Captain Herbert Strong (Bertie) Burrough (1876 – 1952)

(Collection donated by wife, Mrs Mabel Emily Josephine Burrough, 1960)


Herbert Strong Burrough was born in Shropshire in 1876.  He was the fourth son of six children.  His father was a chaplain in Clun, Shropshire. Burrough served in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and is recorded as being made 2nd Lieutenant in 1900.


Burrough served in the second Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, 1901-02.  He was part of the Imperial Yeomanry, a voluntary mounted infantry regiment, and was awarded the Queen’s medal with 5 clasps.  After the war, in 1903, he was seconded into the Foreign Office and began working in Nigeria as part of the colonial administration.



From 1903 to 1926, Burrough held various positions throughout the South-west and South-east of Nigeria, including in Calabar, Okigwi and Aba.  British rule was indirect, and he would have regularly interacted with local chiefs and dignitaries.  As part of his position as District Commissioner, he was required to submit regular reports on affairs in his district.  This information would be gathered into an Annual report submitted to the Colonial Office in London.

Worn in pairs by high class women just before marriage(Left) Burrough acquired a copper alloy anklet which was traditionally worn in pairs by women. The fashion for these items were short-lived, but they were used to indicate that a woman did not need to work. Accession number 42/1960/21. Diameter =  350mm.


In some places there was significant resistance to British rule, including in Okigwi where Burrough was stationed in 1909.  Military action was taken in 1910 and 1911, and villages opposing colonial rule were destroyed.  Following this, Burrough was stationed at Aba, a major trading city, where he was involved in monitoring the trade and transport of palm oil and kernels.


In 1913, Burrough married Mabel Emily Josephine Burrows in London.  It seems that they visited Nigeria together shortly after and they are recorded as returning in 1914.  Burrough then returned to his post in Nigeria, visiting England occasionally, with his wife also visiting him in Nigeria.  They had two daughters, one born in 1917 and the other in 1920.


Burrough retired in 1926, dying in 1952, aged 75.  His wife donated his African collection to Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 1960, and she herself died in 1963.


42-1960-1(Left) A woven length of redyed Aso Olona cotton cloth from Ijebu Ode. Accession number 42/1960/1. Length = 1670 x width = 1070mm.



Burrough’s collection consists of 20 pieces of woven fabric, 10 of which are from Ijebu Ode where Burroughs was stationed in the 1920s.


Other pieces come from his time in the Calabar region.  Cloth was woven throughout Nigeria and used widely as a trade good and/or currency, so it is not possible to identify the origin of each piece.  Due to his political rank, Burrough is likely to have been gifted cloth in exchange for support and favours towards local chiefs and high-ranking individuals.