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William McGregor Ross (1876-1940) travelled to British East Africa in 1900, where he worked for three years as an assistant engineer on the Uganda Railway, then as engineer in charge of laying on a water supply to Nairobi. In 1904 he was made Director of Public Works, East Africa Protectorate, a post he held until 1923 and during a Commission of Enquiry into the working of his department. From 1916 to 1922 he served as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the East Africa Protectorate. Retiring in 1922, Ross returned to England, where he maintained an interest in African affairs, publishing Kenya from within. a short political history (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927). He was also involved in Labour Party politics and was the British workers' delegate to the Forced Labour Committee at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, 1929. He was a member of the Mandates Committee of the League of Nations Union and gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on East Africa, 1930-1931. In 1915 he married Isabel Abraham (1885-1964), a history teacher at Wellington High School for Girls, who had been living with his sister, Nellie Ross, for several years. In Kenya she pursued her interest in women's movements and politics, co-ordinating the East African Women's League in 1917. She was instrumental in obtaining the vote for European women in elections to the Legislative Council in 1919. They had two sons, both born in Kenya.
Letters from William McGregor Ross to his parents, 1900-1917; correspondence and papers relating to William McGregor Ross's work in the Public Works Department, 1901-1922; personal correspondence and papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross, 1899-1952; photographs and related papers, [c1894-1931].
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No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.
Listed as no. 1032 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996). A handlist is also available in the library reading room.Related Units of Description
Reports and correspondence relating to the Public Works Department, 1905-1939, with miscellaneous papers, 1899-1935 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1178); diaries, correspondence, etc. [1890-1964], with papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews, [1919-1940] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2305).
Ross | William Mcgregor | 1876-1940 | Director of Public Works East Africa Protectorate
Ross | Isabel | 1885-1964 | history teacher and founder of the East African Women's League
Kenya | History | 1895-1963
Public works | Kenya
Railroad engineering | Uganda
Kenya | Public Works Department