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Sir John Hope Simpson

(1868—1961) civil servant and colonial administrator


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née Mary Jane Barclay (1870–1939). After a career in the Indian Civil Service, the Ministry of Labour, the United Kingdom Parliament (1922–4), and the League of Nations, Hope Simpson was appointed in 1934 to the Newfoundland Commission of Government. Based in St John's until September 1936, the Hope Simpsons travelled extensively in the country by car, train, and boat. Sir John and Quita (as Lady Hope Simpson was called) recounted their adventures in detailed and lengthy letters to their two sons and three daughters in England. They gave Newfoundland society mixed reviews but rhapsodized over the landscape. The Cambridge-educated Quita had a particular flair for description of natural wonders. Though written from the perspective of officialdom, their letters constitute a rich source for understanding both the workings of the Commission of Government and the social history of Newfoundland in the 1930s. Excerpted in White Tie and Decorations: Sir John and Lady Hope Simpson in Newfoundland, 1934–1936 (1996), the letters read like an epistolary novel and are part of the Schwanengesang of the British Empire.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.


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