Sir Michael Blundell (1907-93) was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire. On leaving school in 1925 he went out to farm in Kenya, eventually buying his own property in the Nakuru district. His interest in agriculture led to his first public appointment when, in 1938, he was elected to the Coffee Board of Kenya. During World War Two he served in the Royal Engineers in Abyssinia, Asia and East Africa and, in 1945 was appointed Colonel, East Africa Command. From 1946 to 1947, as Chairman of the European Settlement Board, he initiated the post-war European Settlement Schemes.
His political career began in 1948 when he became elected member for Rift Valley, a position he retained until 1957, and again from 1959 to 1963. He was elected to the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya in 1949 and became Chairman the following year. In 1951 he was Acting Leader, then Leader, until 1954, of the European Elected Members. In 1954 he was appointed Minister Without Portfolio to the Emergency War Council during the Mau Mau crisis, later leaving it to serve as Minister of Agriculture, a post he held until 1955 and from 1961 to 1962. During the period 1954-1957 he belonged to the United Country Party of European Liberals.
A couple of years after the party's demise, he was requested to organise a moderate group of elected members of the Legislative Council, the nucleus of the New Kenya Group. In 1959 he resigned from office in order to lead it. In his role as leader of moderate opinion in Kenya he played a large part in bringing about the negotiations for constitutional developments leading to independence. These negotiations resulted in the two Lancaster House Conferences of 1960 and 1962.
He retired from active politics in 1963 in order to attend to his estate and work on his biography. In 1962 he became Chairman of the Egerton Agricultural College, of the East African Breweries in 1964, and the Uganda Breweries in 1965. He was also Chairman of Saccone and Speed (E.A.) Ltd.. He was awarded the MBE in 1943 and created KBE in 1962.
The papers were donated by Blundell to the library through the Oxford Colonial Records Project in 1966.Accruals
The papers relating to the Kenya Constitutional Conferences, political and economic affairs in Kenya, and press cuttings were added to the existing collection in 1979. The correspondence, etc. of the Emergency Committee and War Council, etc. during the Mau Mau emergency, correspondence arising from public positions, etc., and letters of appreciation, etc. consists of Blundell material initially retained by the Foreign Office, the final two boxes of which were transferred in June 1979.Access Conditions
Bodleian reader's ticket required.Reproduction Restrictions
No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.
Listed as no. 123 in Manuscript Collections of Africana in Rhodes House Library Oxford, compiled by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1968). A handlist is also available in the library reading room.Related Units of Description
Tapes and transcripts of five interviews on his service in the Kenyan Government, 1954-1962 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1717 (14)).
Blundell | Michael | 1907-1993 | Sir | Knight Farmer and Politician in Kenya
Kenya | Constitution
Kenya | Politics and government
Kenya | History | Mau Mau Emergency, 1952-1960
Great Britain.Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Agriculture | Kenya