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Series Two: Imperial Adventurers and Explorers

Part 2: Papers of James Augustus Grant (1827-92) and John Hanning Speke (1827-64) from the National Library of Scotland

Detailed Listing

Papers of James Augustus Grant (1827-92)

MSS.17901-26 Papers of James Augustus Grant (1827-92), the African explorer, and his family. Grant joined the Bengal army in 1848 and was at the siege of Multan, the battle of Gujerat, and the relief of Lucknow. From 1860-1863 he was seconded to the Royal Geographical Society’s expedition under John Hanning Speke, when the source of the Nile was identified and Uganda and southern Sudan visited. After further service in Kashmir and secondment to Napier’s Abyssinian expedition, he retired with the rank of Lt-Colonel in 1868. He was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1864 and made a Companion of the Bath in 1866. This collection covers all parts of his career, including family and other correspondence, his journals, his African sketches, and other papers. For additional papers see MSS.17927-8 and 17929-48.

Bought Sotheby’s 13 March 1979, lots 126-36, 138, 140-150, 156-81, 183-92, with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Grant for Scotland.

MSS.17901-4 Family correspondence. Grant was the youngest son of the Rev James Grant (1790-1853), minister of Nairn, and his wife Christiana (d1877). His brothers Alexander (1820-60) and George (1825-55) were respectively an officer in the Madras Army and a merchant in Calcutta and Rangoon. His sister Margaret (1823-1913) married in 1845 the Rev Peter Mackenzie (1818-1913), minister of Urquhart (Dingwall). All corresponded regularly, giving a vivid picture of family doings and of life in India in the 1850s. See also MS.17927.


MS.17901 Letters of Alexander to his father, 1849-53 (f 1); to James A, 1848-60, n d (f 46); of James A to him, 1848-60 (f 131); of Alexander to Margaret and her husband, 1850-8 (f 162); and of Margaret and her husband to him, 1851-7 (f 234). 260ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17902 Letters of George to his father and mother, 1849-55, n d (f 1); of Alexander to him, 1852-5 (f 117); of George to James A, 1847-54 (f 121); of James A to him, 1852-3 (f 117); and of George to Margaret and her husband, 1850-5 (f 183).

211 ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17903 Letters of his father to James A, 1843-53 (f 1); and of James A to his father and mother, 1848-54 (f 19).
129 ff. Quarto and under.


MS.17904 Letters of James A to Margaret and her husband, 1848-58 (f 1); of Margaret to him, 1848-61, n d (f 10); and of her husband to him, 1853-60
(f 227).
254ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17905 Letters of Grant to his wife Margaret T, 1866-71, n d (f 1); and of his wife to him, 1867 (f 159). These letters come from periods when Grant was apart from his wife, in Kashmir in 1866-7, in Abyssinia in 1868, and in Europe in 1871.
185 ff. Quarto and under.


MSS.17906-7 Correspondence and papers of and concerning Grant’s elder son, also James Augustus (1867-1932). After Oxford he went to South Africa where he worked as a surveyor on the Kimberley Bechuanaland Railway, accompanied Joseph Thomson on his last expedition, and became involved in Cecil Rhodes’s plans for Central Africa. Later he was a Member of Parliament and was created a baronet in 1926. See also MS.17928.

MS.17906 Letters of Grant to his son, 1885-7, n d (f 1), mostly written while the latter was at Oxford and dealing with Grant’s activities and family affairs; and letters of and concerning his other son Alister (killed in the Boer War in 1900), 1900 (f 129). 141 ff. Octavo.

MS.17907 Letters of James A Grant junior to his father and mother, 1883-1900, n d (f 1), mostly written from South and Central Africa; letters of Joseph Thomson to Grant, 1883-91 (f 187), mostly concerning his expedition with his son; and proof of Thomson’s paper on the expedition to the Royal Geographical Society, 28 Nov 1892, with manuscript of Grant’s comments (published in The Geographical Journal, vol 1, 1893, pp 97-121)
(f 205).
219 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17908 Various family letters, 1821-91 (f 1); letters and documents relating to Grant’s service in the Bengal Army, 1854-70 (f 50); and miscellaneous letters, 1842-1908, n d (f 109). See also MSS.17932-3, 17944, 17946, 17948.
139 ff. Folio and under.

