William Harold Ingrams was born on 3 February 1897, the son of W. S. Ingrams. He was educated at Shrewsbury School. He married Doreen Shortt in 1930 (died 1997), with whom he had two daughters.
He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, 1914-18, was promoted Lieutenant, 1914, and wounded in action. He joined the Colonial Service and held the following posts: Assistant District Commissioner, 1919-25, and Second Assistant Secretary, 1925-7, Zanzibar; Assistant Colonial Secretary, Mauritius, 1927-33; and Acting Colonial Secretary, Zanzibar, 1932-3.
He served as Political Officer, Aden, 1934-7, and British Resident Adviser at Mukalla, South Arabia (later the Eastern Aden Protectorate), 1937-40 and 1942-4; and Acting Governor, 1940, and Chief Secretary, 1940-2, Aden. During this period, he and his wife travelled extensively in the Hadhramaut, becoming the first Europeans to explore the Sei'ar country and the Mahra hinterland and helping to negotiate a truce between local tribesmen, 1937. Doreen Ingrams also organised relief centres and medical care in Mukalla during the famine of 1943-4 and established a school for the blind, 1943, and later a bedouin girls' school in the town.
Harold Ingrams was seconded to the British Control Commission in Germany, 1945-7. He returned to the Colonial Service as Chief Commissioner, Northern Territories, Gold Coast, 1947-8, and served on missions to Gibraltar, 1949; Hong Kong, 1950; and Uganda, 1956. He was Adviser on Overseas Information, Colonial Office, 1950-4; editor of "Commonwealth Challenge" and "If You Ask Me", 1952-66; and a member of the Joint Research Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1966-8. He retired to Kent, 1968, and died on 9 December 1973.
He was awarded an OBE, 1933, and a CMG, 1939. He and his wife were jointly awarded the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal of the Royal Central Asian Society, 1939, for their role in bringing peace to the Hadhramaut, and the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1940, for their exploration of the region.
His publications include: "Dialects of Zanzibar Sultanate" (1924); "Chronology and Genealogies of Zanzibar Rulers (1926); "Guide to Swahili Examinations" (1927); "Zanzibar, Its History and People" (1931); "School History of Mauritius" (1931); "School Geography of Mauritius" (1932); "Report on Social, Economic and Political Condition of the Hadhramaut" (1935); "Arabia and the Isles" (1942); "Seven Across the Sahara" (1949); "Hong Kong" (1953); "Uganda: a crisis of nationhood" (1960); and "The Yemen: imams, rulers and revolutions" (1963).
Papers mainly comprising official reports, minutes and correspondence about the British Control Commission in Germany, 1945-6.
The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Doreen Ingrams via Robin Bidwell, 1975.