Sir John Milner Gray (1889-1970) was educated at Dover College, Perse School and King's College, Cambridge. After training as a solicitor, he joined the Colonial Administrative Service in Uganda in 1920. In 1934 he was transferred to Gambia, where he became Judge of the Supreme Court. He was Governor in Gambia in 1935 and 1940, and in 1943 became Chief Justice of Zanzibar. He was knighted in 1944. After his retirement in 1952 Gray remained in Zanzibar to carry out research in the Consular archives. In 1960 he moved back to Cambridge, where he died in 1970.
After his posting to Uganda in 1920 Gray investigated the untouched parts of Africa, taking a particular interest in local languages. His findings were published in the Uganda Journal and Tanganyika Notes and Records. His other publications include a History of the Gambia, The British in Mombasa, 1824-1826, Early Portuguese Missionaries in East Africa, and a History of Zanzibar from the middle ages to 1856.
The collection contains a wide range of correspondence and papers relating to Gambia, Kenya, Kilwa, Pemba, Tanganyika, Uganda, Zanzibar, West Africa, and other parts of the continent. Some of the topics covered are tribes, languages, the slave trade, the Portuguese in Africa, and archaeology. There are articles by J. Schacht, Emin Pasha, Gervase Mathew, M. Posnansky, and others on Africa, as well as publications by Gray himself. Some of these pieces are found in Tanganyika Notes and Records and the Uganda Journal, and there are press cuttings and offprints from these and other African newspapers and journals. The collection also includes the diaries of A.J.M. Jephson, 1888-1889; correspondence of David Livingstone, Colonel Gordon, Emin Pasha, and others; papers concerning the Christian Missionary Society and other missionary work; papers relating to Cambridge; testimonials, certificates, etc.; Gray's personal correspondence; and Emin Pasha's diaries and papers.
Presented by Sir John Gray, 1967.