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Caricature of Lagden
Caricature of Sir Godfrey Yeatman Lagden by "Spy" (Leslie Ward), in Vanity Fair, 22 August 1901

Sir Godfrey Yeatman Lagden KCMG KBE (1 September 1851 – 26 June 1934) was a British colonial administrator in Africa.



Lagden was born at Yetminster, Dorset, and educated at Sherborne School. He joined the British civil service as a clerk in the General Post Office where he worked from 1869 to 1877, when he decided to move to South Africa. There he entered the colonial secretary's office in Pretoria and was private secretary to the Administrator of the Transvaal, Sir Owen Lanyon, 1878–81. Lagden and Lanyon were in Pretoria when the town was besieged during the First Boer War. After the war, Lanyon was recalled to London, but Lagden remained and was briefly private secretary to Sir Evelyn Wood before returning to England in 1882. There he was engaged as war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Egypt, covering the British campaign against the ‘Urabi Revolt. On his return in 1883, he was appointed to the Gold Coast, but he fell out with the governor there, Sir Samuel Rowe, and was sacked by the Colonial Office. However, a friend he had made in Pretoria, Marshal Clarke, had just been appointed resident commissioner in Basutoland and insisted that Lagden be re-engaged to work for him, which he did and eventually succeeded Clarke as resident commissioner 1893–1901. During the Second Boer War, which broke out in 1899, Lagden did all he could to keep Basutoland neutral. In 1901 he was appointed commissioner of native affairs in the Transvaal, by then under British control. He retired in 1907, returned to England and served on various public bodies including the Royal Colonial Institute of which he was secretary and later vice-president, serving until 1923.

Lagden was appointed CMG in 1894 and knighted KCMG in 1897 for his work in Africa, and appointed KBE in 1927 "in recognition of public services."[1]

Lagden played cricket from time to time, including one first-class cricket match for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) when a team visited South Africa in 1906.[2]


  • "The Native Question in South Africa" . The Empire and the century. London: John Murray. 1905. pp. 539–556.


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