RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 148
Extent4 large boxes
TitlePapers of Charles Dalrymple-Belgrave relating to Bahrain
DescriptionThe collection consists of copies of the personal diaries of Belgrave, from his arrival as advisor in Bahrain to the time of his departure during the Suez crisis. They date from 1926-1957 (with a gap for 1937), although the diaries created by Belgrave are known to have covered a more extensive period (1915-1961). The diaries were transcribed by staff of the Centre for Arab Gulf Studies (now Arab World Documentation Unit), Old Library, University of Exeter, in 1993-1994. Additional draft copies of transcriptions for the years 1946-1950 and 1953-1954 are also available.

Also included in the collection is a copy scrapbook of press-cuttings compiled by Belgrave, together with three boxes of material created by Belgrave's nephew Robert Belgrave, who begun work on editing the diaries presumably prior to publication. This work was never finished, although some partial drafts are included in the collection.
Admin HistoryCharles Dalrymple-Belgrave (1894-1969) took up the post as Personal and Financial Advisor to Shaikh Hamad of Bahrain in 1926, as an experienced British colonial officer. The island was thought by the British to be particularly politically unstable in the early 1920s, a period when Iran had claims on ownership of the country. During the 1830s, Bahrain had signed the first of many treaties with Britain, who offered Bahrain naval protection from Ottoman Turkey in exchange for unfettered access to the Gulf. This arrangement kept the British out of Bahrain's internal affairs until a series of internecine battles prompted the British to install their own choice for emir in 1869, the Al-Khalifa ruler Sheikh Isa bin Ali, ending a period of fiefdom rule and inter-tribal feuding. In 1923, Britain intervened to replace Sheikh Isa bin Ali with his son Sheikh Isa Hamad bin Isa.

After a succession of Political Agents it became apparent that a permanent administrator should be found who would ensure some political continuity. Sheikh Hamad agreed to appoint a Personal Adviser employed by himself and not by the British Government, who would help him to modernise the state. There were no readily available candidates and the post was advertised in The Times in August 1925. Charles Dalrymple Belgrave was eventually appointed with an annual salary of £720. During the war he had served with the Frontiers Districts Administration Camel Corps and had spent two years in the oasis of Siwa. At the time of his appointment he was on leave after two years in the Colonial Service in Tanganyika. He brushed up his Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and arrived in Bahrain in March 1926. He became Advisor to the Government of Bahrain in 1933, a position which he held until 1949. He helped create the country's educational system, overseeing much modernisation and reforms of Bahrain's infrastructural development. When Emir Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa ascended the throne in 1942, he further capitalised on Bahrain's superior level of development to take advantage of the oil boom happening in Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries, making Bahrain the Gulf's main entrepôt.

Belgrave remained in Bahrain until 1957 when British involvement in Bahrain was under heavy criticism. At this point, British troops had been brought into the country as part of the Suez crisis of 1956. Britain announced its intention to leave the Gulf 15 years later, prompting Bahrain to proclaim its independence on 14 August 1971.
Access StatusOpen
Related Material'Bahrain Government Annual Reports 1924-1970', Archive Editions 1986 (facsimiles of previously unpublished reports, compiled by Belgrave 1926-1957) are available at the Arab World Documentation Unit, University of Exeter Library. Some papers relating to Belgrave are also held at the National Archives (department code: FO).
Access ConditionsPlease Note: you must contact the Head of Heritage Collections well in advance BEFORE visiting to view this archive. Restrictions to some material may apply.
Finding_AidsBrief box list
Creator_NameBelgrave; Sir Charles Dalrymple- (1894-1969); knight; colonial officer and financial advisor
Mgt_GroupMiddle Eastern papers
DS/UK/121Belgrave; Charles Dalrymple- (1894-1969); colonial officer and financial advisor1894-1969
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