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Ronald Storrs

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Ronald Storrs
Governor of Northern Rhodesia
In office
27 October 1932 – 19 February 1934
Preceded bySir James Maxwell
Succeeded bySir Hubert Winthrop Young
Governor of Cyprus
In office
30 November 1926 – 29 October 1932
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded bySir Malcolm Stevenson
Succeeded bySir Reginald Stubbs
Governor of Jerusalem and Judea
In office
1 July 1920 – 30 November 1926
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byEdward Keith-Roach
Military Governor of Jerusalem
In office
28 December 1917 – 30 June 1920
Preceded byNeville Travers Borton
Succeeded byOffice disestablished
Personal details
Born(1881-11-19)19 November 1881
Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom
Died1 November 1955(1955-11-01) (aged 73)
London, United Kingdom
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge

Sir Ronald Henry Amherst Storrs KCMG CBE (19 November 1881 – 1 November 1955) was an official in the British Foreign Office. He served as Oriental Secretary in Cairo, Military Governor of Jerusalem, Governor of Cyprus, and Governor of Northern Rhodesia.


Ronald Storrs was the eldest son of John Storrs, priest of the Church of England and later Dean of Rochester. His mother was Lucy Anna Maria Cockayne-Cust, sister of the fifth Baron Brownlow.[1]

Storrs was educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he gained a first-class degree in the Classical Tripos.

In 1919, Storrs was appointed a Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy.[2]

Foreign service[edit]


Storrs entered the Finance Ministry of the Egyptian Government in 1904, five years later becoming Oriental Secretary to the British Agency, succeeding Harry Boyle in this post. In 1917, Storrs became Political Officer representing the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia as Liaison officer for the Anglo-French mission in Baghdad and Mesopotamia where he met Gertrude Bell and Sir Percy Cox.

T. E. Lawrence commented in Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

The first of all of us was Ronald Storrs, Oriental Secretary of the Residency, the most brilliant Englishman in the Near East, and subtly efficient, despite his diversion of energy in love of music and letters, of sculpture, painting, of whatever was beautiful in the world's fruit... Storrs was always first, and the great man among us.

Storrs is credited with a classic example of British understatement when referring to the behaviour of the British toward the many tribal and regional leaders that the British were trying to influence in "The Great Game": "we deprecated the imperative, preferring instead the subjunctive or even, wistfully, the optative mood".

During the First World War Storrs was a member of the Arab Bureau and a participant in the negotiations between Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and the British government, and in the organisation of the Arab Revolt. His own personal positions were that the Sharif Husayn was asking for more Arab territory than he had any right to, and that Syria and Palestine should be incorporated into a British-sponsored Egyptian empire as a replacement for the Ottoman empire, a plan which was never implemented. Storrs is thought to have underestimated Arab Muslim resistance to non-Muslim rule.[1]


Storrs in Jerusalem in 1920
Plaque in Jerusalem commemorating the inauguration of King George Street in 1924

In 1917, Storrs became Military Governor of Jerusalem, within the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration, for which purpose he was given the British Army rank of colonel.[3] He claimed to be "the first military governor of Jerusalem since Pontius Pilate".[4] He was in fact the second British military governor of Jerusalem, succeeding Brigadier General Neville Travers Borton, also known as Borton Pasha, who resigned after two weeks due to ill health.[5]

The 1920 Nebi Musa riots occurred during his military governorship, and the following year he became Civil Governor of Jerusalem and Judea. In both positions he attempted to support Zionism while protecting the rights of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, and thus earned the hostility of both sides.[6] He devoted much of his time to cultural matters, including town planning, and to the Pro-Jerusalem Society, a cultural organisation that he founded. Storrs acted as President of the Society.[7]

In 1918, Storrs created the position of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem as the Sunni Muslim cleric in charge of Jerusalem's Islamic holy places, including Al-Aqsa.[8][9] Kamil al-Husayni was the first to hold the position.[10]

Palestine's first chess club was the International Chess Club founded in Jerusalem in 1918 by Storrs.[11] The International Chess Club was an expression of the hope that it would unite the different nations – local Arabs and Jews, and European Christians of various nations who were then stationed in the city – and help promote peace and understanding. The club closed within a year due to the increasing tensions between the Arabs and Jews. A chess enthusiast, Storrs also helped to organise in 1919 the city's first championship which was won by Shaul Gordon, the founder of Mercantile Bank.

