Ronald Storrs

Sir Ronald Henry Amherst Storrs KCMG CBE (19 November 1881 – 1 November 1955) was an official in the British Foreign and Colonial Office. He served as Oriental Secretary in Cairo, Military Governor of Jerusalem, Governor of Cyprus, and Governor of Northern Rhodesia.

Sir Ronald Storrs
Sir Ronald Storrs LCCN2014717333 (cropped).jpg
Governor of Northern Rhodesia
In office
27 October 1932 – 19 February 1934
Preceded bySir James Maxwell
Succeeded bySir Hubert Winthrop Young
Governor of Cyprus
In office
30 November 1926 – 29 October 1932
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded bySir Malcolm Stevenson
Succeeded bySir Reginald Stubbs
Governor of Jerusalem and Judea
In office
1 July 1920 – 30 November 1926
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byEdward Keith-Roach
Military Governor of Jerusalem
In office
28 December 1917 – 30 June 1920
Preceded byNeville Travers Borton
Succeeded byOffice disestablished
Personal details
Born(1881-11-19)19 November 1881
Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom
Died1 November 1955(1955-11-01) (aged 73)
London, United Kingdom
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge


The eldest son of John Storrs, the Dean of Rochester. His wife was Louisa Lucy née Littleton, born in Chelsea, 18 Aug, 1876; she married first, Henry Arthur Clowes, in Lichfield in Q3, 1899. She died in Hastings in Q2, 1970.[1]

Ronald Storrs was educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he gained a first class degree in the Classical Tripos.

Foreign serviceEdit


Storrs entered the Finance Ministry of the Egyptian Government in 1904, five years later becoming Oriental Secretary to the British Agency, succeeding Harry Boyle in this post. In 1917 Storrs became Political Officer representing the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia as Liaison officer for the Anglo-French mission in Baghdad and Mesopotamia where he met Gertrude Bell and Sir Percy Cox.

T. E. Lawrence commented in Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

"The first of all of us was Ronald Storrs, Oriental Secretary of the Residency, the most brilliant Englishman in the Near East, and subtly efficient, despite his diversion of energy in love of music and letters, of sculpture, painting, of whatever was beautiful in the world's fruit... Storrs was always first, and the great man among us".

Storrs is credited with a classic example of British understatement when referring to the behaviour of the British toward the many tribal and regional leaders that the British were trying to influence in "The Great Game": "we deprecated the imperative, preferring instead the subjunctive or even, wistfully, the optative mood".

During the First World War Storrs was a member of the Arab Bureau and a participant in the negotiations between the Sharif Husayn and the British government and in the organisation of the Arab Revolt. His own personal positions were that the Sharif Husayn was asking for more Arab territory than he had any right to, and that Syria and Palestine should be incorporated into a British-sponsored Egyptian Empire as a replacement for the Ottoman Empire, a plan which was never implemented. Storrs is thought to have underestimated Arab Muslim resistance to non-Muslim rule.[2]


Storrs in Jerusalem in 1920
Plaque in Jerusalem commemorating the inauguration of King George Street in 1924

In 1917 Storrs became, as he said, "the first military governor of Jerusalem since Pontius Pilate",[3] for which purpose he was given the army rank of colonel. He was in fact the second British military governor of Jerusalem, succeeding Brigadier General Neville Travers Borton, also known as Borton Pasha, who resigned after two weeks due to ill health.[4] In 1921 he became Civil Governor of Jerusalem and Judea. In both positions he attempted to support Zionism while protecting the rights of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, and thus earned the hostility of both sides.[5] He devoted much of his time to cultural matters, including town planning, and to Pro-Jerusalem, a cultural organisation that he founded.

In 1919, Storrs was appointed a Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy.[6]

The country’s (Palestine/Israel) first chess club was the International Chess Club founded in Jerusalem in 1918 by Storrs.[7] International Chess Club was an expression of the hope that it would unite the different nations – local Arabs and Jews, and European Christians of various nations who were then stationed in the city – and help promote peace and understanding. The club closed within a year due to the increasing tensions between the Arabs and Jews. A chess enthusiast, Storrs also helped to organise in 1919 the city's first championship which was won by Shaul Gordon, the founder of Mercantile Bank.

Cyprus and RhodesiaEdit

From 1926–1932 Storrs was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Cyprus, a period which included an attempted revolt (1931) during which Government House was burned to the ground. He was then appointed Governor of Northern Rhodesia in 1932. He retired for health reasons in 1934, at the age of 53. From The Times, probably Jan 1934:-

"The health of Sir Ronald Storrs has always belied his robust exterior. Now it seems likely to deprive the Colonial Office of one of its most versatile officials. Only by rigid asceticism – he is a non-smoker, a teetotaller, and, as a rule, an unwilling vegetarian – has he managed hitherto to pursue his career.

This started in Egypt, where Lord Kitchener found his talents as a linguist and a collector equally valuable. I have been told that Lord Duveen once offered him a partnership. Admittedly he is a first-rate authority and buys and time and Saracenic art.

Sir Ronald is a cousin of Lord Brownlow."

Later yearsEdit

Storrs' grave stone at Pebmarsh

Storrs was one of the six pallbearers at the funeral of T. E. Lawrence in 1935.

In 1937 he published his memoirs Orientations (US edition The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs).[8] Between 1937 and 1945 he served on the London County Council, and during the Second World War he broadcast for the Ministry of Information. He died in 1955, aged 73, and is buried at St John the Baptist Church, Pebmarsh, Essex.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "". Archived from the original on 9 February 2014.
  2. ^ Ritchie Ovendale, ‘Storrs, Sir Ronald Henry Amherst (1881–1955)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ Michael Korda, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia ISBN 978-0-06-171261-6, p. 353
  4. ^ The handbook of Palestine; edited by Harry Charles Luke and Edward Keith-Roach. With an introd. by Herbert Samuel, p.22
  5. ^ Xypolia, Ilia (2011). "Orientations and Orientalism: The Governor Sir Ronald Storrs". 11 (1): 24–43. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Page 10612 | Supplement 31514, 19 August 1919 | London Gazette | The Gazette".
  7. ^ "Chess in Jerusalem: A journey through time". Chessbase/Yochanan Afek.
  8. ^ Unknown. "THE MEMOIRS OF SIR RONALD STORRS : SIR RONALD STORRS : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 23 May 2020.




  • Georghallides, G.S (1985). Cyprus and the governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs: The causes of the 1931 crisis (Texts and studies of the history of Cyprus). Cyprus Research Centre. ISBN 9963-0-8004-9.
  • Storrs, Ronald (1972). The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs. New York: Arno Press. ISBN 0-405-04593-X.
  • Storrs, Ronald (1999). Middle East Politics & Diplomacy, 1904–1956:The Private Letters and Diaries of Sir Ronald Storrs (1881–1955) from Pembroke College, Cambridge. Marlborough, Wiltshire, England: Adam Matthew Publications. ISBN 1-85711-152-4.
  • Storrs, Ronald (2006). A Record of the War – The Second Quarter (December 1939 – February 1940). Obscure Press. ISBN 1-84664-761-4.

External linksEdit