MSS.17909-11 Letters to Grant. Letters from explorers and others concerning Africa are grouped alphabetically in MSS.17909-10, others in MS.17911. See also MSS.17931-2.


MS.17909 Letters of Sir Edwin Arnold, 1875 (f 1); Sir Samuel White Baker, 1866-92, n d (f 5); Ernst Behm, 1875 (f 81); Sir Samuel James Browne, 1879 (f 83); Verney Lovett Cameron, 1876 (f 87); Paul Belloni Du Chaillu, 1871-87 (f 89); Sir Francis Galton, 1864 (f 93); Charles George Gordon and Sir Charles Moore Watson, 1874-9, n d (f 97); Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston, 1884 (f 126); Sir John Kirk, 1867-79 (f 129); Johann Ludwig Krapf, 1870 (f 151); and David Livingstone, 1865 (f 155).
156 ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17910 Letters of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1864-8, n d (f 1); Robert Henry Nelson, 1892 (f 37); Thomas Heazle Parke, 1890 (f 39); August Petermann, 1875 (f 40); Christopher Palmer Rigby, 1864-75 ( f 42); Georg Schweinfurth, 1874 (f 65); John Hanning Speke, 1854-64 (f 67); also letters of Speke to Rigby, 1859-60, and of Speke’s family to Grant, 1864-76, n d); William Grant Stairs, 1890 (f 120); Sir Henry Morton Stanley, 1878-90, n d (f 123); and Armin Vambéry, 1865 (f 151). 152 ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17911 Letters of Lt Alexander Turnbull, 1850-3 (f 1); Mrs M Currie, 1854-7, n d (f 24); Major William G Keppel and his parents, 1857-60 (f 69); and others, mostly fellow officers in the Bengal Army, 1851-90, n d (f 91).
283 ff. Quarto and under.

MSS.17912-17 Grant’s journals


MS.17912 4 Feb-31 Dec 1846, covering his first journey to and arrival in India.
78ff. Duodecimo.

MS.17913 23 Apr 1848-12 Apr 1849, describing hs service in the Second Sikh War.
64 pp. Octavo.

MS.17914 20 May 1852-20 Mar 1854, describing hunting expeditions in North India with John Hanning Speke.
84ff. Octavo.

MS.17915 23 Feb 1858-31 Dec 1863, describing his African expedition with Speke in great detail. Some of the material in this journal was used for Grant’s A Walk across Africa (Lond, 1864). Inverted at the end are a list of letters written 1858-62, photographic and botanical notes, a list of porters, Africa vocabulary, etc.
320pp + 52 inverted pp. (Grant’s own numbering, added at a later date, in which the even numbers are generally omitted). Quarto.

MS.17916 1 Jan 1864-29 Dec 1876, dealing with his triumphant reception in England, his final military service in India and Abyssinia, and his life in retirement at Nairn, including frequent engagements in London and tours abroad.
185ff. Quarto.


MS.17917 5 Jan 1877-19 Oct 1891, continuing his life in retirement.
i+ 180ff. Quarto

MS.17918 Journal of James A Grant Junior kept during his membership of Joseph Thomson’s expedition in 1890.
11 ff + many blank ff + 1 inverted f. Quarto.

MSS.17919-21 Grant’s sketches, mostly watercolour, some pencil or pen and ink, made on his African expedition with John Hanning Speke, 1860-3. They include scenes, portraits, objects, and incidents. Some are the source of woodcuts in Speke’s Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, Edin 1863, and some of these have notes in Speke’s hand. The majority were mounted by Grant in 1880 in two albums and provided with printed introduction, list and captions, the latter mostly repeating contemporary inscriptions; an earlier arrangement is indicated by pencil numbering.

MS.17919 68 sketches, 250 x 175 mm, mounted in an oblong folio album.

MS.17920 62 sketches, 175 x 125 mm, and 13 lithographs, various sizes (from several articles in the Botanical Magazine and the Proceedings of the Zoological Society, accompanied by offprints of the articles), mounted in an oblong folio album.

