Colonial Law in Africa, 1808-1919

African Government Gazettes, 1808-1919

African Government Gazettes, 1808-1919

Napoleon 1, marched to attack the Russian Army : "I therefore sent another division of my army across the river
General Bennigsen, the Russian Commander in Chief, The Battle of FriedlandSierra Leone, 1808-1919; Sierra Leone Gazette, 1808-1828; img 1

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These African laws cover the abolition of slavery and World War 1

Originally known as the 'Government Gazettes', each item contains the colonial laws for the year they were published. The legal records also include property for sale, probate records and bankruptcy notices. This is the first part of the three part series 'Colonial Law in Africa'. These items cover the Napoleonic Wars, the Boer War and the First World War. They also cover the abolition of the legal status of slavery. These gazettes were published alongside the African Blue Books of Statistics during the 19th and 20th centuries.



Kenya, 1899-1919

Slavery continued to legally exist in Kenya until 1907 despite Britain abolishing their slave trade in 1833. 1907 saw the abolition of the legal status of slavery in Kenya.

The Gambia, 1883-1919

During the Boer War, British colonies across Africa were instructed to send troops and money to support the Empire. Gambia’s response to the Empire’s request is published here.

Sierra Leone, 1808-1919

The Napoleonic Wars were fought with diplomatic approaches to other countries as well as with weapons. Diplomatic battles are described in official reports from 1808.

Tanzania (Zanzibar), 1892-1919

The 1st Matabele War is described in several articles which were written by the colonial officers who took part in it. Matabeleland became a colonial territory as a result of this war.


  • Earlier volumes of these gazettes include letters to the editor and items of news. These would be replaced by official notices from 1870.
  • The main item which is included in these government publications and not in others, are details of laws that are either new or amended.
  • The legal notices reveal which issues were considered both common enough and serious enough to be addressed by a new law.
  • The decisions to legislate reveal cultural shifts away from practices like witchcraft. These shifts were often enforced by the Governor and the range of colonies included here makes it possible to compare priorities.
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