fonds BA - Letters of Henry Barlow

Identity area

Reference code



Letters of Henry Barlow


  • 1948-1972 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.02 cubic metres

1 box

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Henry Arthur Northey Barlow was born at Bridgnorth, Shropshire, in 1905, the son of Walter Charles Barlow, a clergyman, and his wife Constance Fanny Northey. Educated at Marlborough College and then at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he subsequently joined the Indian Colonial Service, and was Acting Consul-General in Kashgar, Western China, between 1935 and 1938. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 1947.

Following the Second World War Barlow transferred to Africa. He was a secretariat officer in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia, between 1948 and 1954, where his letters describe political and social events, alongside his disapproval of the political activities and racial policies of the white settler community. In 1951 he married Pamela C. Hunter and in 1954 he transferred to the Kenyan administrative service for four years.

In 1958 he returned to Lusaka at the invitation of Oliver Green Wilkinson, then Anglican Bishop of Northern Rhodesia and from 1960 Archbishop of Central Africa. Barlow served as Wilkinson's secretary until the Archbishop's death in 1970 and thereafter remained as a secretary in the Anglican headquarters until 1972 when he retired and returned to England. Barlow's letters from this time reflect his personal interest in the training and education of African ordinands and the broad social circles in which he moved as a member of Wilkinson's staff. He welcomed Northern Rhodesia's independence in 1964 and continued to work in the new country of Zambia.

During his service abroad Barlow corresponded frequently with his brother, Walter Northey Cecil Barlow, and his wife Joyce 'Joy' Lloyd, whom Walter married in 1920.

Upon retirement, Barlow moved to Wells in Somerset, where he died in 1978.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was gifted to the Centre for South African Studies at the University of York in 1975-1976 and subsequently transferred to the Borthwick Institute.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Letters to Barlow's sister during his colonial service in Northern Rhodesia and Kenya and as Secretary to the Bishop of Northern Rhodesia and Archbishop of Central Africa, 1948-72. The letters have been arranged and described by Dr Robert Baldock as follows.

Letters sent from Northern Rhodesia, 1948-1954: during this period Barlow was a secretariat officer in Lusaka. The letters cover his arrival as a bachelor officer, and include descriptions of methods of work, administrative personnel, political events and social activities, including amateur theatricals (a particular interest). A strong element is the clear disapproval of the administrative cadre of the settler community, their political activities and their racial policies. Of special interest is his opposition to contemporary moves towards the Central African Federation which he thought was not in the interests of the Africans. Correspondents include Sir Gilbert Rennie (Governor of N. Rhodesia), (Sir) Robert Stanley (Chief Secretary), Bishop Robert Selby Taylor (Bishop of N. Rhodesia and later Archbishop of Cape Town), and (Sir) Roy Welensky and (Sir) Arthur Creech Jones (Colonial Secretary).

Letters sent from Kenya, 1954-1958: Barlow was less happy in the Kenya colonial administration. Political questions in Kenya are raised in the letters and (Sir) Michael Blundell features prominently.

Letters sent from Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, 1958-1972: As a former colonial civil servant with wide social activities, and now a major personality in the Anglican Church, Barlow moved within a remarkably broad circle during this happy period of his life. The letters contain an obvious concentration on ecclesiastical activities, and a continuing theme is his personal interest in the training and education of African ordinands. He came frequently into contact with Africans and travelled widely in the rural areas as well as to the major towns. From 1960 his area of interest extended to cover the Federation.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

The letters have been arranged according to three distinct periods of employment: as a secretariat officer in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia; as a civil servant in Kenya, and as a secretary to the Anglican Church in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The archive has not yet been catalogued. A summary of its contents can be seen in the above scope and content.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further papers of H. A. N. Barlow are deposited with the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge. These include letters to his family during his time in the Indian Colonial Service, 1929-1944.

A locket dated 1941, part of a uniform belonging to H. A. N. Barlow, is held by the National Army Museum.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 17.10.16.




Accession area