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James Wilson Robertson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Wilson Robertson

2nd Governor-General of Nigeria
In office
15 June 1955 – 16 November 1960
Preceded bySir John Stuart Macpherson
Succeeded byNnamdi Azikiwe
Personal details
Born27 October 1899
Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died23 September 1983 (age 83)
United Kingdom
Alma materMerchiston Castle School
Balliol College, Oxford

Sir James Wilson Robertson KT GCMG GCVO KBE KStJ (27 October 1899 – 23 September 1983) was a British civil servant who served as the last colonial Governor-General of Nigeria.

Early life and education

He was educated at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh and Balliol College, Oxford. He served a Commission in the British Army with the Gordon Highlanders and the Black Watch. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) from the University of Leeds in 1961.[1]


After Oxford he joined the Sudan Political Service from 1922 to 1953, serving appointments in Blue Nile, White Nile, Fung, and Kordofan provinces and was the Civil Secretary from 1945 to 1953. He was then sent to British Guiana in January 1954 by Oliver Lyttelton, the then-Secretary of State for the Colonies to write the Robertson Commission Report to investigate the current crisis in the country due to the election of the People's Progressive Party, who were seen as too friendly with the Communist organisations that had led to the suspension of the constitution.[2][3][4]

He was then sent to Nigeria as a result of his good work. He was Governor-General of Nigeria from 15 June 1955 to 16 November 1960 (representing Queen Elizabeth as Head of State from 1 October 1960 to 16 November 1960).[5]


His brother was Ian Robertson, Lord Robertson, whose daughter Sally married Nick Kuenssberg, OBE.[6] His great-niece Laura Kuenssberg is a BBC journalist


Roberston wrote a memoir, Transition in Africa: From Direct Rule to Independence, published by Hurst, London, in 1974, that reflects on his nearly 40 years in Africa. It provides detail on both his administrative life and personal observations. In a final chapter, "Reflections", he accounts the swift collapse and disintegration of so much of what he and his fellow British servants of the Empire had constructed not only in the Sudan and Nigeria, but in all of Britain's former colonial African territories. Commenting on foreign concern about post-independence difficulties, he observed: "Americans have asked me: 'Why did you leave so soon, before the colonial territories were ready to rule themselves?' And when I have answered, 'Partly, I am sure, because of your pressure on us to go,' [they] have answered that they did not know then what they know now, and that we should have resisted their pressure." (p. 253)

Robertson made a notable contribution to a 1978 Oxford Symposium, Transfer of Power: the Colonial Administrator in the Age of De-colonisation, edited by A. H. M. Kirk-Greene (published, in 1979, by the Inter-Faculty Committee for African Studies, Oxford University), particularly his "The Governor as the Man in the Middle", (pp. 38–43); and "Summary of Discussion", (pp. 50–59). The Last of the Proconsuls: Letters of Sir James Robertson, edited by Graham F. Thomas, was published in 1994. It is a collection of letters Robertson sent to Thomas over 40 years mainly about the problems towards the end of the British Empire.[citation needed]


  • 1899 – 3 June 1931: James Wilson Robertson
  • 3 June 1931 – 1940: James Wilson Robertson MBE[7]
  • 1940–1941: His Excellency James Wilson Robertson MBE, Governor of Gerzira Province[8]
  • 1941 – 1 January 1948: James Wilson Robertson MBE
  • 1 January 1948 – 1 June 1953: Sir James Wilson Robertson KBE[9]
  • 1 June 1953 – 15 June 1955: Sir James Wilson Robertson KCMG, KBE[10]
  • 15 June 1955 – 1956: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson KCMG, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, Federation of Nigeria
  • 1956 – 13 June 1957: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson GCVO, KCMG, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, Federation of Nigeria
  • 13 June 1957 – 1 October 1960: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson GCMG, GCVO, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, Federation of Nigeria[11]
  • 1 October – 16 November 1960: His Excellency Sir James Wilson Robertson GCMG, GCVO, KBE, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Independent Federation of Nigeria
  • 16 November 1960 – 1965: Sir James Wilson Robertson GCMG, GCVO, KBE
  • 1965–1983: Sir James Wilson Robertson KT, GCMG, GCVO, KBE


  1. ^ University of Leeds List of Honorary Graduates: James Wilson Robertson 1961 Archived 10 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ British Guiana Constitution (Report)
  3. ^ Robertson Report
  4. ^ The Suspension of the British Guiana Constitution
  5. ^ Nigeria
  6. ^
    • "Nick Kuenssberg". Debretts. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
    • Kristy Dorsey (4 March 2013). "Business interview: Nick Kuenssberg". The Scotsman. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
    • "Sally Kuenssberg, CBE". BBC Scotland. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  7. ^ The London Gazette, 3 June 1931
  8. ^ [pg 1886, Who's Who, 1982]
  9. ^ The London Gazette, 1 January 1948
  10. ^ The London Gazette, 1 June 1953
  11. ^ The London Gazette, 13 June 1957
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Stuart Macpherson
Governor-General of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Nnamdi Azikiwe
This page was last edited on 6 April 2020, at 13:20
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