Jan Christian Smuts (1870-1950) was born on 24 May 1870 in the Cape Colony. He entered Victoria College, Stellenbosch, and graduated in science and literature in 1891. He joined Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1894, where he studied law, and was admitted to the Cape bar in 1895. In 1896 Smuts moved to the Transvaal, where he became State Attorney in 1898, and Colonial Secretary and Minister of Education, 1907-1910. He was Minister of Defence in the Union Government as a member of the South African Party under Louis Botha, 1910-1919. In 1916 he was commissioned as Lieutenant-General in the British Army to command the imperial forces in East Africa. Smuts represented the Union at the Imperial Conference and War Cabinet in 1917, and remained thereafter as a member of the British War Cabinet. He was one of the chief sponsors of the League of Nations. Smuts was Prime Minister of South Africa, 1919-1924, and suppressed the Rand rebellion in 1922. He was defeated in the election of 1924, and remained in opposition until entering a coalition as Deputy Prime Minister under J.B.M. Hertzog, 1933-1939. In 1934 their parties combined to form the United South African National Party. Smuts was Prime Minister, 1939-1948, and was made Field-Marshal in 1941. He was Chancellor of the Universities of Cape Town, 1936-1950, and of Cambridge, 1948-1950. He died on 11 September 1950 at his farm at Irene, near Pretoria.
Sir Thomas Drummond Shiels (1881-1953), Labour politician, was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1929-1931.
A letter written from Groote Schuur thanking Shiels for his award of the O.M. and recalling 'anxieties I must sometimes have caused you'.
Presented by Lady Shiels, 1955.
Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 114. Indexed