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Collection Level Description: Papers of the Hon. Richard Feetham

Reference: MSS. Afr. s. 1793
Title: Papers of the Hon. Richard Feetham
Dates of Creation: 1846-1962
Extent: 14 boxes, volumes and files
Name of Creator: Richard Feetham

Language of Material: English



Administrative/Biographical History

Richard Feetham (1874-1965) was educated at Ashampstead preparatory school, Marlborough College, and New College, Oxford. After leaving Oxford he read law in Lincolns Inn and was called to the Bar in 1899. During the Second Boer War, he volunteered for service with the Inns of Court Rifles.

Feetham was appointed deputy town clerk of Johannesburg in October 1902; he served under the town clerk, Lionel Curtis, who was a friend from his New College days. In April 1903 Feetham became the town clerk when Curtis was made Assistant Colonial Secretary. Two years later, in April 1905, Feetham resigned from the Town Council and was appointed to the South African Bar; he acted as legal adviser to the High Commissioner of South Africa from 1907-1910, and again from 1912-1923.

In 1907 Feetham began his political career as a member of the Transvaal Legislative Council (1907-1910). In 1915 he was elected to the Union House Assembly as a Unionist for the Parktown constituency in Johannesburg; he later became a member of the South African Party. During World War I, Feetham gained a commission in the South African Cape Corps and served in East Africa and briefly in Egypt (1916-1918).

Feetham resigned from Parliament in 1923 to take silk, and was appointed to the bench of the Transvaal Division of the Supreme Court. In 1930 he was appointed Judge President of the Natal Provincial Division, and in 1939 became Judge of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

In 1938, Feetham was elected vice-chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and became its chancellor in 1949. He was also appointed chairman of various commissions both in South Africa and abroad including the Southborough Committee on Constitutional Reform in India (1918-1919), the Irish Boundary Commission (1924-1925), the Kenya Local Government Commission (1926), the Shanghai Municipal Council Commission (1930-1931), the Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure Commission (1932-1935), and the Witwatersrand Land Titles Commission (1946-1949).

Two of Feetham's brothers also left England for successful careers abroad; William Crawley Feetham became a vicar in South Africa, and John Oliver Feetham (1873-1947) became the Bishop of Queensland, Australia.

Scope and Content

The collection mainly consists of letters, in particular letters from Feetham to his parents. There is also some family correspondence (letters to Feetham's mother from her parents and others, and letters from William Crawley Feetham to his mother with miscellaneous papers); family photographs; and some papers relating to Feetham's chairmanship of the Irish Boundary Commission, 1924-1925, and the Kenya Local Government Commission, 1926.

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 and a handlist is also available for this collection.

Listed as no. 1198 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

Access Points

Feetham | Richard | 1874-1965 | South African Politician

Feetham | William Crawley | fl 1870-1960 | vicar in South Africa

Politicians | South Africa

Ireland | Irish Boundary Commission

Kenya | Local Government Commission

South Africa | Officials and employees


Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
27 June 2011