MS.17921 Unmounted sketches.
17 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17922 Various papers, including Grant’s agreement with Speke, 1860 (f 2); Grant’s expenses during the African expedition (f 3); table of temperature and rainfall, 1860-3 ( f 4); notes on Speke’s latitudes, etc ( f 10); journal, 12-22 Apr 1863 (f 14); speech on the expedition delivered in Calcutta, 4 Dec 1865 (f 32); zoological notes (f 56); lecture on Kashmir (f 87); note by Christopher P Rigby on the second volume of Sir Richard Burton’s Zanzibar (Lond, 1872) (f 107); lists of committees, etc on which Grant served (f 108); a family memoir (f 121); and a map of the Nile from Gondokoro in southern Sudan to central Egypt (f 124). See also MS.17933.
125 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17923 ‘Map of Tibet by J H Speke’, outlining in fact, on a scale of eight miles to the inch, the roughly triangular area of Ladakh bounded by the rivers Spiti, Indus, and Zaskar. For Speke’s mapping activities in the early 1850s see his What led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, Edin and Lond, 1864, pp 6sqq.
420 x 410mm

MS.17924 Copy of A Map of the Route explored by Captns Speke & Grant from Zanzibar to Egypt…, Lond 1863, with ink and pencil annotations by Grant.
610 x 360mm

MS.17925 Copy of James A Grant, Memoranda, n p, n d (after Apr 1880), consisting of biographical data, with some later ink additions by Grant. On the title page is written ‘Margaret Grant’s Copy’. See also MS.17940.
32 (printed) pp. Octavo.

MS.17926 Newspaper cuttings on Grant’s death, funeral etc, pasted into an album. It is signed on f i ‘Margaret Mary Mackintosh 1892’
i + 40 + many blank ff. Small quarto.


MSS.17927-8 Grant. Copies of printed books associated with James Augustus Grant, the explorer. Presented, 1979, by Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co, London (Sotheby’s, 13 Mar 1979, lots 139 and 154).

MS.17927 Aaron Penley, A System of Water-Colour Painting, 17th edit, Lond, 1858. On the front cover are Grant’s signature and the note ‘This book was my guide through Africa. J A Grant’; on a leaf tipped in after p [ii] are pencil and watercolour sketches; on p 64 is a pencil sketch; and on pp 7 and 10 of the advertisements at the back are pencil notes.
MS. as listed through 64 + 30 printed pages. Octavo.

MS.17928 James A Grant, A Walk across Africa, Edin and Lond, 1864. On the front flyleaf is the inscription ‘To my sister & brother-in-law at Ferintosh Manse Dingwall with love from the author. J A Grant Dingwall 8 Decr/64’.
1 f in xviii + 454 + [32] printed pages. Quarto.

MSS.17929-48 GRANT. Further papers of James Augustus Grant, the African explorer, and his family, additional to MSS. 17901-26. For formal documents see Ch.15198-230. Bought, 1979, with the aid of an additional grant from the Heritage Grant for Scotland.


MS.17929 Family correspondence, 1765-1891, supplementary to MSS. 17901-5 and 17908, including letters to Alexander Grant, minister of Cawdor, 1765-1821 (f 1); letters of George Grant, merchant in Liverpool, to his brother James, minister of Nairn, and others, 1827-60 (f 15); of Mrs Christian Grant, 1857-69 (f 73); of James A Grant, his brothers, sister, and brother-in-law, 1864-91 (f 77a); and of James A Grant and his wife,
1867-77, n d (f 137).
159 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17930 Correspondence of and concerning Grant’s sons, supplementary to MSS.17906-7, including letters of Grant to his elder son James Augustus, 1885-91, n d (f 1); letters of James A Grant Junior to his parents, 1874-91, n d (f 89); letters to and concerning James A Junior and Alister Grant, and some other letters, 1889-1918, n d (f 149); school reports and other certificates of James A Grant Junior, 1867-91 (f 203); and drafts of letters and speeches by James A Grant Junior, n d (f 261).
270 ff. Folio and under.


MSS.17931-2 Letters to Grant, supplementary to MSS.17909-11.

