This is a rewardingly researched and trimly told personal memoir of Sir Arthur
Richards - better known as Lord Milverton and affectionately known in the Colonial
Service as ‘Old Sinister‘ - by Dick Peel, who was his Private Secretary in Nigeria from
1945 to 1947. The personal connection happily runs deeper yet, for Peel’s father. Sir
William, had been Chief Secretary to the Government of the Federated Malay States
and a close MCS colleague of the younger Richards in Kuala Lumpur in the 1920’s:
both attained their first governorship in the same year. Peel to Hong Kong and
Richards to North Borneo.
But to say Richards was appointed to a colonial governorship in 1930 is to tell less
than half his success story. After twenty-two years in the MCS, he went on to hold no
less than five governorships in seventeen years, the Gambia, Fiji, Jamaica and, as the
climax to his colonial career, the prime proconsular post of Nigeria from 1943 to 1947
(he might well have preferred Malaya, but it was not to be). Not content with such a
record, Richards was also the first Colonial Service governor to be elevated to the
House of Lords while still in office - a feat not equalled by Lugard, who had to wait
nine years after his retirement for his peerage, and rivalled only, I suspect, by Twining
ten years later.
Peel has made detailed use of Milverton’s private papers, including an unusually
rich collection of personal correspondence with friends in the Colonial Ofiice: particularly
important are the Creasy d/o letters. The Nigerian years understandably
occupy more of the 200 pages than any of Milverton’s earlier postings. Besides Peel’s
concluding chapters on the ambivalent period in the House of Lords and one entitled “In Lighter Vein”, he has helpfully added brief biographical notes on who was who
among Milverton’s colleagues in the Service and a workmanlike index to people and
places mentioned in the text. The book is published in hard covers and is attractively
printed on excellent paper.
Written with clarity, authority and a commendable blend of purpose and propriety,
here is a memoir which numerous members of this Association will delight in reading
and which every serious student of the Colonial Service will be glad and grateful to
have in his Ubrary.