Oliver Wardrop

Oliver Wardrop

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Sir John Oliver Wardrop, KBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

 (1864-1948) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 diplomat, traveller and translator, primarily known as the United Kingdom's first Chief Commissioner
Chief Commissioner
A Chief Commissioner is a commissioner of a high rank, usually in chief of several Commissioners or similarly styled officers.-Colonial:In British India the gubernatorial style was Chief Commissioner in various provinces , the style being applied especially where an elected assembly did not exist,...

 of Transcaucasus
South Caucasus
The South Caucasus is a geopolitical region located on the border of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia also referred to as Transcaucasia, or The Trans-Caucasus...

 in Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, 1919-21, and also as the founder and benefactor of Kartvelian studies
Kartvelian studies
The Kartvelian studies, or Kartvelology is a field of humanities covering Kartvelian history, languages, religion and/or culture....

 at Oxford University
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...


After traveling to Georgia (then part of Imperial Russia) in 1887, Wardrop wrote his study The Kingdom of Georgia, published in 1888. In 1894 during his second journey to Georgia he mastered the Georgian language
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

 and published a series of books on Georgia, including his translation of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani
Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani
Prince Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani was a Georgian prince, writer, monk and convert to Roman Catholicism.- Biography :...

's The Book of Wisdom and Lies.

From 1906 to 1910 Wardrop served as Consul to Romania.

In July 1919 the British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon offered Wardrop the post of the first British Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis until 1936...

. The government of independent Georgia
Democratic Republic of Georgia
The Democratic Republic of Georgia , 1918–1921, was the first modern establishment of a Republic of Georgia.The DRG was created after the collapse of the Russian Empire that began with the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 and its head Noe Zhordania
Noe Zhordania
Noe Zhordania was a Georgian journalist and Menshevik politician. He played an eminent role in the Social Democratic revolutionary movement in Imperial Russia, and later chaired the government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia from July 24, 1918 until March 18, 1921, when the Bolshevik Soviet...

 welcomed Sir Oliver's return to Georgia. Wardrop, a capable diplomat tried to promote Georgian culture and gather all the support from the west for the newly formed country under the threat of Bolshevik aggression. However, in February 1921 Soviet Russia's Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 invaded Georgia, putting an end to the short-lived democratic republic. In England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wardrop organized the set-up of the Georgian Society and the Georgian Committee in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. In 1930, along with W.E.D. Allen
William Edward David Allen
William Edward David Allen was a British scholar, Foreign Service officer, politician and businessman, best known as a historian of South Caucasus. He was closely involved in the politics of Northern Ireland, and had fascist tendencies.-Early career:Born in London, he was educated at Eton College...

, he formed the Georgian Historical Society which published its own journal Georgica. His sister Marjory Wardrop
Marjory Wardrop
Marjory Scott Wardrop was an English scholar and translator of Georgian literature. She was a sister of the British diplomat and scholar of Georgia, Sir Oliver Wardrop....

 (1869-1909) translated the 12-century Georgian epic by Shota Rustaveli
Shota Rustaveli
Shota Rustaveli was a Georgian poet of the 12th century, and one of the greatest contributors to Georgian literature. He is author of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" , the Georgian national epic poem....

, The Knight in the Panther's Skin
The Knight in the Panther's Skin
The Knight in the Panther's Skin is an epic poem, consisting of over 1600 shairi quatrains, was written in the 12th century by the Georgian epic-poet Shota Rustaveli, who was a Prince and Treasurer at the royal court of Queen Tamar of Georgia. The Knight in the Panther's Skin is often seen as...

into English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...


Wardrop also catalogued the Georgian manuscripts at the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 and continued to add to the Wardrop Collection of Georgian books and manuscripts at the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...


In 1909 the Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford University was created by Wardrop after his sister's death. Through it, Wardrop augmented his collection, which now consists of 1,454 items, of which 215 are periodicals and 73 are series. Included are 74 MSS in the category of texts and collections of Georgian literature.

Further Reading