Cyprus and Rhodesia[edit]

From 1926 to 1932, Storrs was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Cyprus. During his tenure, there was an attempted revolt (1931) during which Government House was burned to the ground.

Storrs was then appointed as Governor of Northern Rhodesia in 1932. He retired for health reasons in 1934, at the age of 53.[12]

Later years[edit]

Storrs' grave stone at Pebmarsh

Storrs was one of the six pallbearers at the funeral of T. E. Lawrence in 1935. In 1937, he published his memoirs Orientations.[13] Between 1937 and 1945 he served on the London County Council, and during the Second World War he broadcast for the Ministry of Information. He died in 1955, aged 73, and is buried at St John the Baptist Church, Pebmarsh, Essex.


  • Ronald Storrs & Basil Liddell Hart (1936). Lawrence of Arabia. Corvinus Press. (limited edition of 128 copies)
  • Ronald Storrs (1937). Orientations. Nicholson & Watson.
  • Ronald Storrs (1940). Lawrence of Arabia, Zionism and Palestine. Penguin.
  • Storrs, Ronald, Dunlop in War and Peace (Hutchinson & Co., 1946) – an account of the Dunlop Company and the importance of Dunlop's production during the Second World War.


  1. ^ a b Ritchie Ovendale, 'Storrs, Sir Ronald Henry Amherst (1881–1955)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ "Page 10612 | Supplement 31514, 19 August 1919 | London Gazette". thegazette.co.uk.
  3. ^ "No. 30773". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 June 1918. p. 7715. "(Graded for purposes of pay as an A. A. and Q.M.G.)—Local Lt.-Col. R. Storrs, C.M.G., and to be temp. Col. whilst so empld. 27th Dec. 1917."
  4. ^ Michael Korda, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia ISBN 978-0-06-171261-6, p. 353
  5. ^ The handbook of Palestine; edited by Harry Charles Luke and Edward Keith-Roach. With an introd. by Herbert Samuel, p.22
  6. ^ Xypolia, Ilia (2011). "Orientations and Orientalism: The Governor Sir Ronald Storrs". 11 (1): 24–43. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Rapaport, Raquel (2007). "The City of the Great Singer: C. R. Ashbee's Jerusalem". Architectural History. 50. Cambridge University Press: 171-210 [see footnote 37 available online]. doi:10.1017/S0066622X00002926. S2CID 195011405. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  8. ^ Friedman, Robert I. (6 December 2001). "And Darkness Covered the Land". The Nation. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
  9. ^ See Islamic Leadership in Jerusalem for further details
  10. ^ The terminology was used as early as 1918. For example: Taysīr Jabārah (1985). Palestinian Leader Hajj Amin Al-Husayni: Mufti of Jerusalem. Kingston Press. ISBN 978-0-940670-10-5. states that Storrs wrote on 19 November 1918 "the Muslim element requested the Grand Mufti to have the name of the Sharif of Mecca mentioned in the Friday prayers as Caliph"
  11. ^ "Chess in Jerusalem: A journey through time". Chessbase/Yochanan Afek. 28 January 2015.
  12. ^ Autolycus, T (28 January 1934). "News". The Sunday Times. London. p. 13.
  13. ^ Storrs, Ronald (1937). The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Retrieved 23 May 2020 – via Archive.org.


  • Georghallides, G.S (1985). Cyprus and the governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs: The causes of the 1931 crisis (Texts and studies of the history of Cyprus). Cyprus Research Centre. ISBN 9963-0-8004-9.
  • Storrs, Ronald (1972). The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs. New York: Arno Press. ISBN 0-405-04593-X.
  • Storrs, Ronald (1999). Middle East Politics & Diplomacy, 1904–1956:The Private Letters and Diaries of Sir Ronald Storrs (1881–1955) from Pembroke College, Cambridge. Marlborough, Wiltshire, England: Adam Matthew Publications. ISBN 1-85711-152-4.
  • Storrs, Ronald (2006). A Record of the War – The Second Quarter (December 1939 – February 1940). Obscure Press. ISBN 1-84664-761-4.

External links[edit]