyprus, 1953-1955 (with some after office until 1969); C. as a colonial governor of Nyasaland, 1954-61 (with some after office until 1985); D. after retirement 1961-1989; E. as a member of the Beit Trust, 1963-1986; F. as a private individual, 1913-1990; and G. various ephemera and photographs, 1949-1987.

This includes speeches, personal and official correspondence, diaries, press cuttings, photographs and ephemera.

Arrangement

The original order of the collection has been maintained and arranged into seven series. The first five reflect the major activities of the creator including the areas of his administrative roles and his public activities after retirement. The last two consist of the creator’s personal papers and ephemera.

Acquisition

Papers were donated by the Armitage family via Professor Colin Baker on May 30, 2002.

Armitage | Sir | Robert Perceval | 1906-1990 | Knight | colonial administrator

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 599

Subject(s)

Africa, Central | History | 20th century
Cyprus | History | 20th century
Ghana | History | 20th century
Great Britain | Colonies | Cyprus | Administration
Great Britain | Colonies | Ghana | Administration
Great Britain | Colonies | Kenya | Administration
Great Britain | Colonies | Malawi | Administration
Kenya | History | 1895-1963
Malawi | History | 20th century

A   Gold Coast 1948-1984

Arrangement

The majority of papers are from Armitage's time in office. However, there is a folder of papers post-office pertaining to Gold Coast interests.


A.1   Working papers 1949-1984

Subject files, chronological
Date: 1 Apr 1949-14 Mar 1984
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 3 folders

Scope and Content

Papers grouped by subject and listed in rough chronological order. Consists of:

Reports and publications
Date: 1953-1959
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Reports and publications referenced by Armitage.

Broadcasts, addresses, and press releases
Date: 14 Apr 1949-20 Feb 1952
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Broadcasts, addresses, and press releases given during his time as financial secretary and minister of finance of the Gold Coast.

A.2   General papers 1948-1967

Press cuttings and extracts
Date: 16 Mar 1949-5 Mar 1967
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Press cutting and extracts collected by Armitage relating to the Gold Coast (and Ghana after independence). Consists of:

Desk diaries and loose leaves
Date: 19 Jun 1948-14 Jun 1953
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

These diaries cover 1948-1953 with loose leaves from 1950-1953.

Correspondence and papers
Date: 1 Jun 1948-14 Jun 1953
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/1

Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence and papers relating to his time as financial secretary and later minister of finance. Includes his appointment as under-secretary and references to his budget speech.

B   Cyprus 1953-1969

Arrangement

The majority of papers are from Armitage's time in office. However, there is a folder of papers post-office pertaining to the Cyprus 'problem'.


B.1   Working papers 1948-1969

B.1.1   Subject files, chronological 1953-1969

Appointment
Date: 7 Jul 1953-21 Apr 1954
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 3 folders

Scope and Content

Papers relating to Armitage's appointment as governor of Cyprus. Consists of:

Departure
Date: 15 Jul 1955-30 Nov 1955
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Papers relating to Armitage's departure from Cyprus as well as his new appointment as governor of Nyasaland. Consists of:

After office
Date: 7 May 1956-30 Jun 1969
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press cuttings and articles with some correspondence relating to the problem of Cyprus, collected by Armitage after leaving office.

Press releases, speeches, and notes
Date: 26 Jan 1954-28 Dec 1954
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

These papers include press releases, speeches and notes relating to his official duties in Cyprus.

Miscellaneous papers
Date: 1 Jul 1948-22 Sep 1954
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

These papers include miscellaneous notes, correspondence, and press cuttings from his time in Cyprus.

B.2   General papers 1953-1955

Desk diaries
Date: 27 Oct 1953-3 Oct 1955
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

These diaries cover 1953-1955.

C   Nyasaland 1954-1985

Arrangement

These papers are mainly from Armitage's time in office though he maintained a lifelong interest in Nyasaland. The majority of them are arranged by subject in roughly chronological order. Some subjects span the entirety of his administrative term and are grouped separately.


C.1   Working papers 1954-1981

C.1.1   Subject files, chronological 1954-1961

Appointment/Colby handover
Date: 25 Oct 1954-25 Aug 1956
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Speeches, press cuttings and articles, correspondence, and papers relating to Armitage's appointment as governor and the former governor, Geoffery Colby's, handing over notes. (see also Ephemera and photographs for photos of St Andrews Night at the Nyasaland Caledonian Society 30 Nov 1956.)

Lennox-Boyd visit
Date: 18 Jan 1957-22 Jan 1957
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press releases, addresses, and interviews of the colonial secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, of his visit.

Queen Mother's visit
Date: 2 Jul 1957-17 Jul 1957
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Official tour programme, programmes and itineraries (including press cuttings) of the Queen Mother's 1957 visit.

UK Delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association visit
Date: 25 Aug 1957-26 Sep 1957
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Official programme and tour itinerary from the visit of the UK Delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Governor-General and Lady Dalhousie's visit
Date: 2 Nov 1957-5 Nov 1957
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Itinerary, dinner programme and other papers from the official visit of Governor-General of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Simon Ramsay, 16th Earl of Dalhousie and Lady Dalhousie.

Declaration of Emergency
Date: 16 Jan 1959-26 Mar 1959
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/4
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press cuttings, correspondence, and papers relating to the 'Declaration of the State of Emergency in Nyasaland'.

