Catalogue of the papers of Peter Bewes, 1968-79

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

C. Parker


Department of Special Collections
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Papers of Peter Bewes, 1968-79

Letters to his parents from Uganda and Tanzania

Shelfmarks: MS. Afr. s. 2497

Extent: 1 shelfmark
Language of Material: English

Biographical History

Peter Cecil Bewes was born in 1932 in Kenya, the son of Rev. T.F.C. Bewes, the Africa Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and his wife, Sylvia. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He qualified as a surgeon in 1963 and worked as a registrar in surgery in Eastbourne and London, before moving to Africa in 1968. He combined two roles as a senior registrar in surgery at Mulago Hospital, and a lecturer in surgery at Makerere University, both in Kampala, Uganda, 1968-72. He moved to Tanzania in 1973 as consultant surgeon at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, returning to the UK in 1979, where he worked as consultant surgeon at Birmingham Accident Hospital until its closure in 1993.

Scope and Content

Letters to his parents describing his work as a surgeon and lecturer in Uganda, 1968-72, and later in Tanzania, 1973-9.


Letters from Uganda were donated to the library by Peter Bewes, 31 Jan. 1994. Letters from Tanzania were donated to the library by Peter Bewes, 5 Feb. 1994 and July 1994.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 2497, fols. 1-2].

Personal names (NCA Rules)

Bewes | Peter Cecil | b 1932 | surgeon

Place names (NCA Rules)

Kampala | Uganda
Moshi | Tanzania

Subjects (LCSH)


Descriptive List

Date: 1968-79
Shelfmark: MS. Afr. s. 2497
Extent: 137 leaves

Scope and Content:


  • (fol. 1) his CV [1990s]
  • (fols. 2-53) letters to his parents, Mar. 1968-May 1970, from Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda. They date from his arrival in Kampala with his wife, Hilary, and baby, Carol, under the aegis of the Church Mission Society. They contain descriptions of living conditions, family life and holidays, his work at the hospital as a surgeon and as a lecturer in surgery for undergraduates, church services and the opportunities for missionary work. Some of the letters have postscripts written by his wife and there are several letters written by her to her parents-in-law. There is also a copy of a report to the Church Mission Society (fols. 15-22) reporting on their roles as secular missionaries, with a detailed description of his medical work and the chances for missionary work, Oct. 1968. Their second daughter, Anna, was born in Uganda in Aug. 1969, and a third daughter, Helen had arrived by 1972.
  • (fols. 54-5) last letter from Kampala to his parents, Aug. 1972, describing the difficulties leaving the country as they were caught up in the exodus of Asians expelled by Idi Amin; accompanied by explanatory notes written later by Peter Bewes
  • (fols. 56-130) letters to his parents, Jan. 1973-Mar. 1976, written from the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi, Tanzania, where he worked as a surgeon, lecturer, and flying doctor. They describe family life, holidays, his work at the hospital and his teaching work, the difficult living conditions due to famine and the government, and news from colleagues in Uganda. Includes one letter (fol. 110) from Peter's father when he was visiting the family in Tanzania, addressed to his children back in England, 3 Feb. 1975. Also includes three reports to the Church Mission Society from the family: (fol. 66) May 1973; (fols. 99-100) Sept. 1974; (fols. 105-9) Dec. 1974.
  • (fols. 131-3) letters to his father, Apr. 1977, written from Moshi, Tanzania, relating to work and family life; including one letter from a surgeon who was a refugee from Uganda seeking Peter Bewes' assistance
  • (fols. 134-7) letters to his father, Jan.-Mar. 1979, written from Moshi, Tanzania, relating to the family's preparations to return to England permanently

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
07 November 2011