Bodleian Library logo

Department of Special Collections
Contact Information
Search All Online Catalogues

Collection Level Description: Papers of the British South Africa Company (the Cawston Papers)

Reference: MSS. Afr. s. 70-84
Title: Papers of the British South Africa Company (the Cawston Papers)
Dates of Creation: 1888-1911
Extent: 16 volumes
Name of Creator: George Cawston

Language of Material: English



Administrative/Biographical History

The British South Africa Company (BSAC) was a mercantile company based in London. It was incorporated in 1889 under a royal charter (at the instigation of Cecil Rhodes) with the object of acquiring and exercising commercial and administrative rights in south-central Africa. The charter gave the BSAC rights to maintain or distribute vast territory, to make treaties, to establish a police force, and to set up banking firms.

By 1900, the BSAC was administering both Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia, and by various means had acquired substantial land and mineral rights. BSAC rule ended in Southern Rhodesia in 1923, when the white settlers were granted responsible government, and in Northern Rhodesia in 1924, when the Colonial Office assumed control. However, the BSAC retained its commercial assets and its mineral rights in Northern Rhodesia became a valuable source of revenue following the development of the copper-mining industry in that territory between the First and Second World Wars. On the eve of Northern Rhodesia's independence, the BSAC was forced, by the threat of expropriation, to assign its mineral rights to the local government. The BSAC merged with two other companies to form Charter Consolidated Limited in 1965.

George Cawston was a barrister-at-law and one of the people who signed the petition asking for the British South Africa Company to be incorporated under a royal charter.

Scope and Content

Reports, minutes, papers and correspondence (chiefly of George Cawston), 1888-1911, including official correspondence regarding the Jameson Raid and report of Jameson's trial; together with the Report of the Select Committee on British South Africa, 1896/1897, and H.H. Johnston's Report on the Nyasa-Tanganyika expedition, 1889-1890.

Administrative Information

Access Conditions

Bodleian reader's ticket required: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/services/admissions/.

Reproduction Restrictions

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Further Information

Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.

Listed as no. 724 in Manuscript Collections of Africana in Rhodes House Library, Oxford, compiled by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1968).

Access Points

Cawston | George | fl 1888-1911 | barrister-at-law

Rhodes | Cecil John | 1853-1902 | Imperialist and Benefactor

Johnston | Harry Hamilton | 1858-1927 | Sir | Knight Explorer and Colonial Administrator

Jameson's Raid, 1895-1896

British South Africa Company


Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
27 June 2011