Devlin report
Date: Mar 1959-Jul 1959
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/4
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 4 folders

Scope and Content

Papers relating to the Devlin report, including:

Macmillan's visit
Date: 20 Jan 1960-22 Mar 1960
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press cuttings, addresses, and reports relating to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's visit and the riot at Ryall Hotel while he was speaking there.

Queen Mother's visit
Date: 23 May 1960-31 Jul 1960
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence and telegrams relating to the Queen Mother's 1960 visit.

Footman's departure
Date: 13 Aug 1958-12 Apr 1960
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence and telegrams relating to chief secretary of Nyasaland Charles Footman's retirement and relocation.

Monckton Commission
Date: 21 Mar 1960-15 Dec 1960
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press releases and articles relating to, and itinerary of the Monckton Commission.

Lifting of State of Emergency/Resignation
Date: 2 May 1960-27 Mar 1961
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence, notes, press releases and speeches relating to the lifting of the state of emergency after the release of Dr Hastings Banda and Armitage's resignation.

C.1.2   Subject files, general 1955-1985

Arrangement

Papers grouped by subject.


Central African Federation
Date: 2 Oct 1955-18 Feb 1963
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/6
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 4 folders

Scope and Content

Correspondence, papers and printed materials relating to the Central African Federation, also known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (see also Macmillan's visit), includes:

Banda
Date: 2 Apr 1960-14 Apr 1985
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/6
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Interviews, statements, correspondence, and press cuttings relating to Dr Hastings Banda from around the time of his release from detention and afterwards.

Press releases, speeches, and notes
Date: Jun 1956-Jul 1961
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/7
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 3 folders

Scope and Content

Press releases and related notes including:

Reports and papers
Date: Aug 1958-Feb 1963
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/7-8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Various reports and papers relating to Nyasaland, includes:

Miscellaneous tours
Date: 19 Apr 1955-29 Aug 1960
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Itineraries and programmes for official tours within the Central African Federation (includes related press cuttings).

C.2   General papers 1956-1962

Press cuttings and articles
Date: 7 Dec 1956-31 Mar 1960
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press cuttings and articles from his time in office relating to Nyasaland.

Correspondence and papers
Date: 1950s-1960s
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Correspondence with Armitage in his official capacity, includes letters concerning the release of telegrams discussing the deferral of Lord Perth's projected visit to Nyasaland, covering 25 Feb 1959-14 Oct 1959.

Desk diaries
Date: 1 Jan 1956-17 Jan 1962
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/9
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 3 folders

Scope and Content

These diaries cover 1956-1962; 1957 is missing from the series.

D   Retirement 1955-1989

D.1   Working papers 1961-1978

Speaking engagements
Date: 1961-1978
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/9-10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 6 folders

Scope and Content

Correspondence, invitations, notes, and speeches from various speaking engagements. Includes:

Board memberships
Date: 1961-1963
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Correspondence regarding membership on various boards. Includes:

D.2   General papers 1955-1989

Oxford Development Records Project
Date: 4 Mar 1955-31 Dec 1989
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence relating to the University of Oxford's Development Records Project (ODRP).

Armitage archives and researchers
Date: 24 May 1969-3 Nov 1988
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence relating to the donation of his personal papers to ODRP (formerly housed at Rhodes House Library) as well as queries from various researchers.

Other charitable works
Date: 3 Mar 1955-2 Apr 1979
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Press cuttings, correspondence and papers regarding donations, board memberships etc. (see also photographs of All Saints Church in Ephemera and photographs).

E   Beit Trust 1963-1986

E.1   Working papers 1965-1984

Reports and papers
Date: 21 Jan 1965-14 Apr 1984
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/11
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Working papers from his time with the Beit Trust, includes various tours of Malawi and Zimbabwe. Consists of:

E.2   General papers 1963-1986

Correspondence and papers
Date: 22 Jul 1963-12 Nov 1986
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/11
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Papers and correspondence relating to the Beit Trust, including general rules and regulations, background, and Armitage's appointment in 1965 as a trustee and his resignation in 1984. Consists of:

F   Personal papers 1913-1990

F.1   Correspondence 1913-1990

Family and friends
Date: 12 May 1913-4 Dec 1987
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/12-13
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 6 folders

Scope and Content

Correspondence and papers from family and friends, includes:

Education and training
Date: Sep 1920-Sep 1937
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/13
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Papers relating to his early education and training, including certificates and reports.

Death
Date: 28 Aug 1982-30 Jun 1990
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/13
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Correspondence and papers relating to his death, including obituaries, arrangements for service and burial, death certificate, order of service, and condolence letters.

F.2   Miscellaneous 3 Jan 1956-7 Aug 1964

Scope and Content

Miscellaneous other papers including poems, membership cards, family tree etc.

G   Ephemera and photographs 1936-1987

Ephemera, social functions
Date: 22 Jul 1946-29 Mar 1984
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/14
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 4 folders

Scope and Content

Ephemera relating to various social functions attended while in office, consisting of programmes, schedules, race meeting books, and related papers and correspondence. Includes:

Press cuttings
Date: 2 Jul 1936-1 Apr 1987
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/15
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 folders

Scope and Content

Press cuttings and articles, those relating to Nyasaland were grouped together by Armitage. Consists of:

Printed materials
Date: [1920s-1980s]
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/16
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 3 folders

Scope and Content

Printed materials including:

Photographs
Date: 1949-1961, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS.Brit.Emp.s.599/16
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 4 folders

Scope and Content

Photographs and albums, showing:


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