Records of Bahrain 1820–1960

 (13) 978-1-85207-350-3   Extent:  8 volumes, 5,250 pages, including 1 map box
Author: Chief Editor Penelope Tuson, former head of Middle East archives, British Library (Oriental & India Office Collections). Assistant Editors: A. Burdett, E. Quick.   Published: 1993
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available


In these 5000 pages Archive Editions presents a key selection of facsimile original British government documents detailing the history and development of Bahrain between 1820 and 1960. The set includes a map box containing 12 maps dated 1828–1955 including three sheets of the table of the Ruling Al Khalifah (´Utbi) family of Bahrain.
These British records are of particular interest because the British were in the unique position of being at the heart of government in the Gulf states. They administered Bahrain’s foreign and defence affairs through treaty relations from as early as 1820 and despite a convention acknowledging the independence of Bahrain agreed in 1913, right up to the British withdrawal in 1971.


The early modern history of Bahrain is one of independence until the Portugese occupied from 1521–1602 and then the Persians, though not continuously, until 1782. In 1783 the Persians were expelled from Bahrain by the Utub (Uttobee or Utbi) tribe from central Arabia, whose leading family, the Al-Khalifas, became the independent Sheikhs of Bahrain and have ruled Bahrain ever since, apart from a brief period before 1810.
The documents in this collection date from the early 19th century when the British empire was expanding and was particularly anxious to defend its position in the Persian Gulf to prevent the French, Germans and Russians from encroaching on the British position in India. The collection contains the key documents needed to follow the development of the State of Bahrain from 1820–1960. In fact, the first document is a retrospective dated 1844, by Lt. Kemball, Assistant Resident in the Persian Gulf describing the history of the ‘Uttoobee tribe of Arabs of Bahrein from 1716 to 1844. The documents include details of the war with Muscat 1828; relations with the Wahhabis; civil war in Bahrain 1840–1847; war with Qatar 1867–1868; the destruction of Zubarah 1878; Turkish and Persian claims to sovereignty; the respective rulers Shaikh Isa bin Ali, Shaikh Hamad, Shaikh Salman and the future Shaikh Isa bin Salman al-Khalifah; administrative and constitutional reform, 1955; and the multiple effects of the oil boom. The final volume is a map box containing historical maps and genealogical tables.


Understanding the Series
The three sections of the Records of Bahrain Series combine to create a large collection which offers historical evidence for the political, economic and social evolution of Bahrain. Such evidence improves our understanding of the modern political position of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. This large body of documents includes, for example, examination of frontier negotiations and questions of sovereignty, particularly the claim to Bahrain by Iran and the long-running dispute with Qatar; it also provides details of constitutional, military and defence developments.


Material has been arranged within each volume according to broad subjects including internal political affairs, social and economic development, regional and international relations. Within these general divisions documents are presented chronologically. Highlights from the volumes: 
Volume 1: 1820-1868

  • Events connected with the Uttobee tribe of Arabs (Bahrein), from 1716
  • Historical sketch of the Uttobee tribe by Mr Francis Warden, from 1817
  • Information connected with the possessions, revenues, families, etc. of the Ruler of Bahrain, 1854.
  • Records of the Gulf surveys and travellers
  • The General Treaty with Britain, 1820
  • The war with Muscat, 1828-1829
  • Relations between the Shaikhs of Bahrain and the Wahhabis, 1830-1836
  • Civil war in Bahrain 1840-1847
  • The war with Qatar, 1867,1868

Volume 2: 1868-1892

  • Persian claims to Bahrain, 1869-1885
  • Attack on Bahrain by the exiled Muhammad b. Khalifah and Nasir b. Mubarak
  • The destruction of Zubarah, 1878
  • Anglo-Ottoman rivalry and the British agreement with Bahrain, 1880
  • Reports on the topography and archaeology of Bahrain, 1878-1879
  • The pearl fisheries, 1877-1878  

Volume 3: 1892-1923

  • Turkish claims to sovereignty, 1892
  • Occupation of Zubarah by Al-bin-Ali with support of Turks and Shaikh Jasim, 1895
  • The Bahrain Order in Council, 1913
  • Construction of Manama pier, 1903-1912
  • Agreement for the exploitation of oil, 1914
  • Relations with Ibn Saud, 1920
  • Abdication of Shaikh Isa, 1923

Volume 4: 1923-1932

  • Shaikh Hamad appointed Deputy Ruler, 1923
  • The civil reforms of 1923
  • The Bahrain oil concessions, 1925
  • Appointment of C.D.Belgrave as advisor to the Ruler, 1925

Volume 5: 1932-1942

  • Accession of Shaikh Hamad, 1932; death of Shaikh Hamad, 1942
  • Baharnah agitation for reform, 1935
  • Background to Bahrain claim to Hawar Islands, 1936-1940
  • Claim to Hawar by Ruler of Qatar, Shaikh Abdullah b. Qasim Al-Thani, 1938-1939
  • Revenue and expenditure statements, 1932, etc.
  • BAPCO employment affairs, 1938

Volume 6: 1942-1950

  • Accession of Shaikh Salman, 1942
  • Demands for reform, 1948
  • Persian propaganda and renewed claim to Bahrain, 1947-1948
  • Demands for removal of C.D.Belgrave as Advisor, 1946
  • Petroleum royalties; use of Sittra pier by oil company, 1949-1950
  • Delimitation of seabed with Qatar; effect of Zubarah dispute, 1949
  • Saudi Arabia and the dispute over Fasht bu Saafa, 1949

Volume 7: 1951-1960

  • Disturbances between Shiahs and Sunnis, 1953
  • Constitutional and administrative reforms, 1955
  • Departure of Sir Charles Belgrave, Advisor, 1957
  • Shaikh Isa declared Heir Apparent, 1958
  • Saudi Arabia-Bahrain seabed boundary, 1951-1958
  • Dispute over Zubarah, 1953-1960
  • Bahrain-Qatar seabed, 1951-1960
  • Manama causeway project, 1951
  • Third population census of Bahrain, 1959  

Volume 8: Historical maps and tables


The following maps and tables are included in the document box:
1. Trigonometrical plan of the island and harbour of Bahrain, 1825
2. Survey of Bahreyn Harbour and the Khaur-el-Bab, 1860
3. Rough sketch of Fort Muhurok, Bahrain, 1868
4. Bahrain Island, Wahabee Coast, Guttur Coast map, 1869
5. Notes on the island of Bahrain and antiquities, 1879
6. Table of the ruling Al-Khalifa (´Utbi) family of Bahrain, 1915
7. Plan of Manamah port and town, British Admiralty, 1933
8. Bahrain Island, British Admiralty, 1937