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Major Claude Scudamore Jarvis CMG OBE (20 July 1879 – 8 December 1953) was a British colonial governor. As an Arabist and naturalist, he became noted for his knowledge of the desert Bedouin and for his rapport with them.

Major Claude Scudamore Jarvis
Major Claude Scudamore Jarvis, Governor of Sinai.jpg
Major C. S. Jarvis, Governor of Sinai, inspecting a Guard of Honour.
Claude Scudamore Jarvis

20 July 1879
Died8 December 1953


Life and careerEdit

The son of John Bradford Jarvis, an insurance clerk, and his wife, Mary Harvey, he joined the merchant navy in 1896, then volunteered for British imperial service in the Second Boer War in 1899. Following his return from the war, he was in April 1902 appointed a second lieutenant in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment.[1]

He married Mabel Jane Hodson, daughter of a member of the US embassy staff in London, in 1903. They had one daughter. Jarvis then combined part-time military service in Ireland with freelance journalism until the First World War broke out.

Jarvis's interest in Arabs and the Arabic language grew from wartime army service in Palestine and Egypt, then a British protectorate. He was seconded to the new Egyptian frontiers administration by the British high commissioner, Sir Reginald Wingate, serving first in the Western desert and then in Sinai. His Arabic and knowledge of Bedouin customs allowed him as governor of Sinai from 1923 to intercede successfully in local disputes and to clamp down on banditry and drug trafficking. He also traced the remains of a Roman and Byzantine settlement in northern Sinai, and by damming the local Wadi Gedeirat and restoring the stone channels succeeded in recreating an oasis.

In 1933 while Governor of Sinai Jarvis was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[2] The King of Egypt had early in 1931 awarded him with the Insignia of the Third Class of the Order of the Nile.[3]

Jarvis took early retirement in 1936 and was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). He then devoted himself to natural history, writing and farming. He joined the staff of the magazine Country Life in 1939, contributing a column, A Countryman's Notes, for 14 years. He was awarded the Lawrence Medal by the Royal Central Asian Society in 1938.[4] He died at his Ringwood home, Chele Orchard, on 8 December 1953.[5]

Partial bibliographyEdit

  • Yesterday and To-day in Sinai (Edinburgh/London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1931).
  • Three Deserts. Experiences in Egypt (London: John Murray, 1936).
  • Oriental Spotlight. A humorous guide to travel in the East, under the pseudonym Rameses (London: John Murray, 1937).
  • Desert and Delta. An account of modern Egypt (London: John Murray, 1938).
  • The Back Garden of Allah (London: John Murray, 1939).
  • Through Crusader Lands (London: Pitman's Travel Series, 1939).
  • Arab Command. The biography of Lieutenant-Colonel F. W. Peake Pasha (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1942).
  • Scattered Shots (London: John Murray, 1942).
  • Heresies and Humours (London: Country Life, 1943).
  • Half a Life. Reminiscences (London: John Murray, 1943).
  • Happy Yesterdays (London: Country Life, 1948).
  • Gardener's Medley (London: Country Life, 1951).
  • Innocent Pursuits (London: John Murray, 1953).[6]
  • Six articles of his appeared in the Royal Central Asian Journal, 1935–39.[7] He also wrote for Antiquity, 1932–40.[8]
  • Jarvis's views on the wanderings of the Biblical Israelites in Sinai appear in Jarvis, C.S. (1938), "The forty years' wandering of the Israelites", Palestine Exploration Quarterly: 25–40.

Further readingEdit

There is a genial account of Jarvis's life and career up to 1936 in Brian Patrick Duggan: Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought it to the West (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009), pp. 191–203. ISBN 0-7864-3407-4


  1. ^ "No. 27424". The London Gazette. 11 April 1902. p. 2423.
  2. ^ "No. 33946". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1933. p. 3810.
  3. ^ "No. 33746". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 August 1931. p. 5466.
  4. ^ T.E. Lawrence studies website. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  5. ^ Biographical information: Ronald Wingate (May 2006). "Jarvis, Claude Scudamore (1879–1953)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition. Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  6. ^ Bibliographical information: British Library Integrated Catalogue. Retrieved 25 July 2010. His books appeared under the name C. S. Jarvis or Major C. S. Jarvis, except where noted.
  7. ^ Royal Society for Asian Affairs Archived 13 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  8. ^ Antiquity monthly review. Retrieved 25 July 2010.