An Important Antique Pine & Iron-Bound Campaign Travelling Trunk formerly of Sir John Robert Chancellor (1870–1952)

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Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Robert Chancellor, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO (1870–1952) was a British soldier and colonial official.
Date: c.1910
Height: 17 inches
Width: 27 inches
Depth: 21 inch


In utterly original condition, the ironbound trunk constructed of antique pine and felt-lined with the original handles, lock and hinges all in sound condition. More extraordinarily the trunk still bears all of it’s original labelling and ticketing suggesting this trunk travelled with Sir John on his duties to any of Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Rhodesia and Palestine where he served as governor or high commissioner.

Sir John Robert Chancellor was born in 1870 and educated at Blair Lodge Academy, Polmont and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1890 and served in India with the Dongola (1896) and Tirah (1897-1898) expeditions before returning to England and entering the Staff College. He married Elsie Thompson in 1903 and in 1904 he was appointed Assistant Military Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence and from 1906-1911 served as Secretary of the Colonial Defence Committee. He was knighted in 1913. Sir Chancellor went on to serve as Governor of Mauritius (1911-1916), Governor of Trinidad and Tobago (1916-1921) and Governor of Southern Rhodesia (1923-1928) before serving as High Commissioner for Palestine and Trans-Jordan (1928-1931).

While he was in London in 1929, Arab riots protesting Jewish immigration broke out. On his return, he initially condemned Arab attacks but was subsequently less critical. He helped write the Lord Passfield's White Paper of 1930, which aimed to reinterpret the Balfour Declaration in order to back away from a commitment to the creation of a Jewish state. He left Palestine in 1931.

Highly festooned, Sir John was invested as a Commander, Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) and decorated with the awards of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.), Knight Grand Cross, Royal Victorian Order (G.C.V.O.) and later invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of St. Michael and St. George (G.C.M.G.).

Amongst the several stamps and tickets are Chancellor’s name prominently painted to the front, several paper travelling stickers advising where the trunk was to travel and how it should be stored and perhaps more amusing is the iron mark burn to the top; perhaps Sir John wasn’t used to doing his own ironing. There is even a travel ticket still in tact hanging from one of the handles simply reading ‘Chancellor’, and inside, the number 27613 is carved into the wood. Poignantly, however the trunk is lined with Hamilton Advertiser newspaper dating to June 17th 1950, just two years before Sir John died on the 31 July 1952 at the family estate in Shieldhill, Lanarkshire.

In the knowledge of all the above, this trunk is simply an exceptionally rare and significant item in the history of the British Empire.

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