ZANZIBAR - Autograph journal of John Studdy Leigh describing his travels in Zanzibar, Somalia and various places on the East African coastline, Madagascar, Aden and Portuguese East Africa as agent in the London firm of Newman Hunt and Christopher, 1836-40, manuscripts on paper, closely written in ink, in two volumes:
1. Jersey - At Sea off Zanzibar, 18 February 1836 - 18 July 1838, quarter morocco, upper cover detached, 184 pages, 4°.
2. At sea off Pembar, 19 July 1838 - Jersey, 31 December 1840, half morocco, 121 pages plus blanks, with 15 pages of meteorological information, 4°.
Leigh left his native Jersey in March 1836 after accepting a five-year commission to work in Africa and after discussing his prospects with Captain Saumarez. He met Lieutenant J.B. Emery, British governor at Mombasa 1825-26 and studied William Owen's surveys of the east coast of Africa before his arrival off Quelimane on 1 July. He also began to learn Arabic.
At Quelimane he calls on the Governor and begins trading at the Custom House, enjoying the social life among officers engaged in the suppression of the slave trade. He was briefly at Majunga in August before sailing to Kilwa Kivinje, Kilwa Kisiwani, the southeast coast of Somalia and the Seychelles before returning to Majunga in December. In February 1837 he left Majunga for Vohémar and St Mary's on the east coast of Madagascar and for Mahé on the Seychelles. From Mahé he sailed to Zanzibar.
Leigh made four visits to Zanzibar: from 2 August - 15 September 1837 when he suffered severely from fever and left to recuperate in South Africa; 24 June - 18 August 1838 followed by a brief visit in October and 1 March - 29 May 1839.
Leigh's account of journeys in the interior of Zanzibar and the island of Pembar are of particular importance because European travellers of the early part of the nineteenth century did not venture beyond the towns on the coast. Leigh rode south to the home of the Mwenyi Mkuu, the ruler of the Hadimu people of Zanzibar and to the old capital at Unguja Ukuu. The account he gives of the Mwenyi Mkuu, Ahmad ibn Hassan al Alawi, agrees with what is known from other sources, but with some additions. On Pemba he crossed the island to the ruins of the fortified palace known as Pujini. Leigh's visit to Unguja Ukuu is the first recorded, and his account of Pujini was preceded only by that describing the raid of Duarte de Lemos in 1510. Leigh includes a fifty page account of his travels in South Africa (November 1837 - June 1838) during his recovery from illness.
"[16 July 1838 Kizimbani] His Highness country house is a square building in a walled enclosure in which are a few vines and nutmeg trees, the fruit on the last was nearly ripe. There is a court in the middle which the apartments, 5 in number, 4 small and one larger surround and underneath are empty vaults or passages level with the ground and open. The dining room is ornamented with mirrors and glass and china ware. Here we were served with a dinner sent from the palace, consisting of a whole sheep boiled or stewed to rags, curds, sweets of different kinds, rice-bread, sherbet and bananas, no vegetables and everything greasy but in abundance. We dined alone and after us the Arabs who accompanied us and the steward of the estate fell to and demolished the remainder".
"[19 July 1838] Pemba was originally possessed by the same race as the Mauhadimo and shared the fate of Mombas till it was taken from Moubrouk, 15 years since by Seid Sayed. Seid Sayed murdered his uncle 35 years since and took Lamu and Patta about 25 years ago".
"[22 July 1838] Sunday. Set out up to the town of Chak-chak [Chake Chake] in 2 boats. Scenery very beautiful, water very smooth, shore mostly lined with mangroves. An hour rowing and sailing took us to the foot of the hill on which the fort, built by the Mombasans stands. Dows are built in a small dock at the bottom. We ascended to the house of Dunjee, a Banyan and afterwards to the fort. The Governor a venerable Arab was seated outside on a stone bench surrounded by his sons, all middle-aged men. He sent with us his sons to take a walk and we passed through the town which is not very extensive. It is difficult to ascertain the number of inhabitants. The whole island is said to contain nearly 100,000. The houses (there were none here of stone) were much cleaner and better constructed than those of the same class at Zanzibar".
Transcripts of parts of this diary have been edited by James S. Kirkman in The International Journal of African Historical Studies, VIII (1975), pp. 441-56; 13, 2 (1980), pp. 281-312; 13, 3 (1980), pp. 492-507.