Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria. To coincide with the OMRS Convention (19 September 2003)

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Date of Auction: 19th September 2003

Sold for £1,550

Estimate: £600 - £700

The Imperial Service Order pair awarded to Mr T. J. Alldridge, District Commissioner and noted pioneer of the Sierra Leone Hinterland
Imperial Service Order, E.VII.R., silver, gold and enamels; East and West Africa 1887-19001 clasp, Sierra Leone 1898-99 (Dis. Commr. T. J. Alldridge) nearly extremely fine (2) £600-700


Thomas Joshua Alldridge was born in 1847, and educated at the City of London School and at Blackheath Proprietary School. Alldridge spent most of his life in West Afrca and , from 1871-72, was Acting United States Consular agent in Sierra Leone. In 1899 he, together with George H. Garrett, became the first Travelling Commissioners for the Colony of Sierra Leone. Alldridge arrived at Freetown from England by S.S. Lagos on 11 December 1889, and assumed his duties, being appointed a Justice of the Peace and an Honorary Inspector of Police. Shortly after his arrival he embarked in the S.S. Formoso for Bonthe, Sherbro, en route to Sulymah.

Alldridge was a pioneer into the Upper Mendi, Bandi and Bundi countries. In 1890 he was sent on a special mission to the interior, where he concluded treaties with many paramount chiefs on behalf of the British Government, and placed their countries under British protection. He was sent on a special mission by the Government to Robari, and succeeded in stopping war, and made peace between the Timinis and the Yonnis. In 1893, Alldridge convened a meeting of 3000 chiefs and people at Bandasuma, in Barri country, to meet the Governor, Sir Francis Fleming, K.C.M.G., by direction of the Secretary of State. He later accompanied another Governor, Frederick Cardew, C.M.G., as topographical and astronomical observer on his first interior tour in 1894 of 617 miles, which took 52 days to complete.

Alldridge was appointed a Coroner and a Commissioner of the Court of Requests of Sherbro District in January 1894, and later that year was sent on a special mission to the Sama country. He took a leading part in the Mendi rising of 1898 when he was District Commissioner, for which he was mentioned in despatches and received the medal and clasp for Sierra Leone 1898-99. As one of the foremost and senior Civil Officers in the Colony, Alldridge was responsible for many important decisions regarding the safety of Europeans and other loyal inhabitants. C. Braithwaite Wallis, writing in The Advance of our West African Empire in 1903, his account of the troubles in Sierra Leone in 1898, says the following: ‘Mr T. J. Alldridge, the Commissioner, whom I had the pleasure of meeting here [at Bonthe], had already been “on the Coast” for more than twenty years, and had travelled over six thousand miles in the interior. He gave me the impression of an exceptionally healthy man, despite his long residence in this trying climate; and was, in his person, an excellent example of the adaptability of the European for life in any part of the world provided he looks well after himself, and takes the necessary precautions for maintaining health.’

Alldridge was presented with the Life Fellowship of the Zoological Society of London in 1884. He became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and was awarded the Cuthbert Peek grant in 1900 for his geographical work in Sierra Leone in the previous ten years. He was appointed a Companion of the Imperial Service Order on 30 June 1905, by which time he had retired as District Commissioner. He was the author of The Sherbro and its Hinterland in 1901, and A Transformed Colony in 1910. Thomas Alldridge died at Bagshot, Surrey, on 28 June 1916. Sold with a good quantity of research including several copy photographs and a modern reprint of A Transformed Colony.