MS.17931 Letters of Sir Samuel White Baker, 1890 (f 1); Charles Tilstone Beke, 1864 (f 3); Paul Belloni du Chaillu, 1881, 1887 (f 5); Sir John Edward Dorington, 1864 (f 8); David Emanuel Daniel Europaeus, 1865 (f 10); Sir Francis Galton, 1872 (f 12); Christopher George, 1872 (f 13); Charles George Gordon, 1877 (f 18); Sir John Kirk, 1865 n d (f 19); Johann Ludwig Krapf, 1870 (f 33); Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1863-70, n d (f 35); Lady Murchison, 1864, n d (f 62); Cristoforo Negri, n d (f 66); John Hanning Speke, 1854, 1864 (f 68); also letters of Speke to Christopher Palmer Rigby, 1860, and of Speke’s family to Grant, 1864-73, n d); and Sir Henry Morton Stanley, 1885-93 (f 100).
108 ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17932 Other letters to Grant, 1848-93, n d.
326 ff. Folio and under.

(i) Papers concerning Grant’s service in India, 1853-84, n d, supplementary to MS.17908 ff 50-108, including a list of property lost during the Mutiny and general statements of his service. (f 1).

(ii) Papers concerning Africa, n d, supplementary to MS 17922, including a list of the contents of Speke’s cases at Zanzibar and a copy of an agreement between Alexander Low Bruce and James A Grant Junior concerning the estate of Magomero, Malawi. (f 12).

(iii) Accounts and other financial papers, 1852-1913. (f 26).

(iv) Legal papers, 1827-90, including a disposition by Alexander Grant, minister of Cawdor, to his sons George and James, a state of the teinds of Nairn in 1837, and papers concerning the Rev Peter Mackenzie, minister of Urquhart. (see also Ch 15229-30). (f 58).

(v) Miscellaneous papers, 1872-92, n d, including a sketch by Grant, a paper ‘A Glimpse of the Battlefields of 1870-1’, and an extract minute of the Royal Geographical Society on his death. (f 107).
126 ff. Folio and under.


MS.17934 An interleaved set of page proofs of James A Grant, A Walk across Africa, Edin and Lond, 1864. There are numerous corrections by Grant on the proofs, most of which have been incorporated into the published work; there is a proof of pp 454-7, ‘Explanation of Names and Terms’, which were omitted from the published work. The interleaves have been used by Grant at various dates to make corrections and additional comments.
ii + 460 printed pp; 250 ff (many blank) interleaved. Quarto.

MS.17935 Newspaper reviews of A Walk across Africa, 1864-5, cut out and pasted onto large sheets.
12 ff. Folio.

REEL 11 and REEL 12

MSS.17936-7 ‘Copy of original notes and drawings from life of the plants collected by me during the Speke & Grant Expedition in /60/63. J A Grant.’ The plants were deposited at Kew Gardens and are described by Grant, Daniel Oliver and John G Baker, ‘The Botany of the Speke and Grant Expedition’, Transactions of the Linnean Society, vol 29, 1875; the original notes and drawings are in the Library at Kew (Catalogue of the Library of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, Additional series 3, 1899, p 781).
368 ff; 463 ff. Quarto and under.

MS.17938 ‘Map of Eastern Equatorial Africa by J H Speke. Constructed by Keith Johnston FRSE’, taken from a copy of Speke’s Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. Edin and Lond, 1863, with two manuscript annotations by Grant.
1 f. 445 x 575 mm

MS.17939 ‘Map of Africa traced from an atlas entitled “ATLAS SIVE GEOGRAPHIA COMPENDIOSA IN QUA ORBIS TERRARUM PAUCIS ATTAMEN NOVISSIMIS TABULIS OSTENDITUR AMSTERDAM no date’. The title is in Grant’s hand and the tracing was presumably done by or for him. He further notes that ‘Copies of the atlas are in the possession of W Culbard Esq North Lodge Elgin and the Rev James Cooper, Broughty Ferry’. The atlas was probably that of R and J Ottens, 1756 (cf Cornelis Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici, vol 3, Amsterdam, 1969, p 90).
1 f. 560x 550 mm.

MS.17940 ‘Private Copy’ of Grant’s Memoranda (see MS. 17925), wanting pp 31-2, with fuller annotations than MS.17925.
30 (printed) pp. Octavo.


MS.17941 A volume of pedigrees of Grant’s family and others (Chisholm, Cuthbert, Fraser, Mackintosh, etc) connected to it by marriage, written in an unidentified hand with notes by Grant himself. A list of contents (ff ii-iii) and index (pp 89-95) are provided.
iv ff + 96 pp. Oblong quarto.

MS.17942 Correspondence, 1871-91, n d (f 1) and papers, 1872-89, n d
(f 74) concerning Grant’s genealogical researches, and including notes and histories by Grant and others, the results of searches in various records, and copies of documents.
220 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17943 Papers, 1863-1913, n d, relating to property, mostly the estate of Househill, Nairn, acquired by Grant after his retiral from the army, and its water supply. See also Ch 15221-5.
66 ff. Folio and under.


MS.17944 Letters to and papers concerning Sir Peter Laurie, Lord Mayor of London and grand-uncle of Grant’s wife, and his family, 1823-71, n d. Another letter to him is in MS.17908, f 111. See also Ch 15236-40.
95 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17945 Journal kept by Margaret T Laurie (later Grant) of a tour in Europe in August 1852 by her, her grand-uncle Sir Peter Laurie, and her uncle and aunt Mr and Mrs Northall Laurie. From London they sailed to Calais and proceeded, mostly by rail, through Belgium and Germany, down the Rhine as far as Basel, then back via Strasbourg, Rheims, Paris and Boulogne.
32 + some blank ff. Octavo.

MS.17946 Correspondence and papers concerning the executry of Eliza Forsyth Ross of Dingwall, 1849-50 (for further letters see MS.17908, ff 113-17). The active executor was George Cameron, sheriff-substitute of Dingwall, but one of the others was the Rev Peter Mackenzie.
72 ff. Folio and under.

MS.17947 Extracts from various religious works (mainly Isaac Barrow, Sermons, Edin 1751, and Edward Fowler, The Design of Christianity, Lond, 1671; also Gilbert Burnet, Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles, Lond 1699, Jacques H B de Saint Pierre, transl by H Hunter, Studies of Nature, Lond, 1796, and Jeremiah Seed, Posthumous Works, Lond, 1750) in two hands, of which the later is apparently that of James Grant, minister of Nairn, and the earlier may therefore be that of his father, Alexander Grant, minister of Cawdor.
28 ff. Quarto.

MS.17948 Miscellaneous letters and papers, including letters to Thomas Mackay, social reformer, 1893-1908, n d (ff 16-33; see also MS.17908, ff 125-9), a petition for John Mackenzie, minister of Lochcarron, ?1801 (f 36), lecture notes on the practice of medicine, 1840, probably taken by John M Grant, second son of James, minister of Nairn (f 68), and a note by John Laurie on salmon caught on a stretch of the Tweed, 1842 (f 130).
145 ff. Folio and under.


Papers of John Hanning Speke (1827-64)

MSS.4872-4 John Hanning Speke Manuscript and proofs of Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, Edin, 1863. MS.4872 consists of the manuscript, including an unpublished journal for January to June, 1863, and excluding chapter ix of the published work. MS.4873 consists of the first corrected proofs, with many stylistic changes by Speke and by John Hill Burton, the editor of the work. Manuscript pages in Speke’s hand and a letter of James A Grant have been inserted (ff 102, 184-6, 278-9); leaves corresponding to pages 7-17 of the published work are lacking. MS.4874 consists of the second corrected proofs, including the conclusion and appendices; these, too, have been heavily corrected by Speke and Burton. MS.4874 includes also further proofs of Pages 1-15, 20-54, 56-62, 74-81, 155, and 597-658 (ff 24, 47, 67, 83, 136, 394, 412, and 441); the manuscripts of part of the conclusion, in Burton’s hand, and of Appendix E, in Speke’s hand (ff 410v, 476); and two leaves of the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, vol iv (1860), containing a printed letter to Lord Ashburton, President of the Society, from John Petherick about Speke’s expedition (f 474).
520 ff; 358 ff; 476 ff. Folio.




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